Causes of Paw Dragging? - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
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Causes of Paw Dragging?

Hi all-

I have a ten-month-old puppy who sweeps the tops of his front paws against the ground when he moves, regardless of gait. Sometimes he will sweep the tips as the paw moves forward, other times he will sweep the entire top. Less frequently, the tips of his back feet will do the same. There does not seem to be any pattern to this - that is, it happens regardless of the amount of exercise he has had, and is independent of the surface on which he walks. He has no aversion to exercise (initiates activity and is high energy), does not present like he is in pain, does not avoid stairs or jumping on the couch/bed, does not fall, does not limp, and does not have balance issues insofar as I have observed thus far. While I only caught him doing this a few weeks ago, I am certain that he has been doing it since I brought him home, as I can go back to pictures and see the wear pattern on his front feet. His nails are *very* short, as I dremel them weekly, and do not touch the floor. I never have to dremel the front two nails on his front paws, as he wears them down, and all four paws reflect the dragging in that the hair that should grow over the front two nails never does. I have been trying, to no avail, to determine if the problem is getting worse or staying the same. However, if I had to guess, I would say that the dragging of the back paws is more recent.

Having said all of that, to my eye, his front assembly is very upright and his neck is on the short side. Additionally, I think he has more angulation in the back than the front. He also elbows out/toes in when he moves, despite his paws appearing east/west when he is sitting. Otherwise, he is fit and muscular. I only bring that up in case structure can be a reason for paw dragging. Both parents were OFA normal on hips and elbows, though I realize that is not a 100% assurance that he will be normal, as well.

He has been checked out by our regular vet, and she was stumped, as he did not fit the pattern for any neurological disorders that she knew of. She also manipulated all of his joints. She did not elicit a pain response at any point. She did refer us to a neurologist, however, for further testing. That appointment is next month.

Has anyone ever seen this, or had a dog that does this? I have been trying to research this for weeks, but cannot find anything that seems to fit his symptoms. The majority of disorders begin in the hind end, or are more common in older dogs/other breeds. I can't find anything that speaks specifically to a problem that is more front-end related, with the exception of spinal issues, but those seem to typically have some level of associated pain and more symptoms than he is having. He seems completely asymptomatic, at this point, except for the paw dragging. Though, perhaps there are other things I should be looking for?

Any thoughts/insight/ideas or links to pertinent information, including scholarly articles, would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 09:34 AM
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My first thought - just based on your title - was neurological, so I'm really glad to see you've been referred and have an appointment. When your dog is standing up, if you lift a paw and fold it back and put it down, does your pup fix it right away? Your vet probably did that - it's a very basic test. I hope you get some answers soon.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your response. Yes, that proprioceptive response was normal for all four paws, as was the entire neurological exam administered by our regular vet. Apologies, if that was not clear from my original post.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 09:45 AM
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No, no - you did say that. Sorry. I was just thinking about what my friend was describing that her dog went through in testing. (He has a back leg issue that IS neurological). I don't have much advice - just hope you can get things figured out soon.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 12:26 PM
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Something to consider is exposure to toxins, chemicals or preventatives - flea and tick, dewormers are toxic to the targeted parasite but can also cause problems in cats and dogs. From early on, most puppies and dogs are treated on regular schedule with 'preventatives', those toxins that kill/repel parasites, can cause neurological problems.

Dogs Dragging the Tops of Their Paws on MedicineNet


https://www.vetary.com/dog/condition...hroid-toxicity

Hope that you can find some answers soon, and all turns out well for you and your pup.


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 01:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the response and links. He is not, and has never been, on regular flea or tick control. I check him with a comb, at least once daily, and have found exactly one flea on him, which was immediately after we picked him up. As he does not have any evidence of fleas, and because I have small children whose hands are all over him, then in their mouths, topical preventatives, including shampoos, aren't even a remote option. He is on Heartgard (not Heartgard Plus), as we do have a mosquito problem here, but it is my understanding that the amount of ivermectin in a dose of heartgard is well below the threshold required for any kind of neurotoxicity response.

I understand that any of these preventatives are toxins in large, or incorrect, doses, and that any dog could, in theory, have an abnormal reaction to them. He does not, however, exhibit any of the symptoms listed for pyrethrin/pyrethroid toxicity.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
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Just another thought on this.... If there's anyone who would be willing to look at his gait and offer an opinion as to whether this could be a structural/movement/foot timing issue, I'd appreciate it. I'll be seeing the neurologist either way, but I do like to have as much information as I can going into an appointment, so that I can ask the right questions and better questions. Additionally, if the neurologist does not find anything, I'll likely see an orthopedist, as well, just to get the all clear on that front. Thanks again, in advance.
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