Rear Leg Weakness / Spasms / Kicking - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums

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Old 01-27-2013, 11:14 PM
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Rear Leg Weakness / Spasms / Kicking

I've got a wonderful almost-five year old golden of my own, but I've been caring for my in-law's nine-year old golden for the past week. Yesterday I noticed some new behavior with his rear legs. While his rear legs have become increasingly weak as he's gotten older, yesterday he started violently kicking out his hind legs after returning from a walk. This lasts for 10-15 minutes, and he'll maybe flail each leg backwards 5 - 8 times over this period of time. He repeated the behavior a couple times today. According to my in-law, this is new behavior - not something she's seen before.

It appears to be an uncontrollable spasm almost like what humans might do if a leg were to fall asleep, and his legs appear weaker when this is happening as he'll frequently squat down after flailing a leg. Sometimes he'll also lick the pads of the leg he's flailed backwards. I've checked his pads, and they appear fine. I've also tried wiping the pads down with a damp warm cloth, as there have been salt and chemicals on the sidewalks due to the recent snow. While these chemicals might contribute to some discomfort, I don't believe it's the primary case of the flailing/spasms since it's only occurring with his rear legs.

Is this just muscular degeneration due to old age? Is there anything I should be looking for, or avoiding to help him deal with this behavior? He's due for a vet visit when his owner returns, so I'm hoping to get the behavior on video for his vet to review. Thanks very much for any advice or help you can provide.
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:11 PM
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Our 9 year old boy Seger has had hind leg weakness for quite a few years, and also experiences violent spasms and flailing. He is worse when he is tired, after a busy day outside or a particularly long walk. Last year, after numerous consults, xrays, tests, trials etc Seger was diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis. The specialists at the veterinary college in Guelph explained to us that all of his symptoms are likely due to a degenerative neurological problem. The same nerves affecting the larynx also cause the hind leg weakness and spasms. Seger's neuropathy is progressive and there is no "cure" - at last visit in October it was determined he has minimal sensation left in his hind paws. He also licks his paws a lot and I believe it is because of reduced or maybe a strange sensation. They say this condition often occurs in dogs who also have thyroid issues, which Seger has. Having said all of this, Seger still runs like the wind, and is able to go up and down the stairs for the most part unless he is really tired and then he may stumble a bit. His toes also drag, particularly when he is tired.
We were dismayed when Seger was diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis, but relieved to finally have an explanation for the degenerative neuropathy affecting his rear legs. We have found that having the canine chiropractor see Seger every month does seem to provide some relief from the spasms. We can't be sure if this is painful for him and are currently looking into laser treatments. We also load him up with supplements to try to maintain his maximum function and so far so good
Definitely videotape the spasms - this is what we did and our vet posted it on an online vet forum - it was through this that the suggestion of laryngeal paralysis was made and which prompted us to have Seger scoped and diagnosed.
Good luck with having your boy diagnosed.
Carol
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:41 AM
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Thanks very much for your reply. We were able to get some video of his leg shaking - and will show it to his vet. We kept his walks short yesterday, and also this morning - and made it back to the house without any leg kicking, so maybe over-exertion over the weekend exacerbated the weakness of his legs.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:45 PM
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I might add, after re-reading my post, that Seger requires no treatment for his laryngeal paralysis at this time. We have done nothing to deal with it and he is fine - it was just nice to get that diagnosis and to be able to make the correlation with his rear leg weakness and spasms. In spite of all he has going on he is happy, active and a joy to be with. Looking forward to hearing what your vet thinks
Carol
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:29 AM
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Welcome to the Forum! This is a good place to find support for all sorts of things, not to mention just having a good time with people who know and love dogs.

Without seeing the spasms you describe, it's difficult to know what might be the cause. On possibility, especially in an older dog, is focal seizures. Canine seizures can be caused by many things, including hypothyroidism, reaction to a chemical or food, or a brain tumor. Somethings are easily treated while others are not.

A consultation with a veterinary neurologist would be an excellent way to find out what's going on and establish appropriate treatment. It's important to note that if these are seizures, leaving them untreated is harmful, since each seizure makes the next one more likely.

Best of luck!
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