The sections of the canine spine. Intervertebral discs are found between the vertebrae, starting between the second and third cervical vertebrae (C2-3) and extending throughout most of the spine. Radiographs are only able to show the size and position of the bones. The hyperactive reflexes lead to progressive muscle wasting in the rear legs, and eventually affect your dog’s ability to control movement in the rear legs. Next is vertebral instability (“wobbler syndrome”), in which “the spinal canal narrows, placing pressure on the nerves affecting hind limb motor function,” says Dr. Benson. In Practice 29: 434-444, McKee WM, Butterworth SJ and Scon HW (1999) Management of cervical spondylopathy-associated intervertebral disc protrusions using 7.5 mm and 6.0 mm intervertebral metal washers in 78 dogs. Hind leg weakness in senior or old dogs Canine Degenerative Myelopathy, also referred to as DM, is the most common reason why older dogs develop progressive weakness in their back legs. Congenital osseus malformation can occur anywhere in the neck and in this condition the shape of the affected vertebra, or vertebrae (usually more than one bone is affected), is abnormal from birth resulting in narrowing of the spinal canal and compression of the spinal cord. Unfortunately dogs may have already been bred by the time of diagnosis. The genetic basis of this syndrome has not yet been determined. (Image property of Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral service, to whom we are grateful for the permission to reproduce them here). It is illegal to copy, reprint or republish any content or portions of content from this site without the author's permission. The degree of nerve damage varies from none to severe, causing paraplegia (loss of use of the hind limbs) and progressing to tetraplegia (loss of use of all four legs). It’s important to properly diagnose hip dysplasia so you can give your dog the proper treatment like the use of a harness that supports the back legs of your aging canine. My 4 year old male doberman started limping in his left leg suddenly. Currently there is no way to know which Doberman puppies will become affected. Signs typically begin at 3 to 7 years of age and may include difficulty using the hind legs, tail weakness, and incontinence. Doberman pinschers often suffer from hypothyroidism, resulting from low production of the thyroid hormone from their thyroid glands. Those animals which do not have surgery generally have a guarded prognosis; surgery can improve the prognosis but is not without its complications and may not bring about a cure. When your dog’s hind legs suddenly go weak, there could be any number of causes, says veterinarian Dr. Jules Benson, BVSc, chief veterinary officer with NationwideDVM, a pet insurer company. If your doggie is still young, you’ve got to be vigilant. The type of pain may differ based on the underlying cause. However, many Dobermans do not show signs until after breeding age. From there I examined his paws, pads and toenails and applied firm pressure to the leg … In a smaller proportion (15%) there is a sudden onset of signs with few previous problems (Seim & Withrow 1982). That this disease is highly breed specific shows that there is a genetic basis to it but currently the genetics are unknown. The pressure on the spinal cord that occurs in these conditions can cause pain, nerve dysfunction or both. Medically reviewed by Dr. Jules Benson, BVSc. Usually the dysfunction starts insidiously but they can appear suddenly, sometimes after minor trauma of a sort that would not cause a problem to a normal dog (Seim 2000). Journal of Small Animal Practice 40: 465-472, Olby NJ (2003) Update on Canine Wobbler Surgery. Vertebral disc protrusion can result in pressure on and constriction of the spinal cord as the inner core (red) of the disc protrudes through the outer layer in to the spinal canal. A veterinary surgeon will suspect cervical vertebral malformation syndrome when presented with a Doberman showing the characteristic signs of the disease. The loss of the ligament causes the knee to become unstable and painful when the dog attempts to put weight on it. Figure 5. It has also been suggested that animals should not be used for breeding if any of their close relatives have been affected. Probably the most common cause of a middle-aged dog who suddenly starts limping on a back leg is a ruptured cruciate ligament. Figure 7. When the dog's vertebrae are aligned well and the dog's spine is flexible and in good shape, you'll see a happy and healthy animal. Hip dysplasia in Doberman Pinschers. Related terms: cervical vertebral instability-malformation syndromes, wobbler syndrome, cervical vertebral instability, canine caudal cervical spondylomyelopathy (CCSM); cervical spondylomyopathy, cervical malformation-malarticulation, cervical spodylolisthesis, cervical spondylopathy, congenital osseous malformationOutline: In cervical vertebral malformation syndrome, primary malformations of the neck bones along with secondar… Dancing Doberman disease (distal polyneuropathy) is a genetic neurological disorder that causes the dog’s hind legs to flex on their own, making him look like he is dancing. Affected dogs often hold their head down as this tends to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and the dog may feel less pain in this position. In nearly every case … In this type of cervical malformation male Dobermans are affected twice as often as females (Seim 2000). This can cause chronic pain, which can be severe, and disrupts nerve signal transmission leading to loss of hind limb and, later, fore limb function. Other Possible Causes of Sudden (Acute) Hind Limb Weakness in a Dog. The spinal cord is made up of delicate nerve tissue which transmits sensory and motor information between the brain and other parts of the body (excluding the head). This may occur secondary to instability created by degenerative disc disease or may be a primary problem that itself predisposes to disc displacement (Seim 2000). Health problems in the Doberman Pinscher, plus honest advice on feeding, vaccinations, neutering, good and bad vets, pet health insurance. It is recognised as a disease of Dobermans but there are few published data on its prevalence in the breed. Currently there is no way to know which Doberman puppies will become affected. On-line VIN Associate accessed 14.11.2011, VanGrundy TE (1989) Canine wobbler syndrome Part I.  pathophysiology and diagnosis. The pain caused by compression of the spine can be severe and persistent, but not all affected Dobermans seem to suffer it. Journal of Small Animal Practice 30: 657-66, Lewis D (1992) Cervical spondylomyelopathy (`wobbler syndrome') in dogs. The Doberman’s head and neck conformation may cause increased stress in the caudal cervical vertebrae and this may be the reason for the prevalence of the condition in this breed (Lewis 1992, Sharp et al 1995). The main symptom of this disorder is presented by the affected dog holding one leg up in a bent position while standing; the alternate limb usually becomes affected three to six months after the onset of the condition, with the same behavior. The faster these cases are caught and treated, the better the prognosis, says Dr. Benson. Because the disease is a result of instability in the positions of the neck vertebrae, and their positions alter with the posture of the head and body, it is often necessary to take a series of radiographs with the dog in different postures (Lewis 1992). In most Dobermans (65%) the condition is slowly progressive but, in some (20%), the disease starts slowly and then there is a sudden acute worsening of signs. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 18: 241-251, Sharp NJH, Cofone M, Robertson ID, Decarlo A, Smith GK and Thrall DE (1995) Computed, tomography in the evaluation of caudal cervical spondylomyelopathy of the Dobermann. It is a chronic, progressive disease and without treatment, the dog’s condition will gradually deteriorate. Western Veterinary Conference, Bruecker KA, Seim HB and Blass CE (1989) Caudal cervical spondylomyopathy: decompression by linear traction and stabilization with Steinmann pins and polymethyl methacrylate. About this Site | Privacy Policy | Contact Us, Copyright 2016 | All Rights Reserved |, Sudden Back Leg Weakness in Old Cats: 3 Common Causes, Gradual Hind Leg Weakness in Older Cat Includes Cancer, Top 5 Injuries Small Dogs Get When Exercised Too Hard. Relief of the pain can be difficult. Recurrence of the problems can occur following surgery. Dobermans are typically middle-aged when they become affected, in contrast to the situation in great Danes in which younger animals are affected. Eighty percent of cases of cervical vertebral malformations in dogs occur in Great Danes and Doberman pinschers (Bruecker et al 1989, Lewis 1992). It has been reported that 80% of the cervical vertebral malformation cases seen in dogs are in Great Dane and Doberman pinscher breeds. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 21: 377-91, Jeffery ND and McKee WM (2001) Surgery for disc-associated wobbler syndrome in the dog-an examination of the controversy. pp992 W.B. Damage to the spine in the neck through other causes may cause identical signs to this disease so further tests are needed to confirm the condition and to assess its severity (and the likelihood of a response to treatment). The genetic basis of this syndrome has not yet been determined. Surgical treatments to attempt stabilisation of the vertebral column or to decompress the spinal cord and eliminate the narrowing are often recommended. One of the common Doberman pinscher diseases affecting this breed is characterized by weakness in the hind legs. Your vet will take blood samples and perform a skin scraping to get to the bottom of the problem. Care is needed, because these signs can also be caused by other diseases or injuries (McKee 2007), and veterinary manipulation of the head and neck can lead to collapse (Lewis 1992). Dr. Benson explains that hip and knee problems, such as cruciate ligament injury and hip dysplasia, can present with what appears to be sudden-onset weakness in a dog’s back legs. It has been suggested that diseases with an unknown mode of inheritance may be controlled using the approaches employed in tackling polygenic (multiple gene) disorders (Bell 2010). Another possible cause of sudden back leg weakness in a dog is intervertebral disc disease, says Dr. Benson. Muscle atrophy (decrease in size) often occurs in affected limbs (McKee 2007). Paralysis or extreme weakness in your dog’s back legs for more than 24 hours? 8. This may be difficult to treat and affected animals are likely to endure suffering prior to treatment and this may persist after treatment. (for more information click on the links below). The content on this site is meant for information and guidance only, not for diagnosing or treating medical conditions. Her back left leg was not 100% for years from some unknown condition and then the good back right one’s ACL got injured. Figure 1. A wide stance and lack of control over the hind legs (and in some cases of the fore legs also) are also characteristic signs of cervical pain and cervical vertebral malformation syndrome. The syndrome can cause long-lasting pain and disability and is usually progressive. Normal intervertebral discs consist of two parts: a central gelatinous part, called the nucleus pulposus (NP), which is contained within an outer fibrous layer, called the annulus fibrosus (AF). 5 hours after that, I noticed him limping. Journal of Small Animal Practice 42: 574-581, Lewis DG (1989) Cervical spondylomyelopathy (‘wobbler’ syndrome) in the dog: a study based on 224 cases. The Doberman’s head and neck conformation may cause increased stress in the caudal cervical vertebrae and this may be the reason for the prevalence of the condition in this breed (Lewis 1992, Sharp et al 1995). The limb dysfunction affects locomotion and behaviour and may significantly decrease the dog’s quality of life. Third-party ads or links to other websites where products or services are advertised are not endorsements or recommendations by Scary Symptoms for the third-party sites or their products or services. In Practice 14: 125-130, Lipsitz D, Levitski RE, Chauvet AE and Berry WL (2001) Magnetic resonance imaging features of cervical stenotic myelopathy in 21 dogs. “Sudden hind limb weakness or paralysis can be a clinical sign of several conditions, including degenerative myelopathy, in which parts of the nerves in the spinal cord responsible for hind limb mobility degenerate,” begins Dr. Benson. This has only been reported in Dobermans, which is why it is named as such. Back legs will “give out.” If you suspect your dog may have hip dysplasia, it is important to get them to a vet. Each intervertebral disc is a highly specialised structure, designed to act as a mini shock absorber for the spinal column. The pressure on the cord may occur only when the neck is held in particular positions and the compression may be from any direction (eg side to side or top to bottom). The condition is caused by a gene mutation. Hair loss, dandruff, and acne are good indicators that something is wrong. So far, with conservative management the back right ACL injured one has improved but after an idiot down our street startled her on bathroom walk the left got injured. Each disc consists of an outer layer (the annulus fibrosus) and an inner core (the nucleus pulposus). Diagram of the vertebral column. Perhaps one of the most common causes of dog back problems is intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). The dog will alternate legs, appearing to dance around. The effects of pressure on transmission of nerve signals in the spine usually shows as dysfunction of the hind legs. They may move in an ‘exaggerated’ way, seeming wobbly (hence the name wobbler’s syndrome) and ataxic on their hind limbs with a stiff or choppy movement of the forelimbs. He explains that this occurs when bulging discs put pressure on the dog’s spinal column. The Doberman’s head and neck conformation may cause increased stress in the caudal cervical vertebrae and the high prevalence in the breed may be because of this (Lewis 1992, Sharp et al 1995). Wobbler syndrome, in which the spinal column develops improperly, can lead to limping especially in the rear legs. female dobermann hind leg problems my female dobermann is 8 years old and she is having problems with her hind legs. The Doberman’s coat was bred to require little maintenance. These include radiography (x-rays), myelography, computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Characteristically, the dogs start becoming ‘wobbly’ or ataxic on their hind legs, adopt a wide hind limb stance and scuff or drag the hind limbs when moving. They most commonly get ventral compression of the spinal cord at the junction between cervical vertebral bones C5/ C6 or C6/C7. (Image property of Dr Phil Witte, to whom we are grateful for permission to reproduce it). Dobermans are typically middle-aged when they become affected. About 40% of affected dogs show obvious signs of pain (Seim 2000) but others may show changes in behaviour and the way in which they hold their bodies in order to avoid pain. Cervical vertebral malformation syndrome is a multifactorial condition resulting from various primary developmental abnormalities of the vertebral neck bones which then predispose secondary degenerative changes that in turn narrow the spinal canal (spinal canal stenosis) and compress the spinal cord (VanGrundy 1989). Currently, studies are underway at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Ohio State University, to try and elucidate the genetics of this condition in the Doberman (da Costa 2011). Vertebral tipping is characterised by the cranial dorsal (front top) part of the vertebral body tipping upwards causing narrowing of the spinal canal and, in some cases, compression of the spinal cord. will not be liable for damages arising out of or in connection with the use of this site. The Doberma… The accepted colors for the breed include black, red, blue, and fawn -- a light yellowish brown. Another possible cause of sudden back leg weakness in a dog is intervertebral disc disease, says Dr. Benson. Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian 12: 144-157, Support the genetic welfare problems web resource, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, The International Animal Welfare Science Society, Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals. Dogs have seven cervical vertebrae bones in the neck (numbered 1-7 starting from the head). In this type of cervical malformation, male Dobermans are affected twice as often as females (Seim 2000). Degenerative lumbosacral stenosis is a disorder of the vertebrae in the lower back that causes compression of the nerve roots. Wobbler’s Syndrome mostly affects large, fast-growing dog breeds. An MRI scan of a dog with deformed vertebrae and intervertebral disc protrusion (blue arrow) causing severe spinal cord compression. When surrounding tissues are damaged, spinal nerve tissue may easily become damaged also resulting in pain and sometimes spinal cord dysfunction (neurological disease). This may progress to also affect the fore legs. How do you know if an animal is a carrier or likely to become affected? This can occur in Dobermans because of the head and neck conformation of these dogs. They most commonly get ventral compression of the spinal cord at the junction between cervical vertebral bones C5/ C6 or C6/C7. This comprehensive limitation of liability applies to any kind of damage including (without limitation) compensatory, direct, indirect or consequential, loss of data, income or profit, loss of or damage to property and claims of third parties. like she would lose her faculties. Although all dogs can develop allergies with symptoms reflected in hair loss and skin lesions and infections, Doberman pinschers are often affected and there may be a hereditary component. (Image property of Southern Counties Veterinary Specialists, to whom we are grateful for permission to reproduce it here). However, as genes are considered to play a role, choosing a puppy whose parents and other ancestors are free of the disease seems logical. Pathophysiology Literally, hip dysplasia (CHD), means”badly formed hip”. The disc degeneration and protrusion may result from vertebral instability or from primary disc degeneration (Hansen type II disc protrusion) (Seim 2000). Its posture is alert and proud, while its gait is fast and loose. Symptoms of hip dysplasia in Doberman Pinschers include moving more slowly, difficulty in getting up or lying down, reluctance to walk, jump or play, refusing to use stairs or get into the car, muscle atrophy, limping, yelping when touched, changes in appetite, and personality changes. Allergies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Avoiding breeding from animals with affected close relatives is also likely to help eliminate this disease. Proceeding of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Penderis J and Dennis R (2004) Use Of Traction During Magnetic Resonance Imaging Of Caudal Cervical Spondylomyelopathy (“Wobbler Syndrome”) In The Dog. This is potentially dangerous but necessary in some cases, although the technique has been partially replaced by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans (Lipsitz et al 2001, Penderis & Dennis 2004, McKee 2007). The disc degeneration and protrusion may result from vertebral instability or primary disc degeneration (Hansen type II disc protrusion) (Seim 2000). Besides the occasional pulled muscle, they also suffer from more serious back problems such as vertebral malformations, vertebral dislocations, bone fractures, and even cancer of the vertebrae. Proceedings of the British Veterinary Orthopaedics Association Autumn Meeting 2006: 4-5, Seim HB (2000) Diagnosis and treatment of cervical vertebral instability-malformation syndrome. The syndrome causes disability and can cause long-lasting pain. Cervical malformation syndrome in Dobermans usually develops in middle age, but it may be seen in dogs as young as 18 months, and it is progressive (Tomlinson 2001). Providing easy-to-understand information about your medical concerns. The spinal canal stenosis that is also common in these animals compounds the condition by increasing the pressure on the spinal cord (Raffe & Knecht 1980, Seim and Withrow 1982, Lewis 1989).