Odd gait issue. Wondering if anyone has heard of or seen this?

Teddy Bear is 12yrs 3mths old now, and is in good health.  Except an unusual gait problem has come up.  Of course, I brought him to our vet and will likely have to see a neurologist. Here are the key points:

1.  Indoors, on our hardwood floors, he can walk and run normally.  He does not slip at all and seems sure-footed.  He is very happy.  Vet ortho examine did not detect any joint pain at all.  If you came to my house you would think there is absolutely nothing wrong with this (indoor version) of Teddy Bear.

2.  Outdoors, on grass or on gravel or brick walkway -- he walks a couple of feet - then one or both rear legs violently jerk out behind him, almost like the "covering up poop" action gone wild.  He immediately sits down.  He will try to walk a couple of times, then he gives up.  

3.  This may happen any time, but it's much more evident after he's gone potty (either type).

4.  This condition first appeared 60 days ago and seems to have gotten worse over the last 30 days.

5.  Happens in both rear paws but the left one shows it much more frequently and intensely.

6.  Indoors, if he is lying on his side and I touch the bottom of his rear paws, the same leg jerking will happen.  I honestly don't know if this is something he always might have reacted to, since now I'm really checking him out very carefully.

He also no longer goes up our short flight of stairs, but I (maybe naively?) simply attributed that to the fact that he's twelve years old, so I don't push him to try it.

He is genetically A/A 'at risk' for degenerative myelopathy -- but shows no other signs (no toenail dragging, no balance issues, no paw placement problems).

I was just wondering if anyone has ever heard of or seen a similar symptom pattern?  My vet, in practice for 25 years, has not :-( 

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How fast do his rear paws return to their natural position if you turn them back (knuckling over) and set them down on the ground?  That is a good indication there is DM involvement.  Max had the shaking in his back legs, the left being the worst for several years before we saw any evidence of the slow return to normal position of his paws.  He was not as sure-footed on uneven ground such as outside but fine in the house.  He also didn't want to do the stairs.  We had to put a ramp over the steps from the deck to the yard for him.  He did have DM.

But I never saw a violent jerking out of his rear paws.  He did give up lifting his leg to pee tho and pooping where his butt was pretty much to the ground made for constantly cleaning his butt and because he was a fluffy we had to really keep his butt fur very short.

I hope you can get an answer and that it's just old age (not that is any fun either) and not anything worse.  Please keep us posted.

Thanks, Linda. At the vet, with Teddy being scared and the assistant holding him tight and holding his muzzle -- when the doctor did the knuckle test, he was slow to return it..or he did not at all. At home, when I try it he corrects his paws immediately. So I don't know how to interpret that.

Maybe we are dealing with DM, and maybe IVDD (although he doesn't seem to be in any pain).

I wish he could live another 20 or more years but I know the reality of the matter. I am just struggling with not knowing if we are right at the end or if this is the new normal for awhile and we can just manage with it. What scares me is that other than the no-stairs thing, there were no symptoms 60 days ago. Then it happened a couple of times. Now it happens every time we are outside.

Teddy is a fluffy too. He's my first dog.

My heart breaks for you, I know how difficult it is.  Max had IVDD in his neck years before he developed any signs of DM.  The IVDD was very painful, he could not move is neck and refused to bark.  Thankfully acupuncture kicked that to the curb fast and he was back to his normal self.  Unfortunately there is no cure for DM but there is no pain.  Each dog will react differently and the time frame will be different.  Max had also developed lymphoma so he went down hill pretty quick at that.  But he dealt with the DM for several years before that.  He was 13.5 when we had to make the decision.

My sweet Katie is now 13.5, cousin to Max.  She has shaking once in awhile and she occasionally slips on my hardwood but other than that and becoming senile (oh my) she's healthy as can be and still going strong.  She also keeps our 6 year old corgi in line.

It is never easy whether it's your first dog or your 10th, I have been there too many times with my dogs and my cats.  Try not to focus on the bad, they pick up on our feelings. Maybe Teddy has a year or maybe he has another 5.  Focus on the good things. Make changes in his routine and how you do things as needed.  But most important just keep on loving your Teddy and making his life the best possible.  And as always work with your vet.

Keep us posted please.

We are also going to try acupuncture, and booties for outside to see if that helps mute the issue. I can't see myself putting him through the stress of an MRI, etc. To either find out nothing, or find out there's something we would not operate on anyway, at twelve years old.

I really appreciate the sentiments, Linda and just knowing that there are folks here who understand what it means when our pups are not doing well...it really helps. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a mess over how worried I am about our Bear. I try to keep an upbeat, happy face around him, as you are right - he caught me crying the other day and he immediately plopped down right next to me and leaned against me.

Christopher....I am sorry for being MIA.  My husband got badly hurt at work on Monday and I have been at the hospital every day.

I wish none of our babies ever had to hurt or be sick but unfortunately that is the life cycle of everything.  Katie is 13.5 and I look at her and know I don't have a lot of time left with her.  But I enjoy what I have and try to make her life as good as I can.  Mine are all confused right now because daddy hasn't been home in 5 days and they are not use to me being gone for any entire day

Oh gosh Linda I am sorry to hear that! No worries at all I didn't expect you to stay on this thread...but thank you.

I really hope your husband will be ok.  Please accept sincere prayers from me and my wife for both of you, and for his quick and complete recovery.

We see the acupuncturist on Wednesday.  And the boots I got for Teddy (and modified so they are really more like ankle-braces now) - seem to help a lot when he is outside.  Like a 90% reduction in symptoms.  To help keep him exercised, we invented a new inside game - a handful of oat type cereal bits, and telling him to come across the kitchen/family room to get one.  We do that back/forth like 20 times, he trots across the hardwood with zero problem and it seems to be a good workout for him :-)  He has gotten a solid 30 minutes of exercise every day for his entire life, so I want to try to keep some semblance of that going... 

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.  This is going to be a long haul, my husband is 64.  He had to have a full hip replacement, broke the ball off and also has multiple pelvic fractures not to mention there isn't a place on his body that doesn't ache.  He got knocked off a truck by a load of steel guardrails that weren't loaded properly.  He was in the hospital that is 45 minutes away (down near where he works).  Today he was transferred to rehab that is 5 minutes from our house.  Since he works in a quarry he landed on all rock.  Ouch

Sounds good that he is walking better and happy to do your exercise game.  In human treatment those booties you are using for him would be called ankle foot orthotics or AFOs.  I worked 9 years for an orthotic/prosthetic company.  Let me know how the acupuncture goes.  I never thought about it till it was recommended for my Max for the IVDD in his neck.  I was so happy with it, dogs don't know if what it is, that I started doing it for my bad back.  Huge difference in my pain level.

That sounds very painful :-(  Hopefully he recovers quickly!

Will let you know how acupuncture goes.  Dr. Wedemeyer said after about 4 sessions we should know if it is helping or not.  Fingers crossed; the last 4-5 days he has been doing much better.  I know that these conditions can wax/wane so I am being very cautious in my optimism -- but right now I will take stable/better over degrading (!)


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