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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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Hind leg and back exercises for older dog

So Kascha, our 12 year old, has been getting less and less steady on her hind legs. We actually had a couple of incidents last winter where she slipped and fell a few steps on the 15 steps heading for the main floor because her back legs were too wobbly. So I ended up taking her to Dr. Hudye in Regina who massaged her hind legs, did accupuncture and then a laser therapy session (we both got to wear cool matching goggles). She was very tired that night but much more mobile the next day and her spine was a lot less hunched. She was disagnosed as having arthritis in her lower spine. So Dr. Hudye recommended massaging her back legs daily to undo any knots in the muscles that formed and some spine and fascia extensions. It takes about half an hour and she's doing much better now, she's much steadier on the steps and her movement seems much smoother. She has a second appointment tomorrow with Dr. Hudye to discuss possibly getting a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit. So my question is does anyone else have one and what results have they seen?

Secondly, last week I got curious and got our soon-to-be 4 year old doberman to lie down on her side so I could check her back legs and Lois had tight spots in the exact same muscles/places as Kascha usually has. So I actually have been doing doggie massage for Lois as well a couple of times a week. Dr. Hudye had suggested that the spinal issues might be partially due to tail cropping, and both dogs have very, very short crops (not our choice, Kascha was a rescue we adopted when she was ~6 years old and Lois was 3 years old). I've also had Lois's hips x-rayed and they passed the OFA requirements. So I'm wondering if maybe some of these issues are due to lying on couches, the same way a bad mattress can be bad for human backs? Any thoughts? Dr. Hudye emailed me Kascha's spine x-rays if anyone is interested in seeing them.

Last edited by Saskdobie; 07-02-2019 at 02:29 PM. Reason: More details added.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 05:25 PM
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I think that the massages are probably good for any dog. The hind end weakness your older Doberman is experiencing is pretty normal for his age - 12 is a fantastic age, and that he is still able to do those steps is pretty awesome. Dobermans are pretty reckless in their play, and it certainly is not unusual for one to have muscle or skeletal issues from the way they play as if they are indestructible - haha. I've been in the breed for a very long time, and have never heard anyone ever suggest that a docked tail could cause spinal issues..... so I personally think your vet is blowing air on that statement. Lots of vets are very anti docking and cropping.... a little too on board the Animal rights bandwagon for my tastes. There are a lot of docked breeds out there - I think that if docking caused spinal issues, it would have been out there a long time ago..... dogs have been docked for 100's of years.

I have an 11 1/2 year old male who is starting to have some weakness in his rear. He is still very sound and has no issue with all of our stairs yet, but I know that I may have to take him out the front door for potty time at some point to avoid the staircase they have to go down to get to my dog run and yard..... Don't know what I would do if he could no longer make it up the stairs to our bedroom.

So as a note, hind end weakness in an old dog is pretty normal in any breed -

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fitzmar Dobermans View Post
I think that the massages are probably good for any dog. The hind end weakness your older Doberman is experiencing is pretty normal for his age - 12 is a fantastic age, and that he is still able to do those steps is pretty awesome. Dobermans are pretty reckless in their play, and it certainly is not unusual for one to have muscle or skeletal issues from the way they play as if they are indestructible - haha. I've been in the breed for a very long time, and have never heard anyone ever suggest that a docked tail could cause spinal issues..... so I personally think your vet is blowing air on that statement. Lots of vets are very anti docking and cropping.... a little too on board the Animal rights bandwagon for my tastes. There are a lot of docked breeds out there - I think that if docking caused spinal issues, it would have been out there a long time ago..... dogs have been docked for 100's of years.

I have an 11 1/2 year old male who is starting to have some weakness in his rear. He is still very sound and has no issue with all of our stairs yet, but I know that I may have to take him out the front door for potty time at some point to avoid the staircase they have to go down to get to my dog run and yard..... Don't know what I would do if he could no longer make it up the stairs to our bedroom.

So as a note, hind end weakness in an old dog is pretty normal in any breed -
If you're interested, Fitz, this is the link to the Veterinary Medical Center website, they have a whole page on stretching videos: https://www.vetmobilitycenter.com/videos
The main exercises that were recommended for Kascha were basic hind limb stretches and sphinx stretches. They don't take long and they make a world of difference.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 11:48 AM
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I absolutely agree with Mary Jo--hind end weakness in aging dogs (particularly bigger, active dogs) is common. I have a dog who is now 13 years 8 months--he ran agility until he was nearly 10 when we retired him. In his 11th year I noticed that he was kicking is left knee out when he sat--checked it out because I suspected it was going to a partial cruciate tear--it was and his vet, his orthopedist and I agreed that at his age and considering the surgery necessary to fix it and the follow up exercise regime that it wasn't in the books.

So he's on pain meds--the cruciate tear was a little worse a year and a half after we first saw and identified it. He doesn't limp--he has learned to climb and descend stairs one at a time (his former method was a huge jump from the top or bottom hitting the stairs about three times to get either up or down)l About the time he turned 12 he stopped being able to jump into the back of my truck--so now he rides in style in a friends van basking on a big padded area behind the driver--sometimes I go with him and sometimes I don't.

We just take this stuff as it comes along. And about the business of tail docking maybe causing hind end problems. I used to hear that from older breeders and occasionally from vets when I was first in Dobe (1959) haven't heard it suggested in a long time.

I don't do massage on this older dog although I have on other dogs--but torn cruciate ligament really only respond (if they respond at all) to rest and reduced exercise and his other leg has a couple of large lipomas (he has many) one in the upper thigh and the other in the lower thigh--and he is not comfortable with even very mild massage--so he gets petted a lot and we go for slow walk and he goes out in the yard with me when I'm doing yard work which he likes to oversee.

But for a dog rapidly approaching 14 he's very mobile and actually looks a good bit younger than his actual age in spite of the lipomas and occasional skin tags.

dobebug--and the very old Toad
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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My husband was anti-spending cash on an older dog as well, but she's probably the sweetest and best behaved of the five dobermans we've had (it's her in my message pic). And she loves being able to head up the stairs at night and sleep in the big bed. She does have this really unfortunate habit of scratching with her wobbly hind legs right at the top of the stairs first thing in the morning that I'm finding increasingly terrifying for her.

Mostly I wanted to know if anyone had ever used a TENS machine because it reads like it's good for humans and animals and my husband and I aren't getting any younger. So if it actually does help with pain reduction it could be good for the whole household. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323632.php And we're trying to avoid using pain medications as long as possible as she's been on Stilbesterol for almost 6 years now for her thyroid condition and I don't want to put her on anything else that might speed up trashing her little kidneys.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fitzmar Dobermans View Post
.... I've been in the breed for a very long time, and have never heard anyone ever suggest that a docked tail could cause spinal issues..... so I personally think your vet is blowing air on that statement. Lots of vets are very anti docking and cropping.... a little too on board the Animal rights bandwagon for my tastes. There are a lot of docked breeds out there - I think that if docking caused spinal issues, it would have been out there a long time ago..... dogs have been docked for 100's of years.
There are a number of genetic mutations that cause spinal malformation (example short spine syndrome) and bobtails...those can come with spine problems in the rear end and hind leg weakness. The selection for screw tails in developing certain breeds (bulldog types, for example) may result in problems--the screw-tail shape is due to abnormal shape of tail bones, but this abnormality can also affect other parts of the spine with serious consequences.

There is also at least one gene which codes for the bob-tail commonly found in herding/sheepdogs (among other breeds.) That gene is dominant--if the dog has one copy of the gene he will have a bobtail; two copies are typically lethal in utero. Testing can be done for that gene and it is recommended that you not breed two bob-tailed dogs together.

All that, of course, has nothing to do with the actual docking of a dog's tail post birth.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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There are also at least one gene which codes for the bob-tail commonly found in herding/sheepdogs (among other breeds.) That gene is dominant--if the dog has one copy of the gene he will have a bobtail; two copies are typically lethal in utero. Testing can be done for that gene and it is recommended that you not breed two bob-tailed dogs together.
Off topic, but tails for manx cats are the same. I hadn't realized that there were also dog breeds with the same genetic issues. Interesting!
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 04:54 PM
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Along the same lines and also somewhat off topic Since you're the OP, Saskdobie, I figure it's OK to go this direction:

"Ancestral T-Box Mutation Is Present in Many, but Not All, Short-Tailed Dog Breeds"
--Oxford Academic Journal of Heredity

https://academic.oup.com/jhered/arti...0/2/236/851021
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 05:55 PM
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Iíve attempted tens machines on a dog with rear ended weakness, she wouldnít tolerate it so I canít say it will help but IMO anything is worth a try. We also did physical therapy, acupuncture and laser therapy, we saw slight improvement.

Put a baby gate at the top of your stairs so she canít accidentally fall down them.

I have some exercises you can do to help with stretching, muscle building and core strengthening, but Iím at work and donít have time to type them out. Check back tomorrow morning and Iíll have a list for you
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saskdobie View Post
Off topic, but tails for manx cats are the same. I hadn't realized that there were also dog breeds with the same genetic issues. Interesting!
Bob tails of various lengths are recorded way back--this includes the Doerman--I've seen at least three Dobe litters that had one or two bob tails and early breeding was tried to fix the trait but the breeders found that just as with the manx cat you would end up with no tail dogs who often had no anus, spinal malformations etc--the recommendation was made to not attempt to breed for bob tails.

And in Australian Shepherds the breeders are also very aware of the problem in trying to breed for genetic bob--one of the oldest books on Aussies makes a point of recommending that no Aussie from a litter with natural bobs be bred to an Aussie who is also known to have had natural bobs in in the litter they came from.

there is more information on bobs in the Manx but if you go and look up information about breeding bobs you'll find that it is recommended that no tailless cats be bred together and bobs not be bred to no tails and that no tails be bred to Manx with tails to avoid the endless problems that ending up with no tail bred to no tail can give you.

dobebug
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2019, 12:29 PM
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Iíve done physical therapy with two different dogs, here are some of the exercises they had us do for stretching and core strength

Nose to tail& nose to rear foot, lure your dog to bring her nose to her tail, repeat several times a both sides. I find that sometimes it helps if you stand next to her so that sheís curling on the opposite side, helps to get them to plant their feet and do the exercise instead of turning in a circle.

Bow, self explanatory

Sits downs stands, do these in random order I.e. sit to down, down to sit, stand to down, down to stand etc.

Weave, just like in agility, driveway stakes placed in The yard works well for this

Sitting in the stairs, sit 3 or 4 steps up and encourage your dog to put front paws on the step right in front of you and leave rear legs on the main floor

Crawl, self explanatory

Cavalatti (sp?) poles, place pvc pipes on the ground pax 12-18 inches apart (depending on individual dog) and have dog walk walk over them, you want her spot step in between the poles, encourages her to be aware of her feet and pick them up

Bosh Ball, with ball side up work on having her put her front legs up at first and just balance (can also do this ball side down for more advanced work), then work toward having her put all four feet on and do sits, donít sits with ball side down, itís to unstable and she could fall. Also, ball side up, have her put her front feet on it, rear feet on the ground and have her move her back feet in a circle around the ball, do in both directions
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-10-2019, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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I've been massaging Kascha's hind legs to work out any knots, then some sphinx stretches and then some competitive crawls with Lois included so she doesn't get jealous of all the attention for Kascha. However, I've actually started massaging Lois's hind legs as well since she's actually getting larger knots than Kascha's, and the vet just recommended most of the exercises you listed for Lois.

Kascha actually tried hydrotherapy (a tank that fills with water with a treadmill strip in the bottom) on Friday but she refused to walk on the treadmill. We also had her on a bosh ball (it looks like an enlarged jelly bean with banding on the ends?) doing stretches but I think the stretches were a little too aggressive because afterwards she rubbed a patch raw near the top of her right hind leg that had been healing nicely and she's been noticeably dragging her right leg.

So I was checking into nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) yesterday and came across a product called Dog Pain Away Description of Ingredients - Home. It claims to use a lot of naturally-sourced dog safe anti-inflammatory ingredients (e.g. tumeric). Although there's a warning near the end that dogs that have seafood allergies shouldn't use this product since one of the ingredients is shellfish-based. She's already taking Ubasport glucosamine/chondroitin supplement so I thought this product might be worth trying, has anyone had any experiences, good or bad, with this product?

Last edited by Saskdobie; 07-10-2019 at 12:29 PM.
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