View Full Version : occasional limb weakness

24th October 2009, 06:56 PM
I am hoping for some advice.

For the last month 3 yr old Maxwell has been showing occasional weakness in his front legs climbing stairs or jumping onto the couch. The first thing I thought of of course was SM and mentioned it to my husband. We decided that we should watch Maxwell and see if he improves or gets worse. It's been a month and he's neither improved nor gotten worse. Sometimes Maxwell will fly up our steep stairs (to the second floor bedrooms) like he has for years and then other times he will take the stairs one step at a time, slowly, alternating his front legs on each step. (We live in an old house and the stairs are a bit steeper than a new house's stairs.) The same thing happens with the couch....sometimes he hesitates before jumping, most of the time, he seems fine. There is never any yelping. He does not have a scratching issue, and does not seem to have any other sm symptoms.

Should I be concerned about this behavior? His annual physical is due at the end of November and he was seen by the vet through the summer for an ear infection and diarrhea & vomiting. (they know him well) I am wondering should I wait until his annual or have him seen before then??? Any advice would be so appreciated.

Thanks :)

Karen and Ruby
24th October 2009, 07:16 PM
Theres a possibility that its SM but also a possibility its is joint related
Luxating Patella or Hip Displasia makes them unsteady on the front when jumping or going up as they are constantly thinking of the back legs and what they are doing

Vet should be able to tell just through manipulating the joints so dont let them talk you in to an expensive Xray!!!


24th October 2009, 08:14 PM
[QUOTE=Lynn;339629]I am hoping for some advice.

For the last month 3 yr old Maxwell has been showing occasional weakness in his front legs climbing stairs or jumping onto the couch.

Molly had weakness in her front limbs and her behaviour was what you would expect from an old dog, climbing the stairs very slowly etc. We obviously stopped her and carried her up ourselves. It turned out she had syrinx in her neck which caused the weakness in her front limbs. I would get him to the vet asap and if your vet does not have experience of sm I would get referred straight away. Good luck:xfngr:

25th October 2009, 12:02 AM
I agree with Tania, why wait until end November if you are worried now. Chaos has SM and she now hesitates before jumping on the bed. You see her sitting there sizing it up and making several false starts. Sometimes she is running up the stairs and she will suddenly stop and falter on the next step. I really hope it is something else but it is strange that it is only happening sometimes.

Love my Cavaliers
25th October 2009, 01:39 AM
Riley, my SM girl, has always had trouble jumping (and also never scratched or yelped in pain). She has to circle and circle before she jumps, sizing it up like Chaos and then sometimes she makes it, sometimes she doesn't. However, Oliver, who does not have SM, also has periodic trouble jumping. He has bulging discs in his back that bother him at times. When that happens, I give him Metacam and he recovers. I also try to stop him from jumping. i bought stairs for the couch and our bed. Riley uses them all the time. Oliver does occasionally. When his back bothers him, he also goes up the stairs one foot at a time just like an old man. So, for Max, it may be hips, patella, spine, or SM. He also could have just injured himself and it needs time to heal. Try not to let him jump too much.

25th October 2009, 11:50 AM
Harley has hip dysplasia and cm (which is expected to develop into sm) the first sign was weekness in the limbs, not sure which you should investigate first, my vet can spot hip dysplacia by watching the way they walk. di

25th October 2009, 11:50 AM
Regardless of whether this is SM, you are describing a potentially serious problem and vet really must check him out. :thmbsup: Consider it from a human point of view -- if your husband suddenly was having problems walking and experiencing limb weakness, it would no doubt be a problem for a specialist to explore right away. I would guess he may need an orthopedic specialist or a neurologist to determine what is going on. I wouldn't wait to see if this improves or worsens -- I would call and get an appointment the first thing on MOnday. Make sure your vet is aware of SM. If this is SM, waiting to see what happens next may significantly decrease your options for treatment. Most neurologists consider limb weakness to be a more advanced sign so really this is urgent, whatever the cause -- if only to eliminate the possibility of SM. Please let us know how you get on with him. :flwr:

PS Only about half of dogs with SM scratch. Many will not yelp or show pain in an obvious way, even though they live with it daily (Leo and Lily are both like this). The fact that he goes up and down stairs at times as you describe IS a sign of pain of some sort however -- he is going slowly because it is too difficult and uncomfortable to run. SM symptoms typically come and go and can even depend on weather sometimes. Hips might also cause such problems but I wouldn't expect his front legs to be the difficulty on stairs then? Other causes could have symptoms that also come and go, but your dog is telling you he is in chronic pain, though the signs may seem subtle. As he is having such difficulty, it would be best to have it checked immediately and get him some pain relief to get him more comfortable. :thmbsup:

Also: for hip dysplasia you would generally need an xray -- it would be very difficult to spot/confirm this without one. That is why xrays are necessary to grade dogs' hips -- too often hip Dysplasia goes unnoticed in breeding dogs. Laura lang (breeder) has written about this many times. Patellas are easy for a vet to spot by manipulation, but you'd have expected to see this two years ago or so if patellas and hind legs are the problem then.

25th October 2009, 01:38 PM
Thanks so much everyone. I'll call our vet tomorrow and get him seen. Their doctor does know about sm and cm. I gave her my copy of Claire's thesis a couple years ago just to make sure of it and that is when we discussed the issue.

:( I was so hoping that maybe he pulled a muscle....:(

29th October 2009, 06:56 PM
Maxwell saw his vet and when the vet was manipulating his shoulder, we heard it pop into place. His shoulder was luxating somewhat the vet said. We decided to go ahead and start to find a neurologist that is familiar with sm in the northeast US. I told the vet that I would travel to make sure that Max saw someone was very knowledgeable about sm....rather than just sending him to the most local place here in Maine. In the meantime we will see if Max improves...if he does improve, then we can cancel the appointment and discuss our next step, and if he does not improve, then we'll have an appointment on the books.

What do you think about his shoulder luxating?? Is this 'good' news or does not change anything??

Thanks again for all the advice you have given me.

29th October 2009, 09:31 PM
I would still get him checked out by the neurologist. Molly was diagnosed with all sorts of limb problems and had sm on top....we were thrown of the scent! I would play it safe.