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9 year old Lab with forelimb lameness that defies diagnosis

jtd
August 4th, 2011, 09:23 AM
Posting here to see if anyone has any wild ideas. We are fresh out!
We have a yellow lab that started limping on front left leg last November (2010).
Since then, we have had the following tests done on Jack:
Hip and leg x-rays to rule out dysplasia – Negative
Foot x-rays to rule out broken toe(s) – Negative
Ultrasound – unremarkable
MRI to identify soft tissue injuries or Nerve Sheath tumour – Nothing found
He has been on all types of pain killers and none seem to have any effect:
NSAID’s
Prednisone
Narcotic (Tramadol)
Currently on Gabapentin as it is apparently a safe long term pain reliever.
He was tested for Lyme and other fungal/bacterial infections – all negative. We ran him through a 4 week course of Doxycycline just as a precaution. He actually seemed to improve on the antibiotic but only slightly.

The muscles of the scapula (shoulder) area are atrophied but the muscles of the leg and foot are not. (much like the description of “Sweeney” in horses)

The limp is getting progressively worse. He exhibits no pain on palpation of the shoulder, leg, foot etc. He has full mobility of his neck etc. The only thing that makes him exhibit ANY discomfort is when you fully extend, basically pull on, his leg.
He is now reluctant to put any weight on the foot. He has favoured it all along but now he is actually lifting it off the ground the majority of the time. He is now licking the paw on the affected leg fairly frequently.
Lastly, we have tried acupuncture with no obvious result.
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Jeff and Susan

hazelrunpack
August 4th, 2011, 09:51 AM
I'd never heard of Sweeney's so I looked it up. Nerve damage is certainly a possibility, especially given the way he's licking his paw. I've seen dogs with atrophy of head muscles due to nerve damage after head trauma or because of a tumor on the main nerve that innervates the muscles. Does your vet suspect that there may be nerve damage?

If so, would you consider taking Jack to see a specialist? If there's a veterinary teaching hospital near you, the staff there can be a great resource in tough cases. They see so many things that general practice vets do not.

growler~GateKeeper
August 5th, 2011, 12:08 AM
Is your dog a puller that is walked on a neck collar & leash?
Has your dog been assessed by a trained animal chiropractor?

http://www.peterdobias.com/community/2011/07/dog-collars-can-cause-disease-and-possibly-lead-to-cancer/
Excessive paw licking and foreleg lameness can also be related to your dog’s collar

Leash pulling impinges the nerves supplying the front legs. This can lead to an abnormal sensation in the feet and dogs may start licking their feet. These dogs are often misdiagnosed as allergic and all that needs to be done is to remove the collar and treat the neck injury.

Neck injuries can cause a variety of problems.

Some dogs suffer severe whiplash like injuries from being jerked around. Extension leashes do not help because they encourage dogs to pull. They are faced with the imminent jerk when they get to the end of the line.

Most people do not know that leashes and collars can be at the core of many problems and that just one incident of pulling or running fast to the end of the leash can be serious. So how can we reduce such risk?

A harness – the collar alternative.

Over the years, I have searched for the best way of making dogs safe and to prevent neck injuries. Harnesses that have the leash attached at the front of the chest are the best solution because they distribute the pressure of tugs and jerks throughout the whole body and keep the neck and throat free.

Many harnesses on the market have the leash attached on the back and pulling still restricts the front portion of the neck thereby pressing on veins, arteries, nerves and energy channels.

When you choose the right harness, make sure that your dog’s harness is the right fit and follow the maker’s instructions carefully. Use the harness only when leash walking and take it off when your dog is off leash. Ensure that the harness is not pressing or rubbing anywhere and that it is washed regularly.

If your dog is adequately trained, give him as much off leash time as possible. If you have a “puller” have his neck examined by a vet, physio or chiro experienced in neck assessment. You may want to get his thyroid level measured and the neck and back checked for any signs of injuries. Keep in mind that many veterinarians are not trained in checking spinal alignment and working with the right practitioner is essential.

If you are looking for gentle and effective treatment methods, homeopathy, physiotherapy, intramuscular needle stimulation, chiropractics, acupuncture and massage are the best choices.

jtd
August 5th, 2011, 10:00 AM
Is your dog a puller that is walked on a neck collar & leash?
Has your dog been assessed by a trained animal chiropractor?

Thanks for the reply

Nope, he was always a gentle walker. The acupuncturist / Vet is also a trained animal chiropractor. He has examined form that angle and didn't feel anything unusual.

jtd
August 5th, 2011, 10:07 AM
I'd never heard of Sweeney's so I looked it up. Nerve damage is certainly a possibility, especially given the way he's licking his paw. I've seen dogs with atrophy of head muscles due to nerve damage after head trauma or because of a tumor on the main nerve that innervates the muscles. Does your vet suspect that there may be nerve damage?

If so, would you consider taking Jack to see a specialist? If there's a veterinary teaching hospital near you, the staff there can be a great resource in tough cases. They see so many things that general practice vets do not.

Hi
Thanks for the reply. Jack has seen many specialists - 2 x Bone, neurologist etc. I think our next step will be Guelph teaching hospital. Our main vet thinks nerve damage may be a possiility.

Hopefully we can get the boy some relief.