Elderly dog and hind leg problems

My dog is 13 and has recently started having an odd reflex of her hind legs. Sometimes when she walks, one or the other hind leg will suddenly flail out behind her very quickly. She doesn't seem to have any pain associated with this, and she will abruptly sit down when it happens. She seems frustrated by the leg spasm and after sitting for a minute, she will get up and try to walk again. After a few minutes of sitting, the spasms stop but she walks very gingerly, as if she's anticipating another spasm. It definitely comes and goes.

Her behavior is typical for an elderly dog in that she sleeps most of the day. She was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago and we give her insulin injections with her food twice a day. As a result of her diabetes, her vision and hearing has rapidly declined.

She is not suffering in any physical way. She eats, drinks, plays with my son and is happy and joyful when friends come over.

This recent hind leg problem has me concerned because I fear it may be something neurological and at her age and with her other health problems, I know that we would not be game for any heroic treatments.

We don't mind caring for her and she does have bursts of joy in her day. Just wondering if anyone has ideas about what could be going on with her hind legs.

She will see the vet on Monday.
We had a shepard mix with congenital hind leg problems that progressed as he aged. At first they were just weak, then became even weaker. Toward the end, our vet gave us medicine to try, but it did not help.

At the very end he was dragging his hind quarters off and on, and then the front legs went into spasms. We knew it was time to take him to the Rainbow Bridge.

We miss him very much, but he had a long and good life with us. We rescued him as an adult, so we don't know exactly how old he was, but we had him 11 years. So he was at least 12 or so.

He was mostly deaf, had cataracts and had lost most of his teeth. Like your dog, he was sleeping most of the time. But he enjoyed life until almost the very end!
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We had a shepard mix with congenital hind leg problems that progressed as he aged. At first they were just weak, then became even weaker. Toward the end, our vet gave us medicine to try, but it did not help.

At the very end he was dragging his hind quarters off and on, and then the front legs went into spasms. We knew it was time to take him to the Rainbow Bridge.

We miss him very much, but he had a long and good life with us. We rescued him as an adult, so we don't know exactly how old he was, but we had him 11 years. So he was at least 12 or so.

He was mostly deaf, had cataracts and had lost most of his teeth. Like your dog, he was sleeping most of the time. But he enjoyed life until almost the very end!
Originally Posted by alacurl
Thanks for responding. It's sad to have a friend for so long and know the end is near. My dog does not have a congenital problem; this has only started within the last few months. I'm sure it's related to her age.

My dog is a rescue was well.
What you're describing could have lots of causes, and yes, most likely something neurological. It's good that you're taking her to the vet Monday.

"Neurological" doesn't have to mean "the end." For example, my old German shepherd developed spinal myelopathy, very common in her breed. Eventually it was the main reason I had to make the decision to put her down, but from the time she first showed symptoms until that day, it was three or four years. She didn't seem to experience pain, just increasing loss of muscle tone and eventually control of her hind legs.

It's hard to have an old friend whose days are drawing to a close. We humans look into the future and see it coming and are sad.

The dogs don't know it and continue to enjoy their days. The hard trick is to stay in the present with them and enjoy the time you have left with them without worry and sorrow.

You'll know when it really is time, and meantime, try not to borrow trouble. Ha -- like I've ever been good at that, but I try. Give her a big hug for me. And good luck Monday.
"Tell me, are you incapable of restraining yourself, or do you take pride in being an insufferable know-it-all?"

"Honey Badger don't care!"
i have a 12 year old female german shepard who experienced the exact same thing as your dog. I was taking her for a walk one night and her back leg begin to "slip". She too did not experience any pain from it, just kept walking like nothing was wrong. It took a couple of weeks for it to progress and when it did it scared the schit out of me.
She was sleeping in garage one night and I went in to get her out and I saw vomit and feces everywhere and when she tried to stand up she couldn't, when she finally did get up she just started to fall all over the place. She would take a few steps and tumble, roll over, knock things over, and etc all involuntarily. Her eyes were glazed over and her head had this obvious tilt to it, like dogs have when they hear a funny sounds. Needless to say I started freaking out!
We took her to the emergency room and the doctor diagnosed her with geriatric vestibular disease which is actually common in older dogs.
Im not exactly sure what they said but it had something to do with fluid buildup in the temporal region around the ear which affected her balance. It usually clears up by itself in a few weeks, which it did. Her head eventually leveled off and she is now walking normally except for the occasional slip in her legs and the way she stands. We take her to vet every six weeks for a steroid shot and it helps a lot! Your dog will be fine!!!! Thoughts, prayers, and positive vibes are headed your way.
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You'll know when it really is time, and meantime, try not to borrow trouble. Ha -- like I've ever been good at that, but I try. Give her a big hug for me. And good luck Monday.
Originally Posted by fig jam
Thanks. I just want to make sure I do right by her. I just gave her a hug for you and she was annoyed because I woke her up.
Thoughts, prayers, and positive vibes are headed your way.
Originally Posted by Stephanie198907
I really do appreciate this.
You'll know when it really is time, and meantime, try not to borrow trouble. Ha -- like I've ever been good at that, but I try. Give her a big hug for me. And good luck Monday.
Originally Posted by fig jam
Thanks. I just want to make sure I do right by her. I just gave her a hug for you and she was annoyed because I woke her up.
Originally Posted by roseannadana
Ha! That's a good sign!

You'll do right by her -- you love her.
"Tell me, are you incapable of restraining yourself, or do you take pride in being an insufferable know-it-all?"

"Honey Badger don't care!"
My fourteen-year-old baby boy has a similar issue. He's a pound puppy with some shepherd in him. His back legs will suddenly go "out" on him and he ends up laying down. The worst part is how he looks at me. Kind of with this panic in his eyes. It's hard for me to see. I've had him since he was nearly one or so (the pound wasn't sure how old he was) and to say he is a tough SOB of a dog is an understatement. He'll go after anything and anyone and seeing him completely freaked out by his body getting old tears me apart.

I took him to the vet and they believe he has arthritis. The vet uses standard meds combined with homeopathic and we have him on some pain meds at the moment that seem to be helping. He's not hitting the end of the leash going after every dog like he used to. Instead he barks and barks...and barks...and growls...and barks some more. As if he's saying, "In my younger days, you whipper-snapper..."

The thing to remember (and it's really hard when we love these guys so much) is it's all about making him comfortable and happy, especially when they're at the age where any major "fix" only adds a few more weeks or months (and not necessarily comfortable or happy ones).

With an excellent vet and the proper meds, my guy has been going for a lot longer (years) than anyone expected. He's mean but he's mine, and I adore him.

Do what's best for your dog and you'll do what's right. Good luck.

--BW
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I'm so sorry. We are going through this with our elderly Boxer. It is his hips. He is still sharp as a tack & happy , so it is hard for my husband to put him down since he is happy and doesn't seem to be in pain. I just know it isn't the quality of life that our dog deserves. He deserves to be able to walk without falling. I'm sorry you are havign to go through this. It is really, really hard to deal with.
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