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Mystery reoccurring dog lameness

My dog has been to the vet and will be going back, but I’d love to know if anyone’s seen something similar to this and might have an idea what it is or what could be done to help. Apologies this is kind of long.

Blue’s a greyhound, he’ll be 13 in November. Aside from this mystery problem, he’s been in fantastic health. About a year ago he was stiff and slow overall, so we did a course of Adequan and he went from struggling to go up a curb to enthusiastically jumping up a2.5’ wall for fun (his idea, not mine!). Every so often over the last several years, he’d take a few slightly wobbly steps on one back leg, almost as if it had fallen asleep. He’d also occasionally do something while running and limp for a bit on that leg. That always resolved quickly with some anti-inflammatories and rest, so we and the vet assumed he was just re-tweaking an old injury. His x-rays were totally clear.

What it’s turned into, though, is a couple worse episodes of that leg not working well. The first two started with a zoom followed by getting slow and wobbly on the walk home, then shortly turned into a lot of panting and obvious discomfort. He got more x-rays for this, again totally clear, no visible arthritis even. His stifle was swollen so the theory at the time was that he had some mild nerve degeneration going which was making it easier to reinjure that leg. Same as before, resolved completely with carprofen and rest. And we removed running from his activities.

But then the next time there was no discernible cause – we were on a walk on flat paved ground, he took no noticeable bad step, but went from chipper and happy on his walk to draggy and gradually limping then clearly very uncomfortable when we got home. His other back leg seemed slightly weaker than usual. He got another clear x-ray. Same treatment, recovered completely. At that point I talked to the vet again to see if there was any kind of maintenance medication he should be on and we decided to do another course of Adequan (about a year after the last one) in case it helped. He’s had one shot of that, and the weather changed to fall from summer overnight, and he was feeling great. Totally sound, full of energy, happy dog.

Then last night he was excited to go on a walk, took a wobbly step or two on the way to the door, and then was on three legs by the time we got outside. He peed and wanted to go back in, so we did that, and by the time he laid down he was panting heavily and clearly couldn’t get comfortable. I gave him some carprofen. After he didn’t settle any after an hour or hour and a half, we decided to take him to the emergency vet. Second back leg was wobbly when we went in, and the vet reported that the top of that hip was very sore. But she didn’t really have any other ideas, other than suggesting pain meds (carprofen and gabapentin) and x-rays, or a very expensive MRI. She said there was no other immediate treatment she recommended. I thought I’d do the x-rays at my own vet who knows his history, so opted to take him home. He was barely using his back end when they gave him back to me, and this morning he’s almost a ragdoll. If I’d realized he’d gotten worse I would have had them keep him over night.

So now the most immediate question is how to get him supported enough to have a bathroom break. And then what’s after that? Since he’s fully recovered from previous episodes I don’t want to jump to anything irreversible. If he does recover, Is there anything I can do to prevent reoccurrences? Is there testing anyone suggests, or questions I should ask the vet? I’ll be calling his regular vet later today.

have they done a detailed study on his neck ( normal and reflected positions). Could this be a soft tissue or bony change in the neck ( wobblers) Unfortunately MRI may be a better choice if non-bone issue is in play

In theory degenerative cruciate injuries should result in bony changes, but imagine there’s the odd case where it doesn’t. The swollen stifle would point me there. Maybe ask your vet if an ultrasound for partial tears is worth pursuing?
If he’s otherwise healthy and the CCL is the culprit that surgery could help. Or braces if you’d rather try the conservative route.

Just talked to the vet nurse and she thinks it may be essentially a slipped disk type of thing, which has a cycle of happening suddenly, healing, then reoccurring. Setting up back x-rays (and will ask about neck), and hoping the meds work within the week. He’s had leg and chest x-rays before but no pelvis or spine.

Poor guy was so embarrassed having two people hold him up to pee this morning. He at least seems relatively comfortable flopped on his bed.

Unfortunately, this sounds very similar to a dog of mine that had significant back issues. Hugs!

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Go see an actual neurologist. This really sounds like my dog with back issues. A neurologist will be able to palpate and tell things your regular vet can’t.

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I agree that a neurologist visit is a good idea. If you are in the New England area, I highly recommend Dr. Silver at Mass Vet Referral Hospital. I took my then greyhound to her for similar issues and while I can’t remember exactly what she said, I believe she thought it was her neck.

The other thing to keep in mind is that your sweet boy is 12. I have had 5 greyhounds (numbers 4 and 5 are still snoozing in bed) and at that age you are in what I call the bonus years. We lost our first one at 10 (bone cancer) and out second one just made it to her 12th birthday before we lost her (brain cancer). The same one I mentioned above made it to 15 1/2 and her hind end got weaker and weaker as she got older and eventually also had bladder/poop control difficulties. There wasn’t anything that really worked other than just to keep her comfortable. We got her a harness with a handle and an optional back end support strap for when she needed it.

Hugs to you and your hound. :heart:


Small update from today’s vet visit. He was a little uncomfortable over night, but also slightly more mobile this morning - held himself up some and even took a few steps to find the right spot to pee.

His regular vet was able to squeeze him in today and took back and pelvis x-rays. His spine looks fine, so sign of narrowed spaces between vertebrae, so probably not a slipped disk like we suspected. A tiny bit of hip arthritis that wouldn’t explain this. We also looked through old videos together and it turns out I don’t just have a poor memory, it has sometimes been the other rear leg.

It’s a little wait and see for now, and then decide about maybe getting an MRI at Penn to look for a spine injury or slow tumor. Has anyone found that helpful in addressing something like this? Very interested in hearing people’s experiences.

He is almost 13 and that’s obviously part of all of this. And we’re very lucky he’s made it this far in such good shape.

Just so you know you can’t see a slipped disc on an X-ray you have to do an MRI or have a neurologist do an exam. The neurologist won’t even take an X-ray because it’s a waste of money they can tell a lot from an exam.

I feel your pain, my beloved 13 yo greyhound has back issues, old injuries… everything. A couple of years ago he had a stroke and he was like a ragdoll, could It be he had a series of minor strokes and then a big one?
Mine has no slipped disks but only a bada arthritis, we also suspect some grade of spinal stenosis. We manage it with Lybrela and CBD Oil.

Have your vets considered DM , Degenerative Myelopathy?
Some greyhounds do have the gene for it.
As DM develops it can be difficult to diagnose
since the lameness starts in hind end as a mystery lameness and can come and go. But always comes back.
My last shepherd had it. Adequan helped initially but eventually even that stopped working.
Some joint supplements helped for a while.
So sorry you are dealing with this.
Google DM Greyhounds.

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Thanks everyone, these are all helpful to hear.

I am close to Penn’s small animal hospital and they have a neurology office and an MRI. One thing that’s not clear to me yet is what influence it has on treatment. From what the vets have said, it could show small tumors or a slipped disk, but the treatment for both is steroids so what would we gain from the $5,000 (:flushed:) MRI?
Degenerative Myelopathy was his vet’s first thought the last time this happened (it was much less severe), but I’m not sure how that fits with the MRI. I’ve also seen meyelogram (spelling?) mentioned in online articles but neither vet has mentioned it and I forgot to ask.

Any update?

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One the one hand he’s doing a lot better, far more mobile and cheerful than he was. But he still needs help moving around and gets tired quickly. He’s a little better every day but definitely not in a good place yet. Going off carprofen for two days to switch to prednisone set him back a ton, and he gets muscle wasting almost immediately when he’s on it. As an extra complication what looked like a small scrape on his bad foot turned out to go down to the bone and grew.

Now that that’s cleaned and bandaged he’s a lot perkier and this morning was trying to do some kind of bunny hop speed dash down the block. So we’re giving him some more time to see how it goes. Goes back for another bandage change tomorrow.


But improvement - yay! He’s adorable. Fingers crossed things just keep getting better.

Hope you have a good cover for that bandage. Trying to use a plastic bag is the worst. I can find what I have and give you the name if you need it. My googling didn’t pop it up easily.

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I’m happy he’s improving, I’m positive about him, greyhounds have a strong will and despite their fragile aspect they are tough. Go Blue :heart: all Max’s family is jingling for you


He’s walking pretty normally now except for the sore foot, just gets tired super fast, possibly because he has very little muscle. In his mind, though, he’s ready for walks. I don’t think we’ll let him up or down the front stairs any time soon and I fear reoccurance, but for now I’m happy it’s going in a good direction.

The vet gave us a super thick plastic bag thing that’s been working great as a rubber boot.

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My partner came up with a much better protective boot option to keep the bandage clean on walks: one of his soccer grip socks fits perfectly, and the toe is reinforced with some duct tape on the inside (wouldn’t want to ruin the sporty look lol). Poop pickup bag goes on underneath for waterproofing.

I laugh every time I see it but Blue was immediately so much more mobile with it. He made it around the small block over the weekend - we’re in a city rowhouse neighborhood - and we ran into a few neighbors who were so excited to see him doing better. It was really sweet, they’re all people we nod to but don’t happen to chat with often, but they were all cheering him on.

Yay for Blue! He does indeed look very sporty (and handsome)!

We have purpose made sleeves from Clean Break Protector (I looked at the tag) but it looks like maybe they are no longer in business. Which is too bad because it’s a great product - and made specifically for greyhounds originally so they know the challenges!

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He’s continued to do well, staying mobile and starting to gain weight back, and his wound is healing well. He got to celebrate his 13th birthday at his favorite neighborhood bar, although was disappointed there weren’t more fries and people there to pet him.