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Front legs do the split and go rigid

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#1 RoseAmy


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Posted 10 May 2012 - 06:55 PM

13 year old dog.. No previous health issures. In fact every morning hes out moving sheep around helping train the young dogs.

The first time this happened was about 2 months ago. He stood up to look out the back door window and some how or other ended up on the floor. He was on his chest with his front legs straight out to the sides. Imagine doing a split. The odd thing was his lower legs was up off the floor. Almost like he was trying to flap them like wings. He was alert..panting a bit..I just assumed he landed with a thud and it hurt. Kind of like when you hit your funny bone. Rubbed him and helped him up and all was well. Never gave it another thought.

Today he walked over to where I was sitting. I was looking right at him and I can't tell you what happened, but next thing you know he's on the floor. Hindlegs fine..but front legs out to the sides like wings held up off the floor. I stood over him and raise him up and his legs just stayed out to the side would not hang down. Again he was alert, in fact when I talked to him he wagged his tail. But those legs were rigid. Again after a few minutes I was able to help him up. And he walked off like nothing.

I'm beginning to think some kind of seizure..don't really know to much about seizures but it doesn't really seem typical..

#2 juliepoudrier


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Posted 10 May 2012 - 07:31 PM

I think it warrants a trip to the vet. Maybe get a photo or video if it happens again. At his age it could be so many things. At least maybe some basic bloodwork and a thorough exam (chest and spine radiographs maybe?) to rule out the obvious. Sorry I'm no real help..... Please keep us updated.


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#3 Alchemist


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Posted 10 May 2012 - 11:00 PM

I second the recommendation for a trip to a vet.

The forelimbs of dogs are not designed to splay out to each side. Normal abduction angles are 20-30 degrees or less (with zero degrees being straight down). What you're describing sounds more like a 90 degree abduction angle. On each side. This only seems possible to me if there's been some damage to the tendons/ligaments of the shoulder.

Best of luck, and let us know what happens!

#4 RoseAmy


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Posted 11 May 2012 - 07:51 AM

Our regular vet isn't in the clinic until Monday. Have an appointment for Mon.

Video is a good idea but it happened so fast and only lased maybe a minute if that, I probaly wouldn't have time.

He seems normal..worked the young dogs in the 10 acre field and he helped by driving sheep to far end and holding them for outruns etc. Ran ahead when we were done and went swimming then acted like a goon waiting to get fed.

I agree that his front legs should not be able to get in that position...but he's moving sound and is not acting like anything is painful. And this guy is a big whimp..so I sure if something was bothering him I would know it.

#5 Alchemist


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Posted 11 May 2012 - 02:02 PM

The splaying out to the side part sounds as if it could be evidence of medial shoulder instability (bilateral in your dog's case). Canine equivalent of a rotator cuff injury. Not sure what caused it in your dog's case, but again, I'm going on the basis of the fact that canine forelimbs don't usually splay out naturally anywhere near this far.

You might want to Google it before you go. I'm afraid it's something that your everyday vet would not necessarily think to diagnose, which is why you may want to do your homework first. (I have not had very good success with regular vets' diagnosis of ortho issues). And it can present as only intermittent lameness.

#6 emilyfalk


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Posted 15 May 2012 - 07:10 PM


This certainly sounds odd. I'd wonder if it is more of an episode of "generalized weakness" vs. a musculoskeletal injury to the shoulders such as would be the case with MSI/rotator cuff. The scapulae (shoulder blades) are attached to the torso with only muscle holding them in place, so I wonder if something that would cause your dog weakness could result in him getting stuck splay-legged. Beyond a thorough PE, I'd check thyroid function as hypothyroidism can do some very strange things, as can TBD. Those are two diseases that might not be on every vet's radar depending on their experiences.

FWIW, my 11yo working dog had an acute episode of weakness and staggering that turned out to be hypothroidism. She'd been a little off in her work (which I'd attributed to age), but otherwise fine until she woke up from a nap falling all over herself. And no, it was not vestibular disease!

Hope your dog is OK, let us know!

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#7 RoseAmy


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Posted 16 May 2012 - 12:51 PM

Well vet check when good. I guess. Blood work was all normal. The orthopedic surgeon was visiting that day and he looked at him and watched him trot back and forth and saw or felt nothing.

Both my regular vet and the orth vet felt that PE was showing above average for what they would expect in a 13 yr old dog, and they could not get any sort of pain response from him, to wait and see if it happens again. They felt the next step would be xrays and mri. But thought that in a 13yr old the best thing might be wait and see.

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