Our family's dog lost the use of her legs

Yesterday our family’s dog lost the use of her back legs

Spread the love
Get email updates when we post

Tuesday morning began like any other morning – our oldest dog, Chesney, an eight-year-old German shepherd, loudly protested her canine brother running upstairs to say hello (she is notoriously loud and protective of our daughter’s room). A short time later, Chesney went outside to potty like any other day and nothing seemed amiss.

Fast forward 2 hours – I left to run an errand with my daughter. We were gone for 30 minutes and when we returned, Chesney could barely walk up the stairs. I “hoped” that she had pulled a muscle, but it was quickly apparent that something terrible was happening. She did walk to the top of the stairs and even managed to come down to eat…but she struggled to go back up the stairs.

By the time we were able to get into the veterinarian, she was completely paralyzed in her hind end – completely. As we sat in the exam room, we learned that it could be anything from a tumor on her spine, to a rare spinal infection. Based on her x-rays, the veterinarian believes that she has a herniated disc, brought on by arthritis. According to the veterinarian, there is hope that Chesney may regain the use of her legs over the next several days – she told us to be patient as it could last upwards of two weeks.

If she does not regain the use of her legs, she indicated that we will need to talk about quality of life and possible euthanasia.

Chesney is a big girl – weighing in at 85 lbs (not overweight, just a big shepherd) and in otherwise great health – her blood work came back perfect. But, she is big – and getting her up and outside is almost impossible. Getting her in and out of the car is impossible without two people – this.is.hard.

I know there are others who have experienced something similar and would love to hear about other pet owners’ experiences – what helped, what didn’t? Anything to give some hope – we are devastated. And to all of you pet owners who struggle with veterinary costs – I understand. Yesterday’s visit was over $500 – if surgery winds up being indicated (with only a 50% chance that it would even work) we are looking at thousands…

Please leave your comments below – especially if you have ever experienced anything like this. And please, keep our beautiful Chesney in your thoughts. We are praying for improvement.

The founder of the American Red Lion Animal Rescue Fund has graciously offered to collect donations for Chesney’s veterinary expenses. I am humbled by her offer. If anyone is interested, the link to make a donation can be found here.

More news, updates, funny videos and memes on the National Animal News Facebook page.


A neglected dog’s amazing transformation

34 replies
  1. Pamela Garlisch says:

    Please check into animal chiropractors and acupuncturists, they work wonders! If it is something that needs surgery then by all means do it, Chesney only has one life and I’m sure she doesn’t want to give it up just yet. We spent $3500 on our cat through Care Credit and paid it off over 3 years. It’s worth it!

  2. Dee says:

    I’ve not had to go through this experience so my thoughts and prayers are with you. While this FB group tends to lean toward doxies, they have a wealth of experience that you might be able to get some guidance/answers from: IVDD and Other Back Disorders in Dogs.

  3. Donna Kitti says:

    I am going through this with my Doberman now. One minute he was fine next he couldn’t walk or get up. He was born with a spinal abnormality but now is 8 yrs old. The vet put him on predisone and antibiotics but did not help. I have been taking him to a place in LA called Two Hands 4 paws which does rehab for dogs. After his first session which consisted of accupuncture and laser treatment and some meds he started to respond. He is now beginning to stand and slowly moving his legs to try to walk. It will be a long recovery but I have some hope and like you know it is very expensive to treat medically so this is the best I can do as I’m limited on funds, just thought I would share my story and my prayers are with you

  4. Bunny Peters says:

    Hi Penny:

    We will keep your gorgeous, precious furbaby & your family in our prayers.

    I have extensive experience with quadriplegic dogs and cats. It’s totally possible for a disabled furbaby to live a good life with a disability. Disabled furbabies (& people for that matter) just do some things differently…..

    There are websites, such as “Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog”, with fantastic information to help plus information on resources, tips on dealing with a disabled furbaby……

    Please email me & I can share more information…..

    • Bunny Peters says:

      You should consider taking Chesney to a Rehabilitation Veterinary Clinic. We have such a clinic near my home & they work with the animals the same as a human rehabilitation specialist. There is laser therapy, acupuncture, exercises, underwater treadmill, special Chinese herbs & holistic medications to help control pain and stimulation of nerve regeneration. It’s absolutely incredible what can be done. I could easily write an article about the amazing work that these rehabilitation veterinarians’ work….

  5. Nancy Gregory says:

    I’m assuming that Chesney was put on steroids? I would recommend a consultation with a Neurologist as soon as possible if you have not already done so. Prayer said for Chesney and your family.

  6. Sandra says:

    I have spent more on rescues that have had less time. It was worth it. They make wheel chairs for dogs. There is a gentleman that makes them. Look into that. Shes a family member and quality of life is still long.
    I have rescued and had to diaper bath and carry lambs, goats, calves dogs and cats.
    My last one was a few hours old from a meat truck. The vet told me she was very sick. Her 20 weeks of life was worth every penny. Please find someone to care for her if you can’t. I will keep you all in my prayers.

  7. Ivey says:

    I haven’t had this issue, but I “swear” by CBD Oil. I give it to my 12 yr old Pomeranian and I’ve seen a world of difference in how she gets around!!

  8. pennysdachshunds says:

    about 16 years ago one of our little dachshunds tried to jump from the cedar chest to the waterbed and missed and hung by his front legs injuring his disk… and was paralyzed in his back legs … my husband ( a trucker) drove to Bozeman Mt. ( Dogs-on-Wheels ) and we got him a custom made wheel -cart … and he used it for several years until he passed . it has been loaned numerous times over the years to others. With one of our other dogs we did the lazer Therapy and it worked wonders and he was able to walk but no stair climbing… if there is a Veterniary School near to you they may be of service as a learning tool for attending students without charge.. you may want to look into that option… there are a lot of options .. and hopefully someone will come to your assist in your town… I can tell you are very caring and loving people and others who know how much a pet is cared for will Walk the miles with you….

  9. Laura Miller says:

    Hi Penny, I’m assuming Penny this is your GSD?
    Laura from Sophie’s Village. Yes, we have personally gone through this recently with our Corgi Mix, June. Do not go for euthansia right now. It’s too premature. First, do you have a Blue Pearl near you? They specialize in these things. When the Xrays came back and showed that the leg we knew had previously been operated on with her former owners, was supposed to have had the screws taken out of the acl surgery, but they were still there. June had a torn miniscus disc in that leg and then a partial acl tear in the good leg. Her entire back end went out.
    After cold laser therapy, physical therapy, COMPLETE bed rest for six months, (how do you have COMPLETE bed rest for a dog?), decreasing hard food, introducing green beans at 1/3 cup and 1/3 cup hard food to keep weight down while inactive, Gamapatin, Tramadol, Meloxicam for inflamation, we bought a GenPet stroller to take her out to potty, small little square foot area to potty, then back inside, and continued physical therapy, then introducing Canna Pet dosages, she slowly started getting to what we now call June’s new normal.
    It will never be what it was before. Her arthritis has set in and we are making her very comfortable. She can’t jump and down, she can’t go up and down stairs anymore, but she can enjoy our walks in her stroller and there will not be anymore surgery for her. When we were days away from surgery, she is 10 years old, I said no. If she tears the other leg, then it’s all for naught. We will treat as we did above, rest, hydrotherapy twice a week for a month and then we trimmed that back to twice a month. It means you are more hands on with treatment, and she has a very good quality of life. It’s when that changes, then, you look at quality of life measures. Canna Pet is used by alot of our rescues for relieving pain for osteoarthritis dogs. It helps tremendously.

    Get the Xrays first and then feel free to email or message me through Sophie’s Village. I subscribe to Pet Rescue, so my email address is available to you.

    Now, here is our journey and what has worked and has not.

  10. Adrienne says:

    We had a similar experience with our girl before we had to take her in for the final time. She was part pit bull and lab type, so at almost 60 lbs. we had to deal with her getting up and down the deck stairs and even just getting up from a laying position and sort of helped her back end up as she was using her front paws to get up. She would cry to us when she was in one room and we were in another. She also took glucosamine chondroitin which helped for a while and also a gel for pain on her back legs to help her when walking. You will know when it is time, but we also had diapers on her since she couldn’t make it outside. There are many ointments that you can apply to your dogs hips that would help with pain, so just try various solutions. Good luck with your baby.

  11. Christine Brown says:

    You will both be in my thoughts and prayers. Have you ever thought of starting a gofundme. I have seen a lot of people helping with owners animals helping them to pay the cost of the vet bill.. You could even try vet pay. They helped me to pay for our two dogs treatment. Have paid one up and now have started to pay the next bill off

  12. Viki says:

    My German shepherd has a poss. herniated disk , also came on suddenly execept she can get up barley and started to loose balance. Could not do MRI did xray arthritis and also poss disc issue…Prednisone high doses ..she had to clear her system from Rymidal same class as tramadol..do not combine prednisone and tramadol or rymadal can kill a dog. It helped her she just turned 8 and also is bigger shepherd at 80lbs…but she stopped wanting to eat due to pain they are a stoic breed and dont show they are in pain. pednisone helped..vet said sane if she was unable to walk w assistance prednisone …rest and get harness to lift like luggage. .and or towel or sheet around her back side to assist to potty… And when I mean rest then he to just lay there maybe the veterinarian can also prescribe a pain killer for her I would give that a try I guarantee who that within a week or 2 will be improvement, there was in my case…i thought we would have to euthanize as well but after a week started to improve slowly..

  13. Pamela G says:

    This happened to my 13.5 yo pit bull Sigmond. He was fine one day and then couldn’t walk. He tried to, but it looked like he had no control over his hind end and would fall over. He had a 66% spinal cord impingement. We did do the surgery. It was e pensive but worth it. He was walking 3 days later…a littl shaky, but walking. He had a sling so that I could help him if he needed. Each day he could walk a little longer and he eventually made a full recovery. The only thing he didn’t do was stairs. He could do a few but not an entire flight without his sling. The vet said that he may relearn but at 13.5 I didn’t push him. Sigmond lived to 15.5 still walking!!

    I don’t know where u are located, but I do know an incredible neurosurgeon (he operated on Sigmond!) in NY. He may even be able to refer you to someone. Please reach out if you habare questions. I’d be happy to answer anything!!

    My friends dog had the same surgery a year ago. She made a full recovery as well. Don’t lose hope!

  14. Barkley's Mom says:

    My heart goes out to you, We went through this with our 13 year old Barkley and sadly we had to let him go 3 days before his 13th birthday. We tried every kind of medicine, shots and he just kept getting worse, watching him struggle around the yard and fall was heartbreaking. He was a big boy too and we are in our 70’s so I know how hard it is to deal with one that can’t walk. One morning I went to let him out and he wouldn’t even try to get up, I couldn’t get him to eat or take his medicine, even his favorite treats went untouched. I knew he was done. Chesney is only 8 years old and this came on so suddenly that she may be able to over come this. You might be able to get her wheels, we didn’t explore this with Barkley because of his age and his front legs seemed to be getting weaker also. I will keep you and Chesney in our prayers and hope that she turns around.

  15. Lori says:

    When our 9-1/2 year old English Mastiff girl (who weighed close to 150 at the time) began developing degenerative myelopathy in 2014, we got her a Help ’em Up Harness. It was a lifesaver. I’m sure it gave us more time with her. Towards the end last year, at over 12-1/2, she began to and ultimately lost total use of her back end (by this time she was down to about 120-ish). It took both my husband and I to get her outside and then she let us know she was “ready.” She was still alert and aware of what was going on but she began losing control of her bladder and bowels. She let us know she her poor body was worn out. Prayers and positive thoughts for your sweet girl Chesney.

  16. Jane says:

    Hello Penny, so sorry this has happened to your girl, it’s scary when things are sudden like this. I had an elderly dog w/ stenosis, he was 93 lbs. Function of back legs more gradually decreased but was difficult. As another responder says, I used a towel around his waist to help him when needed, to get up and even go outside for bathroom. I had a ramp to get him into vehicle. We tried Rimadyl at first & he had severe adverse reaction (like a stroke), upon which I decided no more meds like this. For the rest of his life he saw a veterinarian who is well experienced in acupuncture & herbs. We initially used low dose enteric aspirin then eventually prednisone when he was toward the end of his life. Please don’t give up without giving her a chance to recover and looking at other possible avenues, like assessment by an experienced vet like this. Acupuncture isn’t terribly expensive & there aren’t downsides to it in a situation like this- it’s effective at reducing inflammation, helping healing (which she needs right now) & it can keep dogs ambulatory (walking) with greater quality of life, for longer. My vet is long experienced & also teaches nationwide, she would be able to refer you to a skilled doctor in your area who practices acupuncture. Don’t give up. What’s happening right now is the “acute” phase and healing can happen. Here’s contact info- pls call & ask her for referral to someone in your area. PM me also if u need to. Best wishes for her healing. Keep posting w/ updates if you don’t mind. My vet: Michelle Schraeder, DVM, Mountain Vet Hospital, Bellingham WA 360-592-5113.

  17. Lori Armstrong says:

    When our (at the time) 9-1/2 year old English Mastiff girl Keegan (who then weighed close to 150) began developing degenerative myelopathy in 2014, we got her a Help ’em Up Harness. It was a lifesaver and I have no doubt it gave us extra time with her. Towards the end in 2017, at over 12-1/2, she began to and ultimately lost total use of her back end (by this time she was down to around 120). It took both my husband and I to get her outside. We were planning a move to Colorado from Washington and had just had a mobile vet come to the house about 10 days earlier to evaluate the chances of bringing her along – the vet said at that time, based on her attitude, etc., she thought it would work. The last few days Keegan let us know she was tired and was “ready.” Her body was worn out, even though she was still alert and fully aware of her surroundings. She began losing control of her bowels and bladder. We called the same vet and Keegan left us surrounded by the whole family – her canine sister and two feline “siblings.”

    Prayers and positive thoughts for your sweet girl Chesney.

  18. Melissa Gurley says:

    The only advice I can give you is don’t give up miracles happen everyday in the meantime I am praying for your fur baby and you and your family I pray for a speedy recovery for your beautiful dog

  19. Kim says:

    Get the helpemup harness. It will save you back and make it easier to help her up and pick her up. It is designed to be worn all day if needed. You can pick her up with it too.
    Rest, rest, and more rest with antiinflammatories, tramadol, possibly Gabapentin and Methicarbamol in a crate or pen so she can’t move around without help. If you can get acupuncture and chiropractic work done it will really help. Start with acupuncture, I have seen it work miracles.
    Earlier this year my 5yr old, 25# poodle was running and screamed, fell over then was dragging her back legs. She had herniated a disc. We were incredibly lucky that she recovered 80% in the first 24 hrs and 99% recover y in 2 weeks. I am a vet tech and knew to immediately imobolize her so she couldn’t do any more damage.
    I also fostered a small dog that was suddenly paralyzed in the back end. It took 2 years of physical therapy at home, but he can now walk and run. He’s a bit wobbly, but a happy dog.
    I can’t stress how much rest she needs and don’t let her try to get up without you supporting her spine. The helpemup harness must be used with both the front and back end together. It is a life saver for you and your dog.
    Good luck, I hope she regains the use of her rear legs. My thoughts are with you.

  20. Helen Montalvo says:

    Please if nothing helps your precious little furbaby, please get in touch with Mango on a mission she helps pets gets chairs and carts. She has a Facebook page and tells you her story.
    Thank you Ms Helen Montalvo.

  21. Diana Roby says:

    Penny, sorry to hear about your GSD’s problem with back legs. Has your dig been checked for ticks? There have been several cases in the last few years about ticks causing paralysis. Just a thought. I read the comments and it seems pretty universal that euthanasia is not the answer. A cart sounds like the best suggestion. In addition, there are stair chairs that can be used to help up and down stairs. Hopefully this will only be temporary. Good luck.

  22. Dalma Bugg says:

    Please stick with it. Chesney is as gorgeous as her name, and I’m sure has a wonderful life apart from her current setback. There are payment schemes offered by many Vets, if that is an issue for you – talk to your Vet about arranging that if surgery is needed. Most importantly, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES (sorry for capitals but this is important) let your Vet call all the shots or talk you into euthanasia. Dogs with disabilities can still have a wonderful quality of life, disability is not a death sentence. Put Chesney first in all your decisions, get a second opinion re surgery and future care. Thoughts and Prayers for Chesney to recover without need for surgery, and guidance for you with decisions. Don’t overlook therapy with CBD Oil, it’s working miracles in many cases of severe pain.

  23. Jackie Wells says:

    I had a little 16 lb fluffy…who out of the blue one day lost the use of her back legs. I called a vet specialist I knew and he said bring her right in. He said the same thing except he said it could be 1 of 3 things and the only way to find out is an MRI.. It was done to rule out…ruptured disc, spinal tumor, and spinal thrombus..blood clot. It was NOT the first 2 ..so had to be a blood clot. I had to keep her on strict crate rest for around 3+ weeks…..VERY strict crate rest…like,,,take her out to stand and pee and poo..but no walking around at all. It was such a wonderful outcome and gradually she began to walk again !!! I know it’s expensive to have an MRI…but was so worth it in her case…you might want to do exactly the same thing , just in case it’s a clot….Good luck..I know how scary and devastating it is..but many many dogs do get along fine and live happy lives with doggie wheelchairs. This is really not a reason to put a dog down. Please try to absolute crate rest first…it can take a few weeks….but so worth it.

  24. Cristen McConville says:

    Prayers your baby <3 Did you try steroids? They are a short term possibility… They have helped my Puggy girl Ginger. What about a cart?

  25. Shelia says:

    The same thing happened to a friend of mine’s Doberman. However, they did have the surgery and it took some time and therapy, but was a complete success. Her dog is running and playing like nothing every happened. Sending lots of love and prayers your way that Chesney makes a complete recovery with or without surgery!!!

  26. lana says:

    You are in my thoughts and prayers. It seems like this sort of thing has been on the rise since two years ago. It seemed like everyone I knew had this happen to their pets. A lot arose from use of flea/tick medication and if I recall two small pets had died from it. Then more owners were contacting vets because there was a rise in this type of immobility in their pets which some narrowed it to some type of neuro problem which could be anything from a virus to a mini stroke. My dog experienced the same immobility problem and the vets thought it was a mini stroke she had. They gave her the steroids and it helped her at the time. It there was another way I think I would have chosen it. I’m not a fan for steroid usage. Several reports from other vets used a water bath therapy and the dogs regained usage of their hind legs. I would definitely get a second opinion if possible before any surgery. There may be other options that would work for your little one. But if you can consult with a neurologist for animals who could give you a little more clear view on your options or what caused this would be the best next step.

  27. Chelsi says:

    So sorry you are going through all of this. The same thing recently happened to one of my dogs. We noticed him being in pain when touched on his sides, then his left leg started giving. (This started on a Thursday) I took him to the vet the following day. He prescribed steroids and gabapentin. Those started helping some. (Oh, he was already on medicine for hip dysplasia so I thought this could be flairing up with the cold weather)
    So on Monday, I took him out to use the bathroom, I walked inside for 2 minutes and came out to find him unable to get up. He had lost function in his hind legs. He was taken back to vet Tuesday, they kept him overnight. The vet messaged me the next day with a referral to a specialist. I rushed him up there on Wednesday where they did a CT and found a slipped disc. They did surgery at 7pm Wednesday. They told me it was a 50/50 chance he would be able to use hind legs, but he could use a cart because he wouldn’t be in pain any longer. It was 2 weeks yesterday since his surgery and he is moving his legs and walking. He has to still have assistance though. The sooner the better! Do not wait a couple days! Take your baby to the nearest specialist.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] about Chesney, our paralyzed German shepherd. Today is two days shy of five weeks from the day she suddenly lost the use of her back legs and it is also the day that she was able to get herself up off the ground and take […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *