Leg Problems In Jack Russell

by Mark Hegedic
(Melbourne,Victoria Australia)

Reader Question: Jack Russell Hind Leg Problems

My jack Russell is five years old. It has never had a health issue. It is female. She has always been physically strong. Today however, she suddenly broke down in the hind leg area. First, her right hind leg was collapsing and was being supported by the left hind leg. As the evening has progressed, both hind legs have given way.

She virtually cannot lift herself off the ground and when she does, she staggers and falls. She does not appear to be in pain, just stressed and anxious. Her tail still wags and her appetite is as good as always. She continually raises her head toward the sky, unorthodox for her. All this has happened in a mere 3-4 hours...very sudden. Can you give advice.

Thank you and regards Mark.

Mark Hegedic

Vet's Advice Regarding Jack Russel Leg Problem

Hi Mark,

I can’t say exactly what might be going on with your dog without first examining her, but I can give you an idea of what my top rule outs would be under these circumstances. I am most concerned about a neurological problem affecting a part of her spinal cord. Intervertebral disk disease is a possibility. So is a fibrocartilagenous infarct, a blood clot, or a tumor affecting the spinal cord? Infections in the vertebrae that surround the spinal cord can also produce similar clinical signs as can injuries to the area. I also can’t rule out heart failure or other causes of extreme weakness based on your description.

If your dog were my patient, I would start by performing a complete physical and neurologic exam followed by X-rays of the relevant area of the back if I confirmed that a problem with the spine was a likely culprit. Some of the problems that I mentioned can quickly worsen without appropriate treatment, so I recommend you bring her in to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Good luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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Jul 24, 2015
Similar story
by: Anonymous

My 5 year old jack had similar sudden symptoms last weekend. I took him to the vet. After xrays it appears that he has some stenosis which inflammation that is affecting the nerves where they come out of the spine. He is currently taking steroids to help with the inflammation and has had a rapid improvement. We are also keeping him from jumping onto or off of furniture. We have a follow up appointment in a few days. So far so good.

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