Struggling with lack of diagnosis, how should I medicate/treat/manage symptoms?

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My 2.5yr old Welsh Sheepdog (male, neutered, 26kg) started exhibiting the following symptoms:

  • Struggling to rise
  • Trailing near hind for several steps after rising
  • Stumbling up steps
  • Soreness/pain in near hind – indicated by sporadic lameness
  • Occasionally (on rising) can’t extend his near hind

He has had several veterinary examinations plus x-rays – no diagnosis.

He was referred to a leading veterinary hospital. There he was seen by a neurologist and an orthopaedic consultant. he’s had a spinal tap. joint taps, MRI scan and more x-rays.

The result is still no diagnosis. His reflexes, spinal cord, joint fluids, x-rays etc all come back as being within normal tolerance. There is no damage to discs. A blood test for Lymes disease came back negative.

When examined he shows pain in his near hind. On the X-rays there was a flat area in the hip joint but the vets say that it is not enough to be classed as hip dysplasia or (I assume) cause the symptoms.

He is on Rymadyl (anti-inflammatory, Rinitidine (he has a sensitive stomach) and Gabapentin (for pain relief).

We tried periods of just Rymadyl and then just Gabapentin, the anti-inflammatories appear to give him most relief.

I’ve been to give him light, on lead exercise and go to a physiotherapist, but otherwise he is discharged.

I don’t know where to turn. Up until Jan 2018 he was a healthy, bouncy, and energetic young dog. He now presents (to me as a lay person) just like some of the elderly, arthritic collies I’ve had in the past. If he was 10/11 yrs old (rather than 2.5 yrs), I’d assume he was suffering from the onset of arthritis.

He can’t stay on the medication indefinitely. It’s not good for his sensitive stomach ( and I can’t afford it). He was insured but the procedures described above have used up the amount for this condition.

Can you advise me on what I could do/who I could take him to/how I can manage his symptoms please? He means the world to me and I hate to see him so obviously in discomfort (if not pain). This beautiful, lively, young dog now just sits in his basket all day looking glum.

I am trying golden Paste – could it help?

Any advice, assistance would be most appreciated.

Thank you

Answered question

Great to hear you have an appointment and well done for getting the weight down, it creeps up insidiously. Regarding the differing opinions on target weight – it is difficult to be precise about a target weight as every dog has a slightly different ‘frame’. As he loses weight you’ll probably find the ‘target’ gets adjusted as the vets/nurses can feel his ribs beginning to emerge from under the chub…we work more on body condition score than strictly on a weight basis.

Answered question

Great to hear Olly, let us know how you get on and good luck. I hope you find some answers and can look forward to getting your active boy back.

Answered question

UPDATE – Just to let you know: he has an appointment to see a pain specialist at the clinic. Also, his weight has now dropped from 28.7kg (due to going from c. 20-30miles per week walking to zero whilst on total rest regimen, and me forgetting to reduce his meals) back down to 26.7kg. The vet hospital says he needs to get down to 23kg whilst his own vet says 25kg would be fine.

Answered question

Hi Olly, some great answers on here but I would repeat that the most sensible next step would be to get a referral to a pain clinic that has a physiotherapist as well as a pain vet. In my experience a good physiotherapist can pick up on things that are not so easily found by orthopaedic and neurology investigation though it was important to rule out the most likely causes of your dog’s signs. Myofascial problems don’t show up on any diagnostic imaging except perhaps ultrasound in the hands of someone with a sports medicine/myofascial background. Furthermore, the veterinary world (and to be honest the human healthcare profession also) is only slowly coming to realise that muscles and fascia are important organs to consider in painful patients.

A specialist pain vet will be able to prescribe some different medications to what you have already tried – if they feel they are indicated. I’m sorry this does of course cost more money but they will do their best to keep costs to a minimum and make sure you get the most out of the visits. You will learn a lot about how to manage your dog in the long term through a course of physiotherapy. Be prepared for some homework – home exercise programs!

Good luck


Unselected an answer

Have you tried a pain specialist yet, or been to see a physiotherapist/massage therapist?

Just trying to work out your next best route 🙂

Not sure how far you are able to travel:


Have a read of that page, I think something like this may help you.

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