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Limping Saint Bernard

Published on: June 01, 2023 • By: MLLalonde · In Forum: Dogs
June 01, 2023 at 06:06pm
Hi Vets, I’m here to ask for your opinion and what you may think. I know without proper diagnosis it’s hard to tell, but here it goes: I have a 6 year old saint bernard (Chewbacca), male, neutered, 181 lbs. Early April, I brought him to the vet to get him checked because he was limping from the right front paw. My vet diagnosed him with Interdigital Cysts and he was on antibiotics for 2 weeks and about a month on prednisone. It looked like it cleared everything and was back to normal, although he still needed to be careful because if he ran or walked at a fast pace, he would limp a little. My vet prescribed him Gabapantin to help with the pain, which I’m worried it will simply be like putting a bandage on the issue. She thinks it may be due to arthritis because he’s getting older, but aside from the pain in his paws, he doesn’t have any problems getting up or anything that would suggest him suffering from arthritis. I also give him Glucosamine with chondroitin daily. Then (probably unrelated) after a few days done with the meds, noticed a little blood on the tip of his penis as I was brushing him. I got a urinalysis as well as getting his prostate checked and it turned out that he had a significant amount of bacteria in his urine, therefore, another week of antibiotics. Now, we fast forward close to 2 weeks later, i’ve noticed Chewie starting to lick underneath his left front paw and the tiniest bit of limping earlier this week. It seems to get worst everyday, and this morning I noticed this strange brown spot on his pad (it wasn’t there this weekend). He was also keeping his right back leg in the air as it’s hurting too. I would love to know your input. I’m so worried because I know he’s getting older since he’s a big dog. He’s my world and I want to do all I can to give him his best life. Thank you so much in advance.
Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
June 01, 2023 at 07:38pm
Hello -  limping is a symptom and usually, its a symptom of pain.  Pain can be caused by multiple things.  Sometimes, several causes of pain occur at once in different legs.  Chewy sounds to have been unlucky - something that sounds like interdigital cysts in a forepaw and then a dark spot of a hind paw (could that be an entry would for a foreign body?  A neoplastic change to the skin?) that is meaning that he keeps it in the air.  At the same time, your vet thinks that Chewie might have arthritis.  So this sounds like a complicated case.  Good questions for your vet include, what is still on the differentials (possibilities) list to explain how Chewie is at the moment?   How can you distinguish between these possibilities (eg would a radiograph / explore or biopsy the brown on the paw help?)  If not, at what point are more tests indicated?  Would radiographs help to settle the question of whether arthritis is present?  Could the blood from Chewie's penis be his prostate and if so, is castration or further investigation if that area needed?  If so, can this and radiographs be carried out at the same time?   It sounds as though pain releif seems to be the best that your vet can offer without more information - that information may be time consuming or expensive to gather, but perhaps there is potential for further investigations to make a big  diffrrence?   What does your vet think ought to happen next?
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