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What are Spasm of the Rear Legs?

Spasm of the rear legs as a behavior is uncontrollable, but can be exacerbated by sensory stimuli (neurological syndrome). The hyperactive reflexes lead to progressive muscle wasting in the rear legs, and eventually affect your dog’s ability to control movement in the rear legs. This condition is rare and only affects the Doberman Pinscher breed. It is often referred to as Dancing Doberman Disease, or DDD. Onset can occur from six months to seven years of age, with no preference between sexes.

Spasm of the rear legs in dogs refers to uncontrollable and hyperactive tendon reflexes caused by a neurological syndrome. The behavior will first appear in just one rear leg and progress until both rear legs are affected.

Spasm of the Rear Legs Average Cost

From 78 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,200

Symptoms of Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs

At the onset, a dog will hold one leg up, bent, while standing. Progression to the second limb can take several months, and once it has, the dog will alternate legs, hopping in a movement that can make him look like he is dancing. In further advanced cases, muscle wasting and atrophy will set in (likely on the leg used less often for standing), and dogs begin to lose control over the muscle movement in the affected legs.

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Causes of Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs

There is no known cause for Dancing Doberman Disease, although it is believed to be the result of an inherited recessive trait.

Alternative causes for rear leg spasms are:

  • Lumbosacral stenosis (the narrowing of the end of the spinal canal)
  • Lumbosacral disc disease
  • Spinal arthritis
  • Spinal tumors
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Canine stress syndrome
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Distemper
  • Brain tumors and encephalitis
  • Swelling of the brain
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Diagnosis of Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs

Your pet’s breed will go a long way in determining if your dog’s rear leg spasms are the result of Dancing Doberman Disease or another possible condition. Also, the presence of severe discomfort or pain will point away from DDD, as it does not seem to cause pain. Additionally, a complete blood count, blood chemistry profile, and urinalysis will be ordered simply to rule out other causes, because if your dog has DDD, those tests should all yield normal results. If you have a Doberman with the symptoms, your veterinarian will conduct an electromyography, a test that records electrical currents in your dog’s muscles and examines uncontrolled muscle and nerve behavior. Motor and sensory nerve conduction velocity will be measured either by your veterinarian or a nerve specialist, in order to determine how far the disease has progressed. If caught late, a biopsy of the muscles behind both of your dog’s rear knees will be examined in order to detect muscle disease and nerve loss.

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Treatment of Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs

There is no treatment Dancing Doberman Disease to control the symptoms or affect its progression.

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Recovery of Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs

Despite the fact that DDD cannot be treated, most affected dogs can live happily with the disease for many years. Your dog will likely be able to remain active; however, over the years may increasingly prefer to sit or lie down between activity rather than stand.

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Spasm of the Rear Legs Average Cost

From 78 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,200

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Spasm of the Rear Legs Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Dachshund

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7 years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Rear Leg Muscle Spasms

my dachshund exhibited a muscle spasm in her left rear leg yesterday. It first happened out in the grass so I thought she stepped on something. She was holding her rear leg up and I could see her left hind muscles spasming. I carried her inside after she did her business and as she was eating the left rear leg spasmed again this time for approx a minute. She didn't eat fast like she normally does so I'm assuming it bothered her. Later she ran towards the front door and then held up her right front paw as if she hurt it. No spasms noted. Then she was fine the rest of the night. I know about ivdd

Aug. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. You are right, dachshunds are prone to back problems, but they are also prone to problems with the knee joints or hips or elbows. If this is something that continues, it would probably be best to have her seen by your veterinarian, as they can assess her confirmation and see if there are things that are bothering her. If it was a short-term problem and she had a muscle twinge or something, then it may not be something that you need to worry about. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 26, 2020

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Wheaten terrier

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Seven Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Back Twitch

My puppy has always had trouble lifting his back left leg to scratch himself, now I’m noticing a twitch in his back/spine. His leg has went weak a few times also. Is he still growing or should I be concerned? Thank you

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. These are not normal signs in a normal healthy puppy, and it may be best to have a Veterinary Examination for your dog. There may be some abnormality that may be treatable, or that you just need to know about. Your veterinarian will be able to examine your puppy, see what might be going on, and let you know what treatment options are available, if any are needed. I hope it all goes well with your dog.

July 23, 2020

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Toto

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Brussels griffon

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11 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Spasms

My 11 year old Griffon sat down abruptly today during a walk; both legs splayed out beside him. Both legs were spasming very noticeably and he kept trying to lick his hip area. I carried him home and his legs kept spasming for a few minutes. He didn't whimper or seem in pain. He has recovered but when I tried to walk him hours later, he walked very slowly, so I left him home. Appetite is good.

July 16, 2018

Toto's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Without examining Toto I cannot determine specifically what has occurred, but you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination of the hips and for x-rays to look at hip health; in the meantime try to keep Toto rested and only take him out in front of the house to do his business and then back in (when he needed to defecate you should help him if the legs are weak). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 16, 2018

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Momo

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Havanese

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3 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

We have a Havanesee dog - when he goes out in snow , after few minutes he limps his rare leg. Only that leg all the time - no other legs. One time in summer while walking he justed limping his rare leg and i carried him home. He gets normal after in couple of minutes.

Jan. 18, 2018

Momo's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. It would be a good idea to have Momo examined and make sure that he doesn't have any abnormalities that need to be addressed. Small dogs are commonly affected by luxating patellae, and sometimes require treatment, depending on the severity of the problem. Your veterinarian will be able to examine him, determine what might be going on, and suggest a treatment for you if one is necessary.

Jan. 18, 2018

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Jersey

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Shepherd mix

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30 months

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My dog licks her secretions glands and sometimes when dog stands up her rear legs go into uncontrollable twitching for 10 seconds or more. She is 30 months old and has arthritic condition of her front legs. She loves to walk and run outside at least 3 times a day.

Dec. 10, 2017

Jersey's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Any twitching or weakness of the hind limbs may be attributable to a few possible causes which include hip disorders, spinal disorders, hormonal disorders (Cushing’s) among other causes. I would keep an eye on her and restrict her exercise a bit, if you don’t see any improvement you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 10, 2017

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Riley

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English Cocker Spaniel

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14 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Doesn'T Appear Tender
Kicks Rear Leg
Will Not Sit Or Lie Still

Riley is an male English cocker spaniel with a good temperament who is about to turn 14 years old and weights 14.8kgs (32.5lbs). He has no significant medical history. During a recent walk he suddenly started hobbling as if he had a thorn stuck in his rear left leg. He let me examine the leg and the pads and I could find no imbedded object and there was no inflammation or break. We returned home and on the way he started kicking out the leg at random intervals. When we got home breathing remained laboured for several hours and he kept kicking involuntarily. He is having trouble sitting still.

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Daisy

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Mixed

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15 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Kicks Rear Leg Out And Back
Will Not Stand Still
Walks Lifting That Foot Higher
Doesn'T Appear Tender
Restless Or Anxious With The Issue

Our almost 15 year old, black 31 lb, mixed breed (SATO) who appears to have some Labrador Retriever and some kind of hound (Whippet, Miniature Greyhound) suddenly started kicking out her right rear leg during a walk. She walks around lifting that leg and then kicks is back and out a bit. She doesn't seem to be in pain and allowed me to examine her, but she is clearly anxious about it and won't sit still. Almost acts like she is trying to pop her hip or joint back into position or has a cramp.

Spasm of the Rear Legs Average Cost

From 78 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,200