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.
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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.
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
- Brain tumors and encephalitis
- Swelling of the brain
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.
Treatment of Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs
There is no treatment Dancing Doberman Disease to control the symptoms or affect its progression.
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.
Spasm of the Rear Legs Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
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.
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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.
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