Last Sunday morning, I let Dud in to get him ready for “school”, only to find him holding his back right leg up close to his rib cage.
My first reaction was “oh shit, he’s broken his leg!” which was immediately followed by the realisation that thankfully he was holding it all wrong for a break.
So I did the “flex test”, followed by checking his paws for cuts and prickles and such. All of the above turned up nothing, and by now he was beginning to put some weight on it.
The little diagnostician in my head thought “wait a second … cold morning, sore leg, improves with movement … it might be arthritis.” I brought him inside, got him up on the bed, and put a heat pack (wrapped in a towel, of course!) on his hip, which is where I sensed the pain was. It helps to have a sixth sense about these things 😉
I was just in the process of getting on the blower to Mum to tell her not to bother picking me up when he jumped down and walked to me with only a slight limp. I considered the morning, figured that it was going to be warm enough once he was out on the oval and moving around, and decided to allow him to go to school for the social aspect if nothing else.
By the time Mum arrived, he was walking pretty well, so I got him in the car and off we went. We arrived at the oval a bit late for some pre-school one-on-one time, so I asked the lady who already had her dog out there whether she minded him joining her. She agreed, so Dud played with her dog, and then more and more as others turned up.
We then gathered our dogs and clipped on the leashes ready for class at around 9:25am and stood around waiting for the instructors to get their stuff together and wander over. By the time they did, Dud had stiffened up again.
Dud is in first grade, and the instructor was iffy about letting him join in. I assured her that he did improve with movement and that it didn’t appear to be an injury, and that if he seemed distressed at all I would pull him out. She reluctantly agreed.
At the end of the session, I assured her that I would be taking him to the vet the next day, regardless, Tuesday at the latest if they had no free appointments, and that we’d get to the bottom of it. I was then handed his graduation certificate (he graduated beginner’s after just four lessons!) and we went home.
I duly took him to the vet the next day, where the vet stated that arthritis was unlikely at his age, but he did suspect hip displacia. He suggested xrays, and I agreed, so we booked him in for the next day and I took him home.
I contacted the breeder that night to ask if there was any history of either arthritis or hip displacia in either line, and she said no, but that there was no history of short jaw or abscessed testicle either! I promised to keep her informed, and then set Dud to fasting in prep for the xray. He had to have anaesthetic so that he didn’t move around, and the vet could also take the opportunity to properly flex his leg, which he couldn’t do while Dud was tense.
I dropped Dud off at 8am, and at 2pm I got a call asking if I could come in to discuss the xrays. I got in contact with Mum, and we headed to the vet, where we weren’t kept waiting very long at all (not that we ever are!)
It turns out Dud does have early arthritic changes (bones going soft around the edges), and he also has signs of early hip displacia. He needs another set in 12 months to confirm, because he’s still growing, but it was pretty marked on one side, so the vet is pretty sure.
We’ve started him on glucosamine anyway, getting in early to give him the best chance at a fairly normal life. The pills are working out great so far; Dud thinks they’re fantastic! He loves his daily “treat” and sits and wags his tail happily when I go to give it to him. I do have to put a bit of peanut butter on the end though, because his short jaw prevents him gripping it otherwise 😉
It does put a dampener on the idea of getting him into agility, because it would be too much strain on his joints and would increase the likelihood of him needing hip surgery/replacement later (if it came to that, the only option would be euthanasia; I just don’t have that kind of money!), so I’m looking at alternatives. He’s a highly intelligent, inquisitive dog, so he will need something to keep him occupied. I also need to let him sleep inside during the cold nights, because it’s winter now and he needs warmth to keep the pain down.
So between Dud’s monstrous desexing bill, Joey’s blood tests, Baby’s ear, and now Dud’s xrays ($244!) the vet bills are keeping me humble right now. I went through the receipts a couple of days ago and found that since April 4th, 2011, I have spent $925.30 on vet bills. I only had $1005 in savings!!! LOL All I can say is thank God I had savings! 🙂
They’re worth it though.