Acute Lameness in a Dog: JD’s Leg Injury And Hip Dysplasia

Here is the logic of health issues in dogs – an acute problem likely has an acute cause.

Doesn’t it make sense that a disease progressive in nature would have a progressive onset? Some conditions can wax and vane with a dog having some good day and some bad days. But what if the dog is perfectly fine one minute and severely lame the next?

There are exceptions to every rule but most of the things follow a logical pattern. Don’t miss the forest for the trees.

Acute Lameness in a Dog: JD's Leg Injury And Hip Dysplasia

JD’s story

It was a Sunday like any other. The guys took off with hubby to the farm. The weather was still nice and cool—a perfect day for play and frolic.

When they’re gone, I always worry about Cookie getting hurt because she’s such a wild thing. And she already did get hurt having a bit too much fun. JD did get sore couple times, trying to keep up with the kids but he mostly likes to stick close to daddy.

This time, they walked through the door upon return, hubby says, “JD really hurt himself today.”

And then I got to see it for myself. JD was favoring his hind left leg heavily, barely touching the floor with it.

Since he was putting some weight on it from time to time, we figured it wouldn’t be broken. It did look like he has busted his cruciate ligament, though. Crap!

How it happened

Apparently, it happened right during the morning walk. The dogs were running and playing as usual. There is a flight of concrete stairs going into the house, which the dogs normally don’t get on unless there is a good reason. The good reason seemed to be the resident farm dog finding it important to do so, with our guys in the tow.

As they were running back down, right at the bottom, JD stumbled somehow and started crying.

Acute Lameness in a Dog: JD's Leg Injury And Hip Dysplasia

A busted knee ligament?

I know you’re thinking of a broken leg but it wasn’t. Our minds kept coming back to a knee injury. Not just because it is common and because we had our share of experience with it but also because of the way he was carrying the leg.

So it happened we already had a vet appointment for Monday morning, even though for different reasons. Both Cookie and JD were supposed to go in but we decided that it will be just JD this time. It was going to be a long wait till Monday morning.

We talked about what would be the best thing to do if he indeed did bust his knee.

JD was quite sore. When he was laying down he was comfortable enough but when he was getting up he whimpered almost every time.

Maybe something else

Then I saw something that made me wonder about the busted knee theory.

He was laying down. Almost all the way on the ground, he still whimpered a little bit. It didn’t make sense to me how the knee could have been involved in that pain response.

A little over a month ago he came home sore on that leg. That was the first time the primary vet got concerned about JD’s hip. So it happened, though, that in the evening of that day, Cookie had her chiropractic appointment. As the vet was here, we asked her to check JD out as well. She said her pelvis was messed up. She adjusted that and JD’s leg seemed to get back to normal.

Could it be something like that?

Somehow I felt that it might not be the knee after all. I also remembered that one time, with no more knee ligaments to bust, Jasmine came home from the farm completely lame on her rear leg as well. She didn’t use that leg at all. When we took her to her chiropractor, she also messed up her alignment. It took one adjustment and she was fine the next day.

Veterinary visit

Finally, Monday morning came and hubby and JD took off to the vet.

As due diligence, and to avoid any delays, we fasted JD in case he needed to be put under for diagnostics. The exam revealed that JD’s left hip joint was completely resisting movement. It was off for x-rays.

Acute Lameness in a Dog: JD's Leg Injury And Hip Dysplasia

The x-rays revealed hip dysplasia and arthritis, particularly on the left leg.

There is also some muscle shortening on the left side. JD was put on Meloxicam and Gabapentin. The main words that stuck to hubby’s mind were a total hip replacement as a recommended treatment option.

Total hip replacement?

The main question is whether or not we should decide for the total hip replacement (THR) at this point.

I like the idea of a solution that could fix it for good. On the other hand, this is a very invasive procedure and from what I’m hearing with a quite high chance of problems, starting with the loosening of the implant, infections, or even splitting of the femur during surgery, which would mean ending up with femoral head osteotomy (FHO) instead.

FHO is the surgery in which the head and neck of the femur are removed.

With this procedure, there are no bones in the joint left to grind, which solves the pain problem. What are the odds of other problems from compensation?

The thing is, that prior to the latest injury, the dysplasia was under the radar.

The hips were quiet until now

JD was running and playing, running up and down the stairs, jumping in and out of the truck with no problems at all. He never showed reluctance doing any of these things. He’d follow us up the stairs even when he was supposed to stay put in the office.

There were a couple of times when he got sore, but it was after running like a nut. It hurt most in the evening and knowing what he did that day we were thinking muscle pain. None of the veterinary exams revealed an issue either, until now.

Treating the x-rays or treating the dog?

Should we treat the x-rays? Was he hiding the pain that cleverly?

The lameness that led to taking the x-rays in the first place was definitely acute. We know exactly when it happened.

The bloodwork done to make sure JD should do ok with NSAIDs was clean, except elevated creatine kinase (CK), indicative of muscle damage.

Question is, what role did the hip dysplasia play in what happened. Was compensating for a sore joint the reason the muscle got hurt? Or are those two unrelated?

The hip does not look good. Should we opt for the surgery in hopes of getting him as good as new for good and bite the bullet on the fact it is an invasive procedure and risk the potential complications?

Would we be able to manage the hip with less invasive treatments such as stem cells, cold laser, physical therapy, acupuncture, Polyglycan A injections etc? There is minimal risk with those, except the possibility that he might end up having to have the hip replacement at some point in the future when he’s older.

Is it the hip at all?

JD has undergone physical therapy and limited activity. The total hip replacement is still on the table but we’re sitting on the decision. We’re also considered stem cell treatment as an alternative.

We also did some physical therapy exercises at home, as well as an underwater treadmill and cold laser.

JD's Injury And Bad Hip Update

Trial by fire

Moving out of our old place, spending a week at the friends’ horse farm and then coming up to Jasmine’s ranch, was a trial by fire.

Because everybody is outside most of the time, JD would either have to be tied up or confined by himself or allowed to be outside with everybody and do whatever he’s gonna do.

JD seems perfectly fine

JD has been walking all day, running, jumping, trying to play with Cookie and chasing stuff.

In other words, going quite nuts. Particularly after the forced rest since his injury. If that makes you scream, it made me scream too. (Quietly, inside; sometimes out loud).

Here is an interesting thing. The more activity JD has had, the better he’s looking.

I stocked up on the NSAID just in case he got himself too sore but haven’t had to use any yet. And he HAS been running like a fool and doing things that make my hairs stand up. And yet, not paying for it.

Walking IS therapeutic but that is not exactly what JD has been doing.

Again, it makes me wonder how much of a problem the hip really is and how much it was all an acute, soft-tissue type injury.

Time will tell. So far, the more active he is, the better he looks. Which is a good thing because he’d be heartbroken if he had to be excluded from all the activity.

Final update

JD’s legs were perfectly fine since until the day he passed. He was never lame again and his hips ignored the x-rays findings. Whatever was the shape of his hips, it was not the problem indeed.

Related articles:
Why Is My Dog Limping? Causes of Lameness in Dogs—Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog

Further reading:
Lameness in Dogs

Categories: ConditionsHip dysplasiaInjuriesJoint issuesLimpingReal-life StoriesSymptoms

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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