Canine Compensation Injuries: Cookie’s Lameness—What Else Is Going On?

The dog’s body is a finely-tuned machine where all the parts work together to facilitate motion. If one of the parts cannot do its job. something else has to take over the job. That why often one thing leads to another.

Cookie was rehabbing from her iliopsoas injuries and was progressing well. She looked good, and her range of motion was improving. Her physiotherapist was very happy with things and so were we.

Then, first thing starting the new year she got a case of zoomies and hurt herself again.

It wasn’t immediately apparent; she didn’t get sore until the evening of that day. But her hind left leg looked quite sore. In a new way. Could she have aggravated the left iliopsoas? And if that was the case, why did it look so different? The sore iliopsoas came with very little signs if any. This was quite a severe limp. We went back to the vet to see what might have happened this time.

Canine Compensation Injuries: Cookie's Lameness—What Else Is Going On?

Veterinary evaluation

The examination didn’t reveal anything other than sore quadriceps.

The iliopsoas seemed happy and the joints seemed happy. We went back to more rest but that was not helping at all by the looks of it. After a week or so of not getting anywhere with rest, we resumed short leashed walks and things actually looked better.

All along I was concerned about her knees but the limp looked more like a hip issue if anything.

But the joints kept checking out at every exam and last x-rays were showing the hips as being good. What was going on then? Perhaps just the quad muscle after all.

So we kept rehabbing.

Canine Compensation Injuries: Cookie's Lameness—What Else Is Going On?

Some improvement

First two weeks there was very little improvement if any.

Then it started to look a bit better until Cookie got her next zoomies. She was usually sore at night, which too would implicate muscle(s) rather than joints.

Her physical therapist, however, was seeing continuous improvement.

It was well possible that the quad was still not fully happy and getting stiff. Time kept passing.

Not enough improvement

What if there was something else going on besides the muscles? But nothing was being found. It’s been two months in and we were still getting set-backs on that hind left leg.

I know that sometimes it takes a long time for a muscle to get well.

But my gut wasn’t happy. I kept thinking that perhaps we ought to keep looking. We took some videos of what Cookie looked like walking, sitting, getting up, doing play bows and doing her cavaletti exercises.

I kept thinking we should try to tape her night soreness but the time window to do that was always very short because she walked out of it quickly, which, according to her therapist, was again a sign of a stiff muscle. And it was dark, how much would show up on the video?


So it happens that on the day we decided we were going to try to film it no matter what was the day Cookie’s leg got quite angry again.

We ended up getting some very good footage of what was concerning us.

When Cookie’s physical therapist saw that, she agreed that something else might be going on. Her bet was the hip. The knee wasn’t presenting anything that could be seen or felt during Cookie’s rehab appointments. And it did look more like a hip issue to me as well. Plus Cookie always sits nice and square, never kicks her leg out. Except that it being the hip didn’t make any sense.

Cookie’s chiropractor too kept finding the same issues, no new ones.

Pushing for answers

What I didn’t want to do, though, was going through months of rehab, then finding out something else is at play and going through more months of rehab for that.

We decided it was time to take new x-rays and see what examination under sedation might show.

The x-rays looked quite good but under sedation, the vet was able to get some mild drawer sign as well as tibial thrust on the left knee. Not the news I wanted to hear!

The diagnosis

Cookie has a partial CCL tear in her left knee.

Was the ligament weak all along, being the “true” cause of the injury to the iliopsoas? Did it happen during the zoomies first day of the year? The x-rays aren’t showing arthritis in the joint … Either way, that’s what we have to contend with now.

Related articles:
Injury and Compensation in Dogs: An Attempt To Restore Harmony

Further reading:
Compensatory Injury in Dogs: When One Pain Leads to Another

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