Cody was an 11 months old female Labrador Retriever when she became lame after hitting a shed. A veterinary visit produced a scary misdiagnosis.
You would figure that diagnosing lameness is a straightforward process. From my own experience, I can tell you that it can be far from it. I have been through most of them–a foot injury, foreign body in a foot pad, cruciate ligament injury, hip injury, infection, and spinal issues. Jumping to conclusions isn’t rare even by veterinarians.
When JD got hurt running down the stairs, x-rays showed arthritis from mild hip dysplasia. What the x-rays show often doesn’t match the degree of pain your dog is in. Some dogs can have terrible-looking hips and act like they are not in pain. On the other hand, a dog can be quite lame with x-rays not matching what is in front of your eyes.
Yes, misdiagnoses happen even with something as deceptively simple as lameness.
Cody was an energetic, somewhat uncoordinated pup–she had trouble with depth perception. One day she was playing fetch and in the pursuit of the ball, she slammed into a shed. Cody did bring back the ball but she was also limping.
Not only Cody hit the shed hard but her front leg found a hole in which it jammed on impact.
Her mom was concerned that Cody might have sustained a serious injury and took her to a vet right away.
After examination and x-rays, the verdict was devastating. Cody’s mom was told that Cody injured her cervical spine and if she ever injured it again Cody could become paralyzed.
That is not what any pet parent wants to hear.
This would mean either risking paralysis or Cody never having any real fun again.
Cody’s mom wasn’t ready to accept such grim diagnosis without getting a second opinion.
Would you seek a second opinion in a situation like this? Do you think the second opinion confirmed the original diagnosis? Limping in dogs can have many causes. What would you do if it was your dog?
Read Cody’s story here.
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: What is that limp?
Limping Dog. How to do your own at home examination.