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Dr.Fiona
Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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How can I help my 13 year old Chow chow who appears to have ...

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How can I help my 13 year old Chow chow who appears to have hip problems. It happened suddenly last week. She is able to walk once we help her up, but it appears difficult. Would a cortizone help?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 6 years ago.

Hi there!

Welcome to Just Answer! I would like to help you and your Chow Chow, but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.

How much does your girl weigh?

How much aspirin did you give her?

Is she underweight, overweight, or ideal weight?

Is she able to go up and down stairs?

Is she holding one leg up?

Did you see her get injured (knocked over by another dog, or slipped on wet grass)?

Fiona

 

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
50lbs
half of an adult size
weight appears ideal
with help no power in left hind leg
she favors her left hind leg when walking
not from injury
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 6 years ago.

Does she bear weight on her left hind when walking? Or does she carry it? If she were standing and you picked up her RIGHT hind (thus forcing her to hold herself just on the left hind) does she stand or sink down to a sit?

 

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Haven't tried to force her to stand on the left hind leg. She does bare a little weight on the left leg but occassionally stumbles and calapses to the ground

I don't think it is an injury - it might be artheritus
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 6 years ago.

Well, I agree it could be arthritis... but usually arthritis is a very gradual onset thing. Dogs typically develop it over months. Symptoms are that the dog is stiff when first getting up, but then usually "warms out of it" and can move more freely as they walk. Does that sound like what is happening to your girl?

 

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Reply to Dr.Fiona's Post: Yes. Do you think a cortizone shot might be helpful?
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 6 years ago.

I have been working on a detailed answer and will be back shortly..

 

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 6 years ago.

Hi again

Your answers have been very helpful! I feel like I have a better understanding now of what is going on with your dog.

It is possible that your dog is developing Degenerative Joint Disease (arthritis) in her back end. If she came in to the clinic to see me, I would perform a thorough musculo-skeletal exam on her, which would certainly include flexing and extending her hip joints to check for pain and feel for crepitus (a grinding, crunching feeling when moving the leg in the hip joint). I might suggest x-rays of the hips to be able to see exactly what is going on in there. And if everything supported DJD in the hips I would talk to you about treatment.

I *never* use cortizone shots in dogs as there are too many risks in my opinion, and many superior options available. The problem is that it makes dogs prone to infections, and if they are a borderline diabetic, it can push them over the edge into full-blown diabetes. Here is more about steroid injections:

http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/methylprednisolone-medrol-depo-medrol/page1.aspx

Instead, my treatment plan for early DJD is as follows:

1. Be lean! Every extra pound that a dog carries on sore joints just makes the problem worse. So, the single most effective thing you can do to help a dog with sore joints is to make sure she is slim - even a little bit on the skinny side of normal. It is just going to make her so much younger! It sounds like you are already taking care of this! Check to see how much she weighed when she was 2 years old. Has she gained since then?

2. Try glucosamine. This supplement is very safe, and is helpful in the majority of dogs. For a 50-80lb dog, I usually suggest 500mg given 3 times daily. It usually takes 6-8 weeks on this supplement to see improvement. Here are some links:

http://www.glucosamine-arthritis.org/glucosamine/glucosamine-product-guide.html

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=0&cat=1276&articleid=1176

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?articleid=670

3. Improve muscle mass with swimming. If your dog likes to swim this is such a great exercise because it builds up the muscles around the hip, which stabilizes them, but causes none of the strain in the joints that running does. Not a great option when it is cold, but something to consider in the summer!

4. Consider prescription medications. Your veterinarian has a selection of very effective and safe medications to treat the pain and inflammation of arthritis. For short-term use, aspirin is ok. It is not my favourite pain killer/ anti-inflammatory because it is very hard on the stomach and does not provide nearly the relief of prescription drugs. But it may be useful on a short-term trial. The dose you gave was very conservative. Here is a link with information and dose:

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=0&articleid=1379

For further information, I will give you these links:

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1916

http://www.sniksnak.com/doghealth/chd.html

The other thing that might be going on, is that your girl may be suffering from a Cranial Cruciate Rupture (CCR) or attenuation (over-stretching). This is something humans get as well, but in humans it is called Anterior Cruciate Rupture.

The cranial cruciate ligament is one of the structures that stabilizes the knee joint. It is prone to problems, especially in large dogs. If the dog is in motion, and the lower leg is held still (by going down a hole, getting caught on a string, etc) while the upper leg keeps moving forward, there will be damage to this cranial cruciate ligament.

The symptoms seen are usually a sudden onset of hind-end lameness, with toe touching seen at standing and walking, but the dog often carries the leg when running. CCR rupture is often seen in dogs that have low thryoid function (hypo-thryoidism) as this makes them prone to being overweight which increases the risk of this problem.

In order to diagnose this, a veterinarian would have to perform a thorough orthopedic examination as well as manipulating the knee to test for instability. For this part, it might be necessary to give the patient a pain killer. If instability were found, x-rays of both knees would be recommended. If the cruciate ligament is completely ruptured, surgery would be the best solution. If it is merely stretched, it may improve with strict rest for 2 weeks and a gradual return to exercise after that.

In summary, it sounds as though your dog may have arthritis, or may have ruptured her cranial cruciate ligament. She really should be seen by her veterinarian for diagnosis and appropriate treatment. In the meantime, keep her as quiet as possible - just out to eliminate and back in. Please avoid having her go "up" on anything - up the stairs, up onto the couch, up into the car, up to look over the gate, etc. If she is not improving in 2 weeks, please delay no longer and go see your vet.

I'll give you some links to CCR:

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=2&cat=1569&articleid=474

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1975

If this has been helpful, please hit the green "Accept" button. If you need more information, just click on reply. I will still be here to provide more information if you need it!

Fiona

Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience: 16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
Dr.Fiona and 3 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Will this answer be sent to my email address? - if not would it be possible? It is a lot of information and I don't currently have a printer attached to this computer. I don't want to lose your excellent advise.

As soon as I know I will be able to access this via email I will accept answer.

Thank you again I think this has been very productive and I will recommend to my friends with pets.

Judy
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 6 years ago.

Hi again,

Hmmmm... that's a good question! Every time you reply to me, it is sent to *my* email, so I assume that it works in reverse. But I have never been a customer, so I don't know what it is like from your side. Can you check your email from where you are now?

I will ask a moderator to confirm that it is sent to your email addresss. Be right back!

Fiona

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