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S. August Abbott, CAS
S. August Abbott, CAS, Own Animal Care/Rescue Org.
Category: Dog
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Experience:  We rescue what others leave behind; Animal Care author; Behavior & Nutrition Consults
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Maltese hip displacement

Resolved Question:

My 5 month old Maltese was diagnosed with hip dysplasia today, with an x-ray. I heard others say that that is very far fetched for such a small and young animal to have that and to go in for a second opinion. The vet today basically said that he would only live comfortable for a few years and then would need a hip replacement or would have to be put down. I am very concerned about this. Could this be a misdiagnosis and if not, could my puppy still live comfortably? He does not seem like he is in pain. He doesn't wine or cry in pain but he has been running funny. He does not limp when he walks
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 11 years ago.

What caused the vet to do an X-ray? What led to this diagnosis?

Do you know anything about the pups heritage? Are the parents ok? What about other litters?

It does sound a bit 'odd', without any symptoms or signs. Please let me know any details you can offer.

Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 11 years ago.

Also, try to describe how the pup 'runs funny' - what's he doing?


(there's a couple of us in on this question, all just for this lucky dog!)

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to TheCaretaker's Post: We did the x-ray because he has been very inactive and would not walk but would only run in quick spurts with his tail low and his butt low. It looked like his butt was too heavy to pick up. However, he would not whine in pain when I would tried to look at his hind legs but he did not like it when I would look at his tail. Yesterday he began throwing up and that is why I took him to the vet. However, today he has been walking more than he has in a week and he began playing again today which he also would not do last week. His urine was also very yellow and yesterday we decided to give him purified water. Now his urine is normal, he has been playing and walking and he has not been throwing up as much. I was thinking that somebody stepped on his tail and that hurt him for a while maybe with a combination of a weird reaction to the faucet water. However, if he does have hip problems, would it be so severe that he would need hip replacement in a few years or we would need to "put him down" as the vet suggested. Obviously, for a five month old (five pound)puppy, this suggestion scared me. Ironically, after his hip diagnosis, he has been more active than he has been in a week. The vet suggested the throwing up was because of pain, but other than his inactiveness, he did not seem to be hurting because he would not squeal or wine if we tounched his hips or legs. Thank you for the advice. I will liklely get a second opinon, I just do not like the idea of having to have a major surgery on my puppy. I read that such a problem is so rare for such a small dog and that surgery may not even be an option (because of the rarity and severity of the surgery). I especially don't want to think then, that he would live out his next few years in pain, only for us to have to put him to sleep.
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 11 years ago.

The 'funny running', vomiting and urinary complications make this more complicated by far. I'm just going to address the hip dysplasia issue as if it were the only problem presenting:

There are a huge number of publications in the scientific community addressing hip dysplasia in dogs and various treatments. It is not unusual for different doctors to offer different suggestions, options or combination treatments. It's a highly debated and controversial subject.

When young, under 1 year old dogs present with HD, it’s usually as the result of hip laxity which contributes to an abnormal gait that brings it to attention. Pain may present upon joint injury associated with this.

Many dogs may never experience significant enough signs of involvement to ever warrant diagnosis. Others are diagnosed, but can live entire lifetimes without significant disability or pain. There are a number of cases where a young dog is diagnosed upon symptoms as outlined above and then spontaneously remits and returns to normal function without any medical intervention.

There is a known poor correlation between the radiographic signs, symptoms and clinical functions.

Non-surgical treatment reviewed by Johnston (Vet Clinics North America 22:595-606, 1992) advocates physiotherapy with controlled exercise and strict confinement (to increase muscle mass/soft tissue support for the joint). Socialization problems may ensue and this can be serious in itself.

Treatment with NSAIDS for pain relief, chondroprotective agents like pentosan polysulphate (Cartrophen) and Adequan may also be options in a younger dog. There are isolated studies (without long term follow up) showing results with intramuscular injections of PSGAG weekly for 6 weeks to 8 months (Lust G et al AM J Vet Res 53: 1836-1843)

The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that you need to trust your animal caregiver to work with you in pursuing the right treatment options and symptom care. The severity of HD, individual animal and all other considerations are vital to any successful outcome.

I'm not sure if your caregiver/vet had such a disappointing prognosis because of something else going on with this pup (vomiting/urinary) or ???? I would absolutely have a 2nd opinion and possibly a 3rd.

Let us know ok?

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to TheCaretaker's Post: Thank you for your help. Obviously I want my puppy to live as long and as happy as he can. The running funny was his carrying his butt low with his tail tucked under. His butt would drag but he would not actually rub it on the floor (his anal glands were expressed last week, we had ruled that out).He would run very quickly and then sit there and not move, until he would repeat the quick run. He would not walk almost at all, until today he has been walking much more. He does not vomit his food, but white stuff (that looked like spit). He has been eating and drinking fine through this whole thing (which shocks many people). Thank you so much for all of your help and I actually have a second opinion appointment tomorrow and I will bring the x-rays. I will let you guys know.
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 11 years ago.

Be sure to mention all these other symptoms. It's often helpful to record them (write them down as close to the order you noticed them in) since over time and with everything going on, it's easy to forget things or for the doctor to miss hearing something. Written down and handed to him/her, it's in the file and there for review.

It seems that you're the best thing that could have ever happened to this little guy!

I'll be waiting to hear

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