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post #1 of 61 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 09:56 AM Thread Starter
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orthopedic evaluation report

(Below is a long report about Shama's orthopedic evaluation yesterday. It may be of interest to those of you who've had a limping dog and to those of you who do agility or to those of you interested in general dog health.)

On June 29, I posted this somewhere in the forum (in one of the threads about a limping dog) . . .

Shama has yelped three times recently, once when jumping off the recliner, once when walking on my neighbor's patio - a flat surface, and once when racing up our stairs. She had a little limp at agility class on Friday, but then she stopped limping and had a perfect run. That's the only time we've observed her limping, and my classmates and trainers had me walk her past them heeling to check for the limp before they determined she was no longer limping.

Taking the advice of several members of the forum, I took Shama to see the vet on July 11. We found out what we’d known already, that she has a luxating patella (floating/loose kneecap).

Then a forum member PMed me to suggest I have Shama checked out by a specialist to be sure she wasn’t in danger of suffering a cruciate ligament rupture (according to Google, “Dogs with other knee problems such as a luxating patella may also be predisposed to rupturing their cruciate ligaments.”)

Our regular vet, who was not the vet who saw Shama on July 11, concurred that it would not be a bad idea to have Shama checked out by an orthopedic specialist, especially since she is “not your average couch potato.”

Yesterday, on August 23, we took Shama to see a small animal surgeon who had been recommended by our regular vet. I took two pages of handwritten notes while she was talking to us. (I was glad I did that because the notes that I received from her later were in doctor shorthand which I can’t understand.)

Below are some of my notes which could help other forum members . . .

The fact that Shama is “well muscled” indicates that she’s not favoring one leg over the other.

Both of her kneecaps are loose. This is common in small dogs and does not necessarily pose a problem. In Shama’s case, she doesn’t seem to be adversely affected by the popping in and out of her kneecaps. She said a dog with a kneecap problem would be limping.

Her cruciate ligaments are fine. They’re not loose, and there’s no fluid in the knees which could indicate cruciate problems. She said cruciate ligament problems are not common to the Havanese and that she has rarely seen a Havanese with a cruciate ligament problem. She said a dog with a ruptured cruciate ligament would not be able to walk.

She observed that Shama’s hips hurt (by gently pulling back on her leg one at a time and noticing her vocalizing discomfort where other dogs wouldn’t react). She said that could be arthritis secondary to a number of things.

She said we could either . . .

do nothing (i.e., monitor for worsening of symptoms and/or decreased ability) and pursue a “work-up” (x-ray hips, pelvis, spine, rear legs) only if a problem becomes evident . . .

or . . .

do a work-up now in order to have a better idea of the source of her hip discomfort.

She said that either course of action would probably result in the same recommendation for joint supplements (fish oil and glucosamine) and healthy lifestyle (proper nutrition, weight management, exercise).

She said Shama’s age (almost 2.25 years) and breed suggest there’s no need to worry about cancer.

She said shoulder injuries tend to occur more than leg injuries in small agility dogs and that Shama shows no evidence of shoulder injury.

The doctor could not say what exactly caused Shama to yelp three times recently.

The bottom line is that Shama is healthy and does not need to curtail her active lifestyle. (Hurray!) She said that there’s no problem with Shama doing agility as it’s kind of the dog equivalent of going to the gym. She did say that Shama should probably not become a frisbee dog. That made us all laugh because we have never envisioned that for Shama. (Do any Havanese play frisbee?)

I asked her if there was any message she wanted to give to the members of the forum. She said we should keep our dogs healthy, lean, athletic, and agile. She specifically said that keeping a dog lean, athletic, and agile is good prevention for cruciate ligament injuries.

I asked her if having your dog stretch before agility is important, because my agility trainer emphasized stretching early on, but now I don’t see anyone stretching their dogs before running them. She said warming up and stretching is definitely advised, especially as a dog ages, just as it is for human athletic activity.

I am going to call her with three follow-up questions. Could having Shama “sit pretty” have contributed to her hip pain? Why does a dog who ruptures one cruciate ligament frequently rupture the other? (Could the fact that Shama occasionally sits and refuses to advance during our walks be related to her hips? I thought it was due to the summer heat and her lack of stamina.)

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post #2 of 61 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 12:38 PM
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Thanks for sharing this detailed information. Although Cassie doesn't do agility, I appreciate information on things to watch for in small dogs. My aging golden retriever had various mobility issues, like arthritis and a pulled ligament, so I am super sensitive...
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post #3 of 61 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 12:49 PM
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Thank you for sharing. There is a lot of good info for all there!
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post #4 of 61 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 02:22 PM
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Great information thank you so much for sharing!

Arthritis in her hips at such a young age? Is that common?

During Sophie's first year she would often suddenly yelp when playing and then stop playing and sit still. Never a limp. But of course worried me sick. She also did it on a couple of walks while putting head down to smell something. She now has not done it for about a year and I don't know if it was related to growing or if it was due to her not yet totally respecting the leash and sometimes would bolt suddenly after a bird etc on walks and as careful as I was sometimes did hit the end of the leash harder than I liked. She also has had a "popping" shoulder for a while, not audibly at all but you can feel it when you pick her up. Neurologist we once went to (for what turned out to be a bee sting but that's another story for another time LOL) also noticed the popping shoulder. But I haven't felt that either now for many months.

She has never limped but she does do something funny with her back end at times on our walks kind of throws her back leg or legs to the side now and then while trotting or running. I was worried about luxating patellas (that don't run in her line at all but then neither does IBD or allergies and she has both) or hip issues. Her recent stifle injury while running and then making a sharp turn was a blessing in disguise because we got XRays so now I know her hips are fine as well as her patellas.

We have a fitness trainer come to the house to work with her on fit paws equipment for the reasons you mentioned, to keep her body strong and hopefully avoid injuries. It has made a huge difference in a friend of mine's doxie with neck issues. I will start the underwater treadmill with her also as soon as the new facility near my house opens up in a month or so. (super excited).

FWIW the fitness trainer does have her sit pretty which I always thought was bad because we were always told not to let our doxies do that. But I the doxie that was helped with all this was taught that also (by a different fitness trainer) and she is SO strong now she can sit up or stand up and walk on her hind legs. Which they try not to let her do. But she easily can now. So I'm not 100% sure either if that is a good or bad thing but my guess is if you do it right and build them up slowly it's a good thing. Will be interested in what your vet says about that.

I also try to keep her at a steady trot on our walks (haha....have you met Sophie??) to work her muscles properly. And at home I have padding everywhere, on floor around sofas, bed, in van on floor (I let her out of her crate in the van when I leave her in there for a short time) etc. She is small and I don't like the jarring of hitting the floor. I also don't let her do stairs. I had enough of back problems with my poor doxies which is why I never got another one after losing my dear Hallie so don't want to take any chances. I would have loved to do agility with Sophie she would have been a whiz I think but it scares me too much I have known too many dogs who do agility who are messed up as they get older or get injuries from falling or jumping off something wrong. A friend of mine lost her doxie Murphy to a jump off the cat walk too soon. (went paralyzed not only rear but also front and her diaphragm as well which I'd never heard of before or since!).

But that is a doxie thing Havanese I know are much more sturdy in that respect and don't go totally crazy usually like some breeds do in the agility ring. I'm just tainted from doxie backs for 20 years

Oh and Sophie loves to do frisbee LOL she leaps up at the counter in the kitchen where I keep it and cries until I take it out for her to chase and bring back. Another thing I wouldn't let her do very hard on their joints when stopping and turning fast but I figured out a safer way by throwing into so it slides partly under her agility tunnel so she has to slow down and also bounce into the tunnel like an airbag before getting the frisbee. I also will have it land next to a fence or wall and will set up obstacles to throw it over so she has to run behind them to get it which slows her down alot also.

I believe the other cruciate ligament risk when one tears or ruptures is due to the extra stress and weight put on the non injured leg. I've seen that happen several times with friends dogs also.

I also used to worry about Sophie suddenly stopping and "collapsing" to the ground on walks. None of my other dogs ever did that. I'm betting that the heat is why Shama does that, she has havanese friends we walk with and they do the same thing also. I worried about her last summer with that when she was a year old and watched her when winter came. As soon as it got cool again she stopped the stopping and dropping and the panting. Now she wears a cool coat and gets misted on walks and she can tolerate them better but still does it at times.

Anyway didn't mean to take over your post some but am very interested in this topic since I have worries with Sophie also and really appreciate your detailed information on Shama's visit. Love that everyone can share here and learn from each other. Very good news overall with your little girl!
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post #5 of 61 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 02:23 PM
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Once he is old enough, I plan on getting Nino's hips and patella tested (and submitted to OFA as a favor to his breeder). I'm not worried about hips, but Mario has a low-grade luxating patella. Nino has shown no signs of any ouchies, but I would rather be safe than sorry given his...intensity

PS: Nino LOVES his disc. I have a number of friends in the local disc dog club, and I have been encouraged by them to give it a shot with him (sans high vaulting tricks).
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post #6 of 61 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 02:26 PM
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This one didn't want to attach. Uphill disc fetch and tug is how he gets a lot of his conditioning
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post #7 of 61 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 03:05 PM Thread Starter
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Need to read Dee Dee's post later as don't have time now, but no worries about "taking over my post" as I'm interested, and I'm sure others are too. For now, just wanted to say just spoke with doctor about my follow-up questions. She said sitting pretty probably didn't contribute to Shama's hip pain (I prefer to think of it as discomfort!) and that she actually prescribes that exercise to patients with hip displaysia as it stretches/strengthens the hips. She said it was good for her feet to be apart balancing in a sit pretty posture. She also said she couldn't say for sure about why Shama stops and refuses to advance during a walk but that she didn't think it was stamina given how active she is at other times during her day (running around yard, in house, up and down stairs in house and from yard up to deck and into house, agility classes, obedience classes). Finally, she said it's unknown why the likelihood of the second cruciate ligament rupturing after the first is so high.
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post #8 of 61 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 03:43 PM
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I'm glad to hear Shama's is doing great. When Scout goes to his next appointment I will to ask why it's common for the cruciate ligament to rupture in the opposite leg.
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post #9 of 61 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 04:36 PM
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My vet put Kodi on Glucosamine When he was quite young, just because he did agility. I have Panda on it already.

Unfortunately, it is NOT only "couch potato-type dogs who rupture their cruciates. ALL the dogs I know who have ruptured cruciate have been fit, sports dogs. That doesn't mean it doesn't ALSO happen to "pet" dogs, but I know a double handful, and they have all been sports dogs, and they have also all, eventually had the second leg go. We joke that then they re fine, because they are "out of legs". The only non-sports dogs that I know, happen to all be Havanese... Two had partial tears that recovered with conservative treatment, and then poor Scout, here on the forum. I DON'T think that's because it's a big problem in the breed, however, it's just that I know more people with Havanese than any other single breed.

I was also told by my vet, who has an integrative practice, and is also a magician of a chiropractor, that teaching my three Havanese to "sit pretty" was really good for their core strength. She encouraged me to get them all doing it... especially Kodi, because of his age. He is finding it hardest to learn, not surprisingly! I can lure the girls into that position... I have to help him with a hand on his back to get him up and stable. The very told me only to ask him in tiny bits for now, because it is really hard work for his muscles.

My vet also discourages EVERYONE from doing serious disk-dog stuff with their dogs. She says she sees more injuries from that sport than any other. In ALL breeds. She isn't talking about casually tossing the disk around in the backyard, though. The real, COMPETITIVE disk dog stuff is CRAZY!!!

I think it's great that Shama checks out as OK to do what you want to do with her. I WOULD consider finding a good chiro person to work on her if her hips are sore, though. It MIGHT by arthritis, but it MIGHT also be something our of alignment or a muscle problem. It's likely that someone in your training center can send you in the direction of someone. Kodi gets chiro every 6-8 weeks, just to keep him tuned up, after a pretty significant muscle injury when he was about 2 1/2. I don't like him to get uncomfortable and THEN respond. I'd rather stay ahead of it, since I do ask him to work hard. The girls get an occasional tune-up, but haven't shown any signs of trouble.

Dee Dee, I can understand your fear of a Doxie getting hurt in agility... The instructors around here usually won't even let one in a class. The risk is too high for them. Heck... walking around is risky for a Doxie! LOL! But it really is not a problem for the average, soundly built Havanese. (those with bad fronts are a different story) The dog who convinced me to get involved with this breed recently turned 15, and is still running agility! Of course you don't want dogs of any size or shape launching off high equipment, but that's why it is important to teach good contacts. We are even careful about that... My dogs ONLY do running contact, because I don't want any spinal compression with hard stops at the bottom of contacts. No 2 on 2 off for us!

As far as "collapsing" on walks, Kodi does it sometimes too... BUT he ONLY "collapses" on warm days, in the shade, on nice green grass... stretched out on his belly. I am QUITE certain it is heat, not pain.


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post #10 of 61 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 05:45 PM
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Dee Dee, I can understand your fear of a Doxie getting hurt in agility... The instructors around here usually won't even let one in a class. The risk is too high for them. Heck... walking around is risky for a Doxie! LOL! But it really is not a problem for the average, soundly built Havanese. (those with bad fronts are a different story) The dog who convinced me to get involved with this breed recently turned 15, and is still running agility! Of course you don't want dogs of any size or shape launching off high equipment, but that's why it is important to teach good contacts. We are even careful about that... My dogs ONLY do running contact, because I don't want any spinal compression with hard stops at the bottom of contacts. No 2 on 2 off for us!
I agree we are messing up so many breeds and doxies have taken the brunt! Ridiculous how long and now how BIG they are getting. I know of a 40 lb longhair boy. Not fat. Should be a crime they are just set up for all kinds of suffering. Which of course is why I got a havanese I studied breeds for many years and got set on them a while ago. I do know of havanese with IVDD though not nearly as many as doxies of course and not that many anyway but they are listed as a breed that can tend to get it so am not wanting to tempt fate. Never want to go through that again. Plus Sophie is on the small side. So a jump down from something is harder on her than a bigger havie.

Many of my dog show and dog training friends also do agility and a lot of them have issues with arthritis and joint problems as older dogs vs their dogs that don't do agility. These aren't havanese, I don't know anyone personally here with a havanese doing agility, but all breeds and sizes. I just wouldn't take the chance after my experiences with all the health issues but most people dont' have as bad of luck as I do!

Agree on the disc sport! Looks really fun but makes me cringe! Also agree on the sitting pretty, I think if done right, like you say in small increments and let them build up, it is a really good thing!
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