Karen, did you ever get X-rays? Why or why not?
Libby is perfect weight and fit from a great deal of squirrel chasing.
No, we didn't get x-rays. I first took him to a local vet, when he was moving like a 20 year old dog and crying when anyone touched him the day after the agility demo. The local vet was pretty useless. He gave him a shot of a long acting pain killer, and after taking a stool sample, pronounced that his problem was caused by giardia, here, give him this, and he'll be all better. That made no sense to me, so I then I took him to a board certified internist at the Tufts University veterinary clinic. He examined him, felt that it was most likely in his back, though the way he was standing, it could have been pancreatitis too. I can't remember now how they ruled out the pancreatitis (blood test, maybe?) but once that was off the table, the internist and I talked about it the options, and whether we should do x-rays at that point. Like Libby, it would have required sedation, which is always a risk. So, we decided to put him on muscle relaxants for a week, and see where he stood. If he hadn't improved, we would have done x-rays.
In the interim, I found out about about our wonderful new vet. She works on a number of the dogs at our training facility. She understands performance dogs because she competes in Obedience with her dogs too. I took him up to her, and he improved so much that we didn't even have to finish the muscle relaxants.
If there were any sign that there was anything wrong with his back beyond that original injury and strain, we would, of course, have followed up, even if it meant sedating him for x-rays. But you've got to think through how those x-rays are going to affect your treatment of the problem. Of course, if a dog is hit by a car, or otherwise suffers a traumatic injury, you don't have a choice. But Kodi's injury was subtle, probably caused by either slipping on the unfamiliar surface or getting a nail caught on a turn. (the demo was done on carpeting, while we practice and compete either on rubber mats, astroturf or outdoors on grass)
I really don't think x-rays would have told us anything. Kodi is a young dog, and this was an acute onset problem, not something that came on slowly over time, like arthritis. Even if it HAD been arthritis, all we really could have done would be to manage it and keep his back as strong and healhty as possible.
Because Kodi works harder than the average dog, the vet did suggest that I put him on a Glucosamine supplement, and we recently added fish oil. Not because ther is anything wrong with his joints, but to keep them in good shape, and working well for as long as possible.