Gusto is lame, and I'm stressed

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by BostonBanker, Apr 6, 2013.

  1. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    Gusto came home from hiking last Saturday with a limp. I couldn't find any marks, or swelling, or heat or anything, so I figured he'd taken a bad step and just tweaked something. He certainly had no interested in letting the lameness slow him down at all. I've never dealt with lameness issues in a dog (although I could write a book about my experiences with it in horses!), but figured I'd rest him a few days and see what happened.

    He improved noticeably every day, getting to the point Tuesday where I could only kind of make out a limp right after he'd hop off the bed or a chair. Wednesday, I couldn't even see that. He was clearly losing his mind (he's used to at least an hour of off-leash running a day), so I brought him to agility practice figuring I'd let him run a few tunnels and do some focus work, but keep him off contacts and jumps. Well, one run through a tunnel and he was noticeably lame again. I had a few people look him over - again, nobody can see anything.

    All of this is made worse by the fact that the constant vet issues I've been dealing with for the last six months or so are ongoing. The vet I had started using...well, for a variety of reasons, the dogs are being moved. I don't know to where. I figured I'd have a while to work it out since both got their heartworm/lyme tests and exams done already this spring.

    A friend got me in with her vet, who is certified in chiro. She saw him on Friday morning, and said she absolutely doesn't think it is a broken bone issue (I went in, among other things, to see if he needed an x-ray), and couldn't find any heat or anything in the leg. His neck was apparently really out on the side he was lame on, and she said she suspected there was an irritated or trapped nerve there that may have been causing the lameness. She thought it might be fixed, and said to rest until Sunday and then try doing a bit with him to see how he was.

    And I know it is only Saturday - but I don't think he's any better. He still looks fine wandering around the house most of the time, but has moments where he moves quickly or something, and is really gimpy for a minute or two after. I don't see this magically being fixed by tomorrow. He's also starting to go nuts. He doesn't care that he's lame, he wants to DO SOMETHING. We've worked so hard at getting him 'in the game' for all training, that even the more mellow stuff we do is fairly high impact.

    I'm partially venting, partially stressing out loud, and partially looking for advice/ideas. If he's just pulled something that even a vet can't get him to react to while manipulating his body - would he still be like this a week later? I thought about trying to get a referral to our local orthopedic vet - but I really think it is soft-tissue, so is that even relevant? Plus I still need to call and get the records transferred to another vet, and holy crap I hate making calls like that and having to deal with the inevitable questions.

    Someone wave a magic wand and set my puppy right again, please?
     
  2. OutlineACDs

    OutlineACDs Crazy Dog!

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    Ugh, sending major vibes to you and Gusto!

    I've been in somewhat the same boat for over a year now. Soft tissue injuries SUCK!

    Here's hoping you find a good vet and an answer for Gusto. In the meantime try a little Traumeel or Arnica for inflammation and just do some light massage and range of motion at home. Just move each joint anatomically and stretch him out really well.
     
  3. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    This is giving me flashbacks to my last year with Kim :( We thought at first that she had hurt her shoulder but it ended up being her neck and back, mostly back, as these things often are. And we were playing musical vets around that time as well.

    You have my utmost sympathy, is what I'm trying to say. Good vibes for a fast heal.
     
  4. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    He is getting arnica, despite the fact that I generally put homeopathy in the same catagory as unicorns and little green men. Someone at agility gave it to me to use, so I have been.
     
  5. Dizzy

    Dizzy Sit! Good dog.

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    I have nothing to add except I understand. Fred is still on limited movement, and after next week I suspect will be on 6 weeks strict rest (think he needs keyhole surgery)...

    Young active dogs shouldn't be allowed to get lame!!!!

    I can sympathise, its very frustrating, mainly the not knowing. But also the wanting to DO stuff with the dog!!
     
  6. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    Agreed. It's probably the worst part of it for me; he's not letting the injury slow himself down at all, so he's completely baffled that I'm not getting him out, and starting to act pretty miserable. I'd be okay with skipping agility for a month or something, if it meant he could still go run in the woods or play fetch or wrestle with his friends. Sadly, life doesn't appear to work that way.

    Was it sudden onset with her? The vet really thought it was neck and back with Gusto as well, which I'd sort of buy, since it looks up high to me. But she's also a relatively new chiro certified vet, so I kind of wonder if it isn't a "when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail" kind of thing.

    I appreciate the sympathy and good vibes. For whatever reason, I was just falling apart over it last night. He looks fine again this morning, in the house and trotting around the yard for his bathroom break. I guess we'll try another day or two of rest, and really buckle down about finding a permanent vet.
     
  7. Dizzy

    Dizzy Sit! Good dog.

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    I'm coming to terms with things now, but I was a mess after our last vet trip...

    You just want them to be able to enjoy life. I just want to run him on the beach and do all the fun stuff I had planned :(

    Hopefully you'll get it sorted soon. We have our scan on Thursday, so hoping its what we think it is and nothing more.
     
  8. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    Yeah, it happened while Kim was zooming around with Mira I think. She tried to cut Mira off while the 'triever was beelining for a toy. 'Triever doesn't turn while going to toys and Kim ended up jumping over Mira to avoid being run over...landed funny. But she was hot and high and didn't act like anything was wrong...then a little bit later she was moving a bit oddly. By the next day she was lame. It would come and go and make ya crazy...she could mask it fairly well so when we went to the vet she acted like nothing was wrong (stranger danger...we are friends but I shall show no weakness!) then when it was back to just us she was off again. It ended up being a whole saga but in her case it took us a little bit to figure out what was wrong so when she was adjusted back it was more likely to misalign again. Plus she's older...not old but not a puppy...so it just takes longer to heal. And god forbid she just walk through life and allow herself to heal...of course not, she is the Zoom Monster whose favorite activity is tearing across the yard in a crazy zig-zag pattern...so she was on leash restriction for quite a while to keep everything where it should be so it could heal.

    I hope I have the timeline right...I haven't had my coffee yet and didn't pull out my notes, but yeah it was infuriating because just when you'd think she was a-okay again, she would sleep funny or step funny and it would tweak and she would be dead lame...then an hour later she would seem to be okay again...it was maddening.
     
  9. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    Yup, that sounds almost exactly like what we are dealing with. He goes from looking perfect to playing with a ball for 2 minutes to limping for 5 minutes to fine again to 'holy crap, he just got off the bed and is nearly on three legs'. All that about 10 times a day.

    Was it mostly just chiro that you did as far as treatment?
     
  10. Flyinsbt

    Flyinsbt New Member

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    I'm sorry, that is incredibly stressful to deal with. My guess is that rest is what he needs, and that's really stressful too.

    If it continues, I'd see the orthopedic vet. They can diagnose soft tissue too, it was an orthopedic vet who diagnosed my friend's dog's iliaposas strain.
     
  11. JacksonsMom

    JacksonsMom Active Member

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    I'm on my phone right now so cant type too much but have you tested for Lymes?

    Jackson came up limping randomly before and I thought the same thing - it had been snowing so maybe he just twisted etc. it ended up being Lymes. Cleared up with a round of doxy and a few days pain meds.
     
  12. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    Sloan broke another toe, I think, she came back limping after crashing into an xpen and I couldn't find any swelling at all for a day and a half, probably even two. Her toe swelled up and she would walk on it until she did too much. We're getting another xray on monday, fitting because she broke or damaged it about 15 minutes into coming home from the vet after xraying her dislocated dewclaw.

    Keeping this dog down has been heart breaking, we let her do a bit more than most would on rest but she's all go all the time and she was beginning to get cranky with the other dogs when she normally loves them.

    I really hope you find the problem, I know how upsetting it can be to not know. Double check the muscle for a soft tissue slug-like lump or hard worm-like scarring. Sloan also got one of those on her chest a bit ago but shown no signs of it, if it had been on a leg or shoulder I bet things would have been different.
     
  13. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

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    Ugh, hate HATE front limb lameness. So many soft tissue injuries possible... think of all the things people get - carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, rotator cuff - and we can't ask dogs "does it hurt when you do this?" (Well, we can, but most of them are too stoic to answer.) PLUS, neck and upper back pain can refer so easily to the front leg.

    If it's in your budget, I would just go straight to a good orthopedic surgeon and/or PT (many of them work together these days). A lot of good orthopedists are really good at diagnosing soft tissue causes of lameness and just because they're surgeons doesn't mean the solution will be surgical.

    Also agree with Adrianne to really feel through the muscles and other soft tissues for any knots, tight muscles, tight bands, or anything that feels like scarring or lumps. An easy way to test for neck pain is to have a dog stand/stay squarely and gently lure (don't force!!) the nose towards the butt to the left and right... most dogs can get all the way easily, if they balk at a certain point or consistently try to move their whole body (if they understand that they're not supposed to) instead of just the head, that can be neck, upper back, or sometimes shoulder pain.

    You can also compare the range of motion of each joint (wrist/carpus, elbow, shoulder) on left compared to right. To do this precisely, you need an instrument called a goniometer, but you can use a protractor in a pinch or even just do it subjectively. The angle at full flexion and full extension should be pretty similar on each side for each joint, and I believe there might be published "normals" for various sizes of dogs. If one joint won't flex or extend properly, it might clue you in to the region of the problem even if not the exact injury.
     
  14. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    At this point I could not cope with Steve without his rehab people. That's where I would head with him (Steve was lame on a front leg once and it was a pulled tricep).

    Sending many good thoughts to you and Gusto. Resting a young active dog is the pits.
     
  15. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    PT/DVM, Chiro, cold laser, acupuncture...we pretty much threw the whole kaboodle at it.

    To answer JacksonsMom's Q, we did get Kim tested for Lyme as well, but she came back negative.
     
  16. GoingNowhere

    GoingNowhere Active Member

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    My old dog (who had chronic lyme) would come up lame when it flared up, but it was more of a "stiff, everything is sore" lame rather than an "ouch, this leg hurts" lame. I don't want to generalize to if that's typical, but I wanted to add my experience with lameness due to Lyme Disease. It never made her hobble around on three legs - rather she'd just be very "off."
     
  17. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    Sorry I've been so slow to reply to this; I keep reading on my phone at work, but I can't stand trying to type more than a word or two on the phone.

    He was tested for, and clear for, Lyme a few weeks ago. Given our climate, I think the odds of him having contracted it since then are pretty slim. Also, given that it was acute onset after running in the woods, I'm still leaning towards injury.

    I've been incredibly frustrated the last few days, having never dealt with this sort of thing in dogs. When my horse is lame, I can call up my vet and have a lameness exam done, they can do flexions, ultrasound, x-rays. I went in for a lameness issue, and my dog got chiro without the vet even watching him move. I called that vet back today to let them know that he is still the same (after the "rest until Sunday" was over), and was told to wait a week or two, then bring him back for more chiro. When I expressed concern that there was an actual injury that may be the issue, I was told to drop him off for x-rays. All of which, I'm being told by dog friends, is pretty much normal.

    The good news is that, given some of the recommendations here, I've been looking for rehab vets in our area, and have found two possibilities. One of which is the only Vermont vet listed as a member of American Association of Rehabilitation Vets (Is that a real thing? A good thing?). I may call them up tomorrow and see if I can get an idea of what a visit there would cost. It's not incredibly close to me, but not a horrible drive either. And it seems like they might be a little closer to what I'm expecting for this issue.
     
  18. Flyinsbt

    Flyinsbt New Member

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    Yeah, small animal vets are somewhat useless for lameness. The one chiro vet I use told me that she became a chiropractor, because it gave her the chance to actually fix lameness. And that the joke in vet school was that dogs have 3 legs and a kick stand.

    I wouldn't tend to bother with a small animal vet for lameness, unless you suspect a fracture or a cruciate rupture (not applicable in front end lameness, of course) An orthopedist and/or rehab vet is the way to go, if chiropractic isn't effective.

    I should add that the orthopedic vet who diagnosed the iliaposas strain in my friend's dog also looked at her Stafford bitch (Pirate's sister, Eva) when she was suffering intermittent front end lameness. First couldn't find it (nobody could), then when X-rays were done, diagnosed biceps tendinitis, and the prescribed cure was to remove the biceps tendon! :eek:

    The rehab vet, though expensive, was able to come up with another diagnosis (which I've embarrassingly forgotten), and that the biceps tendinitis was a result of that, and through a series of exercises, Eva was able to recover without having a body part removed.

    So it appears a rehab vet is the best option, but I don't know how to find a good one. This is the one that fixed Eva (obviously inconveniently located for you)
    http://www.backontrackvetrehab.com/id17.htm
     
  19. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    I'm so happy I can update this with good news. After recommendations here, I started asking around for rehab vets in our area, and came up with two, one of whom had some really good recommendations from other sport people. We went to see her on Wednesday, and had a great experience. Full on lameness exam with lots of flexions, watching him move, etc. She found a little bit of effusion in the bicep, and said she thought it was probably a mild strain. She also found the same spot of tenderness on his mid-back that the chiro did, and said that was often a trigger point for ligament and tendon pain.

    She thought he'd finish healing pretty quickly even if we did nothing, but suggested the laser if I wanted to try to move things along faster. She treated both the bicep and the spot on his back, and sent us home with instructions to start letting him do more, including "run really fast if he wants", but to still lay off jumping/contacts for a bit longer. I let him go to agility, and just worked on tunnel entries and start lines with bars on the ground, and he was happy and sound :D

    He's going back for another round with the laser on Monday; the vet thought 2 or maybe 3 treatments at the most would take care of things.

    I'm so relieved to have him on the road to recovery, and we are all so much happier that he gets to run again! I really appreciate all the comments here; they definitely got me pointed in the right direction.
     
  20. Flyinsbt

    Flyinsbt New Member

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    Good news! Yay!
     

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