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Joint problems or just a sprain?


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Hi all -


I've been off these boards for a loooonnnggg time because I'm now running my own co. out of my house. You sure work more when it's your deal. Man...I'm dead.


Anyway - I haven't stopped working with my dog Buddy. He's doing really well and took 1st place in his first Novice A trial. We also got High Scoring Border Collie in the trial. He did really well.


We've also been working with sheep - but he's really bad at that (actually - I'm really bad with that!) But we've had to stop all training due to some odd sprain or strain...not sure.


Anyway - I noticed about 2 weeks ago that he was having just a slight problem getting up after resting from our walks. He never favored a leg or limped...just was slow. I took the "ball" part out of our daily walks just in case. About a week of this went on and then it started to get worse. I don't know what kicked it up a bit, but he started to limp 3 or so steps on his back left leg. I noticed a clicking, cracking sound coming from his hock - not the knee. He would be like this all day.


So we stopped the walks and it didn't get any better. Then we went to the vet. No x-rays and not the hips. Dr. thinks it's a torn something or a sprain, etc. He said lots of rest, but we could still train for obedience. Just very light.


The next day the rains came and Buddy was the worst I've seen him. No walk that day - nothing. A little playing in the house, but that's it. That was last Thursday.


He seems better, but just a little. He lays with his back legs out behind him. When he was sore, he couldn't get into that position at all. Now he can.


He is still cracking and creaking when he gets up. He hasn't limped today, but did yesterday. He has never been sore to the touch or yelped in pain.


Is the vet right? Sprain or strain? Torn something? I have not trained since I saw the vet because I really want him to be 100%.


Has anyone had this type of thing happen? How long did it take to get better? Did it become chronic?


Buddy is 3yrs old. Hip x-ray at 2 showed border line pass/fail. He's a rescue. We've had him 1 year. He's on Solid Gold dry and Natural Balance wet. Supplements: Fresh Factors, Bug off Garlic, antioxidents, vitamins and Move Free for joints. Has been on all that for a year. No history of trauma to that region.


Any suggestions will help. Time lines, things to do so he isn't looking soooo ssssaaaadddd. He's not as energetic, that's for sure. I'm a little concerned about weight gain and loosing muscle mass as the vet said I need to watch this due to the hips.


Thanks all!


Sorry soooo long.



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Realize you get what you pay for with my opinion....


My Lucy (six years at the time) had a similar problem last winter. What an ordeal! Several different diagnoses - probably because it was undiagnosable, and probably a sprain or strain. We did three weeks of crate rest (yes, a trial!), a couple weeks of working back up to full agility mode - and more limping. (Actually, hers was probably more related to frisbee, where she STOPS suddenly to pick it - or anything else thrown - up.)


So - a FULL three weeks of crate rest, out only for peeing, and then a very limited distance. Then, three weeks of LEASH WALKS only - and very limited distance. (Yes, by now, we're all plumb stir crazy.) And then gradually working back up to longer walks - at first leashed - and eventually trotting. Vet said the best way to work her back up to full muscle mass was for me to bike and her to trot. She does this well, so it at least was easy. Short distances at first, then longer. Eventually, back to agility and play.


I could not - and still cannot - believe how long it took. But obviously the first time didn't "take" so longer was necessary. It seems to have healed, though we still try to "play" gently.


Hope yours heals faster, but don't try to push it too hard. A long life ahead makes a few months seem worth it!



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I have to second the call for patience. Between a break and a soft tissue injury I'd go for the break every time. I've had some experience with this in my dogs, and with myself. At the moment I'm nursing an injury in my wrist, originally strained two months ago, and I keep re-injuring it (did it again today, dad burn it!). I recently had to crate rest my main working dog for six weeks for an injury to the knee - up to week five I was afraid he'd never walk soundly again!


If there's that much pain I'd grit my teeth and give him a solid two or even three weeks. Then quiet leash walks (or swimming) after that for an equal amount of time.


The small amount of muscle atrophy that will occur is an investment in his future soundness. You can always rebuild that before his joints have to take any pressure again.

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My Buddy gets sprains every now and then from running around outside and playing with the ball. He'll limp for a couple of days and then be fine. He actually is just getting over a little twist from last Thursday. He was limping for a couple of days, but today he is fine. When he gets like that all playing is off, except for little walks and potty runs. When he is healed we gradually get back into playing with his toys.

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If it's a sprain or a strain - will low impact work help or hinder?


In other words, if we do a week off completely and (if things look good) get to swimming - will that help? I'm asking because if something is torn it doesn't really matter if there is no weight on it right? It's just the act of moving that can aggravate?


He seems really, really better today. First time in about 4 days that he went and got the squeaky toys in the house. We gently put a stop to the play. That is a good sign though.


Thanks for the advice - I will be patient.



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Hi Denise,


I have a few suggestions for you. I would think about radiographs. I have a dog that has been out a year with foot problems, I would have never guessed he actually tore off a piece of bone from one of his toes.


I also am going through severe tendonitis in my rotor cuff. Man it hurts! I am going to physical therapy to get my strength back and learn how to avoid re-injuring it again. By avoiding use my arm was actually losing strength.


both of my doctors and the vet suggested 6 weeks rest, and for Nap walk on leash only. Then slowly start up exercises, for the dog, swimming, for me weights, and learning how to use them properly. My vet and doctor also recommended anti-inflammatory for the pain and inflammation.


If you can locate the source of pain (radiographs and manipulation), and the movement that causes pain you can work with the dog to strengthen the other muscle groups. Swimming is recommended because there is no weight bearing (like with Naps paw).


I am hoping we can start trialing again soon, but he will have to wear a foot wrap from now on to protect his toes.


good luck and the sooner you know exactly what is wrong the sooner you can be back at it!



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