Friday, 12 June 2015

Dealing with a doggy disability: X-rays of Hazel's broken femur

Dealing with a doggy disability: X-rays show the progression of Hazel's broken femur
Hazel at 9 weeks and 13 weeks
Photo by Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez Copyright©

June 12, 2015 - By Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez

Hazel my Saint Bernese puppy is four months old now and much has changed for this fluffy little spit-fire of a mountain dog. When my partner Robert and I brought Hazel home on March 22 we noticed that she walked with a limp. I brought her to the animal hospital where I work the next day and received some bad news- Hazel had fractured her femur bone in her left hind leg at some point early on in her life. It went un-diagnosed and un-treated. The first radio-graph showed that bone had completely callused over- making the left leg shorter than the right.

As I discussed in my letter from the editor Hazel will walk with a limp, is guaranteed to have arthritis and hip dysplasia early on in life and may need a major surgery. At that time I was still waiting for the surgeon’s assessment. Later that week I received news- the surgeon said I should leave the leg for now but take x-rays monthly to monitor the growth and watch for signs of pain. If we saw signs of soreness we were to put Hazel on a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to help with pain management.





Radio-graphs from the Pembroke Animal Hospital
show the progression of the leg.
I knew that we would have to watch closely for behavior changes and increased lameness in Hazel because she is a dog with an extremely high pain tolerance. I did see signs of increased lameness in Hazel at times- her limp would become more noticeable and her leg would get shaky. Sometimes she would just stop walking and sit no matter how much we called to her or coaxed her with treats. When she started crying for no reason I knew it was time. On April 29 we started her on Metacam. Since Hazel was growing so fast this liquid oral suspension drug was the best choice- all I need to do is weigh her every week to make sure I don’t need to adjust the dose. At four months Hazel is now 39 pounds so a pill or chewable NSAID like Rimadyl just wasn’t ideal for our fast growing mountain dog. Keep in mind when Hazel is older she will need blood work every six months to make sure the NSAID hasn’t affected her liver.

Regulating Hazel’s exercise and diet is also a key part of maintaining the integrity of her leg. Hazel’s exercise was already going to be limited because she is a Saint Bernard mix and like most giant breeds these dogs cannot over work their bodies during the formative growing years. With Hazel all exercise and play with other dogs must be watched and reduced. I also laid out carpet to ensure she wasn’t walking on the hardwood too much. I put her on the veterinary specific Puppy Development food by Royal Canin and regulate her food intake so that she stays lean enough to carry weight on her leg. Her doctor also recommended Flexadin which is a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement that contains Devils Claw- a natural pain reliever. Hazel thinks it is a treat- she thinks all of her medication is a treat so I am lucky in that regard. She has bonded really well with her doctor and at her last visit Hazel was excited when she saw her come into the treatment room.

Hazel and Keira in May in the backyard.
Photo by Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez Copyright©
I am going to x-ray Hazel every month. We sent our second x-rays to the surgeon and on April 28 he said the leg looked good. Some of my fears had already been slowly slipping away. Her leg was getting strong and she could bend it easier. In early April she started using the stairs- although going up was easier than going down. She was more playful with us and our other dog Keira.

My doctor took Hazel’s most recent radio-graphs on June 1 and the change in the bone is incredible. She will always have one leg shorter that the other but the bone has appears to be straighter and smoother. She does have some behaviors issues that may be associated with the accident. I think it may have been harder for her to nurse from her mother when the leg was broken because when it comes to food she is just like a Lab- all consuming. She swallows her food whole and I have tried two different slow feeders, mixing in larger Royal Canin Dental food and hand feeding- she just sucks it down her gullet like a little baby bird. The only edible chews she can eat without trying to swallow whole are C.E.T. VeggieDent tartar control chews- anything else she just goes at baby bird style.

Radio-graphs from the Pembroke Animal Hospital
show the progression of the leg.
Hazel is starting to get into that gangly teenager puppy phase and she has turned into a fuzzy little blonde! Her legs just keep getting longer and longer- one more so than the other one obviously. Her teeth are just starting to fall out but according to her doctor “those big sharp ones you hate so much are the last to fall out.” Luckily her play biting has been trained out of her. Hazel is a fully vaccinated and registered member of dog society and she is not going on disability. I am sure now after seeing this last radio-graph that if we maintain her weight, monitor her exercise, do regular x-rays and continue her on NSAIDs she will become the active and outdoorsy mountain dog that I was looking for.









                          Hazel's first x-rays

March 23, 2015
June 1, 2015

Hazel and Keira at home
Photo by Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez Copyright©

Photo by Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez Copyright©

Photo by Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez Copyright©
Photo by Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez Copyright©

Photo by Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez Copyright©

Photo by Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez Copyright©

Photo by Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez Copyright©
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