Sunday, March 26, 2006

Medical problem with my Labrador Retriever - part two

This is part two of an email received from Deanna in regards to a medical problem she is having with her black Labrador Retriever mix. If anyone has any ideas on this please comment or email me and I will forward them to Deanna. Thanks

Thanks Fay, I really appreciate it.

1. How old is Dakota, and when did this problem first start occurring?

She is four years old. The problem started 1 1/2 years ago.

2. What is Dakota's weight? She now weighs 85 pounds.

2 years ago, she was 101 pounds, but did not lose weight, even when we brought her down to 2 cups of food per day. She started taking thyroid meds and she lost 16 pounds very quickly. She has held steady since then. Surprisingly, she also got smarter on the thyroid meds. She could stand to lose a little more, probably.


3. What other testing was done by your veterinarian?

None, really. She examined Dakota twice shortly after episodes, but could find nothing. We can't get Dakota to the vet while she is having an episode, because they usually last about 15-20 minutes. Although, the last episode was longer, maybe 30 minutes. The vet toyed with the idea of an exercise-induced problem that some labs have, but decided that probably wasn't it.

4. Are there changes in her posture?

When she stands, are her back legs straight down at her sides, or does she have a narrow stance where her hocks (like our ankles) come close together under her body, with her back feet pointed out on an angle? Her legs are straight, although the doctor says she's post-legged in the back. There is not much of a bend in the back leg.

5. You said x-rays were taken, was there any mention of hip dysplasia?

No hip dysplasia. She said the hips looked good.

6. When Dakota is standing, does she have any difficulty balancing?

No problems balancing except during the episode, and the problem with balance seems to be that she is in severe pain, but I'm not sure of that.

7. Do you notice any uneven wear on the rear nails, especially on the innermost nails of the rear feet.

The nails wear evenly in the back, I think -1 just clipped them this week, but I'll check when I get home tonight to be sure.

Also, we can usually tell when she starts to hurt, because she arches her back like a cat and lies with chair legs or the corner of the wall or couch pressed into her back. She also would have trouble pooping. She would squat and get up repeatedly before she finally pooped. When we saw these symptoms, we used to give her a muscle relaxer, and it cleared the symptoms away for several weeks. We changed vets a few months ago, though, and our new_vet doesn't use this muscle relaxer. She says it doesn't work. She gave us Tramydol instead. When we give her that," it relieves her symptoms for a few hours, but then they come back. The problem with limping when we walk only started a month ago. This week she has even had trouble peeing a couple of times. We are toying with the idea of insisting the vet put her back on the muscle relaxer, but have not decided.



Thanks for responding back so quickly with the answers to my questions. Let me say again how sorry I am to hear about Dakota's problems. It's painful to watch your beloved pet suffer.

Even though you stated that Dakota was diagnosed with spondylosis, my first thought was hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is an arthritic disease associated with the hip joint and is characterized by pain and discomfort. Symptoms of hip dysplasia include difficulty rising from a sitting position, lameness in the back legs, reluctant to go up the stairs and jumping. Some of the same symptoms you stated Dakota is experiencing. Large breed dogs such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia, particularly if they are overweight. That's why I asked about her weight and if your veterinarian checked her hips.

Remember though, there are many other diseases associated with some of the symptoms Dakota has.

I am curious to a couple things you wrote in your letters.

Why did you change your first veterinarian?

I asked what testing was done besides the X-ray for Dakota and you stated none, really. Were there any blood work test done, any other specific test done on her or just x-rays?

I talked with a veterinarian friend of mine and he mentioned hip dysplasia along with a couple of other possibilities of the problem (including spondylosis). I have been doing some investigating on Dakota's symptoms and have talked to some other owners of Labrador Retrievers themselves.

My vet friend told me that a complete diagnosis of the hips can't be based on just an x-ray alone. It may require an MRI or CT scan to fully diagnose problems with the hips.

Along with spondylosis, which I hope your veterinarian explain to you in detail here are some other diseases mentioned to me and further information I found on them. I have listed some links to help further explain these to you.

In a recent survey of all veterinarians in this country, 94% of the doctors stated osteoarthritis as one of the leading causes of chronic pain in their practices. They looked for signs of reduced activity, changes in behavior and appetite and pet's difficulty in defecating and/or urinating. - on this page scroll down to symptoms

There is also the article "Your Questions On Canine Hip Dysplasia - Answered" on this blog.

I have also included a link to the exercise-induced problem (Exercise Induced Collapse) that your vet talked about.

My advice to you Deanna is that I would definitely get a second opinion. It is very important to have a second opinion when a serious condition develops with your dog. I'm not saying anything negative about you vet, but just because your veterinarian shows you an x-ray and then states his/her opinion, doesn't always make it correct.

You might want to have a canine orthopedic specialist examine Dakota to help you receive a more detailed checkup.

As far as switching back to the muscle relaxer if you feel it works better than your new medicine I would switch back. This original muscle relaxer was prescribed by your first veterinarian?

One last thing, you might also consider is taking Dakota, along with her x-rays to a canine chiropractic veterinarian.

I hope at least some of this is able to help you Deanna. I will continue to explore some other options for you. Do you mind if I post your questions on my blog? This might also help find other possible answers.

Please keep me updated with any new happenings, take care of that wonderful Labrador, and I will speak with you soon.


Part One of this email

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