What clinical signs were first noticed? Arthur had on occasions shown to be sensitive round his hips and his back when touched but never shown any difficulties exercising and was always very active on walks and whilst being worked. Whilst watching him play in the garden his owner occasionally noticed him ‘save a leg’ or hop during a stride down the patio steps, although very subtle at this point. Occasionally got out of his bed a little stiff after being curled up asleep. When he became more sensitive round his hips and back a veterinary exam was booked.
Any behavioural changes noted during this time? Not specifically, however had been sensitive round his hips and back on past occasions and shown slight discomfort/ guarding behaviour when being lifted or moved.
What was the length of time before veterinary intervention was sought? Having first noticed him ‘saving a leg’ when playing in the garden and incidents of him guarding his hips his owner monitored this having restricted Arthur’s exercise for 2 weeks before raising concerns with the vet and Arthur showing to be painful on hip extension in both hindlimbs. More specifically his left. After a trial of Metacam the owner then asked the vet to take hip and stifle x-rays.
What was the veterinary diagnosis given: Mild Osteoarthritic changes in the Left Hip with no signs of Hip Dysplasia. No reason to suspect any other cause of pain, but monitoring and repeat exam in 6 months to a year to follow up suggested.
What diagnostic tests were used?:Physical exam that included flexion and extension range of motion tests on all joints. The veterinarian initially suggested a 7 day course of Metacam to see if this improved the signs with an inconclusive improvement, the owner then agreed for the vet to take hip and stifle x-rays for peace of mind.
Which pharmaceutical/ NSAIDs were prescribed? Metacam for 7 days prior to Xrays but no further NSAIDs following diagnosis due to Arthur being young and decided to first try managing the arthritis conservatively.
Were any dietary alterations or supplements used?: Removed all ‘treats’ from Arthur’s diet, instead use kibble from daily weighed ration as treats and use vegetables to fill kongs for enrichment. Following diagnosis Arthur was able to lose 3kg of bodyweight (he was not considered overweight) but this has been maintained since. The owner is going to trial YouMove and see if this makes a clinical improvement as opposed to long term NSAID use due to his age.
Any lifestyle or home adaptions made following diagnosis?: Arthur has not been allowed upstairs since a puppy but following initial diagnosis was lifted in and out of the car for walks, prevented from jumping up at cats/ birds in the garden and preventing excessive boisterous play. Prevented from jumping on sofas.
Was the dog’s daily exercise altered following diagnosis? Yes, more on-lead exercise and not using the ball launcher on walks. The shorter walks are combined with therapeutic exercise such as Cavaletti poles, weight shifting and mental stimulation such as scent work. These types of exercises tire our Arthur a lot quicker than physical exercise as he is a very fit and energetic dog who loves to exercise.
Any complimentary therapies used? E.g. hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, acupuncture etc? Yes, once Arthur had been rested for 10 days following diagnosis and had received laser therapy for the secondary back discomfort he was more comfortable, he began hydrotherapy sessions to increase strength in his hindlimb muscles and core stability.
If used what did these therapies aim to target? As a result of the hindlimb discomfort Arthur had begun to overload his forelimb joints to compensate, therefore hindlimb muscle strength was a key target, it was also important to achieve this increased muscle without high impact on the joints which made hydrotherapy an ideal choice of therapy.
Have the clinical symptoms improved, worsened or stayed the same: Generally Arthur is a lot more comfortable and less agitated. When it is noticed that he may have overdone it after a longer walk or is a little sore for whatever reason he is rested for a couple of days and this works well. It may be a case of also managing these minor flare ups with Metacam or other anti-inflammatories in future.