Hi guys! So for today’s post I though I would throw in a bit of variety from the usual “how to trick tutorials” and talk a bit more about Luna. Now I’ve spoken briefly in the past about Luna’s Hip Dysplasia, but let’s go into a bit more depth. Luna has Bilateral (BL) Hip Dysplasia (HD), BL meaning it is on both sides. Clinically she is almost equal, only ever so slightly worse through her right hind (RH), however symptomatically she always was considerably worse through her RH and left fore (LF). The reason for her LF is that she used to use it to compensate. Now without sounding big-headed – it’s going to, I’m sorry – most pet owners probably wouldn’t have picked up the signs that I would until much later in life. However working in the hydrotherapy we learned a lot about gait analysis, so I started picking up on a few subtle signs – slightly less extension through her left hip (extension from a join is how far it “opens”), very occasional bunny hoping and a lack of flexion (how much a joint “closes”) from her LF. In this time she never actually limped, but I was a paranoid mother and I was straight off to the vets for an examination, which further led to an X-Ray and diagnosis.
You can read more about Hip Dysplasia on Fitzpatrick’s website.
At this point I was pretty devastated as we had just started competing in agility and were placing after just 3 shows. But I wasn’t really that concerned about competing, I was more concerned about just how much she loved agility. Luna’s always loved to trick train, but anything high energy really hits the spot for her. Of course I backed off from the agility altogether initially. I was thankful that I had found out as early as I did, as HD cannot be cured, but the earlier it is found, the better it can be managed to create a better quality of life immediately as well as in the future.
So how did we go about treating Luna’s new-found condition? Well I was also thankful that I was in the position that I was! I was a fully qualified hydrotherapist at Woozelbears Hydrotherapy when I found out, which meant super easy access to great rehabilitation for Luna! When we found out, we measured Luna’s muscle mass, she had muscle loss through both hind limbs (right was 2 cm small then her left) and excess muscle through her LF (1cm) where she was compensating. Certain muscles were also really tense where they had either been supporting the joint or used as compensation. So we started Luna’s hydrotherapy program with 2 sessions a week in the pool at first to help reduce the inflammation as much as possible. After a few weeks we then moved her over the aquatic treadmill (a treadmill that fills up with water) as her muscles had become more supple and she had gained a small amount of muscle. The treadmill will still help to reduce inflammation thanks to the natural properties of the water but the treadmill will build muscle much faster than the pool as well as help to retrain their gait as it makes it much harder for them to compensate. I won’t bore you with all the in-depth stuff but if you want to know more drop me a message! Woozelbears also had a gait analysis treadmill, with pressure sensors under the belt, which helped us to track her progress very carefully, and tailor her hydro program to suit her, with the correct exercises and amount of hydro that she needed.
So I’ve spoken a lot about the hydrotherapy just now, but it wasn’t just the hydrotherapy that helped Luna. The vets immediately offered me NSAID’s when we found out, which I was absolutely not happy about and neither were they with her being so young. So I set out to find a more natural alternative, which is when I found out that turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. Upon finding this I then found out about Golden Paste (GP), which helps with a lot of ailments in both humans and animals. Golden paste contains turmeric powder, coconut oil, water and black pepper, if you want to find out more or how to make it please click here. So I got Luna on the Turmeric paste, as well as a glucosamine supplement. There are so many different glucosamine supplements on the market, and I treated dogs on many of them in my time as a hydrotherapist. Some have minimal effect, most work, some work well and some work really well across all cases. The one I had seen the most positive cases with was Yumove. It was the only glucosamine supplement on the market at the time that was clinically proven, and it contains many other ingredients – such as Green Lipped Mussel and Chondroitin – that are beneficial to joints and muscles. You can find out more about what ingredients are included and the benefits by visiting their website.
On top of all this we had to restrict many aspects of her life throughout her rehabilitation. This included preventing her from jumping up onto furniture, into the car, not allowing her to use stairs, shortening her walks drastically etc. We also had to start including a lot more on lead walking – not only to prevent sharp turns and high speeds, but lead walking helps to build a lot more of the correct muscles that you might think, because dogs find it harder to compensate at a slower speed. We also had to remove ball throwing – potentially one of the best things I did for both collies was much less ball throwing, I didn’t realise at the time the negative effect it can have on their mental state, creating an obsessive and fixating mind. Okay in the right amounts, everything in moderation as they say! The agility was scrapped, and so were our 4 hour treks across the countryside! Luna’s life changed massively, and honestly she wasn’t happy at first. Some people and trainers like to say that dogs “can’t/won’t resent you” but I swear she was sulking, I don’t care what the naysayers will say. That dog was sulking and she hated me the most in that time. I definitely got less affection off her, but other people in her life still got the usual amount, it felt like the bond had been broken. BUT it was for her own good! She wouldn’t be where she is now if we hadn’t done all this!
Anyway I wanted to fix the bond between me and her that had been broken, which is where I began to dip my toes in with my first bit of trick training. Of course she already had all the basic commands, and knew a couple of tricks, but I thought back to when she was learning them all and she used to love it. So I introduced trick training back into her life. I had to tailor the tricks around her hips to make sure she wasn’t going to cause them any harm, but there were plenty that we could do. As I soon found out a lot of tricks are actually great for helping to build muscle, if you want help or more info about this be sure to ask, I’m always happy to help when I can. Before I knew it Luna was much happier in herself and she was close to being back to her usual crazy, loving self!
A few months passed and Luna had improved considerably! She was down to needing only once weekly hydro sessions after the third week and continued at this until this point. The Golden Paste (GP) and glucosamine had really taken effect, as had all her life changes, and her muscle had improved greatly! Her muscle mass had increased through both hind limbs and her right was now almost equal to her left, with there only being 5 mm difference. Her left shoulder was now equal with her right too where she had stopped compensating, but with all this muscle work both her shoulders had increased! Her range of movement had improved too, flexion and extension of all joints. At this point we started to gradually reduce her hydro, down to once a fortnight and start lifting those mean life restrictions one at a time. If anything set her back at any point we just went back a step and continued for longer until trying again. Eventually she no longer needed hydro, providing I perform regular exercises with her at home – given by a physiotherapist – as well as continuing her glucosamine and GP.
Luna can do much more again, and we regularly keep an eye on her to ensure we aren’t causing her any discomfort, looking for all the subtle signs, especially when we introduce something new or ask a lot of her! She’s a classic case of the mind is willing but the body is not! Luna now leads the life of a normal dog most of the time, and it’s all thanks to her strict rehabilitation program. It makes me sad when I can see a dog that is clearly in discomfort but the owner is uneducated, blind or just ignorant. I know a lot of this isn’t cheap, and circumstances change so you can’t always afford what you could when you first got a dog. But at least do what you can, and especially don’t expect them to walk miles and shout at them when they can’t keep up! For those people I hope a flock of seagulls crap on you simultaneously while your mouth is open. It’s cruel and I wish I could take your dog away from you. But if you do have insurance a lot of this is likely to be covered within your policy! Luna’s was all covered by Direct Line for us!
If you ever have any questions about rehabilitating hip dysplasia, or any other clinical conditions or injuries, or if you just want some moral support, please drop me a comment or message. You can message me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, although I’m most active on Instagram!
Next up: Luna’s Hydrotherapy Session at Woozelbears! We’ll be writing about one of our recent trips to Woozelbears for Luna’s hydrotherapy session. Be sure not to miss it by following us pr subscribing to our emails! Blog posts only, no junk, I hate that crap!