Meet Latte, the cutest toy poodle puppy you could ever meet! This little rascal runs at the speed of lightening and not even skipping was able to slow him down. This is a picture of him taken TODAY :-).
Latte is owned by one of our staff members and so we regularly see him. We noticed he had an abnormal hindlimb gait from the first time we met him. He was so tiny at that stage and would only just fit into the palm of your hand so we did not get too fixated on working him up. His owner hoped he would grow out of the skipping as his bones developed.
Unfortunately, while he still seemed comfortable and happy and was running around like a mad pup, he started collapsing more frequently on his affected leg.
I often find that people assume a skipping gait can be normal or unique to their dog. The tricky part is that dogs and animals in general are so stoic. They do not show any subtle signs of discomfort. They wait until the pain levels reach an excruciatingly high level and they can not mask it anymore. That may be due to their survival instinct that gives them an urge to hide any weakness. While a mild case of flu may leave a person feeling crippled, I have seen dogs attemtping to walk on broken leg. Please pay attention to the subtle signs of discomfort that your pet may be displaying! If your pet has an abnormal gait, get it checked out by your vet before it gets more serious and difficult to cure or treat.
I actually once went out of my way to chat to some random owner walking her dog in Sydney that had a very prominent skipping gait. I could not bear to watch him anymore because I knew how uncomfortable he was. His owner was baffled yet so happy to discuss the skipping issue with me and said she had taken him to her local vet. Her dog had been worked up but the xrays taken were of his back not his knees. She was told they could not identify the problem and she should not worry about it. I strongly recommended she seek another vet’s opinion because his potential knee problems may have been missed! And oh I did that while I was walking back to my hotel after attending a conference.
You would think I would have better things to do than stalk random pet owners on the streets. 🙂
Dogs don’t talk and vets aren’t psychic so it is possible for us to localise the pain to a wrong location. I never feel offended if a client wants a second opinion especially if I am managing a case and feel like I’m not getting results. I simply welcome a second opinion and always get my colleagues involved. Another set of fresh vet eyes may help crack the case!
Back to Latte, we finally decided we really needed to work him up and so he got examined by 3 different vets (me included) and we thought he had a very abnormally positioned patella preventing him to freely move his knee joint. We xrayed his knees and confirmed the diagnosis of grade IV medially luxated patella. This condition is very common in toy dog breeds and is heritable. We usually grade luxated patellas from I to IV; Grade I not requiring surgery up to IV being the worst and most severe one requiring surgical repair.
We referred ‘Latte’ to Dr. Kuntz (a vet specialist) for surgical repair because he was only 3 months old at the time and we preferred the expert handling his case.
Check out Latte bolting around the vet clinic BEFORE HIS SURGERY:
He has made a fabulous recovery and is currently still on strict rest and is bustling with so much pent up energy.
His mom is letting him swim in the bath as part of his physiotherapy exercises. There is a 30% chance of recurrence of his patellar luxation but we are all crossing our fingers! We can’t wait to see him running full blast without skipping or collapsing on one of his back legs.