Knee Dislocation & Hip Dysplasia

Leia Loves SticksWhen we brought Leia home from the shelter there were a few things we didn’t know. We didn’t know she loves chasing a stick, we didn’t know she would gain 20 lbs in the first 2 months home, and we didn’t know she had patellar luxation. In fact, we didn’t find out for a while, until one day Leia went to stand up from a nap and whined. Then we started noticing it more: limping after hard play, being slow to get up and down, not wanting to walk as far as she use to… it broke our hearts. So we went to the vet for a check and to see what could be done. Leia was diagnosed with patellar luxation (dislocating knees) and had had this for a while. Both patellar luxation and hip dysplasia are somewhat common in large breed dogs. Symptoms can include limping, a skip in their step, bunny hopping with their back legs, swaying gait, refusal to stand on one leg, decreased activity, reduced interest in walking, trouble or reluctance to go up or down stairs, pain and tenderness, and slow or painful transitions form laying or sitting to standing (and vice versa).

There are generally 4 things you can do about these issues to help treat/manage it.

Knee and Hip Surgery

scalpelOne option is surgery. We learned that patellar luxation surgery can cost $1,500 to $3,000 dollars per knee, and our vet stated we would probably need to do one at a time with recovery time between (not all vets recommend separate surgeries). There is more than one type of surgery for hip dysplasia depending on the cause and severity of the issue, but in general the various surgeries can range from $1,500 to $3,000 and if you are considering replacing both hips it is from $7,000 to $12,000. Ouch!

Another route (and the one we chose) was managed care though supplements, pain management, and therapy.

DasuquinSupplements for Joint Health

Supplements can make a huge difference in how your dog feels on a daily basis. We put Leia on Dasuquin with MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) soft chews.  She loves the flavor and eats them like they are treats! We noticed the change after just a week of use. She moved easier, she moved faster, less whining when she got up and down. Dasuquin does not fix the problem, but it does make it much easier to live with. She is comfortable, happy, and demands her chew with breakfast.

Dasuquin contains Glucosamin and chondroitin  which helps with inflammation and joint health and may help reduce your pets need for pain medication. Also consider supplements with Omega3s such as Fish Oil soft gels. Our vet allowed us to give them twice daily in addition to the Dasuquin and Leia enjoys having them.

Pain Management

Our vet prescribed Previcox which is for pain and inflammation, is fast acting, and has worked well when Leia has occasional bad days (I think we have taken 3 in the past year). You do have options though! Some vets recommend Metacam  for pain and inflammation. It has the additional benefit of a good flavor, but it is not cheap. If you need a more cost effective option, talk to your vet about Meloxicam, it is affordable and with the help of some peanut butter, hotdog, or a pill pocket it can be easy to give.

PrevicoxAnother option is to get cortisone injections which can provide some pain relief, reduce inflammation, and generally lasts between 8 and 12 weeks. Cortisone is an injectable steroid medication and can lead to increased thirst, appetite, and can have additional negative side effects. Your vet should always be consulted before giving a cortisone injection.

Remember, some of these medications are used in humans as well, which can mean big savings for you! If your veterinarian is going to prescribe some medications for your pet, you might want to read this! Most medications are made for human consumption, some are not – so ASK! Find out exactly how many milligrams you are being prescribed and how many pills you are getting. Then, ask them how much the medications are going to cost.

Pull out your cell phone and check out the GoodRX  website or the GoodRX Mobile app. GoodRX allows you to enter your medication and zip code and compare prices nearby. Also consider getting a prescription and seeing if you can get it filled at Target, Publix, Walmart, or Sam’s Club. Most carry some medications that are prescribed for pets (and if you ever need antibiotics, they are free at Publix).  If you have a Walgreens or CVS card, you might find that these medications are cheaper at your local pharmacy. If it is not a medication you can get at a local pharmacy, check the price online at sites like 1800PetMeds. Many medications can be purchased for less online with a prescription. Also, ask your vet if they price-match, some vets have started doing this and it could save you a bit of money!

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy This option is often overlooked, and  I am really not sure why. There are several options when it comes to physical therapy and my very first suggestion is to talk to your vet before you implement any sort of in-home physical therapy. Some exercises include sit-stands (where you have your dog sit for a period of time, then stand, then sit again), short walks (if your dog appears sore or is limping at the end of the walk it is too much), hydrotherapy (including swimming and walking on a submerged aquatic treadmill), walking in figure 8’s and other exercises. It is important to use muscles or they will not improve, but not over use them to the point of damage. Here is a brief video about exercising dogs with hip dysplasia. Some exercises suggested for patellar luxation are contraindicated for hip dysplasia and vice versa, so it is very important to consult your vet &/or an orthopedic specialist.

A gentle massage and a warm (not hot) heating pad can provide additional relief.  Here is a brief video about  massage to address pain and there is are several videos about massage in general, as well as acupressure which can help with mobility, comfort and even anxiety and stress!   It is also important for your dog to maintain a healthy weight, as additional weight puts additional stress on joints. Talk to your vet about what your dog’s target weight should be to best protect joints and maintain overall health.

In Closing

Whether you choose surgery, supplements, pain management,  physical therapy, or a combination of any of the above, we hope you and your dog will benefit from the information presented.  Always consult with your veterinarian before taking a new course of action in order to ensure it is best for your pup, and consider consulting a canine orthopedic specialist, canine physical therapist, or canine massage therapist.  You are your dog’s advocate, if your veterinarian does not bring up these options, feel free to ask them how your dog might be able to benefit from them. Hopefully with some of these options your pup will find more pain-free days and reasons to keep that tail wagging!

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Sarah

    09.09.2014

    I adopted a TDL dog who ended up having the Patellar Luxation issue too! We didn’t know until much later that that was the reason for her limping and bunny-hopping. She had corrective surgery and is doing FANTASTIC! We were able to have the surgery done at a not-for-profit clinic in West Palm Beach, FL for about $900 (the clinic is called Paws 2 Help)
    Now, she is a super happy and energetic TDL pup who has exceeded all of our expectations!!

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