Tag Archives: hip dysplasia

Teddy’s journey ends

This is a blog post I didn’t think I would be writing for some years.  Unfortunately, some things are just not meant to be.

Teddy, the Beagle who so bravely came back from a front leg amputation last year, passed away on Saturday.  He was only 8 years old – gone too soon.

TeddyTeddy 10_9_14

Cancer took Teddy’s life away very quickly.  For the last 8 weeks or so, Jill had been saying things like ‘he’s not himself’ ‘he’s tired today’ or ‘he hasn’t been right since we changed his medication.’

We discussed diet, a different mixture of supplements, different medications, and different acupressure sequences…

Some days he seemed like his old self, others not.  Sometimes his liver function tests came back as abnormal, then re-tests would show an improvement after changing his core food.

But late last week, things turned quickly.

Teddy vomited up his breakfast on Tuesday and then stopped eating and drinking.  Another blood test showed highly escalated liver enzymes and Teddy was in trouble.  He was booked initially for an ultrasound on Monday but then he had to go to the vet on Friday for fluids and stayed overnight.  The ultrasound was moved up to Saturday.

And the ultrasound specialist had terrible news.  His report reads “These findings are consistent with metastatic neoplasia (likely sarcoma, adenocarcinoma, or carcinoma).  There is hepatic and splenic involvement (with likely metastases to lymph nodes and lungs).  Unfortunately Teddy’s prognosis is grave.”

Jill took a distressed Teddy home and her regular vet came to give him his final injection.  As Jill said, there was no choice.

When I saw Jill yesterday, she just said that in writing Teddy’s last story, she wanted his story to matter.

I’ve thought really hard about this.  I think everything about Teddy mattered.  He was a Beagle that was just a little too large to win in the show ring (despite winning best baby puppy several times).  Early on, Jill discovered that Teddy was born with bilateral hip dysplasia and she set about keeping him happy and healthy (I came into the picture in 2010 after an unsuccessful attempt at hydrotherapy, because Teddy also had neck problems that were aggravated by swimming).

When I lost Daisy last July, it was Teddy who would come and sit beside me in sympathy.

And then last August’s horrible accident and the amputation which was going to affect Teddy’s mobility as he aged.  And he came through it like a trooper.  When I adopted Izzy (my greyhound), I took her for a visit and a 3-legged Teddy was zooming after her as if nothing had changed.

So, what do Teddy’s last days tell us?

I think they tell us that no matter how well we take care of our dogs, and with our best intentions for seeing them to old age, we really have very little influence when the end comes.  We do our best.  And we have to make the right decisions for our dogs in the face of critical or terminal illness.

I’m glad that Teddy came through his amputation so well and that he and Jill had months together that they wouldn’t have had if she had decided to end his life then.  And I’m glad Teddy didn’t suffer for days and days like people suffering from terminal cancer do.

Teddy is one of those special clients that I will carry in my heart for the remainder of my days.  He was My Favourite Beagle.  Everything about him matters.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Teddy’s journey starts

Teddy is an almost 8-year old Beagle.  We’ve known each other for 4 years now because Teddy is a regular customer of my dog massage, nutrition and rehabilitation practice.

Teddy

Teddy

Teddy suffers from bilateral hip dysplasia and his owner, Jill Gordon, has been successfully managing this condition for years by giving Teddy good nutrition, massage and laser therapy, and regular osteopathic adjustments.

But Teddy wasn’t so lucky on Friday, 22nd August 2014.

On this morning, which started like so many others, Teddy was riding in his father’s van in the front seat to go to work.  When the van came to a sudden stop in traffic, Teddy slid off the front seat into the foot well.   The force of his fall and the angle in which he fell caused him to severely fracture his right front leg.

The veterinary term for Teddy’s compound fracture is a comminuted open right intracondylar elbow fracture.

Teddy’s dad rushed him to their local veterinary practice at Lincoln Village Vets where the staff there stabilised him and Alex, the vet nurse, accompanied Jill and Teddy to the local specialist surgery practice, Vet Specs.   At Vet Specs the lead surgeon, Helen Milner, assessed Teddy.  She said she might be able to save his leg through a complicated 5-hour surgery.  Jill authorised the surgery.

However, once Helen got Teddy onto the operating table, she saw in more detail than the x-rays allowed her to just how badly broken Teddy’s leg was.  It was shattered and she didn’t have enough bone fragments to successfully attempt a repair.   The only choice was amputation.

Amputation has been a devastating outcome for Jill.  We know that Teddy has a challenging journey ahead not only to recover from his amputation but also to adapt his lifestyle and surroundings so he doesn’t aggravate his hip dysplasia.

Quality of life is paramount.

Jill has chosen a healthcare team including Sarah Wisson, his osteopath, Dr Susanne Anderson, a veterinary acupuncture specialist, and me to see Teddy through this new journey.

Jill wants other owners to learn from Teddy’s experience about the need to restrain their dogs when traveling in vehicles.  And she wants owners to share in Teddy’s journey to recovery.  She has given her permission for Teddy’s story to be told here.  You will see the new category on the blog:  Teddy’s journey post-amputation.

Teddy has just been released from hospital and is recovering at home.  Jill says he’s still her handsome boy as seen here:

Teddy, before his discharge from hospital

Teddy, before his discharge from hospital

Join us for Teddy’s journey in future blog posts.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Beagle

Since I have Beagles in my massage practice, I thought it would be useful to profile this medium-sized breed.

Teddy

Beagles regularly feature on the most popular breed list in the United States.    Using American Kennel Club registrations from 2011, the Beagle is the third most popular dog.

The Beagle originated in the United Kingdom where they were used as hunting dogs for rabbits and other prey animals because of their keen sense of smell and ability to track.  As a pet, owners have to watch their Beagle because he/she will easily follow its nose to track interesting smells – potentially wandering far from home.

Beagles are classified as being tri-colour (black, white and tan) or lemon (yellow) and sometimes even red or white.  An average life span is 15 years.

This breed is prone to hip dysplasia, intervertebral disc disease, and allergies.  Some develop seizure disorders and hypothyroidism.  Regular ear cleaning is recommended because their long, floppy ears (which are very appealing) help to create an ideal environment to hold moisture and bacteria in the ear canal.

The Beagle is a hound and can be extremely vocal, so good training is needed.  Beagles are also known for their appetites and so to keep the weight off, a balanced and healthy diet is needed with careful attention paid to how much the dog is eating during the day (treats, ‘finds’ on walks, etc.)  Plenty of exercise is also needed.

Owners of Beagles tell me that since they were bred as pack dogs (for hunting), they don’t do well as a solo dog in a household.  They need companionship and can become depressed if left alone for long periods of time.  (This depression can lead to problem barking problems, too.)

Beagles are often spotted at airports, cruise ship terminals and postal depots because they are widely used as agriculture and drug detector dogs.  That’s because they can be trained to put their keen noses to good use!  I even came across this YouTube clip from the television show The Doctors where Beagles and Dachshunds are being used as detector dogs for bed bug infestations:

Sadly, because of their size and temperament, they are often used in laboratories for animal testing.  In November 2011, I covered a story about 40 laboratory Beagles who had been rescued.

Perhaps the most famous Beagle is Snoopy (the cartoon by Charles Schulz).  Snoopy was obviously a white Beagle.

If you are looking for a lively pet with minimal grooming requirements and generally a good temperament, then the Beagle may be right for you!

What is PennHIP?

PennHIP (short for University of Pennyslvania Hip Improvement Program) is a programme of the University of Pennsylvania incorporating a new method for screening for hip dysplasia.

Hip dyplasia is a degenerative disease caused by poor quality in the hip joint; the disease is primarily one that is inherited although weight and age are other factors contributing to the problem.  Over time and with wear from even routine exercise, the hip joint will develop osteoarthritis and the dog may experience periods of lameness or stiffness with increasing frequency.

Until now, the screening method for poor hip condition involved waiting until a dog was approximately one year old and then sending x-rays to be scored through a national scheme.  I’ve seen dogs in my massage practice where the owner tells me that ‘ my breeder said that the parents both had excellent hip scores’ and sadly, the dog still has hip dysplasia.

The PennHIP method involves the taking of distinctive views of the dog’s hips with the radiograph images sent to the University for evaluation.  There is a particularly important view taken during the procedure – called the distraction view.   It is this view that is used primarily to measure the ‘laxity’ in the hip joint with a defined scoring system.  Loose hip joints are not a good sign – looser hips mean greater chances of developing osteoarthritis.

To read more about the scoring system used in the Distraction Index, read this page from the PennHIP site.

The PennHIP method can be performed on dogs as young as 16 weeks of age whereas the more conventional type of scoring methods cannot be performed until the age of one year.  This helps when dogs are being chosen for working dogs, agility dogs, or breeding.

The PennHIP programme keeps a database of dogs by breed and this is one of the advantages  of the programme.  Results are reported for the dog relative to other members in the same breed.  It is recommended that breeding dogs only be selected if their PennHIP score is in the top 40% for their breed.  Over time, this will mean that the breed average will move towards dogs with tighter hips.  For an owner of a pet dog, a Hip Evaluation Report will provide useful insight so the owner can prepare for the dog’s care.  Such care may involve keeping the dog at an ideal weight, incorporating supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, feeding a diet that supports healthy joints, and following a programme of regular massage physiotherapy with controlled and low impact exercise.

There are PennHIP member veterinarians all over the world who must be trained in the technique.  The training ensures that they develop an understanding of the screening method and the importance of accurately positioned x-rays.  The veterinarians are then required to return to their home practice and take the PennHIP x-rays of five dogs.  That’s a total of 25 scans that must be submitted for evaluation!

My vets at the Harewood Veterinary Hospital proudly displays their PennHIP membership status on the door of the practice.  Is your vet a member?

And here’s an example of the Hip Evaluation Report, courtesy of the PennHIP website: