Sunday, September 8, 2013

Why is Jedi Limping?


I know I promised you an update on Jedi. It’s been a frustrating week. I sent in all the money/paperwork for the 4 shows last weekend. I’ve already received confirmation for the first two shows (that are in less than two weeks). On Tuesday afternoon we noticed Jedi was limping. We checked his leg and limited his activity. Thursday morning the limp was significantly worse. He saw the vet Thursday afternoon.

The vet I really liked is no longer at the clinic. I’m not sure how I like this vet. Her people skills could definitely be improved. Anyway, she seems to think that it’s OCD (Osteochondritis Dissecans). If she’s correct, it’ll require surgery and a specialist. We’ve got him on carprofen (generic Rimadyl), a non-steroidal pain reliever and are limiting his activity, hoping she’s wrong. She also sold us a joint supplement, hoping it’ll help.

Here are the two best articles I found on the condition: One is from VCA and the other from Doctors Foster and Smith. This is a condition where cartilage develops abnormally at the ends of the bones. The excess cartilage cracks or separates from the bone. It causes pain and lameness. It is most often found in the shoulder joints. It requires surgery to fix it, but afterwards a dog can live a normal life. It requires x-rays at specific angles to definitively diagnose. The vet didn’t have her x-ray book, but said that she does physical therapy with dogs and her touch is more sensitive than most. By the way, she didn’t give us any documentation on the condition, but did say call ahead before coming in for x-rays so she can bring her x-ray book from home.
What I find frustrating (besides the timing and the potential $3000 vet bill): All research indicates there is a genetic component. His mother, Zasha is fine. She’s 5 years old and has never shown any symptoms. Neither have any of the puppies from her first litter. Breeder works really hard to breed the best possible puppies, for both health and temperament. As I've said before, she put more time and thought into finding the right sire for my puppy than I did into selecting a father for my children! And I don’t see how his father, Cowboy could be where he’s at with OCD. He’s a champion from a reputable kennel. Mar Haven has produced two Grand Victors and one Grand Victrix. A kennel that takes the time to check which studs don’t carry the coat factor (a minor fault) would surely not breed a dog with something a serious as Osteochondritis Dissecans.

All my reading also suggests that weight and diet may be a contributing factor. I’ve worked really hard to keep Jedi’s weight gain slow and steady, mostly to prevent putting too much stress on his developing frame (hoping to avoid any hip and joint issues later). Jedi’s at exactly 80 pounds and has a perfect body mass. He is on a high quality food, designed specifically for large-breed puppies. I watch his diet and weight more than my own!
So I was upset. And tired. And confused. After a small pity party I started talking to people and doing some more research. Just a couple weeks ago the owner of Jedi’s brother, Dozer, said he had Pano. I looked it up. Like OCD, Panosteitis is a condition that affects young, rapidly growing dogs, most often large breed males. I found the most helpful articles to be this one from VCA and this one, also from Doctors Foster and Smith. Sometimes called “growing pains” Pano is a painful inflammation of the long bones of the legs. It’s characterized by sudden lameness that comes and goes and shifts from leg to leg. The cause of Pano is unknown. The good news is that Pano is a self-limiting condition and disappears as suddenly as it starts, usually between 18-24 months of age. And every article I read said that Panosteitis is most common in German shepherds. And after talking to Dozer’s owner I found out that Pano, which may also have a genetic component, it very common in the Golden Breed (mother’s) line.

And then I got pissed! Why would the vet jump to the most obscure, worst possible scenario? Why not start with “Hey, it could be Pano, but if not we’ll want to check XYZ?” If she ruled out Pano, why didn’t she tell me why? Why didn’t she give me something in writing? Even printing out one of the articles I found would have been helpful. By the way, Jedi’s limping was almost gone on Friday and a little more pronounced today, but not as bad as Thursday.
So here’s the game plan:
  1. Look for another vet and get a second opinion.
  2. Continue with the pain reliever and restricted activity.
  3. Continue with plans for showing in Deland, taking it day by day (not easy for me, btw.)
  4. If things don’t improve (or get worse) get x-rays.
Any thoughts? -- K

P.S. I had hoped that writing all this out would help me formulate my thoughts. sigh. I'm just as confused and frustrated as I was an hour ago.