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Drat. Rudder might have HD


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#1 Jexa

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 12:07 PM

Rudder is 8 months old, and I've been noticing that his spine swings back and forth like a musical saw when he walks. He hasn't shown any stiffness or pain but he does "bunny hop" occasionally.

At this point, is it worth going to the vet? Getting x-rays? Adding a supplement? He isn't overweight, and currently runs free about an hour a day at the barn. He also goes on runs with me 2-3 times per week. I don't let him jump after frisbees or tennis balls, though he does jump off the furniture and follows me up the stairs.

He's not a fan of swimming, though we're slowly working on that. Are there any other exercises that could help? Will things like jumping off the furniture make that much of a difference?

Like I said, he's not not showing any pain right now, but I'd like to keep it that way and prevent as much damage as possible.

#2 Sue R

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 12:13 PM

I am not familiar with HD or its symptoms, but I hope all works out well for him. There are people here with experience that I am sure will give advice.

Very best wishes!
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#3 rushdoggie

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 12:46 PM

Yes, go see a vet. For one thing, it may not be HD. My dog bunny hopped, and it turned out he had pano and was in a lot more pain that I realized and the severe pain affected his behavior.

Second, you can actually fix HD if its bad enough, and doing so at 8 months will ensure a long, pain free life. If you wait then he will get arthritis at a much younger age.

And, if he had HD but its not too bad, you can affect his mobility with a exercise program that targets his hip muscles and again ensure a best possible outcome.

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#4 gcv-border

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 05:53 PM

Not much to add, except to say that having a vet check him out would let you deal early on with anything that might be going on - with a much better potential outcome. Consider going to a rehab/ortho vet if necessary.

How long are your runs? Depending on length, they may not be a good idea at his young age.

Hugs to Rudder.

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#5 Alchemist

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 10:15 PM

Not a vet, but...

"Bunny hopping" may (MAY!) indeed be a sypmtom of CHD, but please don't despair. Rudder may yet live a perfectly happy and healthy life without having to undergo surgery.

Many dogs with CHD can lead long and very active lives. (I've heard tell of top Open trial dogs with bad hips). The key is to provide them with as much *appropriate* exercise as they can tolerate (i.e., don't allow them to exercise to the point that they're showing lameness; if they show signs of such, cut them back and work them back up gradually). Exercise (and supplements) will help forestall arthritis. Hiking off-leash and swimming is much better than is fetch (on land) or any exercise involving jarring of joints (such as running on pavement). Physical therapy (such as underwater treadmill) is especially good. What you want is to build up the muscle mass so as to support the hips. Initially this may involve pain medications so as to keep Rudder comfortable and allow him to use both hind limbs without favoring either one. Be sure to conduct baseline blood tests before embarking on long-term NSAID therapy.

Supplements are recommended - Dasuquin (or equivalent) and Adequan shots. (The latter starts weekly, I think, but then stretches out to monthly, and really is not at all expensive if you learn to give the shots yourself). You can purchase both online at far less cost than through most vet clinics.

There is very little correlation between clinical severity (e.g., how bad it looks on x-ray) and symptoms. Although there is surgery that could be pursued, many ortho vets would recommend against it for dogs this young until you'd exhausted all other options. (For one thing: dogs' hips aren't fully developed at this age; what may appear to be the worse hip at one point can turn out to be the better one). Managing things through exercise is preferred whenever possible over surgical options.

Best of luck. I know it sounds scary, but it need not be that bad.

#6 Jexa

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 07:07 AM

Thanks everyone, you've confirmed what I thought. I'll see what the vet has to say at this point and start adding a supplement.

He only runs my warm-up with me, just a nice easy 8 to 10 minute mile (ish) on the grass, though he's off leash so he ends up running more than a mile. The rest of it I run on my own, at least until he's older.

Fingers crossed he never becomes symptomatic, or at the very least only mildly! As someone who has had hip surgery herself, for basically the same underlying issue that causes CHD, I'm really hoping we can avoid that!

#7 Alchemist

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 07:48 AM

One good exercise (doubles as a trick) is "sit to stand". Teach Rudder to "sit pretty" (sit up to beg). You can start this by teaching him to target your hand, then move your hand over his head while he's sitting, reward him when his front legs start to leave the ground. "Sitting pretty" is a great exercise for strengthening his back. Once this is mastered have him stand up on his hind legs. This is good for the hips.

You can also train a trick I call "allez oop" (couldn't think of anything more original) where the dog puts its forelimbs up on your outstretched arm. From this it's easy to progress to a "dance": you hold the forearms and you and the dog together take a few steps forwards and a few backwards. I've been told this is a great exercise for the hips.

I would talk to your vet about the jogging, even on grass. It's a bit different from off-leash hiking in that you're setting the pace, not the dog.

The only way to diagnose it is through X-rays. The trick is that dogs' hips aren't fully formed by 8 months, so it's possible that a dog could look fine by 8 months and yet develop CHD by two years of age. On the other hand... if a dog's hips show CHD at 8 months, they'll also show it at adulthood.

If your vet does unsedated X-rays (and if Rudder is calm enough for it), that is a lot less expensive than a half-day hospitalization for sedated X-rays.

#8 Jexa

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 08:10 AM

Thanks so much for the exercises! That is exactly what I was looking for. I'll talk to the vet about jogging and whether he wants to take X-rays now or hold off.

#9 ItsADogsLyfe

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 10:07 AM

One of my Border Collies was diagnosed with HD at age 6 mos. He also "bunny hopped" which is why I had him xrayed so young. I never had him re xrayed and even though he still moves funny he is probably my most agile dog with the most stamina of them all. Even with our extreme heat lately he has not slowed down and runs around most of the day. He is rather OCD though so I'm going to have to MAKE him slow down a bit by confining him as he runs off any weight he has on him. He is over 10 years old now.
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#10 gcv-border

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 10:34 AM

Thanks so much for the exercises! That is exactly what I was looking for. I'll talk to the vet about jogging and whether he wants to take X-rays now or hold off.


In addition to the sitting pretty and standing on hind legs, my rehab vet suggested having the dog crawl forwards and backwards. Also, I put a ladder on the ground and lured my dog over the rungs - make sure the dog steps slowly and deliberately (my dog thought he had to race to the other end). Note: my dog had an ileopsoas strain (groin muscle pull), but the general idea was to strengthen his hind muscles. A rehab/ortho vet should be able to provide you with a list of appropriate exercises.

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#11 SecretBC

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 08:36 AM

I'd look into investing in a few of the FitPaws products -- The physio-balls (peanuts), balance discs, pods, etc. all provide great conditioning exercises that strengthen the muscle groups that will help to stabilize the hips.
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