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Camden's Mom

*Please Help* Gait Observation

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Camden has been on the mend for what feels like ages. Originally he had a front leg injury that had him on limited activity for 3+ months. Once that was healed he was allowed some off leash activity at which point we think he tweaked one of his back legs. We took a step back, rested him for another couple weeks, then we started to re-introduce him much more gradually to activity. It’s been about four weeks and we’re still building him back up, however....

 

It’s been so long since I’ve seen him move freely that I’m worrying myself to death that something weird is still going on. I simply can’t tell if his gait seems normal or strange, especially when running. Not to mention he’s my first dog, so I’m not even 100% sure what “normal” looks like. The vet has not been able to feel/see anything wrong so the next step is to have X-rays done.

 

This might come across as me asking all of you to diagnose my dog via video, but that’s not my intention. I am just looking for un-biased feedback about whether the way he is moving seems fairly normal or if you guys are seeing anything weird or any “red flags” in his movement. I’m more then willing to move forward to the next step (X rays) but I want to be sure I’m not just being irrational or overly paranoid.

 

Thank you SO much in advance for any feedback you can provide… I’ve been losing sleep over this one. :(

 

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Well, I'm far from an expert on gaits. And border collie gaits are often just kinds weird, at least judging by what people who supposedly know what gaits are spozed to look like.

 

It seemed to me in the very beginning that his left rear leg seemed a little stiff when he started walking, but then it seemed to loosen up. I general his rear legs seems a little straight to me, not a lot of extension.

 

But I really didn't see anything that would have concerned me in his trot or run.

 

I'm sure people who have far more experience and talent for seeing such things will chime in, but if the vet isn't seeing anything, then I'm not sure I'd be too worried about it if her were my dog.

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I would want to see video of a slow walk from directly behind. He does seem to step a little short with his back legs, but I want to see if he has what I have always called the May West wiggle. Just to be sure, I would have hip x-rays done.

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He looks like he has a hitch in his giddy up when he is walking. He looks a bit like he is bunny hopping when he runs, but as Gentle Lake says, he's pretty straight in the rear so it's difficult to say for sure.

 

RDM

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From my years of watching many, many horses move, here's what I think:

 

1) That white leg is throwing things off. It attracts the eye & makes it look like he's moving it differently.

 

2) In the beginning, when he's supposed to be walking, he gets very pacey (lateral pairs moving together instead of diagonal pairs). If it's a not a gait you're used to seeing, it makes them (horses or dogs) look lame because it moves their bodies oddly. In horses prone to it, you often see it when they're being held back.

 

3) He does start off looking stiff, both behind and in the right front. The right front looks like it's coming from higher up- like the shoulder- but that can be very deceiving.

 

4) He moves quite even at the trot. Nearly all dogs track off to one side at the trot (hind feet land either inside or outside of the front feet instead of directly in line), so a little sideways from behind isn't necessarily abnormal

 

5) While the eagerness to take off running is not exactly uncommon in Border Collies, he seems quite comfortable doing those rapid stops & turns, which would indicate relatively good levels of soundness. Grain of salt: Both of my dogs have come up from working stock limping & bloody at various times from minor injuries. I didn't even know a thing was wrong because they just. don't. quit.

 

5) Have the rads done, even if just for your peace of mind. You'll also have a baseline to go off of if he ends up with an injury in the future.

 

If your man there ever needs a job, he should hire himself out for horse inspections. He's got the trot-turn-trot-turn-animal on the judges side thing down :)

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I can not add anything to the knowledgeable advice above, except:

 

He walks very nicely on a leash!!

 

If you have access to a certified orthopedic/rehab vet, I would choose to go to that one rather than a general vet. I (and many of my friends) have always had better luck with diagnostics and treatment using a specialty vet. And I, personally, have also had two incidents where my general vet, who is very well regarded, misdiagnosed my dog's injury. The extra, specialized training of an ortho/rehab vet really helps in situations such as these. JMO.

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His gait looks fine and you're in pretty good shape too. If it's not broke, don't try to fix it. If the vet doesn't see anything wrong there likely isn't. I'm sure he would recommend rays if he thought they were needed. He appears to be athletic and of good nature and pretty happy with doing stuff with you. Enjoy him......Bob Stephens

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Nothing jumps out at me. At the walk there's enough bouncing and shifting between walk, pacey trot, trot to make it difficult to tell. His trot looks fine. At the run, he's again bouncing and playing and that's what makes him appear to bunny hop, IMO.

 

At any rate, I didn't see anything that made me think, OMG, that dog is off. That said, I agree with those who said radiographs for peace of mind/baseline isn't a bad idea. But I don't think you have to rush out and get them done ASAP.

 

J.

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Well, I'm far from an expert on gaits. And border collie gaits are often just kinds weird, at least judging by what people who supposedly know what gaits are spozed to look like.

 

It seemed to me in the very beginning that his left rear leg seemed a little stiff when he started walking, but then it seemed to loosen up. I general his rear legs seems a little straight to me, not a lot of extension.

 

But I really didn't see anything that would have concerned me in his trot or run.

 

I'm sure people who have far more experience and talent for seeing such things will chime in, but if the vet isn't seeing anything, then I'm not sure I'd be too worried about it if her were my dog.

This - and what Julie said.

 

Depending on conformation most dogs will be more comfortable with some gaits than another. Collies built like Camden often do seem a little more awkward and stiff at a restrained walk. Extension comes with increased speed. Also they can swap between using both hind legs together and independently when running.

 

Although any of those tendencies could be a sign of something amiss they could also be quite normal and not suspicious for that particular dog. As long as he is placing full weight on all four legs I wouldn't be overly concerned if he were my dog on the evidence of the video.

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Also, how old is Camden? IIRC he is still under one year??? He could also be going through an awkward stage.

 

He's just over a year and a half, so I think we're probably through all the weird growing pains.

 

It is worth mentioning that his overall physical condition is probably 75% (at best). We're still building him back up from his extensive rested activity period. I was especially nervous about continuing to push forward on strengthening if something seemed amiss. That's the primary reason I made (and shared) this video.

 

Thanks to everyone for the feedback thus far. I think I was being overly paranoid about his running gait, especially the bunny hop. Also, his back right leg will sometimes follow his left leg *so closely* that it almost looks like he's carrying it. I've watched this very carefully and he is absolutely baring weight and pushing off on it, it just travels so closely to the other leg it looks deceiving. Re-watching the video I do see the stiffness in his walking gait, but I also wonder if that's because he's being held back (which I assure you he is... this dog doesn't ever just "walk" anywhere unless forced to ;) ).

 

I may still get the hip X-rays done at some point (as others have suggested... for peace of mind) but in the meantime we'll continue to move forward on getting him back into tip-top shape. I'll keep a close eye on him, keeping everyone's observations in mind, and try to make his transition back to full health as seamless as possible.

 

Thank you again to everyone who took the time to watch this video and provide feedback. I really, really appreciate it!

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Been in your shoes, spent a lot of time watching dogs walk. To me, he looks like he might be a little tight in his rear end. That could be from the long rest. He seemed to move slower and easier the longer he moved.

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I have videos like this of Mer when she was Camden's age. She ended up having undiagnosed, quite severe psoas injuries (and it didn't scream at me from her videos either, but the experts could see it). She also went on to rupture both CCLs. She is built very much like Camden, and there is some truth to structure being important. I could tell something was wrong, but not what. Several GP vets and several ortho vets completely missed it. I finally took her to a rehab/sports medicine center in MD, and they diagnosed her in five minutes. Course, now that I know what to look for, I can put my hands on a dog and diagnose a psoas injury in five minutes, too (it's not that hard, you just have to know what to check).

 

Camden ambles (similar to a pace, but dogs almost never pace, unlike Standardbreds...their fore and hind feet strike the ground at almost, but not exactly the same time), like she did. However, his transitions to a trot and canter are smooth, and he doesn't seem to off load one hind limb when turning. With her, I could see her favoring her more severely affected leg at those times. If you really wanted to know, I would take him to a place like VOSM, if you have one out there. They can do rads, but really they can probably tell you more from a PE and from watching Camden walk/doing gait analysis on him (the dog walks over a sensor pad, and software highlights any off loading or shortening of the stride).

 

He sits squarely on his haunches, correct?

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Is he uncomfortable sitting? Does he "hip" when he sits, instead of sitting straight? How does he react if you have him lie on his side and fold his rear leg up, toward his body? Does it make him uncomfortable? If he is/does, I think X-rays are in order. But I personally would give him PT for awhile first.

 

I agree with Rushdoggie that the tightness in his rear might be stiffness from a long rest.

 

I have actually been keeping an eagle eye out for the "hip sit" and, other then a few random times, I rarely see him do that. When I have seen him do it, I've asked him to stand and then sit again and he goes right into a square sitting position. I have also tried to keep an eye on how he's laying. He doesn't seem to favor a side to lay on. Sometimes when he lays down he'll stretch one of his back legs out behind him, but he doesn't do it often and does not favor one over the other that I can tell. Normally if he's laying on his belly his legs are pulled up evenly next to his body. I have been massaging his hips/thighs since we've been building him back up and, while I wouldn't say he enjoys it, he doesn't show any signs of discomfort either (wincing, yelping, flinching, pulling away, etc). Normally he'll just start lobbing calming signals at me because he doesn't seem to like to be touched... but he's a good boy and puts up with handling like a superstar.

 

I have tried manipulating his leg to extend it backwards (out behind while he is standing). He's not given any indication that this causes him discomfort (other then being weird out by the general handling) or pain. I can fully extend both legs back, although I do feel like the right back leg seems more resistant. I have not tried laying him on his side and folding the rear legs up. I will try that today and see if there is a reaction.

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Yesterday I took our 8 year old BC to see our ortho specialist as he wasn't always putting full weight on his right hind leg for the last week. I got a referral because he had had a similar problem in his left hind 6 months ago and the radiographs taken by my own vet at the time suggested possible mild hip displays is, although my main fear this time was a partial cruciate tear.

I'm glad I did even though there was no firm conclusion after a thorough manual and visual exam and radiographs. We agreed that at this point scanning was probably not warranted because of the mildness and so far short duration of his symptoms.

What we now know is that there appears to be no structural problem with his stifles, hocks and lumbar sacral spine, although if symptoms persist and/or worsen a scan should be considered.

In any event, he is a very long way from needing surgery at present.

We also know that he does have mild HD that shows possible slight progression since the last rads and this may or may not be the issue.

Conservative treatment has been recommended to settle it down - 2 weeks of lead walks and no crazy stuff together with anti inflammatories then a gradual bringing back to normal exercise including agility. Review after 4-6 weeks.

Prognosis - business as usual with rest and anti inflammatories if he ever looks to be uncomfortable. Agility and normal exercise encouraged unless he worsens significantly. He may only have 2 - 3 more years of top class competition anyway at his age. Wrapping in cotton wool not an option.

We know more than we did and my daughter can relax more when running him knowing that he isn't at increased risk of a catastrophic breakdown.

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My two youngsters will have rads done just so that I have a baseline. This won't happen till they are two.

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I think I will have the Xrays done for peace of mind and for a baseline, although I'm on the fence about where to take him moving forward. I'm not feeling as rushed to go out and get them done ASAP, so I'm mulling over three options.

 

1) My normal vet (not orthopedic), who has done a PE and felt/saw nothing wrong, but the facility is equipped to do the radiographs. My experience with them has been good, but they do tend to take a very medicinal approach to treatment.

2) A "farm vet" that is very highly recommended by my herding instructor. He does not have an office, so I may have to have the radiographs taken elsewhere. I've been told he takes a balanced medicinal and holistic approach to treatment. I was also told he is one of the best at detecting issues just by doing a PE.

3) A new vet that specializes in rehab and conditioning and has an orthopedic surgeon on staff. This place was recommended to me by someone I met in passing at a pet store, not someone I know well. It looks like they have an extensive physical therapy program/facility, but they are quite expensive. http://www.utahveterinarycenter.com/

 

I'm not sure what would be the best choice... any thoughts?

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I think I will have the Xrays done for peace of mind and for a baseline, although I'm on the fence about where to take him moving forward. I'm not feeling as rushed to go out and get them done ASAP, so I'm mulling over three options.

 

1) My normal vet (not orthopedic), who has done a PE and felt/saw nothing wrong, but the facility is equipped to do the radiographs. My experience with them has been good, but they do tend to take a very medicinal approach to treatment.

2) A "farm vet" that is very highly recommended by my herding instructor. He does not have an office, so I may have to have the radiographs taken elsewhere. I've been told he takes a balanced medicinal and holistic approach to treatment. I was also told he is one of the best at detecting issues just by doing a PE.

3) A new vet that specializes in rehab and conditioning and has an orthopedic surgeon on staff. This place was recommended to me by someone I met in passing at a pet store, not someone I know well. It looks like they have an extensive physical therapy program/facility, but they are quite expensive. http://www.utahveterinarycenter.com/

 

I'm not sure what would be the best choice... any thoughts?

 

I will say that it took rehab vet to diagnose my dog's iliopsoas injury. My regular vet who is a very good for most things took xrays (and they were great) and diagnosed "soft tissue" with first limited activity and then crate rest. The other vet in his practice (who he consulted with) wondered about back issues, different x rays show no issue and he agreed it was soft tissue and prescribed more extensive rest. After every bout of rest, my dog would come out looking sound but within 2 to 3 weeks of normal (no agility/jumping around/frisbee) movement and activity we would see teh subtle limp. I got a referral to the specialist and he was diagnosed on the first visit. By then he had scar tissue forming and a lot of time had passed since his injury (whatever it was, we never saw an "event" we just noticed a subtle limp).

 

Many regular vets don't have the experience with the "odd" things to recognize them, especially with sport/working dogs. I wish I had seen the specialist sooner.

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Camden's Mom, I second rushdoggie's opinion for the specialist. My Shoshone had allergies and skin issues, she was one of those $15,000 'free' dogs. I had her to my regular vet several times, and we had no success.

 

One visit to a veterinary dermatologist and we had a diagnosis and a treatment plan. Wish I had gone to the vet derm after my second visit to the regular vet.

 

Ruth and Agent Gibbs

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I find it a challenge to avoid running to specialists too quickly and yet knowing when the issue is serious enough or has gone on long enough to find someone with the expertise I need. I feel I wait too long, thinking we are making progress than I finally understand we really aren't.

 

I chose very badly when my Lhasa started having eye ulcerations and my vet urged me to go to an ophthalmologist. I was having my own health issues at the time which included me being really run down, so I dragged my feet and when I finally went elsewhere chose a fairly local vet who "specialized" in eyes but wasn't really an ophthalmologist. I ended up spending a lot of money on a treatment from her that nearly caused him to lose his eye. I ended up rushing him to a true specialist much farther away who did surgery for a lot more money but he is doing great now. In addition to my guilt over delaying the correct treatment, I have greatly increased respect for specialists.

 

Long way of saying, I support going to the specialist. Sounds like this has gone on long enough for you and your boy. And by the way, I love your avatar photo. I just want to hug Camden whenever I see it. :)

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Update:

 

I took Camden to the orthopedic specialist this morning. The doctor did a full PE, but focused mostly on his back half as the leg that kept worrying me was the back right. He felt all of his legs, his shoulders, abdomen, hips, knees, etc. He also had me walk and trot Camden all around the office so he could observe his gait. After what seemed like a pretty thorough exam he looked at me and said that X-rays were not necessary. "This dog is fit from stem to stern" were his exact words. He said his muscle tone was great, especially in the rear... no signs of wasting. He complimented me (or the dog?) on his great physical condition.

 

However, the specialist did agree that, as a novice dog owner of a working breed, X-rays could at least give me the confidence and peace of mind to know, for certain, that everything is fine. I gave it a good bit of thought and decided to have the X-rays done anyways. I just was sick to death of the doubt I'd been feeling over the past month. "Go ahead, do the Xrays" I said... and good thing I did...

 

The X-rays revealed hip dysplasia in both hips, the right hip is worse then the left. The specialist said he would classify Camden's HD as "mild - moderate". His prescription: Get Camden back into peak condition and keep him there. He said we should continue the glucosamine (which we've been doing since early December) indefinitely. I'm also going to schedule an appointment with the rehab specialist, who I had a chance to speak with briefly on my way out of the office. It's a 90 minute consultation and she said she could give us plenty of "at home" exercises to do as well as offer rehab (if/when necessary) at their facility.

 

So yeah... the dreaded HD... I know that we will manage, but I have to admit I'm pretty bummed out right now. I feel better knowing for certain what is going on, but it still sucks...

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Thank you for the update.

 

Yes, even though it was not good news, it wasn't horrible news. As I am sure you are aware, many dogs with mild/moderate HD can have full and active lives.

 

Give Camden a hug.

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I'm sorry to hear this, too. But, as Jovi said, it's sometimes not much of a problem for at least certain dogs.

 

I had a border collie who was OFA "severe" (yes, I sent the X-rays in anyway; I felt it was important for their statistical data), but she never showed a sign of it her entire life.

 

So, yeah, keep him fit and well muscled, give him the appropriate supplements and you should be able to minimize its impact. Better knowing now while you may be able to have some impact on its progress.

 

Interesting that you saw it and the ortho specialist missed it prior to x-rays.

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