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Growing Pains

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I'm just wondering if this common with other Border Collies. My first BC, a male named Pardner, began favoring his right hip when running at age about 7 months. He had the typical "bunny hop" gait that is displayed by dogs with Hip Displasia. After visits to my regular Vet and an orthopedic specialist and a full series of X-rays it was determined by the specialist that he was suffering from "growing pains" and was put on regime of 1 to 2 asprin per day. Unfortunately he passed away from unrelated causes before he grew out of the symptoms. I was never sure if the Orthopedic specialist was right or if it was something else that he could not definitively diagnose at the time. Now my current BC, Annie, 8 months old has begun limping on her left front leg. The limp is intermittant. She will go for 1 or 2 days without showing it, then start limping for a day or more before it goes away again. Of course when I take her in to the vet she does not limp and surface exam shows nothing. No pain, she usually goes to sleep while the doctor is feeling her leg. Asprin seems to help. Tomorrow (today) she goes in for X-rays. I am wondering if she is suffering from "growing Pains" as well? She weighs about 35 lbs. and has been putting on weight fast in the past several months. No fat, just bone and muscle mass. She is already bigger than I expected her to be judging from previous litters and her size at 8 weeks when I got her.

 

Has anyone else experienced these symptoms with their dogs? Is "growing Pains" a common problem with BC's at this age? If so, how long should it take for her to grow out of them. Judging from her age and current weight I expect Annie to put on another 4 or 5 lbs before she stops. How soon after her weight levels off should I expect these symptoms to go away?

 

Any insight on this would be appreciated.

 

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Growing pains, or panosteitis, is relatively rare in border collies (it tends to affect larger dogs), but I have known of some who had it. All grew out of it. You can find a basic overview of the condition at http://www.vetinfo.com/dencyclopedia/depano.html.

 

However, there are other possibilities which are probably more likely, given the symptoms you describe (female, foreleg, no pain when bone is pressed). Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is one. With luck, the x-rays Annie will be having today should help achieve a correct diagnosis.

 

Are you feeding puppy food? Many will disagree, but I think a border collie should have moved to adult dog food by Annie's age, because an overly fast growth rate can be hard on the developing skeletal system. Maybe AK dog doc will share her thoughts on this. If they are different from mine, listen to her!

 

Good luck -- we'll be hoping for the best for Annie.

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One thing I've learned, is to ALWAYS x-ray. My vet diagnosed our dog with growing pains as he also had intermittent lameness at around 8 months. When it came back at around 2 years it ended up being elbow displaysia.

 

Good luck, hope it is growing pains!

 

Maria

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I also (like Eileen) switch my dogs over on diet before a year of age. Finn went to adult food at about 6 months of age to avoid excessively rapid growth, though he had been on a 50/50 mix of adult and puppy food for about 6 weeks prior to that. The Westie I kept on puppy food a little longer, as she's a smaller breed and rapid overgrowth is less of an issue - I transitioned her to adult food between 6 and 7 months without the 50/50 taper before that. There is evidence that everfeeding young dogs can result in excessively rapid growth, and that that increases the rate at which skeletal abnormalities (such as hip dysplasia) occur. So, yes, puppies need more and different nutrition than adult dogs do, but they don't grow at a linear rate - it's a curve. I fed for puppy needs during the steeper part of the curve (you still have to NOT overfeed at that time), and started to taper as the curve levelled out.

 

As far as "growing pains" I assume that's referring to panosteitis (which henceforth I will call "panno" since the whole thing is too hard to type). I tried the link Eileen gave, but I couldn't get to the page - that could just be me, but just in case I'll make a thumbnail sketch here. Panno is a benign disease in that it mainly causes discomfort and does not lead to skeletal abnormalities or lamenesses later in life. Most dogs outgrow it by the age of two, though I had one patient who had his first and last bout at about 6 years of age. In panno, deep palpation of the bone is painful, but joint manipulation is not. It does show up on Xrays, but not all the time, and it is intermittent. It can be recurrent in the same leg or be a shifting leg lameness, and can occur in any bone in the body (the mother of my Westie had it in her jawbone, and I've seen Dane Xrays in which the puppy had it in some of his tail bones - but not all of them.) Some dogs will have a fever with it, others not. A few dogs will be ill as well - refusing food, +/- vomiting or diarrhea. If it IS just panno, thank your lucky stars and pass the aspirin - since that's what we typically treat it with.

 

At 8 months, though, there are other possibilites. OCD is certainly one of them, and it also can cause an intermittent lameness. That usually shows up on Xrays, but sometimes you have to get tricky positioning to get it to show its little face, and your vet may want to send the films to a radiologist (which I'd suggest agreeing to, if they do - well worth the expert opinion). Elbow dysplasia is another possibilty, though in my experience, even though it can begin as an intermittent lameness, that tends to be progressive in severity and constancy. Also, certain soft-tissue problems - bursitis, tendonitis - can be intermittant. Any painful condition will get at least a little better on pain killers, so the response to apsirin is mainly useful in diagnosing that pain is at least part of the picture, and in providing comfort for the dog. It unfortunately doesn't shake out WHICH painful condition it might be.

 

The thing that seems less panno-like to me is the cycle you describe - the two-on, two-off sort of thing. Usually panno, im my experience anyway, tends to have a longer cycle - a few days to maybe a week, week and a half of being painful, then maybe a few weeks or even months 'til the next bout. The frequency and intermittency make me suspicious of OCD; elbow dysplasia would probably be more constant, and the joint very often, even early on, feels abnormal on palpation. Early or mild elbow dysplasia MAY feel normal on palp, though. You can't feel OCD lesions with your hands, though you MIGHT feel crepitus (grinding), or later on, artritic changes secondary to the OCD.

 

Naturally, I can't diagnose Annie over the internet, but that's my thinking on this at this point, without benefit of seeing the dog. Bear in mind that there are variations on the theme, and every dog does things its own unique way. As a BTW, both elbow dysplasia and OCD can be addressed surgically.

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Well, I picked up Annie yesterday and got the bad news from the vet. She has been diagnosed with OCD.

The Vet went over the xrays in detail with me. Annie is showing damage to her cartilege on both shoulders, but more on the left than the right. This seems to be consistent with what I have read on line about this desease. My Vet has restricted (severly restricted) Annies activities for the next 5 months (yea, right, how do you restrict an 8 month old BC???) then limited exercise for 4 to 6 months after that. We are starting a course of Adequan injections. 2 per week for the next 4 weeks. Then we will move to a glucosemine/chondrotine (excuse the spelling) supplement.

Annie has always been an out door dog, though we bring her in at night. We have a big back yard where she runs and plays with our other dog a little Shi Tzu. Now I guess I am going to have to confine her to our den until I can build a small dog pen in the back yard to confine her in while I am at work. I really feel worse about having to restrict her exercise that I do about the diagnosis and what it means for her future as a Disc dog (which is no future at all).

Any advice would be appreciated. My plans had been to participate with her in our local disc club as a means of providing her with an energy release and as something we could do together that would be fun for us both. Now I am having to re-evaluate this and am searching for another outlet for her energy and way we can work/play together. Agility seems to be out also as well as fly ball and herding/trial work. Obeidence training seems to be one of the only options left. Any thoughts on this problem? Of course she is still my girl and the best furry friend I have. Want what is best for her. I just am feeling real bad when she looks at where I keep her frizbees and then looks back at me saying "Why don't you play with me anymore???"

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Hi there, you might want to get into scent work and tracking with her. It can be slow but using their nose really really tires dogs out, it is also a lot of fun for them. You can do scent work in the house and when she gets the ok from the vet you could start tracking. Good luck with her I know how heart broken you both must be over not being able to play frisbee anymore.

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OCD surgery is possible and can be essentially curative. I know of several BCs that had the surgery and are now working without lameness or pain. Some vets are even doing arthroscopic shoulder surgery which has a much shorter recovery/rehab time than the traditional open surgery. You should consult a trusted orthopedic surgeon.

 

Good luck with Annie!

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I second Amy's reply about the surgery. I've known many border collies who have had it and are essentially 100% cured. They could start back with exercise in about two weeks - recovery complete by six weeks - end of problem.

 

One comment about the changing puppies over to adult food. And pardon me if this has been said before and I missed it - puppies have increased caloric requirements over adult dogs. Puppy foods are made to accommodate this. If you switch your pup over to adult food, or start it with adult food, and it needs to eat a lot more of the adult food (compared to the puppy food) to stay at an acceptable weight (I don't mean fat), it may end up getting more calcium than if it had been eating puppy food. IOW, you could theoretically increase your pup's risk of diseases such as OCD by feeding adult food, but more of it than you would the puppy food.

 

The way I heard about this is someone actually calculated it out. I guess it would be easy enough to calculate it yourself if you (one) wanted to.

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Thanks for the input! I appreciate the suggestion on sent work Sarah. I have been thinking about trying Annie out to see if she had any potential for SAR and I have one contact in this area for that. Once she heals up I will look into it.

Concerning surgery, when I first got Annie's diagnosis I went on line and read a number of articles about OCD. They all recommended surgery over what they termed a conservative approach. However they all seem to have been written prior to the release of Adequan for canines. As I understand it, Adequan has been used for horses for this type of problem with very good results and for a number of years. It has only recently been formulated and released to canines. I asked my Vet specifically about surgery because one of the articles I read said that almost all dogs that are treated with the conservative approach eventually wind up with arthritis or have to have the surgery anyway. It indicated that the earlier on in the progression of the desease you have the surgery the better the result. My Vet said the current perfered method is using the Adequan now that it is available. She has suggested X-rays again when Annie is 1 year old (about 4 months) and a re-evaluation. If there is not significant improvement she indicated that surgery would be an option then. ??? Is anyone out there familiar with the use of this drug from personal experience??. The articles about it online indicate that it is very effective. Having arthritis myself I was wondering why my doctor hasn't told me about it or if it has been formulated for humans. But that aside, what I don't want is to see this be given to Annie in leu of surgery simply because it is the newest treatment. Would any of you recommend taking Annie to an Orthopedic Vet? I reviewed the X-rays with my Vet and from the articles on line you could definitly see the flattened area on the

head of the bone, so I do not doubt the diagnosis, I just wonder about the treatment.

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I'm sure AK Doc Dog can give more expert advice, but from what I've seen surgery, the earlier the better, has very good results. I know several working dogs that had surgery and went on to continue to work to very high levels.

 

Hasn't Adequan been around for a few years at least? I know about three years ago I had a senior working dog here and the vet discussed the injections for his severe arthritis - but a specialist adjudged his disease too advanced for that therapy. Are you talking to an orthopedaedic specialist or your general practitioner? I like to get second opinions when I'm feeling ambivalent about a proposed therapy - like trying to permanently restrict activity on an extremely high drive dog.

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It sounds like OCD from here my BC Cai has recently been operated on for this and hes doing fine. This is purley my opinion and I have no medical qualifications but with a young border collie its painfull for them not to exercise far worse than the surgery.

 

In Cai it was his shoulder for the first 2 weeks I we kept him in after the operation for the next 2 weeks 10 miniute lead walks then 15 mins for 2 weeks then 20 for 2 weeks hes been fine since.

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I think an opinion from an orthopedic specialist is a good investment. That vet should be up-to-the-minute on OCD treatments. Try to find one who is familiar with working dogs.

 

I have a 2 year old who had suspicious shoulder lameness as an 8 month old. I had him X-rayed by my regular vet and we agreed he had some trivial flattening of his humeral head, consistent with OCD. His litter brother, owned by someone else, had a much worse case and had already had bilateral arthroscopic surgery with 100% cure. I sent the X-rays to the same ortho vet who did that surgery, and he felt that in my pup's case either rest or surgery could be attempted. This was comforting because it often is a surgeon's opinion that surgery is always the answer! I opted for Glycoflex and activity restriction ( no running, jumping or playing with the other dogs) for about 3 months and after the first week he never limped again. I took him off the Glycoflex several months ago and he's still fine. I do realize he is at some risk for developing arthritis in later life. This is my own personal experience---your mileage may vary. I do think a specialist's opinion will help you in your decision.

 

And yes, I've known of people injecting Adequan in their arthritic dogs for several years now...not sure if they were doing that off-label or not.

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>I asked my Vet specifically about surgery because one of the articles I read said that almost all dogs that are treated with the conservative approach eventually wind up with arthritis or have to have the surgery anyway. It indicated that the earlier on in the progression of the disease you have the surgery the better the result. My Vet said the current preferred method is using the Adequan now that it is available. She has suggested X-rays again when Annie is 1 year old (about 4 months) and a re-evaluation. If there is not significant improvement she indicated that surgery would be an option then. ??? Is anyone out there familiar with the use of this drug from personal experience??. The articles about it online indicate that it is very effective.<

 

Adequan is very effective for many situations. I have used it quite a bit over 20+ years for injuries and post surgically in both dogs and horses. It's possible one of the OCD articles you read was one I wrote in 1997 http://www.stilhope.com/ocdarticle.htm A longtime user of Adequan in horses, I used it in dogs for injuries way before it was approved. I was expecting, even when I wrote that article, that it might be tried eventually for OCD in dogs. I search the research literature periodically to see any updates on OCD treatment. I did a quick search after I read your post and am not finding anything on Adequan for conservative OCD therapy. I'm not a vet though, and being out of that loop, not privy to the newest ideas on treatment that have not been published yet.

 

I also wrote a lay article on Adequan and the oral equivalents http://www.stilhope.com/Arthritisarticle.htm you might be interested in. As a biochemist with some knowledge of the physiologic mechanisms of Adequan, I can tell you it's possible it could work in the way your vet describes. But I personally don't know anybody who has has used it this way for OCD. I think it's commonly recommended now after OCD surgery to help prevent arthritis though.

 

One point I would like to make is using the Adequan to try a conservative approach first, there wouldn't be nearly as great a danger of developing arthritis while you wait to see if your dog will indeed need surgery. It should protect the joint, even if it can't fix it.

 

>Having arthritis myself I was wondering why my doctor hasn't told me about it or if it has been formulated for humans.<

 

Adequan is a heparinoid, meaning it has blood thinning properties. It was tried in a pilot study in people in Europe some years ago but not approved for human use due to bleeding complications in too high a percentage of the study participants. Because their metabolism is somewhat different, I don't think these bleeding effects are nearly as prominent or long lasting in dogs as in humans and therefore do not present the same risks in humans as in dogs. I believe a similar drug is approved in humans in the US now for intra articular, or injection into the joint, use in arthritis.

 

>But that aside, what I don't want is to see this be given to Annie in leu of surgery simply because it is the newest treatment. Would any of you recommend taking Annie to an Orthopedic Vet?<

 

I would recommend it.

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I've heard that Vitamin C can help a dog with panno or OCD. Obviously it can't "cure" OCD but those people I've known whose dogs had OCD and/or panno reported that the Vit. C really did make a difference in the dogs limping less frequently and less severely. Has anyone else heard this? Any ideas on why Vit. C works?

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