Archive for July, 2009

Quig’s PennHip results came back yesterday. We figured he wasn’t as bad as Tringa. Tringa’s are really bad. We weren’t sure how he’d measure up to Mara, our GSD. I personally felt he’d be pretty close to Mara, but watching his movement, I’d have guessed he’s a little worse than Mara.

See our post on PennHip if you need more info on the procedure.

The closer the Distraction Index (DI) number is to .30, the better. The closer the Distraction Index is to .70 or greater, the higher the risk of Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD).

Tringa ranked in the bottom 10% of the 202 Leos PennHipped as of 6/08. Her left DI was .82. Her right DI was .85. Clearly she’s at a high risk for developing DJD though no signs of DJD were seen at the time her films were shot. 

Mara was PennHipped 6/05. Her left DI was .61. Her right DI was .57 with no signs of DJD. She ranked in bottom 20% of the 6120 German Shepherds PennHipped at that time.

She moves very well. Seldom do we see a bunny hop. Most people don’t have a clue her hips aren’t good. We work hard on keeping it that way.

Quig’s left DI was .57. His right DI was .50 with no signs of DJD. He ranks in the bottom 30% of the 224 Leos now in the database.

Seeing a video of Quig in his previous home clued us into something not being right with his hips. He bunny hops a lot. His movement isn’t great. It was obvious enough, even though he was being suggested as a possible demo dog for me, we knew he wasn’t going to be a super demo dog for me.

This info is very interesting to me. Let’s set aside the small database of Leonbergers, and just look at the DIs for Quig and Mara. Mara’s DIs are worse. Her best DI is equal to Quig’s worst. Yet, watching them move, you see the opposite. Even though Mara is 4 (almost 5!) and Quig is only 2 (just in April), Mara has better movement with worse DIs.

This just reinforces for me the reason we PennHip our dogs at a young age. We were able to change Mara’s diet and activities etc. to stave off the effects of having less than perfect hips when she was six months old. During critical growth periods, we could watch her very closely. Her weight is monitored very carefully.

Quig was not on a good diet when he came to us. He also was overweight. He’s already lost three pounds and needs to lose some more. He’s starting to get conditioned and firm up. We’ll start working on building specific muscle groups soon. He’s already two years old so it’s going to take longer to try to condition him.  Will his movement change and not give away his underlying condition when he’s almost 5 like Mara? I hope so. Would things have been different if he’d been PennHipped earlier? Maybe. His vet was concerned about his right hip at his 8 week puppy exam. No follow up was done.

Clearly, no one has all the answers. No one can no for sure what a puppy will grow into. But we’re for learning the most information possible. Knowledge is power.

Will Quig become a demo dog for me? Yes.

And no.

I mean, I use all our dogs as demo dogs in some capacity because all dogs have something to teach and offer. A true demo dog, however, needs to be able to work long hours and be athletic. Quig is already doing some demo dog work even though he’s only been here 3 weeks but I doubt I’ll be asking him to work for long consecutive periods any time soon. Only time will tell if that will change, but every dog in our pack has some orthopedic issue we work with and around.

Quig is just one more to contribute and enjoy the good life here.

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Quigley’s Hips

Seven weeks to the day Ky left us, we were contacted out of the blue by a Leo breeder needing to re-home one of the dogs from her Q litter.

He is 2, very active and a possible candidate for a demo dog for me. The current family had a video online if we wanted to take a look.

In this video we saw enough issues with gait and body structure to know he has structural issues. He looked like a spirited boy full of life, but not a good candidate for a hard working demo dog.  In fact, one person, who knows more about body issues than anyone I know, suggested we’ve had so many unsound dogs in a row we should pass on this dog and get a sound dog for a change.

We talked about this a lot. It’s a standing joke in our house. The Universe long ago designated us as a place for dogs with orthopedic issues to gather and live. We’ve accepted that & love them all giving them the best life possible.

We used to think the Universe was sending these dogs to us to teach us great lessons. Now after more than a decade of multiple issues in the house at a time, I’ve changed my thinking a little. Of course, any dog that comes to us teaches us great lessons -no matter their body issues but we have the knowledge, the access to medical care, the lake for swim therapy, etc. making us a great choice for these dogs. Maybe the Universe is sending these dogs to us to reward them while teaching us.

In the beginning we felt Ky was bringing this dog to us, even though we weren’t looking for a dog just now. However, now we’re sure Ky was bringing us to this dog.

One day short of the 8 week anniversary of Ky’s passing, we welcomed Quigley into our pack.

On July 8th, we did a PennHip on him to see exactly what was going on with his hips.

Unfortunately, our suspicions were confirmed. His hips are not good. He has shallow sockets and some changes in his right hip that could indicate the beginnings of degenerative joint disease.


QuigPenn 2

QuigPenn 3

When we got copies of his vet records from his previous vet, there were some disconcerting things.

First and foremost, at his first 8 week puppy exam, the chart indicates the vet thought his right hip was possibly subluxated (partially dislocated). Puppies have loose joints in general. It helps protect them from injuries. Most vets take this into account. It’s very uncommon for a puppy’s first exam to have a note of a possible subluxation. The vet recommended x-rays which were not done.

Three weeks later, it’s noted that it’s “tightened up”. All this was decided with palpation and no further testing.

Seeing, Quig’s shallow hip sockets on the films we took on Wed, it’s not unreasonable to think the vet was right at his first visit. Some subluxations can pop back into place with activity or certain movements.

Nothing was done at this point. No supplements, no change in activity, no exercises to build muscles to help compensate for any possible future issues-some things especially critical for a giant breed with such a long period of growth.

At 10 months of age, he had a bout of panoesteitis. X-rays were taken of his legs. He had mottling in his front left indicative of pano. The vet noted his pelvis looked “okay”.  Seeing as he has shallow sockets, I’m not sure what’s meant by “okay”. They noted his shoulders and elbows were within normal limits, but stated that the pelvis was “okay”.

Too many times subjective opinion enters into interpretations of hip structure and function. Vets used to looking for major problems forget what normal is supposed to look like. If there isn’t anything grossly abnormal, it’s shrugged off. A great percentage of vets have no idea what proper movement looks like. I’m not blaming them or picking on them. They have lots of things to know and follow. An animal not showing clinical signs of pain and not moving obviously abnormal isn’t going rank as high as a priority as one who has an obviously broken leg yelping in pain.

That’s where we as pet owners come in. Establish a good relationship with your vet. Gather information from RELIABLE, well-cited, educational sources (don’t believe every anecdotal story you find on-line) then share your concerns with your vet. Follow your gut feelings. Learn what proper movement is. Learn how to read signs of subclinical pain in your dog…the little “owie” we work through without it affecting our work or activities. It’s the same in the dog world. In the dog world, however, they are experts at hiding pain which is why Quig is still running like a madman and not looking like he hurts. We need to be even better at ferreting out what may affect them.

You are the best advocate for your pet. Giving him/her the best quality of life no matter what presents itself should be a top priority.

Quig missed out on having joint supplements or changes in his activities that may have postponed the degeneration we’re seeing now. Here’s hoping now we can slow it down.

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