The problem isn’t always straight forward, check out Brodie’s Red Herrings.
Brodie is a very handsome and playful Old English Sheepdog, his owners reached out to me over problems they were having, with Brodie growling and barking towards his family in the home, at what seemed like unpredictable times. They had also become weary of disturbing him by accident if he was a sleep and found him to growl when his feet or legs at the front were touched.
Before getting in touch, they did the right thing by getting Brodie checked over by the Vet worried he might have pain at his front legs or feet. The Vet performed a short exam, although Brodie growled around his front legs being touched, limiting the Vets ability to fully assess. The Vet suggested 2 weeks of rest and to bring Brodie back
This is when his humans reached out for behaviour help from me. After two weeks, Brodie was rechecked at the Vets, his behaviour hadn’t changed and the Vet suspected he had a problem with his elbows.
After a good long chat, learning the details of some recent incidents, I believed Brodie’s behaviour was random although limited to specific conditions in the home, I felt it best to rule out pain and discomfort before starting any behaviour modification as it might not be needed. We did however put some management in place to minimise any future reactions for the time being. Although the Vet believed there to be something wrong with his elbows, I suggested we do the Dynamic Dog Assessment, so we have a complete picture of him, being open minded it might not be his elbows or front legs with the issues.
The Assessment and A Lot of Hair….
Brodie has his full Old English Sheepdog Coat which meant a lot of hair and no amount of playing his videos in slow motion was going to allow me to see what exactly his legs were doing!
In order to see clearly how Brodie moved in walk and trot, his owners had to wet him down…. they actually had to do this three times before I had videos that allowed me see everything, Thankfully Brodie didn’t get upset at this.
Alongside his walk and trot videos, I also had videos him changing positions, jumping on and off things and photos of him in his relaxed postures too. I was really interesting what I found, the problems weren’t to do with his elbows.
The assessment revealed Brodie was Off loading the Right Hind to the Left Fore in walk – this means he actively shifting his weight from his back right leg to the front, to reduce the amount of weight going through the limb.
He showed excessive side to side movement at the pelvis/hips, more than what is normal. His left back leg instead of moving up and straight forward was moving up and towards to the middle of his body, this can indicate it is compensating for right back leg weakness.
When toileting for pooping, he was unable to stay stationary, and was barely bending his knees. He was also tucking his Pelvis up towards his stomach – He really did not look comfortable. In sit and down, he nearly always shifted his weight on his left, avoiding his right side.
These observations along with everything else I noted, were complied in a report with both video and photographic evidence for Brodie’s Vets. (Note the only thing I could see with his forelimbs was that he was over using them, by shifting his weight off the back legs to the front)
We Only Want To Check The Elbows.
Brodie’s GP Vet, did not understand the Dynamic Dog Report (she said that to his owners) instead of reaching out to me, she dismissed it and checked Brodie over. She could she anything wrong, even though he would let he feel his legs she still felt his elbows were the problem, going as far as saying she thought it was OCD. She referred Brodie the nearest hostpital for Orthopedics to perform a CT Scan and assess him.
Also at this time Brodie was placed on pain relief, to help him while waiting for the referral appointment. With a bit of trial and error, Brodies behaviour did improve with the medication, which shows there is pain or discomfort going on.
Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is an abnormality in the development of bone from cartilage. As a result, within joints such as the shoulder, elbow, knee, and hock (ankle), a flap of cartilage can develop causing lameness
With the Orthopedic specialists, they observed Brodie walking and concluded they saw nothing wrong….Brodie has a big full fluffy coat, they wouldn’t have seen any faults viewing him like that. They also advised his owners they were only going to scan Brodie’s elbows/forelimbs as that was their GP vet had referred him for.
Thankfully the owners understood why he needed his hips scanned, and did not back down until the Vet agreed to scan them too. (Brodie’s mum is my hero for standing up for her dog!)
The CT Scans came back, Elbows – other than minor mineralization at bone joint (common) there was nothing wrong with them or the rest of his forelimbs!
On to his Hips – Bilateral Hip Dysplasia worse at the right hip than the left with start of Osteoarthritis. Thank the lord that Brodie’s mum pushed for the CT of his hips, just think if she hadn’t and they only scanned his elbows, Brodie would have been sent home declaring him fit and healthy.
Remember the Dynamic Dog Assessment show his Left back leg was doing more work than the right back leg!
The original reason behind this journey for Brodie was due to him barking and growling around his front feet being touch or possibly being touched, he was reacting like this most likely because his front legs were overworking to compensate for his hind end. All this extra work led them to be tired and sore. Where the problems with his hip will have been there for a long time Brodie was use to the discomfort, the soreness at his front legs was a newer development causing Brodie to want to protect himself more.
Brodie has been kept on pain relief while waiting to go see a specialist for hydrotherapy and rehab for his body. We’ve also put in place more specific management around his behaviour and making sure we are setting him up to win, not to react,
This proves we shouldn’t look at a problem in isolation, while Brodie brought our attention to his front legs, had we had a narrow focus like the Vets, who knows how long Brodie would have to endure the pain of his Bi-Lateral hip dysplasia.
Behaviour and pain are complicated and we should ALWAYS BE LOOKING AT THE DOG AS A WHOLE not as individual problems to fix.