The one visit that is always guaranteed to generate a bit of excitement amongst the staff of your veterinary centre is that of a new puppy. Everyone looks forward to a quick cuddle and then, after that, the enjoyment comes from giving advice that helps you bring up a happy, healthy and sociable puppy.
One such crucial piece of advice is for puppies to be socialised from an early age. As part of this, meeting and playing with other dogs, especially early in life, is vital for a puppy to develop their social skills and grow up to feeling comfortable around other dogs.
Keen to follow such advice the owner of Karma, a 4 month old female cross breed, was pleased to see that she loved having a good frolic with other, larger, dogs. In fact, she enjoyed it so much she got a little carried away one day, and whilst rolling around on her back she let out a sudden yelp. When she sprang to her feet it was obvious that she was lame on her right back leg.
Despite the lameness Karma was still keen to carry on with her playing but her owner knew better. He wasn’t going to be fooled by her enthusiasm and took her back into their quieter home environment so she could rest and he could monitor her progress.
The following morning Karma was little better and her back right foot spent very little time on the floor. Her owner knew there was little option other than to take her to the vets.
On examination Karma was obviously very painful at the top of her leg and our initial fears were that there was something serious. However, as she was otherwise very bright, after long conversations with her owner we decided to give her strong pain relief on the basis that if there was no significant improvement then Karma would definitely require xrays.
Resilient Karma was still bright but the improvement she showed just wasn’t enough. The next step had already been established and the results were conclusive – Karma had fractured the ‘neck’ of her femur (the piece of bone connecting the long thigh bone to the section which sits within the hip joint).
It was a nasty fracture that would definitely require surgery. There were a few options that were discussed with her owner and in the end it was elected to perform a femoral head and neck ostectomy – a procedure where the fractured bone and head of the femur is removed and a ‘false’ hip joint is allowed to form.
The procedure sounds very radical but, in fact, it is quite commonly performed, and as long as it is an appropriate choice of treatment for the patient’s circumstances they tend to progress very well afterwards. The surgery went ahead successfully, with the post-operative xrays confirming that things had gone well. Being young, Karma bounced back after her anaesthetic and there wasn’t much delay before she was once again resting back at home.
Week by week we reviewed Karma’s progress and each time her owner was delighted to report on her continued improvement. After three months Karma was back to running and playing in the park and able to pick up on her active social life once again.
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