Poor paw: how can we care for a sick or injured dog?
Worst thing about owning a dog? Without a doubt, it is when they are ill or injured. Their pain is your pain and all you want to do is take it away. I’m going through a bit of a spate of niggly health issues with the girls at the moment. Mind you, having five dogs means the chances are high that someone will be sick or injured at some point. Poor girls!
Ounce is now almost 14 months old and is due for her vaccination booster pretty soon. I had noticed months ago that she was occasionally slightly lifting her back left leg when she was standing, particularly if she had her head down. A friend who’s an animal physiotherapist suggested lifting her food slightly and that definitely helped.
Of course the first thing I had done when I noticed Ounce was doing this was to check her over really thoroughly. There was no injury to her foot. No cracks or tears in the pads, no damage between the toes. I felt all up her leg for sore places and tenderness and couldn’t find anything. At no point did she yelp or twitch away from me. So I just felt that she had knocked it, causing it to be a bit sore and that this would improve over time.
When to go to the vet?
When you have an animal that has something ‘not quite right’, it is hard to know when to take the poor thing to the vet. I do try to have some common sense about it though. If you spend time around your animals, you notice pretty quickly when something is a bit off. They might be off their food, or more lethargic than normal, or reluctant to go for a walk. (Of course they might be all these things due to our current heatwave!)
I generally do try these days to hold off rushing to see the vet until I understand what is happening. Dogs are often sick because they have eaten something that disagrees with them. Or they might have an accident in the house because they drank too much water. Equally, they might cut their pads, or bruise a leg, but this should clear up on its own. It’s really a question of keeping an eye on them.
Poor Ounce – not yet better
Still, having monitored Ounce’s leg and felt that it was more or less fine, it then got much worse again this week. She had been rushing around in the garden with the other dogs, especially her cousin Bea, who is visiting at the moment. This has obviously aggravated the previous weakness and she started lifting the leg more and hopping along. Time for the vet!
I therefore took her in a couple of days ago. The vet had a good look and a feel. She didn’t say ‘ouch’ once, bless her. We’re trying anti-inflammatories and rest for two weeks, then she will be examined by the orthopaedic specialist at our veterinary practice – MK Veterinary Group.
I need to have her hips x-rayed to have her hip score done, if I am going to breed from her in future. (See my post on Healthier dogs for more details about this process and why we do it.) So I have decided to arrange this at the same time as Ounce is being seen by the specialist about her knee, so that the x-rays can be done of the knee at the same time, if necessary.
Unlike people, dogs needs to be give a general anaesthetic for most x-rays. You just can’t keep them still enough otherwise! Fortunately, because the procedure isn’t very long, nor is it invasive, the recovery time is pretty instantaneous.
Fingers crossed, Ounce with be fine, poor girlie.
Just to reiterate what I have said elsewhere. I don’t insure my dogs, because when you have five, it’s just not worth the money you have to spend on premiums. Fortunately, they are generally pretty healthy, with trips to the vet’s being for routine matters that are not covered by insurance. It would perhaps have been good if Luna had been insured before she was diagnosed with diabetes, but buying the meds online means it is not that expensive to maintain her health.
There is an argument for making health insurance compulsory. This would ensure that animals were well cared for and people didn’t put off taking them because they couldn’t pay. It would also stop people dumping their animals. However, my feeling is that at present insurance is variable and expensive.
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