We are nearly at the end of Spud’s journey with Elbow Dysplasia so it is a good time to look back and reflect.
Overcoming Elbow Dysplasia – Spud’s Story
The first we knew we had a problem was when Spud started limping occasionally and then more frequently. We went to our local veterinary clinic, Centro Veterinario Sant’ Anna down in Chiusi (Tuscany). The chief vet, Dott. Stefano Gallinella, manipulated Spud’s elbow and asked for x-rays to confirm his initial diagnosis of elbow dysplasia.
What is Elbow Dysplasia And How Is It Treated?
The x-rays confirmed the diagnosis of elbow dysplasia. In Spud’s case, the elbow joint problems were caused by the ulna, one of three bones in a dog’s leg, being too short putting strain on the joint. There are a number of articles about the condition on the internet, one of the most detailed found on the Fitzpatrick Referrals website (the tv ‘Supervet’).
Stefano explained that the only solution was surgery. He said that as Spud was only 9/10 months old now was a good time to do it whilst his bones were still growing. The surgery involved an osteotomy (surgical cutting of the bone to allow realignment) with a thin metal rod inserted to support the bone whilst it regrew.
Post Surgery – Poor Mummy And Daddy!
Cage Rest – Groan!
Immediately after surgery four weeks of complete cage rest was required. With his brother Ringo running around this caused immense frustration for Spud. Stevie Mouse of course was on the case, trying to figure out how to get him out of the cage.
I spent the first week sleeping on the sofa next to Spud’s cage. He needed a lot of attention and disturbed a lot in the night. However, after a week I was a walking zombie through lack of sleep so we had to change arrangements so that Barnet Boy and I had a night on and a night off. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to sleep in our bed after that first week! Ringo would go to bed with the one who was off duty!
The biggest issue though was taking him out to do his business as he wasn’t allowed to walk and had to be carried out, minimal walking, then immediately carried back in. Now Spud weighs 12 kilos (about 26 pounds) so is not a little dog to pick up. Add into the equation that he had to be carried through the front door, down steep stone steps to the ground floor, through a gate and then up a hill to the grass area and this was no joke! I couldn’t do it, he was too heavy for me and I really don’t know how Barnet Boy managed but he did! He now has muscles like Popeye mind you.
Then the bandage had to be kept dry. I found a trick with a small plastic bag and some garden wire – we slipped his leg into the bag and tied the wire at the top. That worked brilliantly.
A Swollen Foot Was a Setback
After about five days I noticed that Spud’s foot that was showing below the bandage was all swollen. So we went straight back to the clinic and they took off the dressing. Everything looked good with the wound and no sign of infection, it was blood pooling in his foot. So, it was redressed, this time including the foot and after that we didn’t have any more problems. Phew!
Metal Clip Removal and Follow Up X-rays
After 15 days we took Spud back to have his metal clips removed and to have an x-ray to see what was happening. Much to our relief you could see bone growth occurring and it showed everything was going according to plan. We were able to leave the wound open and as it was on the back of his leg he didn’t bother about it too much. Up to that point we hadn’t had to use a surgical collar to stop him licking the wound. But for a couple of nights after the clips were removed it bothered him and he had to sleep in his collar. We tried several different ones and the one that worked best for Spud was an inflatable one that had adjustable velcro fixings.
After four weeks we had another x-ray and that showed the bone completely healed on one side and healing well on the other. At that point we were allowed to have him out of the crate at times and on a lead. However, that meant on a lead at all times so even in the house he was strictly controlled and not allowed to jump off furniture or run around with his brother.
I think this is when he got most frustrated – he couldn’t see why he couldn’t run around!
Another Hitch – A Swelling Appeared
After six weeks we went back to the clinic because there was some swelling where he had his surgery. Stefano said this was a normal and he prescribed five days of anti-inflammatories just to prevent it getting worse. By now we had the date fixed for the surgery to remove the metal rod from his leg – the day I wrote this blog!
Surgery To Remove The Metal Rod
After eight weeks it was time for the metal rod to be removed. That surgery took place today (2 December 2016) and Spud is left with a bandaged leg again to stop him bending the elbow as he has a small incision and two metal clips there. After a few days the bandages can come off and on 23 December the clips are removed after which he will be discharged. Yippee!
At times we wondered how we would manage it all but we have and we are now in sight of getting back to normal just in time for Christmas – what a great Christmas present!
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!