Sat 19th Jul 2014

Pet of the Month – ‘Squidgy’

Squidgy is certainly one of the most handsome black Spaniels you are likely to meet and the nurses think he’s especially cute when he has his tufty hairstyle! Like all one year old spaniels he can hardly contain his excitable energy and that’s certainly the case when he visits the vets! Being such a livewire it was not a complete surprise that Squidgy had to visit us one day with lameness in a hind leg, it would have been easy to assume that this was  a sports injury! When vet Michelle examined Squidgy however she soon realised that the underlying cause was in fact much more serious, as she could feel that the knee cap (patella) in the offending leg was displaced from the groove it normally runs in, a condition known as medial patellar luxation. Dogs of any age, breed or sex can suffer from this condition, however it is often first detected in younger dogs and is more frequently seen in small or toy breeds. Most affected animals have an intermittent weight bearing lameness and the owners report that their dog will run along normally before holding up the sore leg for several steps whilst running on three legs. Medial patellar luxation can have different grades of severity and occasionally dogs can be symptom free, but surgery is often required, especially in young lame dogs like Squidgy, where constant knee cap dislocation will prematurely wear away the knee cap cartilage.

There are numerous surgical techniques that can be used to keep the patella moving in its normal position and usually a combination of these surgical proceedures is required to successfully prevent the dislocation from continuing. Unfortunately this proved to be the case for Squidgy. The top of the shin bone (tibial crest) was cut and rotated slightly before being fixed in a new position to realign the knee cap with the groove it should run in. However on its own this was not sufficient to prevent the patella from popping out, so subsequently the groove itself was deepened to help restrain the patella further. Finally the whole joint capsule was tightened to help secure the knee joint.

The post operative road to recovery is a long one for a young and active dog, a month of very short lead exercise (toilet walks!) is essential  before a controlled programme of exercise is increased over the next 6 weeks. During this period of relative inactivity dogs can quickly lose muscle condition and Squidgy’s owner has decided to go for  hydrotherapy sessions which allows the muscle to build up through swimming excercises.  Well done Squidgy you have been a fantastic patient, hopefully next time we will see you for something a little more routine!

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