Today we have a new blog by a Lisa Cleeton, a Veterinary Physiotherapist. Lisa also works as a McTimoney-Corley Spinal Manipulator & a Shiatsu Practitioner for animals. Her first blog for Malamute Matters is about lameness in dogs. Thank you Lisa, and welcome…………

Hi Malamuters!

Wishing you a warm welcome to my Malamute Blog! My name is Lisa Cleeton & I’m a Veterinary Physiotherapist, a McTimoney-Corley Spinal Manipulator & a Shiatsu Practitioner for animals. I’ll be writing about dogs – my work with them, interesting physiotherapy cases, common ailments/injuries & probably some funny stories about my own 4 dogs!

Today’s blog is a focus on lameness.

Whilst I was sitting at a red light at a pedestrian crossing last wk, a man was briskly trotting his LAME Staffordshire Bull Terrier on a taut lead across the road. The dog was ‘hopping lame’ (ie not able to fully weight bear) on one of her back legs.

A few thoughts went through my head:-
• ouch lame dog!
• she’s lame so why is he making it trot?
• in fact why is he walking it when it’s so lame?!
• does he not realise she’s lame?!

As you can imagine I was slightly enraged on behalf of the dog & carried on thinking this situation through on the rest of my journey.

I wondered if:-
(1) the owner didn’t notice his dog was lame?
(2) it could of course have been a biomechanical lameness where something has happened to the dog eg. Fractured leg, where the dog is not in pain but has a defect which causes it to limp.
(3) the owner doesn’t care the dog is lame.
(4) the owner doesn’t understand that lameness is due to pain.

I’ve been mulling over this for a good week now & I’ve still not came to a conclusion.

So I thought I would write this blog in tribute to this lame Staffie girl & hopefully draw more owners attention to lameness & what can be done about it.

SO – how do you notice your dog is lame?

* Lameness varies due to the degree of pain or discomfort. Usually described on a scale from 1-10 (1 mild, possibly intermittent) to 10 (severe & not weight bearing)

* Dogs may change their behaviour due to pain before lameness is obvious. They may stop wanting to jump into the car, may be more grumpy towards their doggy pals or to being patted or lifted, they may struggle to sit or lie down.

* Regardless of whether a dog is a working animal or a pet; lameness must be taken seriously.

* Please don’t carry on working or walking a lame dog as the likelihood of the problem worsening is high. Eg if the are limping because they have a muscle spasm & you keep exercising them, there is a strong chance of the muscle tearing.

* A lame dog should be taken to the vet, so that diagnostics (eg X-rays, ultrasound or MRI scan) can be carried to determine the cause.

* There are numerous reasons why a dog could be lame, they vary from:-
– Osteoarthritis
– Muscle spasms or tears
– Ligament rupture or tear eg Cruciate Ligament in hind leg
– Tendon damage eg ‘Achilles’ tendon
– Fractures
– Hip or elbow dysplasia.
– Corns, torn or infected nails.
– Intervertebral disc disease.

The list is not exhaustible but the good news is there are many wonderful vets & physiotherapists that can help put your beloved pet back together again!

So don’t panic if your dog goes lame but do rest the dog & if it does not improve please take your dog to your vet so he/she gets the correct treatment to resolve the problem.

Lisa Cleeton


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