Dog trains man

Friday, February 19, 2016

Tilde Has HD and Why I Don't Freak Out About It

Tilde has Hip Dysplasia. It's bad news I could have done without. With that said, knowing her background as a rescue from the notorious Hovawart puppy mill, it doesn't surprise me. When we adopted Tilde, I knew the risk.

In all the time she lived with us she seemed to be in exemplary health, until she hurt her left hind leg last week. She was already fine the next day and during the rest of the week she didn't displayed the slightest discomfort whatsoever. I would have discarded it as just a small accident if it would have been any other dog than Tilde.

I am so glad I took her to the vet for x-rays of her hips today to be on the safe side. The x-rays showed her hips are between the early-onset and mild (between B/C) form of Hip Dysplasia.

Now I knew. Oddly enough, I made a happy dance we caught this early on; at the first sign of discomfort she has ever showed. Because we are early, there is still a lot that can be done, and Tilde also has a lot going for her:

Tilde is tiny for a Hovawart
Which means she doesn't have a lot of weight to carry around. Large breed dogs are usually affected, and all the weight they are carrying around isn't helping in trying to slow down the development of Hip Dysplasia.

Tilde isn't overweight
With her 54 pounds her body weight is close to perfect. She is slim and agile, with no extra kilos she would have to drop. Overweight should always be avoided for dogs with Hip Dysplasia, as it accelerates the process of developing a more severe form of the disease.

Tilde has excellent muscle tone
I joke sometimes that "she is a pit-bull disguised in a Hovawart coat," referring to her muscular build. You should feel those thighs, they are power houses which would even make Lance Armstrong look skinny. A good muscle tone is key to keep her joints in place and prevent pain.

A lot of dogs diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia have trouble in the start due to the fact they have to loose weight and build muscle-tone, not an easy task when you have bad hips. Tilde doesn't need that, she can make a flying start in her treatment.

Together with the vet I made a good plan of how we can help Tilde. We discussed diet and supplements to support her joints as best as possible. We also went through all the activities we normally do, and what we have to avoid from now on. Jumping, playing fetch and catching the ball, everything explosive where she quickly picks up speed should be avoided. Terrain wise, running up and down hills should be avoided as well.

There are a lot of beneficiary exercises as well, like cavaletti's and Balance Disk tricks. Even here Tilde can make a flying start, as we already trained a lot of those exercises, just for the fun it.

It shouldn't be that difficult. Tilde is a dog that must run. But catching toys in mid-air, and explosive sprints? I think I can help her avoid those. We'll soon return to our cottage where we can walk the - flat - beach. There is also a beautiful forest nearby, which we'll have to favor over climbing the steep dunes, at least when she is off the leash.

I have been through a lot of therapy and treatment with Viva, and with Kenzo, for his shoulder. It really isn't something I like to go through again. Then on the other hand, I feel I am equipped, I know what it entails, I have developed - maybe sadly - a keen eye for any signs of discomfort a dog shows. I know what is laying ahead. No doubt in my mind, I will be able to help Tilde with this, as some kind of guardian of her quality of life. I am up for the task and that's a comforting thought which gives me all the strength I need for the time that lays ahead.

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