Intermittant Limp...

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Postby amalie79 » August 18th, 2010, 10:16 am

It's always something at our house. :neutral:

River has had this limp on one of her front legs for a while now. We first really noticed it after I stepped on her foot by accident and she favored it for a minute or two. Then she was fine. We'd notice that she'd limp on it some over the next week or so, here and there, so I took her in. The vet didn't feel or see anything strange, and River was getting really anxious about going into the back of the vet's office, so we decided to wait on xrays-- she was putting weight on it, nothing seemed broken. We did notice the nails on that foot were longer, and I know that I've seen her limp when jumping down off of something for a long time-- but it shakes out almost immediately. I assumed she was sitting funny (she really curls up) or her foot was asleep, etc. We decided to do 3 or 4 days of Rimadyl, and then just as-needed and see. Also started on dasuquin. We stopped going for walks, and after a few days, I stopped seeing the limp. And then it came back. Because she's a lab, I'm VERY conservative with my use of Rimadyl. Went back in. X-rays showed nothing-- no visible tumors, no osteo, no calcifications from bursitis. More rimadyl and rest.

At any rate, it sounds like a soft tissue injury to me. We've only had her a little over a year, so for all we know, she had an old injury that's acting up. Now the limp appears primarily in the morning, right when she gets up, and then works itself out within a minute or so. Seems like maybe it's worse if she did a lot of standing in the car on the edge of the seat or if we did a lot of walking or training the day before. We were in yesterday for something unrelated, and the vet I talked to suggested that I let her go back to regular activity since it's been a while and nothing was on the xrays, but if it gets worse, we need to come back. I also started her back on MSM today, since it's helpful for soft tissue inflammation/injury.

I've gone back to brief leash-training sessions and working on reinforcing/strengthening basics like down, come, sit, stay, touch, etc. She does puppy push-ups and walks up and down our block a few times. It's honestly been too hot to do much of anything anyway (100º+ for about 2 weeks, with heat indices at 115º :shock: ). We never really put her on crate rest-- she still jumps onto the bed and runs into the yard. Never does zoomies or anything, but we toned down her activity. It's been 6 weeks or so total.

Sound familiar to anyone? I was paranoid that I got the wrong leg (if I don't catch her RIGHT when she starts walking in the morning, the limp is so slight that I can't be positive it's the right leg), but I'm pretty much positive we x-rayed the correct one. She's only about 5 or 6 and she loves, loves, loves to run and run at our dog park (it's 40 acres, so she gets the run of the place and is my only dog that I take there, and we know most of the dog owners that go there). I don't want that to be taken away from her :( . The good thing is there's a pond there she likes to swim in, and once we're out of snake season, we'll go back to swimming.

Thoughts? :|
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Postby iluvk9 » August 18th, 2010, 11:57 am

Sorry about the limp...I can understand your frustration. There hasn't been a Lab I have owned that hasn't limped for some undetermined reason. Damn Labs. :wink:

What always worked for us was Rimadyl and leash walking. No crazy antics.
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Postby Malli » August 18th, 2010, 12:38 pm

If its a sprain, our vet told us 6 weeks of rest minimum, on short leashed(read : definitely not leash walks) potty breaks. I know, boo.
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Postby amalie79 » August 18th, 2010, 1:42 pm

Malli wrote:If its a sprain, our vet told us 6 weeks of rest minimum, on short leashed(read : definitely not leash walks) potty breaks. I know, boo.


Ugh. Easy as that sounds, it's going to be anything but. I don't think River's previous people took her out a lot-- she gets SUPER worked up for a walk, more than any dog I've ever been around. When I get the leash, she spins in tight circles at the door (which can't be good for any kind of injury), whines, does little tongue flicks, and then once out the door BUCKS like a damn rodeo horse. She whines so loud, the dogs IN THE HOUSE across and down the street start barking. You feel the whine in your chest. It is super sonic. :crazy2: When we first got her, no amount of food caught her interest when we were outside, so training anywhere but our tiny living room was a nightmare. (This is a very food-motivated dog, too; I caught her counter surfing yesterday, and when she couldn't reach the cat's bowl in the middle of the table, she settled for the roll of paper towels and just licked it in her chair-- I mean, people with food on their hands might have touched it. :rolleyes2: ) It's only been through consistent trips out into the world that she's gotten any better at all. Super high value treats are worthy of her attention now. But it's terrible if she hasn't been able to go anywhere for a while. It's like back to square one. She also barks barks barks barks if she's cooped up to long. And again, Super. Sonic. Bark.

She is definitely a lab. This could be a long recovery. :neutral:

(ps-- do all sprains have noticeable swelling? They don't, do they? She has no swelling of any note and shows no sign of any discomfort when articulating by us or the vet, though maybe that's because she's already stretched it out by the time we start fooling with it :| :? .)
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Postby iluvk9 » August 18th, 2010, 3:30 pm

Malli wrote:.... on short leashed(read : definitely not leash walks) ...


That was a great clarification, Mallika. :) I always thought saying "leash walked" would imply "put your dog on a leash to go outside to pee and poop and bring them back inside." But, you never know if others are thinking, "take a nice long walk and keep a leash on them".
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Postby hugapitbull » August 18th, 2010, 3:41 pm

I don't want to sound like the alarmist every time someone's dog has a limp, but you only have to live through osteosarcoma once to be paranoid. Trouble's first symptom was a limp - so slight we couldn't tell which leg either. I made an appointment and the limp stopped - I canceled the appointment.

A couple of weeks later the limp started again. Again, so slight we couldn't tell which leg. I took her in immediately this time. The vet was able to feel the tumor - I hadn't found it on my own. All of this only to say be sure - get both legs x-rayed. I think Trouble has been in remission almost 21 months because she was diagnosed and treated so early.

Sending good thoughts for a speedy recovery!
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Postby maberi » August 18th, 2010, 3:53 pm

Earl had a rotator cuff injury that was very difficult to diagnose. The vet couldn't determine the exact location of the pain but after some x-rays and a trip to an orthopedic surgeon we figured it out.

I would definitely try to rest her for a few weeks to see if it gets better. If not, seeing a specialist might be in order :|

Also a bit off topic but for that classically conditioned leash response I would start grabbing the leash at random times (going out to get the mail, before getting coffee, etc....) as well as putting her on the leash just to even walk around the house or get the mail.
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Postby amalie79 » August 18th, 2010, 5:15 pm

hugapitbull wrote:I don't want to sound like the alarmist every time someone's dog has a limp, but you only have to live through osteosarcoma once to be paranoid. Trouble's first symptom was a limp - so slight we couldn't tell which leg either. I made an appointment and the limp stopped - I canceled the appointment.

A couple of weeks later the limp started again. Again, so slight we couldn't tell which leg. I took her in immediately this time. The vet was able to feel the tumor - I hadn't found it on my own. All of this only to say be sure - get both legs x-rayed. I think Trouble has been in remission almost 21 months because she was diagnosed and treated so early.

Sending good thoughts for a speedy recovery!


Yeah, our vet actually said that he was looking for cancer with the x-ray-- I thought of Trouble when he said that, since I'd just read some updates about your crew. He must have articulated, massaged and man-handled her legs and shoulders for a good 10 minutes or more. The limp is very pronounced when she first gets up, so I'm about 99.5% sure it's the right leg, but I'm a worrier and a doubter, so I tend to look for ways to be wrong. :rolleyes2: Thankfully it's been SO FREAKIN' HOT lately, that taking a break from walks and outdoor training is just as well, really. We're having a "cool spell" (highs in the mid-90s!! :neutral: ) so it's a shame right now, but we're going to try resting it for a few weeks. If it's not showing improvement fairly soon, though, I'm going to ask for both legs to be x-rayed to be on the safe side.

Matt, we've actually talked about doing some of that counter conditioning; we'd have to take it a step further and actually leash her up. She knows now that just because I have the leash, it doesn't mean SHE's the one going for a walk. It's when I ask her to sit to put on the leash that she goes nuts. She sits and taps and dances her front feet while I hook it up. And then we'd have to do it with opening the door; and then stepping out and back in. It will be a tedious process, though she definitely gets better the more she gets to go out. We've got a good 4+ years of other people's training to counter, so. Yeah. It'll probably take a while. I've introduced the clicker to her, finally, and she's taking well to that. Hopefully it'll speed things along.

Thanks for the advice and well-wishes!
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Postby maberi » August 18th, 2010, 7:33 pm

amalie79 wrote:Matt, we've actually talked about doing some of that counter conditioning; we'd have to take it a step further and actually leash her up. She knows now that just because I have the leash, it doesn't mean SHE's the one going for a walk. It's when I ask her to sit to put on the leash that she goes nuts. She sits and taps and dances her front feet while I hook it up. And then we'd have to do it with opening the door; and then stepping out and back in. It will be a tedious process, though she definitely gets better the more she gets to go out. We've got a good 4+ years of other people's training to counter, so. Yeah. It'll probably take a while. I've introduced the clicker to her, finally, and she's taking well to that. Hopefully it'll speed things along.


As much as people make fun of Labs on here; they are definitely a smart breed. I would put Earl up with any of the dogs on here when it came to learning something (minus maybe a couple of Erin's dogs) :wink:
I dealt with that same issue with Earl and finally decided to fix it so I know what a pain in the a$$ it can be.
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Postby amalie79 » August 18th, 2010, 7:47 pm

She's extremely smart. It's like she's too smart and figures out immediately which bad behavior results in which reward. She'd be a lot less trouble if she was stupid! And my old guy is a lab mix; I only wish I'd put more time in with him when he had his wits about him. He'd have been unstoppable. Right now, Robin is only my quickest learner because she's young and has the cleanest slate. River is just wise to the world. ;-) We'll get her there-- it's just going to take time. She was an owner surrender at the shelter, and obviously had owners who loved her and took care of her, but had to give her up for whatever reason. She's just got some bad habits that are awfully long-lived.
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Postby amalie79 » August 18th, 2010, 8:01 pm

By the way, Matt-- when Earl had the rotator cuff problem, did you have to do surgery, or no? I'm reading a little about it, and it does sound like a possibility; she'll "warm up" and not limp while running or after stretching out, and she seems worse on the day after heavier walking or exercise, especially after I started teaching her to spin in one direction or the other. I felt terrible for that! Rimadyl seems to do less for her than rest does...

Anyway, just curious.
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Postby maberi » August 18th, 2010, 8:09 pm

amalie79 wrote:By the way, Matt-- when Earl had the rotator cuff problem, did you have to do surgery, or no? I'm reading a little about it, and it does sound like a possibility; she'll "warm up" and not limp while running or after stretching out, and she seems worse on the day after heavier walking or exercise, especially after I started teaching her to spin in one direction or the other. I felt terrible for that! Rimadyl seems to do less for her than rest does...

Anyway, just curious.


No surgery was needed with Earl. I've taught Earl to spin (left and right) and have found that spinning aggravates his injury BIG time. He also used to slip coming down the stairs onto the hardwoods which would cause his shoulder to stretch out so we've put an area rug at the bottom of the stairs.

Since his diagnosis he has run in flyball tournaments and continually tears around the yard with the other 2 without any issues.
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Postby amalie79 » August 18th, 2010, 9:00 pm

So it was rest and recovery time and management? Certain exercises? I was teaching River to turn and after a few minutes I could see her getting really uncomfortable, really resisting the turn and yet, still trying to do it right. Poor girl. She gets so focused on her reward, that pain is completely secondary; she broke a nail jumping to catch her ball-- it was totally perpendicular to the way it should be, broken at the base-- and she still tried to run, limping, all the way back to the car, bleeding like a stuck pig, trying to get me to keep throwing the ball. I wish I had her pain threshold.
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Postby maberi » August 18th, 2010, 9:05 pm

Yes... I know it is hard but trying to reduce her activity even a little bit will help every day. I gave Earl about 2 weeks to rest and then eased him into some low level exercise (swimming, jogging,etc...). A little rest does wonders.


amalie79 wrote:So it was rest and recovery time and management? Certain exercises? I was teaching River to turn and after a few minutes I could see her getting really uncomfortable, really resisting the turn and yet, still trying to do it right. Poor girl. She gets so focused on her reward, that pain is completely secondary; she broke a nail jumping to catch her ball-- it was totally perpendicular to the way it should be, broken at the base-- and she still tried to run, limping, all the way back to the car, bleeding like a stuck pig, trying to get me to keep throwing the ball. I wish I had her pain threshold.
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Postby amalie79 » August 18th, 2010, 9:09 pm

maberi wrote:Yes... I know it is hard but trying to reduce her activity even a little bit will help every day. I gave Earl about 2 weeks to rest and then eased him into some low level exercise (swimming, jogging,etc...). A little rest does wonders.


That's the plan-- Thanks Matt!!
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Postby Malli » August 19th, 2010, 2:42 am

I would think you would only see swelling from a sprain/strain etc within the first few days of the trauma.

Not to be pushy bitch, but not resting an injury could lead to arthritis in the joint, so it could be pretty important to rest it. And like I said, I was told at least 6 weeks :(

I know it can be difficult, I've been there with a year old dog on rest from his neuter surgery, but not having the rest might be much, much worse, too.

Anyway, hang in there! And good luck with desensitizing.
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Postby amalie79 » August 19th, 2010, 10:25 am

Malli wrote:I would think you would only see swelling from a sprain/strain etc within the first few days of the trauma.

Not to be pushy bitch, but not resting an injury could lead to arthritis in the joint, so it could be pretty important to rest it. And like I said, I was told at least 6 weeks :(

I know it can be difficult, I've been there with a year old dog on rest from his neuter surgery, but not having the rest might be much, much worse, too.

Anyway, hang in there! And good luck with desensitizing.


I don't think you're being a pushy bitch-- just concerned. And I appreciate it. :)

The vet originally thought, before the xrays, that it might be osteo that developed from a previous injury-- the first 4 years of her life are a mystery to us. But no one was ever very explicit on the rest-- just try anti-inflammatories for a few days to break the pain cycle and let her take it easy. :| We did cut out walks and all outings for the first week or so of "treatment," and it definitely got better. But when she started back into activity, it came back.

As of yesterday, we started on leashed potty breaks only. She's been really good. Since we're going out the back door, she knows it's not for a walk and there's no drama. Robin seems to like taunting her, but other than that, it's going smoothly. She's pretty tame inside the house; her only physical activity is hopping onto the bed. The last several mornings, her limp has been very noticeable for the first couple minutes she's up, and then she's pretty much good for the rest of the day. But this morning, I didn't notice anything. Whether it's a direct result of rest, or reintroducing MSM (which she was taking early on and stopped), or coincidence, or my groggy brain not noticing, who knows. But maybe if we rest her for a few weeks (or more) and ease her in slowly, she'll be ok. If during rest it gets worse or just doesn't get better, she'll go back in. I don't want to take any more chances.
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Postby TheRedQueen » August 19th, 2010, 10:46 am

Pat Miller has a good article with 5 things to do to keep your dog from getting too excited about the leash!
http://www.peaceablepaws.com/articles.p ... 1&type=Pat
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Postby Ino » August 19th, 2010, 12:21 pm

It is amazing how many things can cause an intermittant limp. I know Ino ran across some large uneven rocks in shallow water to get his ball one time and ended up bruising his pad. It seemed like the limping took forever to go away (a few weeks atleast), but part of it was he kept play pouncing to get the kitties to play and was hyper since we were not doing our normal walks. It was always more sore when he first got up from a lengthy rest. The vet gave me daramaxx for it but I used it sparingly since his paw was not broken and was most likely just bruised. He did not limp on his front paw for a few months. I did notice it returned for a day when we took the trip from NY to FL, but I think it was either stiff from sitting still for the whole drive (he wouldnt go to sleep- too many interesting things to watch and he had somewhat limited movement due to the uhaul seats and his car harness) or maybe when I lifted him out of the uhaul, he stepped on a rock at one of the rest stops- I dont know (hard to get him down- he is just under 80lbs and I am kind of short for lifting him from the uhaul height). It was just for the one day and has not returned. Hopefully whatever River's problem ends up being, she ends up healing well. Sending good thoughts her way.
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Postby Malli » August 19th, 2010, 1:09 pm

well hooray for the back door :)
When I worked at the ER vet, there were two crappy things; 1) - people who didn't have the money they should to be responsible for their pets (very common :rolleyes2: ), 2)- and the fact that I could never train any of the patients - because obviously there was no permission from the owner, and because obviously medical stuff took priority over everything else; so we just had to manage any problem behaviors or try to work around them, it was frustrating. I sympathize. But perhaps, because she's yours, you'll at least be able to get her to stay where she is now instead of regressing.
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