Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Ollie - full report

Our vet greeted us this evening with "his blood is fine, his heart is fine, his hips are fine, he's not got cancer, it's arthritis of the spine" - and then she drew breath and started again!

So, firstly the ultrasound. He has a slight weakening of the mitral valve which is why a heart murmur can be heard with a stethoscope. He has a good systolic rhythm and for a dog his age, the heart appears strong and there is no sign of disease and little danger of heart failure in the future.

Next the lab tests. I won't bore you with all the measurements, although we have them if there are any haematologists around. Basically his blood work, liver function, kidney function measurements, etc., are bang on where they should be for a dog his age. He's an extremely healthy (unwell) dog!

Then the X-rays. The hips are fine. There is a small amount of lipping on both femoral joints but nothing to worry about. The spine, however, is a different matter entirely. Approximately half of his vertebrae have arthritic overgrowth on the lower edges which has 'met up with' corresponding growth on the next vertebrae and fused. This is most pronounced in the Thoracic and Lumbar regions, so far his neck seems relatively undamaged. Two lower Lumbar vertebrae are at the point where the overgrowth has not yet met but is so very close that it would be logical to assume when these two surfaces rub against each other the result is extreme pain.

Clare admitted she had been afraid is seeing a tumour in his hip, the femoral joint is a prime site for sarcoma in older dogs. She felt he must either (a) have a very high pain threshold for us not to have had indications earlier or (b) be extremely fit and well looked after.

The images from his X-rays are not good, but compared to what we could have been facing, this is a good result. We cannot make him better but we can do a lot to make him comfortable. Immediately we will go back to Metacam (which he tolerates better than the Carpofen) and give a large dose for a few days until he appears stable. We keep up with the Cod Liver Oil and Glucosamine & Chrondritin supplements. Clare is referring us to Helen Gould, a nearby vet who is skilled in acupuncture. If you watch Grand Designs you will have seen Helen's underground house in the Cumbrian countryside

"Don't even think of pinching this stick, get your own"

How could you not love a muddy face like this?

Since coming home he has slept a lot, eaten two bowls of food, been outside for a toilet stop and devoured his glucosamine chew with almost indecent speed. Not surprisingly he's now back on my bed and unlikely to move for at least 12 hours. It's a dog's life!

Excavating molehills, a favourite task, must take him to Sale Fell as soon as he's well enough, plenty there for him to demolish!


  1. Thank you for the update Bilbo - and I am glad it is something that can be delt with and that you can keep him free of pain!
    Not long now before I can see for myself how he is - looking forward to coming to Cumbria again.

  2. Thank goodness it's something you have a chance of treating. Let's hope he perks up once the painkillers kick in, though it'll take him a couple of days to recover from the trauma of the vet visit!

  3. well at least your human now knows what she's dealing with, and things can be done to make you far more comfortable. I love the photos you're letting her share with us all too.



  4. Acupuncture for dogs? Well I never! I'm with the others here - now you know what you're up against, you can see where to go from here.

    By the way, when you say 'the hairy one', you aren't kidding, are you! ;-)

  5. So glad we know what we're up against. Arthritis is no joke, but it certainly isn't cancer - so, altogether, rather good news.

    Hope he soon recovers from all the 'vetting'.


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