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The Incredible Mr. Limpers July 28, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, Home.
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Remember that Don Knotts movie?  Is he even still alive?  (Answer:  No.)

Anyway, this has nothing to do with Don Knotts.

It’s our poor Mr. Limpers.

Long-time readers of this blog are aware of the Big Lug‘s struggles with hip dysplasia.  And you’ll of course remember the great strides he’s taken over the past year – he’s literally gone from walking barely a block to regularly walking a couple of miles in the mornings, then coming home and chasing a tennis ball around for a while.

By spring, we were down to every-other-week swimming – and he’s been great with it.  Nary a trace of a limp – just a happy, frolicking puppy.  So, as things got busier this summer, and since Jarly was going so well, we took a bit of a hiatus from swim class.

Nothing permanent, mind you, and he’s not going swim-less.  It was just one more thing that needed to be attended to, in a season of too much work and not enough, well, not work.

Then it got hot.  I mean really hot – our morning walks were even disgusting.  It’s just not right when it’s 70 degrees – and humid! – at 4 in the morning.  We’d come back with both of our tongues hanging down to our knees!  (I exaggerate, but only barely.)

And afternoon walks – in the blazing sun – were all but out of the question.  Not for a big black dog.

Even the beach – what little corner of the beach we could squeeze him into between the mobs of people and kids and dogs and drunk unemployed people – was HOT.

PhotobucketBy last week, our happy, hearty puppy has started limping occasionally.

Then he was limping more.

I’ve done some research, and, essentially, nothing’s changed since last year.

Basically, from what I can find, hip dysplasia seems to be very similar to (deteriorates into?) osteoarthritis.  The deterioration of the soft tissue, which causes the further deterioration and malformation of the bone – yeah.

And a recent Johns Hopkins study may (or may not) show a connection between high humidity and osteoarthritis pain (the results were kind of conflicting), while another University of Michigan study suggests a link between arthritis pain and low barometric pressure and high humidity – like right before one of our northeast summer thunderstorms.

Ultimately, outside of major surgery, there’s not a lot we can do for him other than what we’ve been doing all along- keep him comfortable, keep his weight down, and keep him exercised.  And that makes a world of difference.  Heck, it’s already made a difference – we’ve seen that!

I’m not going to dope him up unless I absolutely have to – the prescription pain killers are narcotics and, well, the last thing we need is Jarly with a monkey on his back!  However (and we’ve cleared this with the vet), we’re not above a couple of aspirin  tablets covered in peanut butter when the situation warrants it.


His weight is fine, though with the abbreviated walks, we’ve had to be a little more careful about that.

With the more comfortable temperatures the past few days, we’ve been gradually walking him a little farther, being careful, of course, not to overdo it.

And he’s going back to swim class this week.

He’s going to be so happy to hear that!


1. judy - July 28, 2010

Oh no, Big Lug is hurting. I really am sorry and I hope the swimming helps again. He really is a good looking dog. 🙂

I’m sure it’ll help, Jude, thanks. Remember how much – and how fast – it helped last year? It was almost exactly the same time last July that he started having the same problems.

And yes, thank you, he is a very handsome puppy, isn’t he? 🙂

2. mazco34 - July 28, 2010

The dog swim class is very interesting.

I also saw on the site a device called a ThunderShirt. I have a dog that fears thunder. First clap, and he’s off to the basement, hiding behind the washer or dryer.

If that thing will work, we’ll love it!

This was the first I’d of about it – I have no idea how it works. Fortunately, the baby doesn’t seem to mind thunder, so it’s not been an issue for us. I can ask the guy, though. . .

3. Cristina - July 28, 2010

Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about Jarly. He’s such a beautiful dog! I hope he gets better soon. I’ve never owned a big dog so I don’t know much about hip dysplasia, but is surgery a permanent fix? Is it something you’d consider as a last resort?

Hi, Cristina – thanks! Surgery is . . . a gamble. I’m just not sure how I feel about the risks vs. the benefits. It would help some, sure, but I don’t know how much, or for how long. His hips are bad enough that his options are very limited – it’s a major undertaking, and it’s definitely a last resort, if at all. At this point, as long as we can manage the pain reasonably, well, painlessly (diet, exercise, supplements), that’s the way we want to continue. The difference, after just a couple of weeks of swim therapy, is amazing, and I suspect that the hot summers will always be bad for him. 😕

4. Anne - July 28, 2010

Aww, poor fuzz butt. I hope the swimming does the trick again this time.

Thanks, Anne.

5. kayatthekeyboard - July 30, 2010

You might want to try giving him half an ibuprofen a day, while he’s having those problems. I’d check with the vet first to make sure ibuprofen is not verboten for dogs — if aspirin is OK, I can’t imagine but what ibuprofen is as well — but during the hot seasons a daily maintenance dose might be helpful. My folks had a peke-a-poo who developed osteoarthritis in his old age, and they gave him a half an aspirin every morning for, oh, three or four years. Seemed to help.

Thanks, Kay. We’ve talked to the vet, and, for some reason, both ibuprofen and acetom. . .Tylenol are bad bad bad for dogs, though aspirin is fine (as long as he can stomach it) (which he can – so far anyway). Our boy is a bit bigger than yours, though, I’m pretty sure – he gets 3 tablets in a dose! From what the vets say, though, the best thing is to keep the muscles toned to help “cushion” the joints.

No more long breaks from swim class. . .

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