My 14 month old German Shepherd puppy has injured her right bicep tendon (an possibly her left, but no where near as bad).
She injured it by racing around the yard, doing lots of twists and turns sharply, while me and my Dad chased her with a broom. It was quite fun at the time, but aver since then, she has limped on her right leg.
The limping is much worse after a great deal of exercise, or long, curled up rest.
The limping isn't as bad as it could be: she is not holding her leg off the ground completely, but rather her right stride is staggerred and to me, shorter and she moves her foot outside her body and sometimes inside under her body more than her other leg. Or so it seems.
The injury occurred at 6 months of age, and until she was 10 months, it was misdiagnosed as a bones problem. 2 lots of xrays were performed (one lot at 6 months, another at 10 months) as the vets initially thought it was something to do with elbow displaysia.
Despite their treatment for "elbow displaysia" not working or making any progress for 4 months, they still did not examine Vyvyan for an swelling in her legs, apart from the first initial time when I took her to them, at 6 months, and they felt nothing then, although Vyv was pretty tense. They still thought it was a bone problem.
At 10 months, she hadn't improved, and she had actually injured her left leg by then, by playing with one of her dog friends. I gave her anti inflammatories immediately, for about 2 weeks, and her left leg has seemed fine since then.
As soon as I could, (she hurt her left leg on a sunday, I rang on a monday) I got her into see the Vet Specialist in Norwood, in Adelaide, and 2 weeks later we were there, having that 2nd lot of xrays done and a very informative and thorough consultation done.
The vet spec was excellent, especially since Vyv is a bit of a "drama queen".
This is the first time it has been suggested that Vyv's problem is not to do with her bones, but with her right shoulder muscles, probably her bicep tendon. Her bones show no sign of elbow displaysia, although there is some reaction in her cartlige in her lower joints in her legs.
The vet spec suggested 6-8 weeks rest, STRICT CAGE STYLE REST. SHOCK! But despite the fact Vyvyan is a very energetic, intelligent girl, we made it through 7 weeks of strict resting. Not once did she escape off the lead and bolt after a cat, not once was she able to antagonise that sore bicep tendon. After 7 weeks, we spent probably another week after that doing gentle yard walks, to reintroduce her into exercise, very gracefully .
Anyway, by the time we got to the stage of taking her for walks outside the yard (she pulls on the lead, we did a 1 block walk) she was limping again. So severely, that when she was resting on the floor (she had the option of lying on her comfy bed), she went to get up, couldn't use her right leg, then laid back down again. She looked miserable.
I've spoken with the Vet Spec again. She has suggested what I have thought also: the second option to treating the bicep tendon problem, is the steroids, which also requires the dog to be rested whilst on them - however, we both don't feel that that will work. It will be a waste of time, considering rest hasn't worked by itself, and steroids being 2-300 dollars (which could be put towards the next option if this option fails), will not really give that much of a boost to her recovery. She has also spent too much time resting and in cages and indoors, when she should be out exploring the new world of puppyhood.
Surgery is the last option that both of us feel will do any good to Vyvyan. I'm not concerned about the price ($2800 arthiscopically). I'd gladly spend that money on Vyvyan, if I KNEW for sure that it would help Vyvyan.
The reason I'm writing here is to ask any of you, have you had this surgery done for your dog, and has your dog been able to recover 100%?
The surgery involves cutting and removing the bicep tendon from her right shoulder. She would then be rested for another 2-3 months afterwards, slowly regaining her strenght in her other shoulder muscles which would take over the bicep tendon's job.
The bicep tendon needs to be removed as it can no longer be repaired. Unlike bones, which can regrow and heal a lot of the time, and be as strong as they were before, the tendon is like elastic and can only be worked so many times. It's too inflammed, and has not been treated correctly for too long, to be repaired (remember that 4 months where the vets thought it was something competely different).
I'll gladly do the surgery, especially since the Vet Spec is fantastic and very knowlegdable. Within a few hours she had diagnosed what the other vets couldn't diagnose in 4 months.
She says Vyv should make a full recovery, provided the 2-3 months afterwards are spent the way they should (which they will be). But I am worried that because Vyvyan is such an incredible hyperactive dog sometimes, and she does use her shoulder muscles a lot (swimming, hiking etc), perhaps the vet spec doesn't realise just how active Vyv is and would be after the 3 months after surgery?
I do know the vet spec is telling the truth about other dogs she has operated on and how they do recover, but perhaps she doesn't realise how silly Vyv is?!
Also, I have that worrying little doubt, that says "How can something, like a dog's leg, be able to operate fully, if something like it's massive bicep tendon, is removed, when the leg has had this tendon it's entire life and it is meant to be there? The tendon is part of the leg. Sure the other muscles might be able to pick up the slack and do what the bicep tendon used to do, but surely it's not as strong and robust?"
I asked the vet spec these questions, and she said basically, in the long term, the dog can return to normal (provided there's no twisting sharply movements, like frisbee games - we'll gladly get rid of them, since she used to crunch up the frisbees with her teeth on the way back over to me when she brought them back - which can reinjure them). Strength wise, she would be more prone to dislocation if she was hit by a car or something.
Anyway, I know that's a lot of info, but I really want to get as much info, especially other's stories, so I can make the best decision for Vyv. If there's a possibility she could be the same or worse off after surgery and that 2-3 month recovery time, then I won't put Vyv through it. It's not the $, it's the trouble it will cause Vyv having surgery. She has been for a swim in the ocean 2 days ago, she is stiff on that leg but has still managed ok. I'm sure she is in pain, but not being able to excerise and burn of that energy will also be pain for her, if she can't do this after surgery and that 2-3 month recovery time.
Thanks, and all replies are so very welcome,
Holly And Vyvyan