The Links Pet Centre Blog


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One morning early this year, I noticed that Stanley was limping slightly. By the afternoon he seemed to be walking fine again so I didn't think too much of it. But then the same thing happened the following day...he was limping in the morning and ok in the afternoon.

On the third morning he was walking with his back left leg held up so I made him an appointment to see his current vet.
After an initial consultation and examining his hip, x-rays were recommended. When his x-ray results came back I was shocked to find that Stanley had osteoarthritis in his left hip joint.

The vet explained that due to a shallow left hip socket, there had been degenerative changes in the left hip joint. These changes included the flattening of the head of the femur and the formation of osteophytes around the edge of the hip joint. The cartilage in the joint had been worn away and it was now bone rubbing on bone.

A plan was developed for Stanley which included the use of natural anti-inflammatories and monthly cartrophen injections to try to improve the health of the hip. Low impact activity only was recommended as to not cause unnecessary stress and pain in the joint.

Our vet also recommended that I take Stanley to The Links Canine Aquatic Centre for hydrotherapy in their heated pool. The benefits of hydrotherapy for Stanley are to maintain his muscle mass around the hip to improve and maintain strength and reduce the dependence on the joint.

It was further explained to me that, as the condition had been developing for some time, Stanley had not been walking on that leg as he normally would have. This had caused the shortening of the muscles in his leg. Swimming in a heated pool helps to relax the muscles, takes the weight off the joint and encourages a full range of motion. He is also given a daily heat pack and hip massage.

I was a bit nervous when I bought Stanley to the pool for his first swim. Although I had taken him to the beach and the river on occasion, he much preferred running in the shallows to swimming. He also needed to walk in and out of the pool via the stairs and as he has never lived in a house with stairs, this was also new to him.

However, I need not have worried! When we arrived, Sean explained how he was going to introduce Stanley to swimming. He was fitted with a buoyancy vest and Sean got into the pool with him to teach him how to enter and exit the pool calmly and safely and swim laps. This did take some practice as Stanley was definitely not a fan of the stairs! By his third visit, Stanley no longer needed his buoyancy vest and was in and out of the pool on his own.

An added benefit of hydrotherapy for us is that Stanley can use up his excess energy without jeopardising his hip. At just 4 years of age and being a working breed, it has been difficult to put him on a low impact regime. Before we discovered his osteoarthritis, Stanley enjoyed daily runs, games of fetch, and his all-time favourite – weekly agility classes. Long walks just weren't cutting it for him, so it is great to be able to take him swimming. He will often doze off in the car on the way home!

Sean is very friendly and professional and will often pop in to check on Stanley's progress. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend The Links Canine Aquatic Centre.


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