Missing the Early Signs

I've felt it and I know many of you have too. That sinking feeling when you get a diagnosis the day after a competition that your dog has injured itself, and it likely started weeks or months ago. Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back we may realise that we have missed some early signs. But the reality is that animals don’t talk, and they have evolved to hide pain and get on with the job. We shouldn't feel bad, but we should try and understand our pets better so we can catch issues earlier. 

Most (but certainly not all) animals are stoic. In the past they have been selected to hide pain or ‘weakness’ and get on with the job of staying alive. I see it regularly with my own pets, and in client's animals.

It is why the assessment of the entire musculoskeletal system is vital before each treatment. While a problem may appear to be in the shoulder I will always check your dogs toes. Without checking, how can we be sure that its not a swollen toe that's led to an abnormal stride, Which has eventually caused a shoulder injury. This may sound far fetched, but I've seen it in practice many time. 

It is vital to treat the whole animal, not just the diagnosis. 

It is possible to prevent injury through regular check ups. Looking for signs of subtle inflammation or changes in muscle quantity or tone is important. Having a good relationship with practitioner who can check the musculoskeletal system regularly is important for every canine athlete to prevent us missing the early signs.

Don’t feel guilty when you do miss the early signs. Focus on getting your pet the right treatment and then spread the information and knowledge you gain. Even when something has gone wrong there are people out there who can help you and your pet.

Dr Jaime Jackson