Summer takes dog owners by surprise

Dog owners everywhere, myself included, are immensely grateful for the long-awaited return of summer.

It seems that everyone is making the most of the sudden appearance of sunshine by taking their charges for walks far longer than they’ve seen for months.

Our prolonged winter means that many dogs have been perhaps slightly under-exercised and are carrying a few extra pounds. The sudden increase in exercise therefore has its pitfalls, as is illustrated by the vast increase in the number of lame dogs we’re seeing.

In many of these cases it becomes apparent that our patient’s owner was also feeling pretty stiff and sore after that impromptu hike up Simonside at the weekend.

The treatment for both dog and master is usually rest, maybe something in the way of anti-inflammatories for a few days and advice to build up to a monster walk a bit more slowly next time!

At the more extreme end of the lameness scale are two dogs that came into our Whorral Bank hospital on Saturday morning. Both had suffered the same injury, namely fractures of both the radius and ulna (the two bones in the lower part of the front leg) presumably after putting their feet down a rabbit hole or similar.

The major difference between these two dogs was their size. The first was a 35kg lurcher, the second a 2.5kg pomeranian. I’ll leave you to guess whose poor owner had to carry him for an hour back across the fields to his car!

We more commonly see these two breeds of dog together in the surgery as a result of one mistaking the other for prey.

Both dogs were duly taken to theatre. The method of fixation was the same for both dogs. Once the bones had been satisfactorily re-aligned, a metal plate was screwed to the radius (the larger and stronger of the two in the front leg) in order to hold the two ends together and to achieve some compression to aid healing.

The two dogs’ sizes presented their own challenges. In the case of the lurcher this mostly manifested in the sheer strength required to overcome the muscle contracture that had caused the bone ends to overlap post fracture and in then man-handling it all back into place. In the case of the little pom, the issue was with just how fiddly the whole thing was. The plate itself measured only three centimetres long and two millimetres deep, and some of the screws used were just four millimetres long. The metalwork for the lurcher was of course considerably bulkier!

Both patients came through their ordeal well and last time I checked on them were looking pretty content.


Director and Senior Vet