Recognise this gorgeous face? Blix is a 4 year old, very large, German Shepherd dog. At 11 months he weighed 34kgs and was destined for a career as prison security dog!
Less than a year into his career it became clear that Blix was not coping with the work. Despite loving and excelling in the training, he struggled with the daily patrol shifts. He started showing signs of lameness, dropping through his shoulders and dragging his toes. His hind end also started showing mild signs of ataxia.
After veterinary examination it was decided to try him on a course of pain relief to assess his response. He improved over time and even competed in local trials achieving reserve champion, which he loved, however, unfortunately the lameness crept back in so he went back for further veterinary investigations.
Blix had previously had x-rays which showed his hips and elbows were good so further investigation in the form of an scan was needed. The scan generally showed good disc morphology, however, his lumbar sacral disc showed signs of degeneration and protrusion with irregular end plates. The side view showed entrapment of the cauda equina (nerves within the spinal canal), inflammation of the compressed and surrounding nerves especially of the left outflow tract, which in turn blocked messages to the hind limb. This would have also been causing chronic pain, exacerbated by the type of work he was doing.
Blix underwent corrective surgery which was a great success and with the addition of regular physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, his recovery has been beyond every ones expectations.
His physiotherapy involved various soft tissue techniques to work through compensatory muscular spasms. He had phototherapy to encourage cell regeneration, repair and circulation and once the stitches were out and he was happy for me to work around the surgical site, we began a course of ultrasound therapy using the K-9 ultrasound machine. Please see protocol for treatment times.
Another vital part of physiotherapy is to retrain and encourage correct gait which in turn will allow the rest of his body to move correctly and regain strength and suppleness.
Blix continues with regular hydrotherapy to ensure he keeps his strength up and also has regular physiotherapy to make sure all is well.
Blix was retired from work and you now generally find him residing on the sofa between his walks and playing with his fellow (past and present) security comrades!
Blix before pain relief or surgery. He had weak musculature. You can see how his right hind plaits under and his general posture is hunched and he sits low in his stifle and hocks.
Case study, provided by Cotswold Horse and Hound Physiotherapy.