This is the story of Keira, a lab from working stock, who started showing signs of hip dysplasia at the tender age of four months. Keira, it seems was unlucky, however, her story does highlight the need to make sure that you have insurance for your Labradors, and that you keep it current. Keira was lucky to find in her owner Joanne, someone in a position to deal with the issue financially, so many more people cannot, and therefore it is vitally important to have good insurance cover.
I got Keira from a game keeper and was probably just unlucky. When Keira was 4 months old, she couldn't hardly stand. I took her to my vet, who advised that she had hip dysplasia and to leave her until she was about 15 months old to reassess the situation. There was no way I was having a dog, especially such a young one, in so much pain. I went through an emotional roller coaster, she went to the vets with my dad after a long and agonising night and the final decision being euthanasia.
My vet refused and told my dad that she thought I didn't really understand and that I thought it was possibly worse than she had explained to me, she sent him away with Keira and called me. I was actually quite disgusted with her
I also have another dog who had previously been referred to a highly reputed orthopaedic surgeon in Fife, which for me is a couple of 100 miles away. I rang them and as an existing client, they were happy for me to refer myself. I took the x-rays that my vet had done, but Mr Ferguson wanted to take his own obviously.
He is absolutely fantastic, before he does anything he goes through what could be the problem, what the prognosis could be and what the best way to deal with it would be.
He examined Keira's hips, and I honestly was nearly sick; they were both coming in and out of their sockets, the sound was awful. He then examined her elbows, she howled!!! We were not only dealing with hip dysplasia, but the elbows too. She was obviously in a GREAT deal of pain.
I told him everything that my vet had said and all about her going to be put to sleep (god that sounds so awful) and how my vet had refused.
He told me that Keira was so obviously not a healthy dog and was shocked at my vet and advised me that the very first option he would give me, would be just that due to the severity of her dysplasia at such a young age. Although he would need to take x-rays to confirm just how bad it was.
He took out his bone/joint models and showed me just exactly how her hips should have been and how they were. It was shocking. I was with him for an hour going through everything. Keira was not insured and he advised me the cost for each hip would be £1,400 as she needed TPO surgery. He showed me photos of other dogs who had been treated and they were photos from their owners of dogs chasing balls, running, jumping etc.
I agreed to go ahead and Keira went off to have her initial x-rays taken. I went back 2 hours later for the results. I have seen x-rays before that show arthritis and Keira's hips were riddled with it. Her left hip was so bad, that he needed me to leave her there for her first operation as any delay would have meant the surgery couldn't go ahead.
A month later she went back to have her right hip done. It was all a very hard, painful time, she had to be in her cage 24/7 except for a quick pee on the lead in the garden then straight back in her cage.
She went back for her final check up January 2006 and he was very impressed with her recovery and said I really must have done everything he said by the book. I told him it had cost me so much there was no way that I was going to defer from what he told me to do.
Keira is now free from pain, even her elbows are fine now as the strain has been taken away from them. She can jump 6ft walls, run faster than my mum and dads greyhound, swim etc etc. She is a loving, wonderful dog, even though she has started eating things lately!!!!
The only regret I have, is that I did not insure her as soon as I got her.
Disclaimer: Please note - all prospective labrador puppy owners are advised to ensure that both parents have been hip-scored and hold current clear eye certificates, and to follow the exercise and dietary advice from their breeder; this can vastly reduce the risk of your puppy suffering future problems. It does NOT however give a cast iron guarantee your puppy will not have problems.