Bear is a 5 year old Rottweiler who is a trained security dog. He had a degenerative cruciate ligament problem in his left hind which had been causing noticeable lameness for over 9 months before I met him. He had been diagnosed by the vet and cage rested at home for 3 months prior to my Physiotherapy assessment. The vet and his owner felt that surgery was not an option for Bear as he did not like to stay at the vets and tended to become aggressive when handled by unfamiliar people. For this reason a conservative management approach was taken.
Initially Bear was quite lame on his affected hind leg and not using it properly in his movements. He was allowed to walk around the house and was supervised in the garden. His muscle around the stifle was weaker along with his back muscles and he obviously had a very poor exercise tolerance. Despite this he was a happy dog and well trained so exercises were not a problem.
I saw Bear 4 times in total over a period of 5 months, setting exercises and reassessing each time to set new, more difficult exercises. I also had regular phone calls with his owner, Liz, to check on progress. He also attended water treadmill sessions and was well enough to start swimming by the end of his physiotherapy treatment. By this stage he was able to walk for 15 minutes a day on the flat, was a little bit lame in trot only and had much better muscle strength. He even has mad moments in the garden now which he seems to cope with very well.
Bear was difficult to handle when I first met him but by the end of the 5 months seemed much more comfortable and so was happy to be checked over by me during the treatment periods. He was given a controlled, progressive exercise programme which was carried out by his vigilant owner who ensured his progress was steady and successful.
The cost of physiotherapy treatment was just under £200 in total and the hydrotherapy was a further £200. Bear was not covered by insurance and the treatment would obviously have been much more costly if surgery had been needed. It is not always possible to achieve these results without surgery but it is worth considering conservative treatment if the circumstances are right.
This treatment would not have worked without the input of his Mum Liz who understood the need to 'keep to the programme' even if Bear didn't always want to!