About 10 months ago Jethro broke his leg lure coursing. It was a beautiful December day and we were in Moreland, Ga. Jethro ran his first course and looked very strong and was having a blast. I decided to run him in his second course because he looked so good and was having such a nice day. During the end of the second course, he came up lame. His left wrist was extremely swollen and he was not bearing weight. I was very concerned by to looks of the injury but tried to tell myself it was OK. I examed his wrist and felt crepitus (boney cracking) and my fears were certain he had broken a bone in his wrist.
I called my vet and told him that I thought the leg was broken. He advised me to stabilize the leg and come in the next morning.
Overnight the swelling had increased and was causing Jethro a lot of pain. We went to the vet and had x-ray. His stopper bone was broken. We discussed an experimental surgical technique to stabilize the bone with a small screw or splinting and stabilizing the joint for 8-12 weeks.
I decided to splint and stabilize the joint.
Jethro is a very headstrong dog. He had other plans than lying around the house for 8 weeks. He wanted to be running and playing with his pack. Keeping Jethro calm was incredibly hard and we ended up have to give him trazodone to keep him calm as he busted out of two crates and wrecked multiple x-pens.
While he was in the splint he developed a pressure ulcer on his elbow. I was at my tipping point!
The pressure ulcer was extremely painful for Jethro. I called the vet thinking we were going to have to begin antibiotics ( I am a nurse after all) but dogs are amazing creatures and their infection threshold is much stronger than humans.
I read all I could about pressure ulcers in dogs and found this article about a “doughnut dressing”. This was a dressing shaped like a doughnut causing the pressure of the splint to be distrusted evenly around the wound allowing no pressure to be on the ulcer. After a week of using the doughnut dressing the ulcer was healing and you could no longer see bone.
Jethro was such a good patient and supper lucky to have two nurses taking care of him.
After nine weeks in a splint, Jethro was free! Clint and I were pushing getting the splint of ASAP due to the pressure ulcer. I was so glad to hear the bone had nice regrowth and looked stable.
After the splint was off Jethro still walked like he was splinted. It took him about a week to resume a somewhat normal gait.
After the splint was off the hard part began. We had to rehab a dog. He had lost a lot of muscle and was was stiff from the splint. We began doing stretching and strength training. I knew that the rehab was key in correcting Jethro’s gait.
This video shows some of the rehab techniques I used to help Jethro to regain strength and balance in his leg.
Jethro had a great outcome due to a great vet, serious human support, and his will to be able to run again. If you are ever in the situation, I hope this post helps you and your hound.
Photo credit: Cindy Frezon