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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 11056
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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My 7 year dog broke his hock in December 2013, he was x-rayed

Customer Question

My 7 year dog broke his hock in December 2013, he was x-rayed the day after Boxing Day and has been in a splint and bandage since then. He has been seen weekly since then, having his bandage changed and each time they have said it is improving but not yet healed which could be due to his age (slower to heal). Two weeks ago the vet put him in the diary for ?x-ray if not healing, when she examined him she was happy with the progress and said she would see him again in 2 weeks and if it had not healed then would definately x-ray the leg again. 1 week later my dog wasn't putting any weight on his leg even though he had been doing so previously, so I took him back to the vet earlier than planned and saw a different vet. When this vet examined my dog's leg she said is wasn't healing at all. This was a Saturday, so she said to bring him back on Monday for x-ray's. By the Monday my dog had gone down hill rapidly. On x-ray they believed there may be an aggressive tumour because the bone was disintegrating. After further investigating it was found he had streptococcous septicemia and basically he nearly died but has managed to pull through. Further x-ray's have shown the bone now looks like it is regenerating due to the antibiotics he is on, but the vet has said she will try saving the leg by surgery but because now the bone may be weakened, the metal plate and repair may not work and there is a possibility his leg may need amputation. My vet fees stand at about £2700 and I have no pet insurance. These fees are from when he went down hill last week. This is without the fees I have already paid since December last year. Also I have got the operation to pay for, possible amputation and physio. By the time its all done I wouldn't be surprised if the final bill is about £6000. I am a midwife and have a basic medical knowledge, obviously not in animals, and I understand how Vet's are going to stick by their colleagues. However, I do feel this injury has not been managed correctly. I know that surgery might have been inevitable, but I feel that if x-ray's had been carried out earlier than last week and the septicemia, possible amputation etc. might have been avoided. What are your views please?

Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Shantal-Mod replied 4 years ago.

I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.

I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.

Thank you,

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 4 years ago.
Hello, I'm Dr. Deb.

I've been asked by the moderator to address your question about Zac. I'm so sorry that you've had to wait for a response, but if you still need assistance, I'd like to help if I can.

What an incredibly distressing and stressful situation for you both! I can certainly understand why you might be quite upset and frustrated.

If this were my case, I would have suggested x-rays at least 3-4 weeks after the initial examination to evaluate the leg...even if I though that healing was taking place. I would want to evaluate callus formation (evidence of new bone being formed) as well to ensure that no complications were developing such as a non-union or possibly infection.

It is often difficult to differentiate between bone cancer and osteomyelitis (infection of the bone) on an x-ray but clearly when he deteriorated so quickly, the latter woudl be more likely. He's quite fortunate to have sufvived such an overwhelming infection as you know.

In my experience, with most osteomyelitis cases, the dogs will return to normal function although it may take quite some time to do so; there wouldn't be permanent damage. Unfortuantely, in some cases, what's known as a sequestrum can develop which might require surgical intervention although it doesn't in every dog (especially if they aren't lame).

At this point, I wouldn't automatically assume that amputation will be required although this is clearly one possible outcome.

I don't know if you have orthopedic specialists available to you and I do understand how expensive they might be (compared to regular vets) but consult might be something to consider if you've lost faith in the veterinary hospital where you've been taking Zac.

Ortho cases can become quite complicated and discussing a specific case with a specialist (especially if board certified) may be money well spent.

I hope this helps; again, my profuse apologies for the delay in a response to you. Deb