Picture of Obi, the chocolate lab, as a puppy

Labrador Health

Obi's story

Obi (by Carole)

About Obi

Obi as a puppy, sitting downObi joined our family in early April 2006 when he was 3 months old. We had been persuaded to get him by our young adults (age 20 and 23!).  We did not know too much about dogs at that point. Obi was the smallest of his litter and was very small for his age. He had some upset tummy problems for a while but with the help of the vet a bug was sorted out. He grew quickly and doubled and trebled his weight before we knew it.

Looking back the first sign of any hip problems was a yelp followed by a limp when he went up the steps from our front door in early June. The Vet checked him out and after a few days rest the limp had gone. Obi gets very excited when he meets other dogs and on a couple of occasions he ended up yelping when playing energetically with a new friend. This usually led to a limp which rest seemed to solve.

We had assumed it was normal but Obi always seemed to get up like an old man. From time to time he did not seem to run "right" and was slower than other dogs. Sometimes both back legs hopped like a rabbit as he ran. When he stood it was not unusual for his back legs to cross. When he sat in his back legs turned in against his body. He walked with a swagger. These must all have been early signs.

Obi loves his walks despite all this but at one point he was stopping to rest half way. He found going to the toilet difficult and hopped around as he tried to get comfortable. Finally it was clear he was uncomfortable after walks and would not attempt to get into the car if we had driven to the walk.



The Treatment

Obi with shaved hips after the operationIn October 2006 our Vet could see there was something wrong. Obi's back legs had muscle wastage. They x-rayed the hips and it was clear he had Hip Dysplasia. He was referred to a specialist who offered to carry out a hip replacement as soon as he was 11 months old. He would not do it on a younger dog presumably because the bones are still growing.

Obi had his first operation in early December 2006 and came home within 48 hours putting partial weight on the new joint. He was allowed as many 5 minute walks as he wanted straight away. Within 10 days he was a new dog and broke out into regular bum tuck runs and crashed into things around the house. This was terrifying but no harm was done. One of the biggest changes was that the apparently stubborn dog who would not get up when called would get up quickly and easily. He was gradually allowed longer walks and soon favoured the new improved leg. It was also noticeable that the new leg would turn out from the body when he sat.

Obi had his second operation in early April 2007. The operation was not successful on the first day. The hip dislocated when he was being x-rayed to check things were right after the operation. Thankfully a second attempt the following day was successful. He was rather sorry for himself when we took him home 48 hours later but soon recovered.





After the Operation

It was a nervous time when he was first allowed off the lead after all this. He had not been able to interact normally with other dogs and would run off to say hello as soon as anyone came into sight. We did not know if rough play with other dogs would damage his new hips. The specialist vet had said he should be allowed full contact with other dogs but to try to avoid allowing one to get on his back. Crawling under a stile was not a great idea either. It was still a worry at first when the play got a bit rough. Happily now Obi is used to playing with other dogs. He will quickly come away if called (usually) and we don't worry about the hips now.


At the end of June 2007 he was "discharged" and needs no further check ups.








The Outcome

Today he is virtually a normal dog. His muscles are restored, he loves to run and chase a ball, his back legs are athletically spread when he stands and both legs turn out from the body when he sits. He still has a swagger when he walks but also a canter where the hips do not swing. He does not run as quite as athletically as a normal dog but seems to still be improving 11 months after the second operation. I think his muscles shortened or did not stretch into a normal length when he was small. Perhaps now they are gradually becoming more normal.


The operations have definitely been worth it. He is a well known character among the dog walking fraternity where we live. People frequently remark about how happy, lively, playful or puppy like he is. The operation and immediate recovery did not seem to be too painful and the long term benefits are obvious. It was an expensive process with the final bill amounting to about 11,000 but Fortunately our insurance paid. It has certainly given Obi a full and active life which was exactly what we hoped for.


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