Dillon - a yellow lab- in the hydrotherapy pool

Labrador Health

Dillon's story

Dillon (by Viki)

This is the very sad story of what happened when Viki's family decided they wanted a lab to join them.  This is one of the saddest stories I have heard; No-One should have to go through what this family did. 

I have vast experience of Labradors, having grown up with them and puppy walked for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA). Having become in a position where work commitments and home circumstances meant that I was able to own a dog, I had discussed the issue with my partner and decided to start looking for a puppy.



Dillon (A Yellow Lab) as a puppyDillon was brought home in Dec 2005 at 8 weeks of age. By June 2006 we had made the most difficult decision to have Dillon put to sleep, he was in such poor health, and had suffered so much already, that this was by far the most humane thing we could have done. He was not even 9 months old.

The Symptoms

At the age of 5 months it became apparent that Dillon had acute lameness in one of his hind legs, he was taken immediately to the vet, who initially made no specific diagnosis, but prescribed Metacam believing that he was suffering from Panosteitis (growing pains). After a few days it became obvious that the medication was offering no relief from the pain, and he was again returned to the vets. There was no specific point on his leg that when palpated caused pain, and there was no heat or sign of injury. It was to be a further 2 weeks before the vet agreed to x-ray. Upon viewing the x-rays the vet could make no diagnosis, and more pain relief was prescribed. Dillon was still struggling to rise from a sit/lay position, and would yelp in pain frequently. An orthopaedic surgeon was asked to view his x-rays, and he stated that he could see OCD present on the films.


The Operation

The orthopaedic surgeon is one of the top in the country, and he asked permission to operate to remove the fragmented cartilage, which we agreed to. Dillon was operated on, and when I rang for the update following surgery, I was told that the specialist had never seen such a chronic case of OCD, and that the x-ray had not showed the true extent. The surgeon had been unable to remove the fragmented cartilage as there was simply too much, so he had used a new technique of pinning the cartilage back to the bone in the hope that it would reattach.

Dillon in the hydrotherapy poolFollowing surgery Dillon was in acute pain, and it was unbearable to see him suffer. After 2 weeks he was to begin hydrotherapy to try and strengthen his leg and prevent too much muscle wastage. We knew that the recovery road was going to be long and slow, but Dillon was so miserable and the suffering that he endured was awful to witness.

6 weeks after surgery we returned to see the specialist, and more x-rays were taken. It was not good news. The surgery had not been successful, and the only option was to operate again and remove all of the cartilage from his knee. The short term prognosis was to be more rehabilitation, and 8 weeks of not leaving the confines of one room. Long term Dillon would always have lameness, and was already suffering from arthritis. It was unlikely that Dillon would ever be able to run freely or play with other dogs.

Dillon was put to sleep as we could not put him through anymore surgery, knowing that the outcome would never allow him to enjoy life as a dog should.


Viki's Plea

To those of you thinking of buying a Labrador, please think long and hard about who/where you buy from.

Although I had considered myself an experienced Lab owner, naively I had thought that it was ok to buy from a litter advertised in a free ads paper, as if we didn't buy from them then goodness knows what sort of homes these dogs would end up with. How wrong I was.

The litter that we bought from were advertised as hip scored, but in my naivety we failed to question this any further and never saw any paperwork.

After what we went through with our puppy, I wrote and e-mailed the breeder to make them aware, in the hope that they would be more selective in future. I have never received a reply from them, so can only assume that they are in breeding solely for the financial gain, and have little interest in the quality/health of their litters.

Anyone that reads this and thinks...well it could have happened anyway, it wont happen to us, it's just luck...make no mistake. To not be able to console your dog when they are in pain, to see them struggling to even go to the toilet is unbearable, and through all this they still want to please you, so every time you get up to leave the room they want to come, even though they cry out in pain when they try and rise to join you. To hold a puppy in your arms and watch it struggle for it's last breath, then walk out of a consulting room in your vets surgery leaving them led on a cold floor all alone at such a young age is unbearable.

I have lived with the guilt every day since, and anything that can be done to stop the suffering of these poor animals has to be a good thing.

Please, please follow good advice. Only buy from reputable breeders. Insist upon hip, eye and elbow scoring, and ensure you see the paperwork. If everyone adhered to this then eventually the rogue breeders will be put out of business.

DillonYes this little guy was gorgeous, but he suffered because of the greed of the breeder. This condition is most commonly genetic, so the breeder would have been aware had they bothered to test.

People need to be aware that over exercise, a knock to the limb, or being overweight can also cause this injury, however this was unlikely in our circumstances as we followed the 5 minute rule re exercise, fed a good quality feed and monitored his weight, we cannot however rule out the possibility that a fall/knock to his leg was the cause of his OCD.


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