A picture of Galaxy, the chocolate lab having hydrotherapy

Labrador Health

Galaxy's story


Here is the story of Galaxy, a non Kennel Club (KC) registered puppy whose parents had not been health checked for Hip Dysplasia.

Finding Galaxy
In December 2005 we decided on an addition to our family, another Labrador, we already had Daisy our 1 year old yellow lab, another lab would complete our family and be a companion for Daisy.

Chocolate Labrador Galaxy as a puppy playing with a toyOn 21st January 2006 we noticed a classified ad for chocolate labrador puppies. I called, my fingers crossed in the hope they would have a female bitch available. The gentleman on the phone was very well spoken.  He assured me that although the pups did not come with KC papers, they were fit and healthy and that both parents were KC registered and that a pedigree would be provided. At 400 I thought that was an average price, and not so  so cheap that it set alarm bells ringing.

On 22 January 2006 my husband and daughter made the trip to the breeders as planned and returned with a very small choc lab. She was clean bright eyed and very bouncy, we were given a copy of her pedigree, which now, because of recent events, I question its authenticity.  Galaxy showed no visible signs of discomfort at all, she settled in well, was so easy to train we all loved her to bits in a flash.



The Symptoms
In late August 2006 I started to notice that she seemed to sit ‘funny’ I didn’t think much of it at first had no reason to do so. After watching her for 2 weeks I wasn’t happy so I called my local vets. They advised me to bring her in for a check up and x ray.

14th September 2006 Galaxy was taken for her appointment we dropped her of in the morning and was told they would call us when she was ready to come home. Never once did I think it would be as bad as it was. At 4pm I was in the consultants room fighting back the tears, Galaxy has chronic canine hip dysplasia. 

I don't have medical expertise, but looking at the x ray you could clearly see the hip sockets had not formed correctly and that the joints were nowhere near the hip sockets. She was given pain relief and referred to a specialist with instructions for short 5 minute walks twice a day, and no playing with Daisy. We had to wait until 18 September for an appointment. In the mean time I had called the kennel club who explained to me that all though both Galaxy’s parents are KC Registered no hip or eye scores were available. That is when I knew for sure that the breeders were not what we thought they were.


Meeting the Specialist
18 September 2006 Galaxy’s first appointment of many at Willows Veterinary centre. My mind is in a whirl we dropped her off at 9am and had to wait until 5pm until we could pick her up. I got a call at 2pm to say she was doing ok but the blood test and x-ray’s didn’t give a pretty picture. 5pm diagnosis Bilateral hip dysplasia and secondary osteoarthritis, medication Synoquin and Metacam. Limited walks to 10 minutes on the lead and twice weekly Hydrotherapy, she was required to attend the veterinary centre for a further check up in 4 weeks. The staff explained that the Hydrotherapy would help to build up some muscle tone in her back legs since she has been like this almost positive from birth she had learnt to put all her weight on her front legs and this is why I never picked anything up before.

We started Hydrotherapy that week starting with 2 minutes for each session then building up from there. After week 3 we had to stop, whilst in the pool she was getting so tired and costing her back legs that she began to topple in the pool and had to be pulled out.

Thurs 19th Oct back to the Willows, nothing had changed Hydrotherapy was not an option anymore and so her 1st op was booked for 14 November.


The Operation
The day of the operation arrived.  We dropped her off at 8.30am and were given a brief about the operation. As Galaxy is so small the smallest fittings had to be used which lowers the success rate slightly. We were told that they would call about 2pm with news, 2/3pm passed still no call 4pm they called it had taken slightly longer but all went well and she was fine. Every day we called until the Saturday when we could bring her home. The poor thing looked like she had chicken legs ! She was shaved on the one side, down her leg and the top of her tail. We were given a belly belt to help her when taking her on toilet breaks. The cost of the operation was 3.992.86.  Thankfully we had taken out life insurance for our dogs so all treatment can be claimed for and I only has to pay one access fee of 65 per year.

Galaxy, the chocolate labrador as a puppy in her crateAt home we cleaned the conservatory for her purchased a large crate which we put in lots of bedding for her, had a ramp made to go over the steps.

We had to keep the dogs apart  and take Galaxy out on the lead, using the belly belt for toilet breaks.  This was the hardest part, after 3 days she wanted to up and go! Limited walks, no weight gain and no playing with Daisy for approx 8-12 weeks! Gradually after her 2nd check up we were allowed to let her out of the cage for longer periods, no going up the stairs so a stair gate put up. As we have wooden floors we had to purchase carpet runners to put all over the house.



The Future
Its now February 2007 we have just has another appointment at the Willows, Galaxy has done so well, they have decided not to do her right hip replacement as she has the osteoarthritis she is always going to be on shorter walks than Daisy and on medication for life, we will go back in 3 months for another check up just to make sure her right hip isn’t causing her pain or getting any worse. We are not out of the woods yet but we are getting there.

Galaxy, the chocolate labrador, with her hips shaved after the operationRegarding the breeders I contacted them to inform them of Galaxy and that it would be advisable to have his dogs scored his reply my dogs are sold as seen I have never had a problem before and put the phone down! I contacted the KC again informing then of what had happened and they said we could not do anything but that they would make a note in case anymore complaints come through.

Galaxy is lucky; I dread to think what would have happened to her if someone who could not afford insurance had taken her home, so far we have spent in total almost 6,000 which we have had to pay out and then claim back off the insurance, but she is worth every penny. I thought that as her parents were KC registered that all would be ok.


Sharon's Message
Please never but a dog unless, you see the mother when you visit the litter, and see certificates which show that BOTH parents have, as an absolute MINIMUM, been hip scored and hold current clear eye certificates (these last for ONE year).  (More information on both these areas, together with sample certificates can be found at:  Eyes / Hips.

Galaxy will be on medication and limited walks for life because of her arthritis; if it gets too bad then we will have to do what is best for her which will cause broken hearts for all the family.

My best advice is to check out www.lab-health.co.uk  and www.labradorforums.co.uk BEFORE going to see the litter, and make sure you have a list of questions to ask the breeder. 


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