Monday, June 9, 2008

To swim or not to swim?

That is the question!

All comments welcome please!

Here is the background: Kaydee (4 year old collie bitch) has not competed in any KC agility shows since Ribble (Jan 2008), because although her agility runs looked really good (she recently won into grade 7, won five of her last nine classes and qualified for an Olympia semi), she hasn't been 'right'. She didn't look lame, but was she looking hunched? Were her strides shorter and choppier than usual? Her movement is not that classy, she paces a lot, rolls her hips and has a short choppy stride. Her behaviour changed over the winter, now she was ranging from extremely anxious and worried (suddenly breaking off in the middle of playing, or running back to the van) to completely hyper, over the top, grabbing at toys (often getting me in the process), barking hysterically. Three of her litter mates have developed epilepsy and I was beginning to fear that this behavior was on the edge of that too. I had her physically checked (by a chiropractor) but there didn't seem to be much wrong. Then one day she got up and limped for a couple of strides on her rear right. The next morning I got her to the vet, and she was referred to many specialists, x-rayed etc, and lead walked for weeks. I found a great osteopath, and after the first visit her back was no longer roached but flat, and she was also able to give full extension of her right back leg for the first time. HOwever, after months of lead walking and swimming, and frequent visits to the vet, physio and osteopath, we put her on a water treadmill for five minutes, and that evening she went lame again. Hugely worrying for me, what on earth could be wrong? Would she ever run again? The osteopaths' opinion is that a muscle connecting her right hip flexor to her ribs is shortened, and when overloaded this spasms, causing the roached back and pain down her back and right hind leg. I stopped swimming her at that point (no expert advised this, but my personel observation was that swimming forced her to move in a certain way, whereas if this problem is due to her conformation, she has been compensating well for it for the last 4 years, so I thought lets just let see what happens if I let her move in the way she is happy moving) (I have kept up with the stretches the osteopath showed me though). Two weeks later, she looks and behaves more like the dog I used to know. She is getting back to normal exercise and fitness and looks great. All her problems started in the winter..... and for the first time I have been taking her swimming regularly through the winter.... pure coincidence? Swimming can't possibly hurt a dog though can it? I have talked to a couple of people who have told me that swimming had not been any good for their dog. Does anyone else have similar experiences? Comments welcome.

Part 2 will be about the role of diet and particularly of magnesium....

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