Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Savage never stops surprising me. Today I realized that he recognizes just about every word or phrase his humans use when referring to food. First it was "are you hungry?", which was a given since I used those words every time I fed him. Then I taught him "food" almost as a command because it helped so much when I was attempting to teach him recall. Now it's gotten to the point where Randy and I can't even use the word "hungry" or "food" in our home without causing Savvy to stare and drool. A few months ago we realized that he knows the word "chicken" (which makes up the main part of his diet). Today I found out that he knows the word "eat" and the phrase "something to eat" when I told him I was going to make his dinner later. My boy is a genius! Now I just have to remember to watch what I say.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Growing Pains

Recently a visitor to this blog contacted me asking about Savage's hypertrophic osteodystrophy, and if I truly believe that diagnosis. First of all, based on his symptoms and clinical signs, I have no reason to believe that this "disease" is anything more than another episode of panosteitis (also known as "wandering lameness"), which my dane was diagnosed with last summer. On August 15th of 2007 I explained his original pano episode and treatment:

"At the same vet appointment she addressed my main concern, which was limping affecting Savvy's right back leg. This had been going on for a few weeks, with one episode where he wouldn't put any weight on the leg at all. It was possible for me to gently feel along his leg, hip, and joints, with no pain or discomfort for him. However, as his vet palpated the long bone in his lower leg (shin area) his pain was obvious to both of us. Savvy was diagnosed with panosteitis and given a cycle of anti-inflammatory pills called Deramaxx.
Panosteitis is an inflammation of the long bones in growing pups, and doesn't normally occur in dogs as old as Savvy. The good news is that it will eventually go away on it's own. Because he is no longer limping and doesn't seem to be in any pain at all, I decided not to give him the pain pills. I generally don't like to put any medication into my doggie's body that is not absolutely necessary. I've been limiting his exercise a bit, and keeping his diet the same. Savage is now acting completely normal and I'm keeping my fingers crossed."

After his vet appointment of February 5th, 2008, I expressed a bit of frustration concerning his doctor's decision to treat Savage for HOD, even though his x-rays didn't show anything out of the ordinary. At that point I was "...inclined to think that this limping may just be a continuation of Savvy's pano, albeit more severe." I still believe that because Savage never had some of the classic symptoms of HOD, including swollen joints, fever, lack of appetite, etc.
After much research on the internet, and talking with other dog owners, I've found that some vets immediately make presumptive diagnoses in cases involving certain breeds because of the overwhelming prevalence of certain illnesses in those breeds, perhaps overlooking a simpler but less serious condition. The great dane breed in general is known to have some health concerns which a dane owner and his/her vet should be aware of and watch out for, and HOD being one of these, it seems easy to assume the worst when dealing with a limping dane. Pano and HOD are both classified as conditions affecting long bones during rapid growth phases, and danes seem to be predisposed to both. The good news is that these diseases are usually self-limiting, and with treatment the affected dog can recover completely, though at least regarding pano, relapse can sometimes occur (as in Savvy's case).
To sum things up: In my opinion my Savage was mis-diagnosed with hypertrophic osteodystrophy. At this point he seems healthy and active, with no more limping lately for the past couple weeks, so I am hoping that this episode of panosteitis was the last.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Looking Forward

Due to internet access problems I haven't posted to the blog in a month or so. I'm glad some of you are still checking in and looking for updates on my baby dane. So here you go:
Savvy has only had a couple of head tremor episodes since the last post, and none at all (that I have noticed) in the last three weeks. His limping is still intermittant, but goes away quickly with a day of rest. I now have him on his normal vitamin B complex pill to boost energy and maintain cardiovascular function, plus a complete amino acids supplement which is supposed to promote healthy tissue growth. I still have more research to do, but so far the the pills seem to be safe for him. I'd be interested to know if any dog-owners visiting Savvy's blog use these dietary supplements for their pets.
Savage has admittedly gotten a little overweight through all of this, so when he is active and healthy we are stepping up his exercise. His food intake remains the same, because I want to make sure he's getting all the nutrition he requires.
I promise to post more in the upcoming months. We are both looking forward to summer, and waiting for the snow to melt so our hiking options are more interesting than wandering around frozen lakes and trails.