Hind end dysfunction
So many pet parents tell me their pet "isn't in pain" and yet I always see such obvious signs of dysfunction (particularly, in the hind end.) Why are these signs overlooked? Before there is ever pain, there will always be functional deficits.
Although subtle to the untrained eye, I wanted to highlight the most common signs of hind end dysfunction that I see in my practice so you, the pet parent, can better identify them in your animal. Do note, that an animal is very unlike the human. They cannot say "OUCH!" nor are they able to grade their pain on a scale of 1 to 10 for me. These subtle signs can range from this may be a future problem to this already is a problem depending on the animal.
1) Loss of balance
I think we can all agree that the brain controls the body. When the brain loses communication, it cannot control certain functions. A huge function the brain is in control of is balance! Slight chances in balance are hard to detect whereas a stumbling pet may be more obvious. These two checks make balance deficits more apparent and are easy to check at home.
2) Sloppy sitting / bad posture
Dogs should be able to bend through the knees. Whether standing or sitting, a loss in knee flexibility will look like upright stifles while standing or difficulty staying square while sitting. This can be due to hind end weakness, ligamentous disruption, or painful guarding of the hind end.
3) Hip swaying
The ability to lift the legs is something most dogs take for granted. When there is hind end dysfunction, a dog will be unable to lift their legs and stride normally. For this reason, a waddling gait (sexy walk / swagger) will develop. I often also notice these pets bunny hopping up stairs, struggling to get up from the laying position, and resistant to jumping up on furniture.
4) Leg lengths
Pets with pelvic misalignment will show visible anatomical changes. If there is a loss of motion in the pelvis, the muscles surrounding it will tighten into compensatory spasm which will cause the leg lengths to change. This is a good check for pets between adjustments, post surgically, and to assess for proper biomechanics of the hind end.
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