As a Dog Mom, and a Human Mom I have learned that somehow we develop this incredible sense of awareness and understanding for those we care for. I’m not sure how it happens, but our innate senses kick in. With the chaotic shuffle of life, it’s something that floats to the back of our minds until we are humbled by its presence.
It was my surgery day. Among a few routine procedures, I had x-rays scheduled with a Great Dane puppy named Caesar. His previous visit 10 days ago yielded symptoms of mild lameness on his front right leg. After a proper exam, he was sent home with pain medication and directions for strict rest for one week. If he wasn’t better in one week he would be scheduled for x rays.
That’s when I stepped in. I sedated Caesar and x-rays were taken of both of his front legs, hips and knees. There were no significant findings, so I sent the x-rays off to the Orthopedic Surgeon for a consultation. Collectively, we reviewed the x-rays and hatched a new treatment plan. Caesar bounded home with new pain medication and I was confident he had a soft tissue injury that would heal with time.
The weekend came and went, and I hadn’t heard anything about Caesar.
No news is good news.
The call came on Tuesday from Caesar’s Mom. He was worse. Now he seemed to be painful all over his body, and not eating well. His owners were insistent that something more serious was wrong, and they were right.
The once happy puppy came back in for another visit. He was not himself – very quiet and stiff when walking. His joints were swollen and painful. I took blood to test for Lyme disease, and x-rays of his swollen wrists.
We had our answer! His blood test was normal, but the new x rays determined that Caesar had Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy, a very painful inflammatory disease of long bones seen in large breed dogs. His lesions had progressed rapidly through out the weekend. The healing process would take time, but he would fully recover. We had caught the disease early on thanks to the concern and action taken by his loving owners.
Caesar stayed in the hospital on anti-inflammatories and morphine for a few days. “Mr. Popular” had 3 visits each day from his family to smother him with hugs and kisses. After a long week, Caesar was able to finally go home. It would be another few weeks until he was back to his old self, but the worst was over.
Always remember Mom knows best. Maybe it’s just ingrained in us. Maybe it’s something we learn by watching our parents. Either way, as caregivers we must trust our instincts, and as doctors we must listen to our clients even when science tells us otherwise.