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Published January 14, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Protect Lab’s hips

Dear Dr. Fox: My husband and I are the happy guardians of Mila Luna, an 8-year-old female Labrador. We have recently noticed a weakness in her hip area, especially when she jumps on our bed in the morning. She also has had two episodes of incontinence.

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: My husband and I are the happy guardians of Mila Luna, an 8-year-old female Labrador. We have recently noticed a weakness in her hip area, especially when she jumps on our bed in the morning. She also has had two episodes of incontinence. Her recent urinalysis detected no abnormalities, and she is scheduled for X-rays next month.

She has been extremely healthy, in part owing to years of a raw-food diet, along with supplements such as cod-liver oil, vitamin E, acidophilus, fresh sardines and occasional raw marrowbones. She has also been given glucosamine (750 mg) and chondroitin (525 mg) since she was 8 weeks old.

I would like to get your advice on ways in which we can strengthen her hind area and perhaps show the progression of muscle loss and weakness. Should we increase her joint supplements? We are trying to keep Mila’s weight in the normal range (she now weighs 65 pounds), but it may prove beneficial for her to lose a few more pounds. – P.Z., Washington, D.C.

Dear P.Z.: Mila is lucky to have such good caregivers. It is good to keep her weight in check. If there is any place she can regularly swim, that would be excellent physical therapy – along with a daily back and leg massage (as per my book on dog massage therapy). Acupuncture may help if her condition worsens.

As for supplements, try a human daily dose, after feeding, of Zyflamend from New Chapter; and get her used to a teaspoon daily of powdered turmeric and ginger in her food, beginning with a pinch of each so she gets used to the taste.

Avoid having her jump up and down any heights greater than a couple of feet without support under her abdomen.


Dear Dr. Fox: We have a 1½-year-old female chocolate Lab named Gracie.

As soon as the weather started getting warmer this spring, Gracie began to have fainting spells after five to 10 minutes of playing fetch. She will stop playing, act delirious, stop responding to her name, run into things, and her legs will occasionally give out and she will fall.

We started bringing her inside as soon as we would see symptoms, and she would go right for the bathtub and lie in it. We would turn on the water, and she loved lying in the cold water. As soon as she is given water and is able to cool down, she returns to normal. We now have a baby pool in our yard, and she has only had one minor spell (at a dog park when she didn’t have access to water to lie in) in the past month.

We took her to the vet, and they performed the following tests before and after an episode: thyroid, radiograph, CPK levels, lactate, I-stat glucose cartridge, EKG and normal blood tests. Everything came back normal, but her temperature rose from 100 F to 104 F during an episode, and her blood sugar dropped from 100 points to 80.

We were told to monitor her in the heat and always make sure that water is accessible. This isn’t always possible, depending on where we take her (dog park, family members’ homes, etc.). Secondly, we think something more might be wrong. – G.B.D., South Riding, Va.

Dear G.B.D.: It’s possible your dog has a hereditary disease, which the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine has definitively studied, calling it exercise-induced collapse. You should inform the breeder of your dog’s malady. Your veterinarian can send in a blood sample to the University Veterinary Diagnostics Lab for a genetic test they have developed to identify this condition. Go to www.vdl.umn.edu for details.

Physical activity can bring on elevated body temperature and the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, causing loss of coordination and cramps/muscle spasms.

It is advisable to restrict your dog’s activity, especially in warmer, humid weather. Giving her nutraceutical supplements such as Coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, L-carnitine and glutamine may prove beneficial. Discuss this preventive approach with her attending veterinarian.


Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s website at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.

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