Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pardon Me While I Bang My Head on the Keyboard: Cooper's Story

Cooper is an adorable, loving senior Shih Tzu mix. He's a happy guy, still full of life. However, Cooper has problems with his hind legs.


Cooper had a problem with his hind legs for a few years.


Cooper's mom started searching for supplement recommendations. But all that is not why I want to bang my head on my keyboard.

Those few years ago, Cooper was diagnosed with luxating patellas.


A patella, or a kneecap, is a small bone located in front of the knee joint and in spite of its size it does play an important role in the knee function. It is designed to move up and down within a patellar groove. A problem arises when the groove is too shallow or damaged allowing the kneecap slide sideways out of its place. This causes pain and lameness.

This problem is classified in four grades. Grades III and IV require surgery but with grade I and II you might get away without one.

I can only assume that Cooper was diagnosed with grade I or II. However ...

... when asked about supplements, Cooper's veterinarian told his owner to hold off until the problem started to bother him.


I don't even understand what that means. More importantly, though, no such problem ever gets better or even remains the same. Every time the kneecap dislocates out of its position, it makes it that much more likely for it to happen again. Every time it dislocates, it causes further damage to the tissues.

Supporting the tissues involved would be the first thing on my mind if my dog was ever diagnosed with this.


Of course, the time was coming when the problem was going to bother Cooper more and more. Why would one not want to take measures to protect the knee as well as possible? Because there was not enough erosion yet? Not enough arthritis? Not enough inflammation? Not enough secondary issues?

Carefully selected supplements could have slowed down the progress of all of those things.


I don't get it. Do you?





Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!


What were the first signs you noticed? How did your dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.


Do you know what your dog is telling you about their health?


Learn how to detect and interpret the signs of a potential problem.



An award-winning guide to better understanding what your dog is telling you about their health, Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, is available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

24 comments

  1. I will definitely be checking out the book. I started my horse on joint supplements when he turned 10. Some people I know at the barn noted how would I know, supplements may or may not be good, etc. My horse is 16 now and one of the soundest horses at the barn. So I am happy!

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    1. Thank you, Clare, do let me know what you think.

      I'm very happy for your horse! I don't know about supplementation in horses but in dogs, these days, some supplements are even recommended proactively in young dogs of certain breeds and lifestyles.

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  2. It's not uncommon for Vet's to recommend doing nothing for a luxating putella, but they really should recommend something like supplements to prevent getting to those later stages. I would have challenged that Veterinarian.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. Yes, lower grades don't require surgery. However, measures to manage the problem should be recommended (this would include weight management, exercise regime AND supplements). With a low grade I am not surprised that surgical intervention wasn't recommended but I am surprised that the owner was specifically told to hold off on supplements until the dog starts having trouble, whatever that even means.

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  3. Even human doctors don't recommend supplements. I don't' get it. makes no sense to me at all. I am the kind of pet pawrent that would have gone into every resource possible to see what options I had. Big fan of holistic options to slow down anything.

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    1. On big scale it makes sense; there is no money in supplements. At least not for the big pharma.

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  4. I'm so surprised by the vet's recommendations, surely trying to prevent pain and medication for as long as possible would be preferable? So much can be done naturally and shouldn't be dismissed, in my opinion.

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    1. It surely would. Particularly since once something doesn't work properly, you have to expect progressive wear and tear. So anything that could help slow it down should be employed.

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  5. Nope, I have to agree. I'm all for preventative medicine or remedies. I think it's best to address a situation, even if it's via lifestyle changes to help ease a pet's pain/stress than do nothing and wait until it's bad to the point of no return.

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    1. Yes. While degeneration is inevitable, carefully chosen supplements can slow down the process.

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  6. I can't believe "doing nothing" was the recommendation from the vet for poor Cooper! I would have pushed back or obtained a second opinion or even switched vets if it were me. I agree with you, what exactly was this vet waiting for? More damage to be done so that healing would be near impossible down the road. So very sad!

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    1. Clearly, waiting for the degeneration of the joint to hit a peak ...? I guess.

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  7. Layla has the problem, it has just started but I have also started giving her supplements like my vet told me to do and we are keeping an eye on it as at this moment with her age (nearly 11) I don't want her to suffer or it get worse, thanks for the article

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    1. Yes, that just makes good sense. When you learn about something like this, do what can be done to mitigate the progressive damage.

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  8. I can just hear a vet saying that. Why I have no idea, it sounds like a money saving option.... I would want to be taking medication IGHT NOW for any issue I had with a cat and no I would NOT wait until it was (I believe) far too late!!

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    1. While there is nothing wrong with frugal options, doing nothing is really not an option at all.

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  9. It seems as though when lameness crops up, people first think of the patellas. Psoas injuries show up in agility dogs which is why so many of them are on supplements...their owners see the value.

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    1. True, though very often psoas are secondary to something else. However, a luxating patella is quite straightforward to diagnose.

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  10. Stories like this make me feel incredibly lucky for the emergency vet who truly listened to me. I asked her if Bernie's symptoms could have anything to do with stress or anxiety, and she suggested testing for Addison's Disease. She made it clear that the likelihood of him having Addison's was low, but the test could rule it out. She saved us...potentially...years of misdiagnoses. Feeling incredibly fortunate, indeed.

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    1. Good veterinarians are worth their weight in gold.

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  11. It's frustrating to not be able to completely trust the experts. We have had Henry on supplements for joint issues. His arthritis has been bothering him lately so we are now including acupuncture and laser therapy. Poor Cooper. I hope he is feeling better!

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    1. Well, 50% of the experts graduated at the bottom of their class.

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  12. I'm sorry to hear this. It makes me feel so fortunate that our vet is compassionate and that we have only had positive experiences. Yes, your comment, "good veterinarians are worth their weight in gold" is so true.

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  13. I just can't believe the vet let this go so long! It's so important to have a vet with the knowledge, caring, and willingness to work with our pets to keep them as healthy and happy as possible.

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