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  • Writer's pictureAngela Christou

Can't keep a good dog down!

Written by: Vet Sitter Dr Amy

The gorgeous Lenny (who became known to us affectionately as “Lendog”) came to stay with us for 7 nights while his owners were away on a couple’s getaway. During a previous trip to the dog park, Lenny had pulled up lame in one of his front legs after running amuck with other dogs. His owners took him to the vet and it was revealed that Lenny has “hyperextended” carpal joints, which means that his wrists sit lower to the ground than they should. This happens when the extensor tendons (the tendons that run along the front of the wrist joint) are loose/not functioning as they should, resulting in poor confirmation and predisposing affected dogs to wrist injuries.

Vet Nurse Sitter, Pet Sitting, Homestay,
Lenny with a sparkle in his eye because he is allowed on the couch!

There are two options for treatment of dogs with hyperextended wrists;

1) rest and anti-inflammatories

2) a carpal arthrodesis (surgical fusion of all the bones in his wrist).

As you can imagine, the surgery would be quite drastic and likely to limit Lenny’s ability to run for the rest of his life. As such, his veterinarian recommended 5-6 weeks of STRICT rest (i.e. absolutely no walks, no running and no jumping down from beds/couches) and daily anti-inflammatories. For this reason, it was important that Lenny go to a pet-sitter who understood his need for strict rest, could administer his medication daily and could monitor him for any signs of discomfort or pain.

As my partner and I live in an apartment and I am a Registered Veterinarian, we were perfect candidates to take Lenny for the week. 5-6 weeks of strict rest is a HUGE ask for a young, bouncy and energetic boy but it helped that Lenny lives with his owners in a small townhouse and is very much an indoor dog. His owners let us know when they dropped him off that he doesn’t really like being outside in the cold and prefers to be tucked up next to someone on the couch. We soon found this to be very true as he high-tailed it back to the front door of the apartment complex after doing his business outside. Being a very smart boy, he would let us know when he had to go outside and there was not one accident inside throughout his stay! Such a good boy! Because Lenny could not go on walks, he needed a lot of environmental enrichment to keep him stimulated and stop him from getting bored. His owners brought an assortment of toys, including a KONG to fill with food, and we rotated these daily to help keep him entertained.

Lenny is happiest when he’s eating his food, around food, smelling food and looking for food! One of his all-time favourite past time was watching us eat and although it was difficult to say no to those puppy dog eyes, vets are tough audiences and there was no giving in! It is important when pet-sitting to adhere to the dietary instructions given by owners or diarrhoea/loose stools can be a result of dietary changes (and this would be quite disastrous in an apartment setting). We soon learned that Lenny is a real softy and loves a cuddle and a chest tickle. He spent many a night sitting next to the bed, nodding his head as he fell asleep while having his chest scratched.

During his stay, Lenny developed a superficial skin infection commonly seen in Golden Retrievers called a “hot-spot”. These are extremely itchy and as any Golden Retriever owner will know can get out of control very quickly! Staying with a Vet meant Lenny could be treated quickly and effectively with a course of antibiotics after his owners were contacted.

Since being home with his owners after his SitStay week, Lenny is doing very well. He has no signs of lameness in his front legs thanks to the dedication of his lovely owners over the preceding 5-6 weeks. His owners will gradually increase his level of exercise, but they realise that he may never be an “off-lead” dog.

We loved having Lenny with us and would have him back any day!

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