Zoe, Great Dane Hip Surgery; Setbacks, Exercise

Hi Deborah – Hoping you can give me some exercise and muscle building tips for our great dane Zoe. After her hip surgery to repair the right side femoral subluxation about 9 wks ago, she had a few setbacks, not able to tolerate many meds and attacked by a large dog which we think caused some soft tissue sprain/soreness. Consequently, she refused to use the leg, and now has some significant atrophy in her limb.

We finally got her to tolerate some Deramaxx and using heat, massage, and alternative remedies (herbs, acupuncture, laser), she is using the leg pretty normally now and is feeling MUCH better the last 2 weeks or so. She is up to 2-3 ten to fifteen minute walks a day. Time to try building up some muscle to even out her legs and hips. Any suggestions? Our rehab specialist here says we can start small slopes and cavalettis. Since you know Zoe well, what can you tell me about helping her build her strength and conditioning back up?

Thanks, and we miss you!!!

My Replies:

I know her and I know you guys, so I don’t mind being a little more specific on here for you…but I do wish I were there 🙂 I really am beginning to think about a trip…I know we have exchanged some texts and emails about her in the past few months…

Did you guys ever find my FHO homework and start on that fairly strictly, beginning at week one? I see that you are taking her on 2-3×15 min walks daily…how slowly? Wedding march or “wagons ho” is the speed I want to see, with consistent walking (no piddle & sniff) and consistent weight bearing. You may be doing that, in which case, I need to know if she seems more lame, lame at all, or not lame after those walks.

If she is not lame at all, then my preference is to advance to 2 weeks of 2×20 min walks before adding in hills. Let me know where you are on that. The most prevalent difference I find between what I say vs what people are having their dogs do is in the speed of the walk. The pain meds help encourage leg use and the slow speed forces individual limb use. She needs that individual leg use to encourage weight-bearing and healing. So, no sense moving on to hills if we cannot get 20 min of persistent, consistent leg use on the flats. Let me know about that and then we will talk about type and frequency of hills. Thanks for the great post!