Fortunately [I'm fairly certain] it's not his knee(s) this time! If you recall, he had double cruciate ligament surgery on both knees (hind legs) in August. He rehabbed well, setting his own pace that was right on par with the recommendations. He had associated stiffness as we extended the length of activity, but that was finally beginning to fade. Other than *still* not having his hair regrown* from where it had been shaved (waist back) for the surgery, he was nearly back to normal!
However, about a month and a half ago, he ceased use of his left hind leg (the first night Mike and I rode the horses in the creek; I suspect he tweaked himself launching up and down the steep creek banks). Shit.
I gave him a couple days to see if he'd work through it; I've freaked out about enough things with my animals to now chill out about a lot of things for a day or two before flying into freak out mode - I like to try to prevent unnecessary rises in my stress level.
Sadly, there was minimal improvement after 3 days. I quit taking him to the barn and limited his turnout at the house to try to see if that would help him bounce back. Still no improvement over a 2-ish week period. My vet had even seen him (she was at the barn for another reason) in this time period. She recommended some NSAIDs and rest, noting that she really doubted it was his knees as she's yet to have a dog she's performed that operation on blow out a knee (and a lot of those dogs are bigger, heavier, and more active than Kenai has been of late!) I proceeded with his limited turnout situation, going so far as to bar him in a small room of the apartment away from the cats so he wouldn't be tempted to play with them.
Around the 2-week mark was when Mike and I headed to MD to visit Saiph and Charles. Saiph (a vet tech) pointed out the very obvious muscle wasting in that hind leg. She noted that it was very obvious that he hadn't been using it for a time. Ugh. I could totally see it. She noted though that she really didn't think it was his knee.
When we returned from MD Kenai went into crate rest. I was worried about the leg, but really couldn't afford a diagnostic search for a solution prior to my vacation. Instead, I began palpating the leg one evening while Kenai was lying down. I stretched it and moved it within his range of motion for the knee, doing a manner of things to softly manipulate his knee as I would a patient at the ski resort. No reactions at all. I palpated, moved, and manipulated his hip and palpated his femur, as well, all the while watching his face and body for any sign of distress/pain/irritation. Nothing.
And then I palpated his groin muscles, curious after the lecture at the AERC convention on these very injuries in horses. And guess what?
I got a reaction. A strong one at that! Kenai whipped around with a yelp and made a half-assed attempt to snap at me to get me to stop (which, of course, I'd already done). I let him stand up as he'd requested, move about, then asked him to lie down again so I could see if I could replicate the reaction. A 1x reaction could have been attributed to something else, and I needed to be more certain.
I palpated more gently this time, got another yelp of surprise and a grouchy husky stare. I softened my palpation even more, and received a very grouchy look from Kenai, who struggled to stand and escape my clutches by this point.
So, yeah, I was fairly confident about a groin injury by this point! Kenai's been on crate rest ever since.
I've been gone much of that period with my vacation and now travel for work, but he's starting to use the leg consistently at the walk. I haven't seen him exert himself at a speed greater than this, and for obvious reason!
So I'm hopeful that with more time, and yet more rehab *sigh*, he'll be back to normal again. We'll see.
From internet queries about groin injuries in canines, it sounds like they are more likely to reoccur in the future (?) once they've happened initially. Fortunately, much of the rehab is like what we did for his knees, so I'm comfortable with that.
I'm sad for Kenai that he's spent so much of this last year lamed up, but cautiously optimistic that after this rehab he'll be able to resume much of his normal activities (hiking, going to the barn, etc.). The only silver lining is that summer is almost upon us, and his summer activities are more minimal than his winter ones. Summer involves lots of swimming, too, so that will be beneficial.
So, my question to readers, any further advice for rehabbing a groin strain in a dog? We'll soon be past the crate rest and into limited activities to begin building back to normal. Suggestions? Recommendations?
*Prime example of why people should *never* shave a double-coated dog!!!! It is *not* guaranteed to grow back the same! Kenai has grown back some of the fluffy undercoat, but his guard hairs are beyond sparse. This SUCKS in the winter when he's out in the snow because he gets wet and snowballs/iceballs form all over his hind end. NO BUENO.
I swear the posts on my vacation to California are coming! =)