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Hi there! We've had Bella, our 15 week old chocolate lab, for 7 weeks now and she is absolutely adorable and full of energy! However, I noticed a slight limp after taking her for a short walk yesterday. She had a vet appointment today so I asked the vet to take a look at her. The vet said that it could be Elbow Dysplasis but could not confirm this, as it could also be because she is growing fast. It is noticable that her right front leg is slightly rotated at the elbow joint and the paw. How worried should I be? Is there anything I can do with her to alleviate the chances of ED progressing at such a young age? Thanks in advance!
 

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Hello Dave,
There is no short answer to this one. Puppies are notorious at developing limps, a little knock, a twisted muscle, even a stubbed toe. We all panic I'm afraid, including me. I never allow my dogs to jump until a year old. I remember my Anna, at a year old I was out training with her and saw a fence which made an ideal jump, and as she was a year old I decided to do a retrieve over it. Just one. It went well so I decided to pack up and go home. But walking back to my car I decided to do a simple straight forward marked retrieve. Sent Anna and on the way out she limped on a hind! I was convinced I'd broken her! I rested her and the limp disappeared. A few weeks later I got her hip scored and she came back 2/2, as near perfect as makes no difference!

But getting back to your pup. ED, like HD is genetic. But we also know that possibly 50% or more is also down to the environment. Over exercise, over weight, running on stairs, jumping in and out of cars, all put an abnormal strain on young, still growing joints. Ball chasing is particularly bad, particularly the sharp breaking and turning. (Just think of the weight and strain on the front legs!) It was the risks involved in over exercise that we came up with the 5 Minute Rule. 5 minutes of exercise for every month of age until a year old. It allows a steady increase of work as the pup gets older and the muscles build. So at 16 weeks old a pup should be getting around 20 minutes regimented exercise. This does not include out in the garden because a pup ambling around in the garden can stop when she gets tired, where a pup on lead has to walk for as long as you do. Also the excitement starts the adrenalin flowing and a pup does not even realise it's tired until the damage is done. We have to be the limiting thing because our pups wont!

At 15 weeks old it's doubtful that ED would even show up on an ex-ray. But in any case I would not recommend subjecting one so young to the anaesthetic. 99 times out of 100 there would be no problems, but you never know if your pup will be the 100th. My brother in law's niece's 9 month old Labrador pup developed a front leg limp and her vet elected to ex-ray. The dog reacted and died on the ex-ray table. These things can and do occasionally happen. For my part, I would just rest for a couple of days then keep a watching brief. I would want to see the limp developing regularly before considering taking it further.
 

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Funnily enough, I've just been reading up on this, and there are no reliable external signs of ED as JohnW has already confirmed. So I'm not sure how a vet could accurately diagnose ED at such a young age. I'd have to agree with JohnW as well, if it were my pup, I'd rest and see how she went on.
 

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Thanks both for your helpful comments. The vet hasn't diagnosed it as ED and did state it was too early to confirm. The vet did explain that ED is common in Labradors, and we would need to keep an eye out. What does concern me is that her elbow joint is much more protruded on her right side compared to the left, and her right paw is slightly rotated. I'm going to rest her as much as possible - adhering to the 5 minute rule - although she is very lively, jumping over furniture etc!
 

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The rotated paw could be a number of things, even to the paw being trapped when in the womb. Strange things happen. I even had a Labrador come to the eye testing sessions I organise with only 3 paws! It appears that the umbilical cord got wrapped around the leg before the pup was born, shutting off the blood supply. When the pup was born the paw was dead and the vet amputated it to prevent gangrene setting in. Obviously the pup, not knowing that it was a paw missing ran around on three paws and the stump just as if it had four normal paws!
 
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