KETCHUM, Idaho (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- For many dog owners, seeing your pet in pain is heartbreaking. As dogs age, they can develop joint pain in the elbows – causing a limp, or in severe cases, a walk in the park to become impossible. A new surgery can put the pep back into your pet's step.
For years, Robin Christensen's dog Wham was a competitive dog. He worked hard to be a champion.
"Because he's a field trial dog, we just assumed dogs that are perfectly healthy limp sometimes," Christensen told Ivanhoe.
When she learned his limp was caused by arthritis in his elbows, she was devastated.
"I was in tears," she said. "To think that I had been field training an animal for all this time that was in pain and not knowing it, it made me feel horrible."
There are few treatment options for dogs with arthritis, and many owners put pets to sleep. Now, a new elbow replacement surgery stops the pain.
"We tried to minimize trauma to the patient," Randy Acker, D.V.M., a veterinarian at Sun Valley Animal Center in Ketchum, Idaho, told Ivanhoe. "We hope that they would recover quickly and not require a lot of physical therapy. We hope that the patients would have their pain eliminated and function better."
Developed by veterinarians and biomedical engineers, the new elbow implant is an implant that comes in two pieces. During surgery, doctors match up the joint pieces perfectly together to create a functioning elbow that should last the rest of the dog's life.
"When they match perfectly, they don't wear out as quickly, and that will make the material -- the implant -- last longer," Dr. Acker said.
Wham was back on his feet in 24 hours. His competitive career is over, but he's happy to live the rest of his life out of the spotlight.
"I think we've prolonged his life and, certainly, the quality of his life," Christensen said.
A four-legged life worth the effort.
Dr. Acker helped create the Tate elbow replacement and named the prosthesis after his own labrador, Tate, who was in desperate need of an elbow replacement. The dog elbow replacement costs around $4,000.
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Greg Van Der Meulen
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