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I wish the circumstances of my joining the forum were better, but I am in need of the group’s advice. I recently adopted a six-year-old Flat-Coated Retriever (although the vet thinks she could be younger). I’ve had her for a few months, and in that time she has really blossomed from a bit of a shell-shocked pooch (she was rescued off the street) into an incredibly friendly, cuddly girl. I’ve had her on a pretty consistent daily routine that involves a walk of 1.5-2 miles every day. Initially she’d be puckered out after walks half that long, but I think that had more to do with adjusting to new surroundings. Now, she does the long walks—even runs—with energy to spare.

The problem began (I think) a few days ago. We were in the elevator and I had my hand on her behind and felt her left hip move in a very unnatural way. It felt like it was popping out of the socket, at a 90 degree angle to her spine. But then it popped right back in. I walked her a short distance and discovered it was doing this each time she put weight on the leg. I was extremely worried but also perplexed, because she showed no signs of being the least bit uncomfortable. I decided to monitor it over the long weekend. We’ve reduced our walks to allow her time to rest and I think that there has been some slight improvement over the last 3 days. Her hip no longer does this every time she steps, its more intermittent. But any time she’s turning, it seems far more likely to pop out.

I’ve consulted Google over the weekend (bad move) and all the search results kept producing “hip dysphasia,” the specter of overwhelming vet bills and invasive surgeries, and forums talking about putting dogs down. After my initial freak-out, I decided I’m not sure that I believe its HD, for two reasons: 1) She doesn’t display any of the other symptoms—no bunny hop, no reluctance to run or jump, she’s not lethargic, she doesn’t limp, there’s no stiffness or apparent discomfort at all, and 2) I always pet her in the elevators so she doesn’t get scared, and that is where I noticed this the other day. I’m still in new-pup-parent mode so I watch her like a hawk and I feel confident I would have noticed this earlier if it were an ongoing phenomenon. Plus, I took her to the vet the first week I had her and she received a clean bill of health.

Hence, my plea here for some communal input. I have no experience with this—to anyone with experience, is this how it manifests? Should I be able to feel the hip pop like that, and would it improve with time? (I understand it is a chronic degeneration, but I wonder if it comes in waves, with some improvement in between?)

The only other possible explanation I can think of stems from a run we did the day before I noticed this. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but while crossing the street she decided to do a sharp turn and ran right in front of me (I’m still teaching her to run in a straight line). I managed to mostly avoid her, but still tripped over her. She didn’t give any sign she was in pain and finished the run—no limping or stiffness, although her tail was down the rest of the way. The coincidence is hard to ignore. I feel terrible that I might be the cause of all this, but would almost prefer that to an HD diagnosis.

Thank you in advance for any thoughts you may have. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
-J
 

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Nobody here can diagnose your dog - or anyone on the internet. You should see the vet, especially since you named an incident which could have potentially caused her harm. Dogs don't show pain the way humans do, some to the extreme, so you can't always go off of that. Better safe than sorry, especially when it involves the joints.

However, once you have seen the vet, if there is a clear diagnosis, I'm sure people will chime in about their experiences and with advice. But until then, without being a professional and without seeing the dog, no advice can or should be given.

You could and probably should call the vet, tell him/her everything you just wrote in your post, and see what they think. They'll tell you whether or not they want you to bring her in.
 
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