Lameness Diagnosis and Specific Injuries in Gun Dogs
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2007
John E.F. Houlton, MA, VetMB, DVR, DSAO, DECVS
Empshill, Lolworth, Cambridge

Many different breeds of dogs are classified as "working breeds", and of these gun dogs comprise a major category. Nevertheless, this category is not homogenous and gun dogs perform a number of quite distinct types of work. For the sake of this presentation, these have been subdivided into beating, picking up, peg dogs and the work performed by Pointers and Setters. Rough shooting and wild fowling have been excluded, as have the numerically more minor activities such as grouse counting and falconry.

As veterinarians, we are not necessarily the most informed about the type and incidence of gun dog injuries since many are treated by knowledgeable and experienced owners/trainers. This paper is based on a survey undertaken via owners in the shooting seasons of 2005/06 and 2006/07 involving a total of 1312 dogs (Tables 1 & 2) in Great Britain. The diagnostic challenges of some of the injuries identified will be discussed.

Table 1. Breed distribution of the number of dogs recorded.

Breed

No. of dogs worked
2005/2006

No. of dogs worked
2006/2007

Labrador Retriever

316

300

Springer Spaniel

124

133

Cocker Spaniel

87

87

Golden Retriever

38

30

Flat Coat Retriever

24

42

Eng. Pointer/Setters

45

44

Others

26

16

Total

660

652

Table 2. Amount of work performed /dog/season.

Days
worked/season

No. of dogs
2005/2006

No. of dogs
2006/2007

0-10 days

80

55

11-25 days

202

181

26-40 days

146

154

41-60 days

134

156

61+ days

98

106

Total

660

652

The geographic area where the majority of the work was performed was recorded (Table 3). Those dogs that worked in more than three of these areas were excluded from any subsequent statistical analysis involving geographic location.

Table 3. Geographic area worked in England, Wales & Scotland.

Area

No. of dogs
2005/2006

No. of dogs
2006/2007

More than 3 areas

56

38

East Anglia/Lincs.

142

139

Midlands

89

84

South East England

77

69

South West England

66

68

North England

87

81

Wales

64

80

Scotland

79

93

Total

660

652

The same dog incurring two injuries, but on different occasions during the same season, was recorded in 26 (2005/06) and 16 (2006/07) dogs. In 2005/06, two dogs incurred three injuries on separate occasions. For subsequent statistical purposes these were recorded as separate cases.

While most dogs only performed one type of work, there were many that undertook a variety. When this was so, they were placed in the category that best suited the majority of their work (Table 4).

Table 4. Type of work performed.

Type of work

No. of dogs
2005/2006

No. of dogs
2006/2007

Beating

107

102

Picking up

501

494

Peg Dog

36

28

Pointers/Setters

46

44

Total

690

668

The incidence of injuries and whether veterinary attention was sought was noted (Table 5). There were many minor injuries that owners did not deem worthy of recording and this is a limitation of the data. However, of those recorded, 47% required veterinary attention.

Table 5. Number of injuries/season including percentage where veterinary treatment was sought.

Season

No.
of dogs

No. of
injuries

% age of dogs
injured/season

No. of injuries treated
by V/S

% of injuries treated
by V/S

2005/2006

690

192

28%

89

46%

2006/2007

668

145

22%

69

48%

Total

1358

337

25%

158

47%

Injuries were recorded under 14 categories but were then placed into one of four groups for ease of data handling (Tables 6 & 7). These groups were:

 Group 1: soft tissue injuries of the pads, nails and webbing of the feet

 Group 2: wounds (lacerations/punctures) & tail injuries

 Group 3: articular injuries (inc. fractures) & muscle injuries

 Group 4: ocular injuries and miscellaneous conditions

Table 6. Type of injuries in 2005/2006.

 

Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

Group 4

Not injured

Total no. of dogs

Labrador Retriever

28

38

8

11

240

325

Springer Spaniel

23

21

7

6

84

141

Cocker Spaniel

2

13

0

5

67

87

Golden Retriever

3

3

1

1

31

39

Flat Coat Retriever

5

1

0

0

20

26

Eng. Pointer/Setters

1

3

1

1

40

46

Others

4

5

1

0

16

26

Total

66

84

18

24

498

690

Table 7. Type of injuries in 2006/2007.

 

Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

Group 4

Not injured

Total no. of dogs

Labrador Retriever

17

33

16

4

236

306

Springer Spaniel

6

21

2

5

105

139

Cocker Spaniel

5

9

0

1

74

89

Golden Retriever

3

2

1

1

23

30

Flat Coat Retriever

5

6

0

1

31

43

Eng. Pointer/Setters

1

0

1

0

42

44

Others

1

3

1

0

12

17

Total

38

74

21

12

523

668

In Group 1, injuries of the pads and nails were typically lacerations of the former and splits of the latter. Blackthorn injuries comprised the other significant group of foot injuries.

Group 2 injuries were mainly lacerations due to barbed wire. They generally involved the groin, sheath and ventral abdomen, although facial wounds and wounds to the ears also featured. Puncture wounds involved mainly stake penetrations of areas such as the groin, chest and pharynx.

In addition, there were 26 recorded tail injuries in 2005/2006 and 15 in 2006/2007. The majority were recurrent injuries to the tip of the tail while 3 fractures and 4 cases of water tail were noted (Table 8).

Table 8. Combined tail injuries for 2005/06 & 2006/07.

Breed

Total
injuries

Docked status

Pathology

Docked status of all dogs
within the breed

Labrador Retriever

15

n/a

11 tail tips
3 water tails
1 fracture

n/a

Springer Spaniel

13

10 docked
3 undocked

12 tail tips
1 fracture

268 docked
12 undocked

Cocker Spaniel

8

5 docked
3 undocked

8 tail tips

166 docked
10 undocked

Golden Retriever

2

n/a

1 tail tip
1 fracture

n/a

Flat Coat Retriever

1

n/a

1 water tail

n/a

English Pointer

1

n/a

1 tail tip

n/a

German W.H. Pointer

1

1 undocked

1 tail tip

1 undocked

Group 3 injuries in 2005/2006 included 2 elbow fractures due to incomplete ossification of the humeral condyle (IOHC), 4 cruciate ruptures, 4 muscle strains and 3 sprains (carpus, distal interphalangeal joint (DIPJ) of the thoracic limb and hock). In 2006/2007, there were 3 fractures, ( cervical spine, olecranon, and a toe), one elbow lameness due to IOHC, 3 cruciate ruptures, 5 muscle strains all thought to involve the shoulder, 2 luxations (hip and DIPJ of the pelvic limb), 4 sprains, (carpus, stifle and DIPJ [2]) and 3 shoulder injuries (ruptured biceps tendon [2] and torn glenohumeral ligament).

In group 4, miscellaneous conditions included lameness due to elbow dysplasia (4), snake bites (1), poisoning (1), internal haemorrhage due to being run over by a Land Rover (1), neck pain (1), intermittent collapse (1) and death (2). One dog collapsed and died while in the beating line and a Cocker Spaniel picking up fell over the edge of a cliff and had to be destroyed.

There was no correlation between the incidence of injury and breed in either year, nor between the number of days worked. The region in which the dog worked was not significant in 2005/2006 but significance was noted (p<0.05) in 2006/2007. The most significant correlation was between the type of work performed and the incidence of injury. Dogs in the beating line were most likely to be injured while Pointers and Setters had the lowest rate of injury. Peg dogs were more likely to be injured than Pointers and Setters, but less likely than those picking up.

From a diagnostic viewpoint, there is little challenge with pelvic limb injuries. A notable absent injury was total stifle disruption. In the thoracic limb, injuries of the proximal limb prove more of a challenge and the aetiology of some of the so called muscular injuries of the shoulder is speculative since veterinary treatment was often not sought.

Speaker Information
(click the speaker's name to view other papers and abstracts submitted by this speaker)

John E.F. Houlton, MA, VetMB, DVR, DSAO, DECVS
Cambridge, England


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