Monday 13 February 2023

Another visit to the vet


Another visit to the vet 

Last Thursday, Gilbert was fourteen weeks old and visited the vet again for his final vaccinations. As he was not allowed to put paw to ground until fully immunised, he had to be carried. He now weighs 12 kilograms, the average weight of a three-year-old child, but he doesn’t cling on in the same way!

Most three-year old children are competent walkers and climbers and puppies would love to have the same freedom to tackle stairs and steps. The difference between them, though, is that children don’t generally fling themselves up and down stairs with gay abandon. Given the opportunity, puppies will.

However, there are dangers in allowing them to go full pelt because of the potential damage to their growth plates.
This is an x-ray of a two-week old puppy, showing how far the bones have to grow before forming a joint. 
From the Internet: ‘Growth plates are soft areas of developing cartilage tissue found by the ends of the dog's long bones. They are made of cartilage when the puppy is born, but gradually calcify and harden into solid bone; prior to that, the growth plates are vulnerable to being injured and possibly fractured because they are the last portion of the bones to harden.

Generally, most growth takes place between the ages of 4 to 8 months. After 8 months, there is minimal longitudinal growth of bones. By 12 months most growth plates are fused or closed and no longer show on x-rays. In some large/giant dog breeds the growth plates may remain open up to 18–20 months of age.’

We have always used the rule of thumb of 5 minutes of exercise per puppy month. When Gilbert sets paw in the outside world later on this week, he will be on a carefully controlled extending lead, so that he can explore and sniff the information left by other dogs. It will be an exciting time for him – and for us.

In the past two weeks Gilbert has learnt to climb stairs, under close supervision and control. At first he zig-zagged from side to side as he climbed, stopping every now and then to discover that Roxy, Herschel and Jellicoe had been there before him. 

Coming downstairs he always wants to go faster than he is allowed, usually because he wants to get into the garden. He has been a very reliable puppy, only having had one or two ‘mistakes’ in the house when he first joined us.

He seems to be in a hurry to grow up. It’s always amazing that puppies grow so quickly but Gilbert appears to grow visibly by the day. In the last week his adult coat has started to come through. The soft plush of his puppy coat now has a coarser strip along his spine.

He loves playing with Arthur and doesn’t grab his ears as frequently as he did, probably because he is now taller than him. Roxy plays with Gilbert, too, but not as much or as frequently as he would like. I think that will change as they start going out together for walks.

Herschel continues to strengthen his bond with Gilbert but Jellicoe usually ignores him in the supercilious way only cats demonstrate. Gilbert is grateful for any attention, even that of being positively ignored.

He saw Selene-the-Vet this time. She confirmed Patrycja-the-Vet’s discovery that one of his testicles hasn’t descended. We have to wait now to see whether the second testicle will descend by the time he is six months old. Life as a stud dog was never envisioned for Gilbert, nor a career in the show ring - just as well, really.

From the Internet: ‘Dogs with cryptorchidism can develop torsion, an extremely painful condition where the testicle twists upon itself, inhibiting blood flow. The testicle swells as it becomes engorged with blood. This condition typically presents with abdominal pain and evidence of a firm mass in the stomach. The pain can be so severe it causes the dog to go into shock. Immediate removal of the testicle is required to provide relief.’

Dogs with cryptorchidism are at a higher risk of developing testicular cancer later in life. Testicular cancer is the second most common cancer in older male dogs, and the risk among dogs with cryptorchidism increases by about 13 percent.’

It was all going so swimmingly! Hopefully, the problem will resolve itself. Meanwhile, we shall be keeping a closer eye on Gilbert’s nether regions than we had anticipated. I was going to say ‘watch this space’ but that hardly seems appropriate!  


  1. Well, I've learnt a bit about dog anatomy this morning. Wouldn't you've had Gilbert desexed anyway?

    1. We've never had a problem with entire dogs, but have always spayed the bitches. I think Gilbert will have the snip and I'm sure our vets will advise that. If the testicle doesn't descend then Gilbert will have to have the snip.

  2. LOL at your last two lines :D I do hope with time the testicle will be okay. That seems like a very high instance of testicular cancer for male dogs, doesn't it?

    1. It is high and I'm in favour of neutering Gilbert, even if the testicle descends. My husband is less keen!

  3. I had no idea puppies needed such gentle treatment while their bones were growing. I hope the testicle does the right thing without any need for surgery.

  4. I hope so, too. I'd rather the snip were a choice than a necessity.

  5. Gail was well aware of the growth plates issue and the 5 minute per month exercise guidelines. Nobby however wasn't, and neither was his predecessor Bertie. At six months, limiting walks to only 30 minutes would have resulted in these hyperactive puppies bouncing off the walls inside the house. Fortunately, both my two retired vet friends assured me that the joint issue is less of a concern with the smaller, lighter dogs. They did emphasise that I should not get Nobby neutered too early as this too could result in joint problems later in life. As for the undescended testicle, there is a real issue of increase risk of testicular cancer. (I've read figures much higher than a 13% increase in risk).
    Best of luck at the vet Gilbert.

  6. Thank you, Nobby. Our Jack Russells were not keen on the 5-minute rule either and were as hyperactive as Nobby and his predecessors.


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