Is Your Dog Sound?
This is an interesting question and depends on your interpretation of the word sound. If, to you, this means that your dog is not lame then how do you define lameness?
Vets grade lameness on a scale of 0-5 or 0-10, 0 being sound and the highest number being non- weight bearing. The higher ends of the scale are easy to see when the dog has a consistent and obvious limp but it is often the more subtle signs that are more difficult to see. When assessing a dog for a fore limb lameness the first thing to look for is an even head nod. If the dog is not sound the head will nod down as the sound limb contacts the floor. As the painful limb contacts the floor the head will lift to alleviate the weight off the limb in protection. When looking for hind limb lameness we look at pelvic height. If the pelvis lifts on the same side as the foot that is in contact with the ground then the dog is protecting the limb from full weight bearing, so this will be the lame limb.
More difficult lameness's to assess are ones that are inconsistent or bilateral. An old horseman once said to me 'If you think you have seen it, you have. Otherwise why would you think you have seen something'. It is much better to stop a training exercise or walk too early than to keep going and regret it later. Bilateral lameness, when the dog is lame in both the left and right side, may make the dog appear to be sound as they may move symmetrically but these lameness's need to be investigated for the welfare of the dog. If in doubt video is a great tool to help in your assessment. Slow motion can make it easier to see what is going on. It is also useful for irregular lameness to show to your vet as sometimes you can not predict when your dog is going to be affected.
So if in doubt go with your gut instinct and get your dog checked out.
If you would like to learn more about your dog's gait and recognising lameness they check out this online course www.springstomindonline.com/course/canine-gait-and-recognising-lameness-in-dogs