Teenage Growing Pains . . . Busy Brain, Body Pain?

The wonderful Sarah Fisher said a phrase to me at the Dog Detective weekend workshop Merry and I attended with our dogs Lupin and Rudolph. “Busy Brain, Body Pain?”

This really sparked a fire in me, I couldn’t stop thinking. So many dogs I see are adolescents. Then thinking back to my own teenage years, I can tell you they were not fun. Growing pain plagued many of my teenage years, only to discover I had two, yes I said two, meniscus cartilage tears, lucky me, one in each knee and by the time I was accurately diagnosed, TEN years later, I had already developed arthritis in both knees too. I can’t blame the GP for not knowing, as I did have growing pains too and it was impossible to say where one symptom stopped and another started. Much like we can’t blame vets for not seeing these things either, they have about 10-15 minutes to diagnose.

However, I look at Lupin my 23-month-old Working Cocker Spaniel who never stops moving and has had a sensitive tummy for most of his life. Suckling his blanket on and off, digging in the garden as a puppy after dinner, eating objects which weren’t food such as socks etc and seemingly never able to actually walk, instead always trotting around.

Now, most put this behaviour down to his breed, but I know differently, in fact, Lupin’s superpower is his stillness, his ability to remain completely calm whilst a lot is going on around him. He is a Professor after all. He observes, watches, considers then takes action. I studied two pictures in particular when he was only a few weeks old as I was in awe of his stillness even then. The inability to be still really ramped up when he hit 5-6 months old and seemed to peak at around 12-18 months.

I didn’t once consider his pain and discomfort in his gut could be contributing to his fizziness, but I was, and still do give him a pro and prebiotic . . . why you may ask? Because somewhere in my subconscious I knew there was something going on with his gut and wanted to support him in the best way I could. What I never considered was his rapid and I do mean rapid growth, he is 19.6kg lean and muscular. Rapid growth often results in intermittent levels of muscular-skeletal pain and discomfort too. Look at the way your pup moves, film in slow motion from all angles, do they suck in their tummy when you put their collar, harness or lead on? Do they freeze, yawn or lick their nose when you touch certain areas? Teenagers are complex but with the right plan in place for your individual dog, you can help them not only survive this developmental period but truly thrive too.

REMEMBER : Always question, but never the dog. – Sarah Fisher The first video of Professor Lupin shows him just chilling in the garden, something he couldn’t do before this weekend, at the end he jumps to try and catch a buzzing bee.