Luckily the muzzle helped calm him down, and I was able to do a physical exam. Gringo was thin and undersized for his age and had a dome-shaped head and an open fontanelle (a soft spot on the head where the skull bones have yet to fuse). He was also toe-touching lame on his right forelimb, and on palpation, his elbow felt funny—there was a bony protrusion on the inside of his elbow that shouldn’t be there. Also, Gringo’s right elbow couldn’t fully extend to straighten his limb.
After discussion with the owner, I sedated Gringo to take some x-rays of his right forelimb. It was difficult to get good views because his elbow couldn’t extend fully, but we took enough to know that his elbow was definitely abnormal. After discussing the films with two supervising doctors, we all agreed that it looked most like an elbow dislocation. What we couldn’t rule out was whether there were any fractures of the involved bones, and we wouldn’t advise popping a dislocated joint back into place if there were also fractures present.
We decided to have a board-certified radiologist review the x-rays and give us their expertise. It took a few days to get the results back, and I was a little shocked: Gringo-the-Landshark didn’t have an elbow luxation, he had two different types of growth plate fractures affecting his humerus. All-in-all, it was an interesting case and an interesting patient!