This is a guest post by the good lady and another interruption to the online Dog training series from your favorite Dog blog. Please read it and don’t fall in to the trap that we did. We were naive and simply did not know that there was anything that we could have done when our fantastic Sammy Dog really began to struggle in his last bit of time with us. We really do feel so guilty about the whole matter and it makes me unbelievably sad to think we could have eased his pain if we had known a little more about the treatments available. Also, if you have an overweight Dog then get it sorted out NOW! An overweight Dog is asking for trouble in older age and it is YOUR responsibility to put her on a diet NOW.
This is Mrs Three Dog Blogger with a confession of sorts and a cautionary tale. Never assume you already know the answer to your dog’s health problems… You may have read here that our home was previously a one dog household. Our original pooch was a much loved, gentleman of unknown heritage who lived to an extremely ripe old age. Sadly during his last few years, he suffered from Arthritis.
Canine arthritis is something we did not understand at the time. But, both having family members who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis we naively assumed the problem was similar. Even worse we thought there was nothing that could be done. Our family members have gone through years of surgeries and different medications to come to the conclusion that life is lived with pain from arthritis.
During recent trawls of the Internet researching pets medicine we found that arthritis for dogs is more commonly of the osteoarthritis type. And, as such there can be help to alleviate symptoms and make our dog’s lives more enjoyable. Although it is unlikely to be completely halted or reversed, there are dogs arthritis treatment products available which may offer a degree of help. Slowing the development of the disease and the damage to joints.
Arthritis for dogs comes in many different guises, and is not restricted to older pets or particular breeds. Certain breeds have a predisposition to joint problems, but any dog may develop the arthritis. Dogs which exercise a lot are actually more likely to damage a healthy joint triggering the problem. But overweight dogs are most at risk, because all activity for them puts undue strain on joints. The most beneficial ‘treatment’ for overweight dogs with arthritis is simply a diet and light exercise.
Our ‘old boy’ was not overweight (large bottom aside) and enjoyed his afternoon stroll until his last days, so we thought there was nothing else which could be done to help him out. Arthritis for dogs is horrible to see, because they really do switch from puppyhood to old age so quickly. Common, and indeed the case with Sam, is normal movement later in the day, but real difficulties in the morning. Difficulty getting up, on waking and dealing with the stairs were our first clue to Sam’s arthritis. We put it all down to old age and saw it as natural if unpleasant.
In younger dogs where physical injury has caused the arthritis, canine osteoarthritis may be improved with surgery to fix torn ligaments and so on. In older dogs, treatment is likely to be of the less invasive, keep an eye on him approach. But there are drugs available which may help the damaged joints degenerate at a slower rate.
The most common form of dogs arthritis treatment is a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin. Although the jury is still out on how much these two medicines do, studies on people have been extremely positive. The fact that a ‘people medicine’ is being used as a pets medicine is encouraging because at least people can tell us how much benefit they feel from using the product.
It is doubtful that the cartilage building block; glucosamine will actually repair damaged joints (though that is the hope), but it is likely to slow down the loss of cartilage. With the chondroitin stopping the degenerative enzymes bent on destroying the joints, it seems likely that using the two drugs together in products such as Arthogen for dogs is likely to improve the situation for any dogs with arthritis (canine osteoarthritis).
We have happy, mobile, young dogs now and I hope it is a long time before we need to put canine arthritis treatments to the test. But, I know that should any of our dogs exhibit signs of arthritis we will not be ignoring them and assuming nothing can really be done. In future we will be hunting out the best pets medicine we can find and trying all that is available.
If you suspect arthritis in your canine be more proactive than we were please. Because finding out now, that we may have helped the Samster live his last months with a little less pain, and more mobility, is incredibly sad. I know our boy was happy, loved and generally well-cared for but in the end, we don’t know the answers to all our dog’s health problems. We wanted to save him the stress of a visit to the vet, because we didn’t think the vet would be able to offer any help, but we should have been far more proactive. So do as I say, not as I did and visit your vet whenever you have any doubts about your dog’s health.