Kate Cochran Littleton, DD family member from Cocoa Beach Florida and friend of the great Max Roberts, Pom extraordinaire, asked us this week if we had any tips for easing arthritis pain for her little Pomeranian ‘Fluff’.
Firstly, Kate, as you know I am not a veterinarian, and so the first thing I would say to you is there is no substitute really for a great veterinarian when dealing with arthritis. It’s an inflammatory condition that with careful handling and the right long term care can be helped greatly, but you need to have a veterinarian that is willing to think outside of the box and realise that there are other solutions besides Rimadyl.
I use three different vets; each of them has proved to be incredibly good at certain things for us over the years and so we tend to use each of those vets for those particular strengths and sometimes because of reasons of sheer geography alone.
Here in Georgia, we are extremely fortunate to have a fantastic veterinary hospital who have over the years enabled many of my clients to move freely and live without pain again. I send many clients to Gwinnett Animal Hospital ( http://www.gwinnettanimalhospital.com ) for arthritis because they are truly holistic vets who look at the dog’s environment, diet, structure and general health.
Then, armed with that knowledge, they then advise on a treatment plan and pain management.
I can’t even begin to tell you how valuable this is, because when dealing with arthritis, there are very often secondary problems caused by the bodys’ response to the pain…these could be behavioral or structural, as, just like humans, dogs tend to deal with the pain of arthritis in very different ways. They could become fearful of being approached, as happened with my old boy Levi recently, or they could be very snappy and irritated, or they could overcompensate in other areas of their body as a way of taking the pressure off the inflamed area, leading to overuse of those joints/limbs and starting up a whole different bunch of problems.
The body, every body, is designed perfectly to balance; each part of it to handle certain types of stress in certain amounts. Throwing too much use onto one part of the body as a means of alleviating pain and removing stress on another can cause havoc.
In answering your question today Kate, I’m going to recount a recent case that illustrates this very well.
Kenton Doodle is a 6 year old pitt/chow/lab mix with arthritis in his neck and shoulders, hip dysplasia and arthritis in his back end.
When he came to stay at the Ranch last time, we noticed some irritation around other dogs when they got too close and a preference for sitting out some of the exercise sessions, staying put on the couch..a far cry from Kenton’s normal behaviour.
When mum and dad came to collect him, we advised them to go straight to Gwinnett Animal Hospital in Snellville where his team took a really good look at him for several hours, watched him walk over many different surfaces to study his gait and pain triggers as he moved, and then after some immediate treatment, advised on some strategies to relieve his pain and make life easier.
Firstly, Kenton goes for regular sessions of cold laser therapy with Andrea Haupt, the hospital’s resident Tellington Touch massage therapist, known as ‘Magic Mitts’ here at the Ranch.
Using a combination of her massage skills and the cold laser therapy combined, Andrea is able to reduce Kenton’s pain dramatically while relaxing him. Massage helps to relieve the pain not just of the immediate affected area but also of other areas in his body where undue stress is being applied as Kenton over compensates. The cold laser therapy not only reduces inflammation, thus relieving the pain, but also is miraculous at healing sick live cells increasing the general wellness of the animal. It’s non invasive, but really acts like acupuncture does…the dog feels no pain, in fact, when my dog Nelson had this treatment, he fell asleep as it was being done!
Dr Connoly who specialises in chiropractic medicine and acupuncture has performed some realignment on Kenton, as he was slightly askew.
I have a rotator cuff injury that I have been awaiting surgery on for the last year; I can’t even begin to tell you how much stress this injury has put on to my opposite shoulder as it has to carry the brunt of every part of my daily life. Anyone who has a back problem will know that you will get headaches from it, or leg pains….they seem to be unconnected but of course, they are integrally linked and affect each other greatly. Pain travels…….
Kenton’s mum Vikki, has been advised to give Kenton a fresh healthy diet as he needs the power of vitamins, particularly Vitamin C to help fight the inflammation in his body. Vitamin C is a powerhouse in the fight against inflammatory conditions; I myself use it for my arthritis every day. Here at the Ranch, me and Uncle Pete start just about every day with a shake made from wild dark cherries, orange juice, yogurt, apples and bananas. Cherries are little Vitamin C gold mines and I urge you to check them out…awesome stuff!
He has been advised to do some work at the veterinary rehab center nearby where they have a warm water treadmill, specifically designed for cases like this.
He has been advised to take glucosamine and chondroitin sulphates; there are many good brands on the market, we like Cosequin but we have honestly had amazing results with Nupro Joint complex and Joint Vibrance, so here at the Ranch, those are our go-to products. Both are available on Amazon .com. This can enhance the production of the lubricating fluid in the joints and thus appears to help the joint repair itself. However, there is a school of thought that injectable glucosamine is even more effective, and we will shortly be discussing this with the vet for our own dear Levi.
Rimadyl is often prescribed and I have no problem with my own dogs taking this product for pain relief for very short periods, however, there have been cases of gastro intestinal upset and liver toxicity, particularly in labrador retrievers with prolonged use, and so I wouldn’t choose it for my own dogs long term.
Gold bead implants are definitely something you might want to discuss with your vet; Kenton will be having these implanted shortly and the results of other clients who had this done have been amazing.
Acupuncture and also Aquapuncture, where a cocktail of vitamins and homeopathics injected right at the joint have been very effective in some of our clients dogs.
The use of turmeric in the diet (here at the Ranch we buy fresh turmeric at H Mart in Suwanee and cook it in the food) is a great pain reliever as its a humongous anti inflammatory…I’ll talk more about turmeric another time, but I’m a big devotee.
Ginger, as a pain reliever is incredible, as told to me by Gwinnett Animal Hospital’s Andrea Haupt. When poor Levi was in pain, we grated some fresh ginger into hot water, strained it and when it was cool gave him a little. It was very effective, plus ginger is great for an upset stomach, if ever you need a go to for that! Not too much…too much of anything is never good, remember that!
Magnets for dogs are wonderful, and can be bought just about anywhere these days online. Wherever magnets are placed, (so in Kenton’s case, he would have a magnet on his neck/collar area), there is increased oxygen and flow of nutrients to that area, stimulating cell repair. I have seen it work for lots of dogs, not all dogs have miraculous results, but some do, so it’s worth looking at.
Lastly, nothing, but nothing, is as important as managing your dogs’ condition…..
Hardwood floors play havoc with painful joints, it’s as simple as that; so no matter where the arthritis is in your dogs body, if you have hardwoods, your dogs feet will be gripping the floor as he walks in an inappropriate manner, leading to irregular gait which is the cause of all manner of problems elsewhere.
Put down anti slip mats immediately wherever your dog needs to walk, and never let him run on a hardwood floor.
Ball games and chase games where your dog has to turn on a dime or stop quickly are ill advised, as the dog needs to have a natural follow through of movement where the ‘transaction’ is completed and not stopped short. Leash walks with a collar are normally more difficult for arthritic dogs than an open leg/unconstricted walk or run where the dog stops and starts on his own terms, because the pulling by the neck can first of all be painful and also stops the natural flow of movement…..the course of action that the brain dictates and so the body automatically proceeds along. If it is ceased, the abrupt close of the movement is not what the brain has geared up the body to do, and so there is faltering, which can cause injury. Funnily enough, in England, sports injury experts reckon there is more damage incurred in soccer matches by players not following through with planned tackles because of last minute panic than those who actually execute them naturally without falter.
I hope this has been helpful and I hope you are fortunate to have a great veterinarian in your area Katie. Do your research on anything you have seen here, don’t just take my word for it….arming yourself with any knowledge and being fully informed is half the battle, and makes it easier for you to discuss options with your vet.
God bless and have a lovely weekend. (we’ve posted a photo of Max as Fluff is such a big fan !!!!)