Dear Dr. Edling – My 10year old Golden Retriever used to
always love chasing a tennis ball and going for walks. Now it seems like
I throw the ball two or three times and she just lays down. This weekend
we took her for a walk, and she just didn’t want to go as far as we usually
do. Is there something wrong with her??
Dear Bruce - Dogs, like people tend to slow down a bit as
they age. We need to be careful not to blame these signs on just getting
older. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to be sure there is
not something more serious going on.
Older dogs commonly suffer from arthritis, especially in the
hips, knees and lower back. In large breeds, like Golden Retrievers, the
hips are often involved. Arthritis hurts and dogs who suffer from it
become less active.
Your veterinarian may want to take an x-ray, to be sure of
the diagnosis, and also to help predict how the disease may
progress. If your dog has arthritis, there are many things that can be
done to improve her feel better. If your dog is overweight, her treatment
program will start with a diet. This might be the most important thing we
can do to treat, and even to prevent early signs of arthritis.
We now have specific diets which are made to lessen the
inflammation that occurs in arthritic joints. There are also nutritional
supplements that can help with this as well.
Exercise is a very important part of treatment. Dogs
that hurt, don’t exercise and then they loose muscle. Those muscles are
important in stabilizing the joints, so a loss of muscle can speed up the
Your veterinarian will probably prescribe an NSAID, an
anti-inflammatory, pain reliever. There are several that are approved
specifically for dogs, and these are strongly recommended as we know they are
more safe and effective.
Finally some veterinary practices offer many other treatment
options, including acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, low level laser therapy
and physical therapy including underwater treadmills. These types of treatments
can work very well, I have seen it with my own eyes, and they may reduce the
need for drug therapy. Unfortunately, most veterinary practices do not
yet offer these services.
So it is important to find out if your dog does arthritis:
if so, there is a lot that can be done to make her feel better and live
longer. The best time to start treating it is right away.
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.
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