“He is getting old which means he is slowing down but that is normal right doc?” If I had a dog treat for every time I heard that statement in my exam room I would have exam rooms overflowing in dog biscuits. I love it when my furparents say that. Why? because it gives me permission to talk about osteoarthritis and chronic pain management. Dogs and cats usually do not just slow down because they are getting old. Usually, the decrease in speed is a symptom that it hurts somewhere. Your pet looks at a “cost vs reward” ratio to see if they want to do what was asked of them. If the reward is not great or it is too painful they will avoid the movement. For example: My own cat used to jump everywhere you couldn’t keep her off the counters or off the top of the fridge. My hubby noticed a few years ago we hadn’t had to tell her to get down off the counters in a couple of months. We started to watch her more closely over the next few weeks. What we observed was that she had gone from jumping without a second thought to hesitating before she jumped. After a good exam and some x-rays, we found she has arthritis and a bulging disk in her back. Neither of these conditions were enough to paralyze her or stop her from eating but it was enough to decrease her enjoyment out of life. We started her on a joint diet food such as Mobility Food, and adequan injections and Onsior (a NSAID) pain reliever. Now she jumps anywhere she wants to. Getting into trouble every once in awhile.
Their pain is our pain. We know what it is like to hurt our knee or throw out our back. Pain sucks, so we avoid moving unless we have to. We rest, we take a few pain medications and see our doctor. What happens if we never get relief from the pain? What happens if you couldn’t tell your loved ones that you were painful? This is why a good exam from your vet is important. Your pet when they hurt should see their own doctor (vet) and get on an appropriate pain management. Sometimes these plans include medication and sometimes other alternative modalities such as acupuncture. The plan all depends on why, where and how the pain occurs. Sometimes we treat for long term or other times it is short term but it does need to be treated. If you want to find out if your pet is in pain please see you vet. To help you with this conversation you can fill out these forms (below) to help guide you at your appointment.