Billy is a 10 year-old male neutered Labrador Retriever mixed, who has been loved and well taken care of by his wonderful family. However, for the past few months, they have noticed that Billy seems to “slow down” a little bit. It takes him longer to get up from his bed in the morning, he sleeps more, and he doesn’t snuggle on the couch as often. His spirit is still high when taking a walk, but his gait is stiff, and he seems hesitate to play with his friends at the park. Two days ago, Billy started limping noticeably on his back legs and he is not getting better after restriction of activities. Therefore Billy is taken to the vet. After the exam, lab work and the X-ray, they learn that Billy has arthritis of his hip joints, a degenerative disease of the joints from chronic wear and tear. Arthritis is very common in older pets. The veterinarian recommends Billy to lose weight to help relieve some pressure from his joints, and to start taking joint supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin. With how sore Billy is, he is also prescribed with an anti-inflammatory medication (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, NSAID, similar to Advil in people) to relieve the severe discomfort. Even though the NSAID is an effective medication, there are some potential side effects, and therefore the owners were told to watch Billy closely for any changes of water consumption, appetite, behaviors, and/or tummy discomfort.
Billy’s humans are very dedicated owners. They start the weight management, the medication and the supplement. Billy is definitely a lot better once they started the new regimen! He is running around and acting like his old self again. Five months later, however, Billy seems to not be so excited about eating anymore. He still eats, but becomes picky. The owners are worried and take him for a follow up exam. The bloodwork shows that there is mild liver damage and early indication of underlying kidney diseases. It is not certain if the changes are directly related to the medications, but they were advised to discontinue the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication because it will further complicate the kidney and liver issues.
Being practicing veterinarians, Dr. Chen and I see so many “Billys” everyday. They can be a dog, large and small, or a cat. They are all so well loved, but the road to recovery is less straight forward. They have an inflammatory conditions that causes the constant discomfort. The conventional medication works great and offers an immediate strong pain relief. Sometimes that’s all the pet needs. An immediate relief, and the body takes care of the rest of the recovery with resting, good nutrition and regular exercise. However, more often than not, especially with senior patients like Billy, they need a long term plan that’s gentle and sustainable. A plan that fits that particular patient’s needs, as well as the lifestyle of the family that’s caring for him/her. We love our patients and their humans, and we feel for them. We understand how overwhelming and how lonely it gets when caring for a sick patient, and we are eager to help! With the knowledge and the experience we have, Vetcreations creates products that serve as powerful tools to complete the individual and personalized care regimens.
For future posts, we will talk more about besides conventional NSAIDs and pain medications, what other supplements and medical treatments can be considered for pain management. Please leave us a message on the comment section, if there are any subjects regarding holistic veterinary medicine that you are interested in learning more about.
---Helen Chiu, DVM, CVA