October 10th I brought Bear to the vet terrified my senior dog was facing the end. He could no longer safely go up or down stairs. He no longer jumped on the couch. Walking was a chore. Even standing was hard, and he often fell over just while standing waiting to decide what to do next.
The conclusion: arthritis. We started him on various treatments. Some steeped in science, some not. I figured, what would it hurt?
A couple weeks into treatment, a co-worker leaned over to tell me something very serious. That despite initial signs of improvement, he wasn’t. I nodded, and said “I know. But give it time. This isn’t something to cure. This is all to make him feel better. And I’m not giving up yet.”
That weekend, Bear ended up in at the emergency vet. And for the second time, I was contemplating his future – terrified for him.
But something happened the morning I picked him up from the emergency vet. He was walking. Really, really well.
And steadily, he has improved. I no longer hear his nails on the sidewalk. He no longer falls over when River bumps him. He turns around, putting weight on his back legs and doesn’t waver. He can go down an entire flight of stairs. He explores the backyard. He sits instead of laying. And when he goes to lay down, he does so gently, not just allowing his body to fall to the ground. Best of all, when he’s at work with me, he’s exploring the office – there are times I’m deep in thought and turn around and he’s a few cubicles over begging for pets and treats. Then there are the times he realizes he’s falling behind when I walk somewhere and he trots to keep up.
My old dog looks and acts happy. And people have noticed.
How did this miracle happen? The scientist in me has no way of knowing. We tried so many different things, and I’m sure they all helped in their own way.
We’ve tried the standard stuff that are good even for young dogs: Glucosamine supplements and fish oil. Even River is on that stuff. As for medicine, he’s been on some type of anti-inflammatory for a while now. He was on Novox for a long while before we switched him to Prednisone in October. And although the Prednisone seemed to make a huge difference initially, I’m concerned it is what caused his GI issues. We’ve been slowly weening him off it to get him back on a NSAIDs and so far, his progress hasn’t regressed. He’s also been on pain meds, such as Tramadol and Gabapentin.
Now the non-standard stuff: cold laser therapy and Adequan injections.
I was familiar with the concept of cold laser therapy so when the vet offered it I jumped at the chance. After I signed up for 10 treatments (and paid for them), I then started to do some research. Everything I find on it tells me one thing: its a placebo effect. A co-worker asked about it and when I tried to explain it, he said, “Oh – snake oil. Okay.” Yeah, that kinda sums it up. I’m pretty sure there isn’t much to it. That said, when the initial 10 sessions were over, I signed up for 10 more. It may just be a placebo effect, but if it makes him feel better, I’m okay with that. I’m not going to cure his arthritis. I just want him to feel better – and he does.
I had no idea what Adequan was when the vet offered it. I almost said no, but decided it can’t hurt to try everything. Once a week, the vet injects the Adequan directly into Bear’s muscle. I hadn’t thought too much about it, but every Monday, I remind them he’s due for his injection. Not knowing much about this stuff, I googled it. Its actually impressive what it does – and there is science to back it up. Not only does it provide pain relief, but it helps rebuild the cartilage at the joint.
Of all these things, what do I attribute to Bear’s success? Without a doubt the Adequan. It really was just an after thought in treatment, but I really think its made a different. I can’t prove this though, I can’t undo all the other things we’ve tried to see if removing one made a difference. I can work with the vet though to lower his meds, reduce how often he goes for laser therapy and see what makes a difference.
Until then, I’m enjoying my dog that follows me around the house and yard.