Friday 18 July 2014

Blue's got some magic in his elbows....

Tonight, for the first time in 2 years, I reduced Blue's dose of Deramaxx.

For those of you not familiar with Deramaxx, it is one of several brands of dog pain relievers in the NSAID family of drugs (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs). We liken it to doggie aspirin or ibuprofen  - but don't give your dog those (or any human pain reliever) without your veterinarian's okay as they can be very toxic for dogs!

Blue has been on a moderate daily dose of Deramaxx ever since he had to give up agility several years ago. Despite the significant pain reduction that came with stem cell therapy, Blue still required the same dose of Deramaxx to keep him as pain-free as possible.

Blue has had two rounds of stem cells. If you want to know more about stem cell therapy you can read about it here.  Blue's second round of stem cell therapy lasted about 7 months before he became quite limpy again. Since stem cells were no longer an option, Dr. Dave Lane suggested injecting his elbows with a combination of a steroid (triamcinolone) and hyaluronic acid (a component of the normal joint fluid) to see if that would help to relieve his pain.

Blue and Dr. Lane have a long history together. I first consulted with Dr. Lane in early 2010 when Blue refused to do the weave poles during agility class. Our agility instructor suggested that a chiropractic adjustment might benefit him.

I have to admit I was skeptical. I am a fan of chiropracty for myself as it relieved headaches I got from long study sessions and little exercise when I was in vet school. But for dogs? How can you really tell if it worked? I decided that if I was going to try chiropracty on Blue, I wanted a veterinarian to do it because at least they would be intimately familiar with dog anatomy. I did a little digging and was happy to find out that Dr. Lane (who I knew previously as a good veterinarian) did pet chiropracty. Not only that but he also did canine sports medicine. I hadn't known there was such an area of practice!

Dr. Lane examined Blue and suggested some acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments for him. Again, I was skeptical. I felt that acupuncture had worked for me but I also know that I am probably not immune to the placebo effect.  Once again, how would we know if it worked?

Dr. Lane examined Blue in the back area of the emergency clinic. Blue was doing his usual anxious happy dog thing where he just cannot sit still. He was in constant motion, rubbing all over Dr. Lane and I, weaving around us, panting heavily and wagging his tail like crazy. Dr. Lane popped an acupuncture needle into the top of Blue's head and within about 5 minutes Blue had calmed dramatically. By 10 minutes he had settled onto the floor, flat on his side, with a relaxed sigh. I could not believe what I was seeing. It was like he had been heavily sedated. Ok then. That settled the acupuncture question.

And Dr. Lane's treatments also settled the chiropracty questions. Blue hit the weave poles without a problem the next class. Dr. Lane continued to keep Blue in top musculoskeletal shape throughout his agility career by seeing him on an as-needed basis.

Agility has ended but we continue to see Dr. Lane to correct the muscle spasms and skeletal imbalances that Blue gets from compensating for his progressively arthritic elbows. The combination of acupuncture, laser (the non-scammy kind) and chiropractic adjustments help Blue move with less pain. 

And now he's put some magic into Blue's elbows.

Just over a week ago, Dr. Lane injected Blue's elbows with the steroid-hyaluronic acid combination. I gave Blue some light sedation for the procedure but the actual injection seemed pretty painless. About about 48 hours I noticed that Blue was happier than usual.

On his first big walk on Monday, 4 days after the injections, Blue was farther ahead of me on the walk. He still was moderately lame by the end of the walk but after getting home he slept less than usual throughout the day.

On Wednesday he was barely limping at the end of the walk and was more active throughout the rest of the day.

On Thursday Blue rose to his feet from lying down like a normal dog. The movement was so different in that it was done with so much ease that I suddenly realised that that Blue's "new normal" is to fling himself to his feet, probably to avoid putting weight on his elbows. The absolute lack of effort in getting up was amazing.

Today, Friday, he was raring to go (normally 3 long walks in a week are more than enough for him) and during our walk he offered me not one, but two play-bows! That in itself was amazing - I don't think he has ever done that before - but even more amazing was that his anxiety and reactivity were dramatically reduced. There was another dog playing quite close to us and Blue displayed very little anxiety and none of the usual reactivity that this proximity would generally provoke. Tonight he is happy and not lame so I reduced his Deramaxx dose. I never thought that would happen.

Like I said, magic.

Visit Dr. Lane's web page at Points East West to see if maybe he can put a little magic into your dog's life.