(link to the beginning of Article)Suddenly they're coming up lame, or arching their back unnaturally, or walking more slowly and lagging behind, or dragging their toenails, or no longer wanting to play. Perhaps they've started crying out for no apparent reason, or they're not able to jump into the car or up onto the couch any longer. Maybe they've started "bunny hopping" their rear legs when trotting, or stumbling and falling, or slipping on smooth surfaces. They may suddenly have difficulty standing up and they seem very weak and uncoordinated in the hind end. Or maybe they've advanced to the point they suddenly can't get up at all.
Now contrary to what seems apparent, since this may be your pet's first sign of trouble, these are late-stage symptoms and are merely the "Tip of a growing Ice Berg." The underlying cause(s) have advanced unseen and undisclosed, for quite some time, perhaps years. The above mentioned objective signs/symptoms are evidence of what is described as, "decompensation." Your companion can no longer compensate for or accommodate that which is destroying their quality of life. They are suffering to a greater or lesser extent from a slowly advancing underlying condition and that last jump down from the bed, that seemed to bring on their acute pain, was merely the "straw that broke the camel's back," or "the last snowflake that sets off the avalanche!" For the vast majority of Pet Owners who seek my help, their companion's malady was not caused by some one time unanticipated accident but purely and precisely by years of cumulative micro-traumatic events that were part of their activities of daily living. The Dachshund who energetically leaps off of the couch or bed countless times per day causing shock and trauma to their spine with each impact. The pet owner who plays vigorous tug-of-war with his Jack Russel regularly, even holding his companion up off of the ground by his tug toy to impress friends and neighbors. How about the Golden Retriever who charges the fence, violently impacting with his front paws to fence fight with the neighbor dog numerous times per day or chase that pesky squirrel up that fence and out of the yard. How about that Pitbull who regularly "pulls your arm out of the socket" each time he drags you, on his walk, around the block by his neck. What about that Rat Terrier who pops that heavy rubberized and magnetized dog door open countless times per day with her muzzle causing shock and trauma to her lower cervical spine. How about that Airedale who lunges at passing cars, dogs, or cats, coming up violently short at the end of his lead. Then there's that fuzzy faced Shih Tzu who runs her muzzle along the carpet or couch, both sides, to wipe the residue from meals off of her whiskers, day in day out, month in month out, and year in year out. Are you getting the picture?!
For most people it only seems natural to want to relieve their companion's suffering with Pain or Anti-inflammatory Medications. In other words help them to compensate for or "live with" their malady all the while unbeknownst to you they continue the injurious activity because now with Meds onboard they don't feel the pain anymore or the ongoing damage they are causing. This goes right to the heart of some rather fundamental attitudes about health and disease engendered by our upbringing in a culture dominated by western medical orthodoxy. If there is a symptom take a pill to eliminate the symptom. Truth is, in our country, from a very young age we are inculcated with the attitude that somehow health and disease have more to do with luck and happen-stance than something we could actually influence. Fortunately, this attitude that you are a nearly helpless if sometimes hapless bystander, watching your health's fortune and fate from the medical sidelines is being discarded by more and more of us as we become increasingly health conscious, self-empowered, pro-active, and fully aware that optimum health is never an accident of fate. Despite inflation, an ounce of prevention continues to be worth a pound of cure and that goes double for our animal companions.
Now with that said the reader might presume that I am against Medications. Not at all. On the contrary, I can assure you, that that is farthest thing from the truth. On more occasions than I can count I was thankful for the judicious prescription of steroids and narcotics from one of the many Veterinarians I work with daily to keep the inflammation and pain under control long enough to afford me the time to resolve the underlying problem enough to render further Meds unnecessary. When treating a dog with ataxia and paraparesis (wobbly and weak hind end) or a paralyzed dog, UTI's (Urinary Tract Infections) significantly impact and impede their recovery. Bringing the Vets I work with in when I suspect this allows for antibiotics to be prescribed to eliminate this impediment. I am only against using medications to mask or cover up correctable problems, when doing so allows pets the unfortunate opportunity to go on damaging themselves without pain or discomfort directing them to limit further injurious activity. It's akin to muffling a fire alarm because that constant ringing is just so annoying!