Many of you know that pain management for dogs is of major relevance to me, because I live with Bumble the Special Child. If you are unacquainted with my little boy, Bumble is epileptic, mostly blind, mostly deaf, and has joint deformities. Now that he is getting up there in age, the joint deformities are causing him some problems.
Bumble has become less and less mobile, because his wide open hip joints make him wobbly. His poor equilibrium, combined with minimal vision, makes him reluctant to walk outside. In the house, where he knows where everything is, he wanders around at will, and stops to rest whenever he feels like it.
Bumble has long gotten regular chiropractic to keep his weak joints properly aligned, and when he needed something more, he was taking Metacam, which is an NSAID. However, with age and further joint deterioration, it wasn’t enough. Since allowing him to suffer is NOT acceptable, I had a long talk with my incredibly patient vet about pain management options.
He had a couple of new tricks up his sleeve.
First, we increased Bumble’s Glucosamine and Omega acid intake, and we changed his pain medication to Deramax. Definite improvement. The vet tells me that it is not unusual to have to switch back and forth between NSAIDs at intervals to achieve maximum effectiveness.
Second, we started doing cold laser treatments on Bumble’s hips. Let me just say it. I do NOT understand in a meaningful way why holding a box with red lights on Bumble’s backside makes him feel better. But it does, and that’s all I really care about.
Here’s what I do understand. The frequency of the energy generated by the cold laser stimulates healing in the body and encourages cellular regeneration. It helps the damaged cells to repair themselves, and it reduces inflammation in the body. Light has long been known to have healing properties, and this is simply a more precisely focused application of light therapy.
Bumble is also being treated with Alpha-Stim, or more formally, Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation. I had never heard of this device. It clips to his ears (which, admittedly, makes him look sort of like Yoda), and it apparently is useful for reducing pain and anxiety. By the way, this device is also available for human use. You can check it out at www.alpha-stim.com.
As I understand it, this device basically stimulates some neurotransmitters while suppressing others; the effect on the brainwaves creates a reduction in pain and anxiety. At that point, the technical aspect is officially over my head. The bottom line is that it makes my little guy feel better.
The really nice thing about the laser and Alpha-Stim treatments is that they are not particularly expensive. Some animals derive enough benefit from a single treatment; others require ongoing therapy. Since Bumble’s problems come from an actual deformity of the hip joints, we assume that he will need ongoing therapy.
I’m not an expert on these new therapies; as they are still new to me, I only understand how they work at a fairly basic level.
What I want my readers to take from today’s column, more than anything, is this: Your pet does NOT have to live with pain. Ask your vet about alternative treatments. If your vet doesn’t know about alternative options, or is unwillingness to discuss these less than traditional treatments, find one who will. Explore options until you find one that will help your pet.
Keeping our furry family members as healthy, happy, and comfortable as possible is a serious priority. Don’t be afraid to try new methods. They’re definitely helping Bumble.