#Puppy pain management: 7 #tips to help a #dog in chronic #pain

Puppy pain management
Hazel on the way home, her leg extended straight out

Puppy pain management: 7 tips to help a dog in chronic pain

In March 2015, my fianc√© and I brought home Hazel, a 10-week-old Saint-Bernese puppy. It was apparent right away that something was wrong when I discovered that Hazel couldn't bend her right, hind leg. When I tried to do a basic mobility test with her leg she growled and snapped at me. The next morning I rushed her to the Pembroke Animal Hospital and was shocked to discover that she had a broken femur very early on in life that had gone undiagnosed. The bone had callused together incorrectly, making one leg shorter than the other. Her leg no longer had a natural bend at the knee, and her hips were displaced. This was the beginning of our long walk down the road to puppy pain management. It has been more than a year since that bitter-sweet day, and I have learned a lot. Here are my top seven tips for a pet owner who is dealing with a pet with chronic pain.

#Puppy pain management: 7 #tips to help a #dog in chronic #pain
The first x-rays in March 2015
X-rays by Pembroke Animal Hospital

1. Diagnose the problem

Nothing is more important than knowing exactly what the problem is. Diagnose the issue and you will be able to better determine the best treatment. This means going to see your veterinarian and, yes, spending money. Consider it an investment into your pet's future health and well-being; money well spent. I recommended doing X-rays and diagnostic testing, and following your doctor's recommendations instead of trying to self-diagnose.

2. Veterinary-specific NSAIDs

Your doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) pain relievers as a long-term pain management plan. If your vet thinks it is safe for your dog to be on these meds, then go for it. When used correctly these drugs are very safe and effective. Hazel has been on NSAIDs for most of her life. It is recommended you do an NSAID blood test every six months to ensure the meds aren't affecting your dog's internal organs. Pain narcotics for pets do exist for extreme pain, but often NSAIDs are enough. It is so important NEVER to give human pain medications to your pet- no matter what "Dr. Google" tells you. They can act as blood thinners in pets. This can be very dangerous for your dog, a small cut can result in an emergency situation. Hazel is on Metacam.

3. Regulate activity

It was very hard to regulate an excited, curious puppy's activity, but do your best to try. I understood that Hazel would not be up to the long, novice-level hikes that I am used to. Her walks were shorter, her playtimes monitored, and when she became too energetic I would create calming situations for her. I made sure to provide her with lots to chew on and lots of toys to play with. I was forced to be creative when it came to stimulating her, but in the end, I knew I was doing the right thing.

4. Keep your dog lean

Hazel is a mix of two giant breeds of mountain dog: Saint Bernard and Bernese mountain dog. This meant that she was going to be big. There is nothing worse for a dog with hip and hind end problems than being overweight. I had to regulate and weigh out Hazel's food, and weigh her often at our local animal hospital. I know that she can eat more, but the question is should she? Hazel is eating highly nutritious veterinary-specific food.

#Puppy pain management: 7 #tips to help a #dog in chronic #pain
Hazel receiving laser therapy at Pembroke Animal Hospital

5. Laser therapy

Laser therapy is an incredible alternative to medication. In Hazel's case, she has both medication and laser therapy. What is laser therapy? K-Laser, the brand used on Hazel, describes it as follows: "Laser Therapy is the use of specific wavelengths of light (red and near-infrared) to stimulate the body's natural ability to heal. The effects of laser energy include improved healing time,​ pain reduction, increased circulation and decreased swelling." Not only does it stimulate the cells, but the slightly warm and tingling sensation can be really relaxing for dogs. Plus she gets to wear her "doggles!"

6. Chiropractic care for dogs

I am fortunate enough to have access to one of the leading chiropractic veterinarians Dr. Alison Seely. Just like humans can be adjusted, so can animals. Hazel's alignment affects her entire body, so often Dr. Seely doesn't just adjust her hind end, she also adjusts her head! Hazel always feels amazing after her visits with Dr. Seely, who treats her at the Pembroke Animal Hospital, winner of the 2016 American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Practice of the Year award.

7. Supplements and food for extra support

Supplements can be a great and inexpensive way to ease your dog's pain. Some supplements come in food, like the Royal Canin Mobility diet, available in veterinary clinics. This food contains glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate- two of the most important supplements for bone and joint health. It also contains green-lipped mussels, a natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. Some foods on the retail market have green-lipped mussels cooked into the kibble, but this reduces its pain-relieving properties. Royal Canin sprays the green-lipped mussels on the food, ensuring the ingredient is as potent as possible. Hazel uses Flexadin- a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement that also includes Devil's Claw, another all-natural anti-inflammatory. Fatty acids have also been linked to hip and joint health in dogs.

#Puppy pain management: 7 #tips to help a #dog in chronic #pain

All of these things are part of Hazel's treatment plan and may- or may not- be right for your dog. Consult your veterinarian to see if any of these options are recommended for you. Pain management for pets is so important in providing them with a good quality of life.

Do you have any other effective pain management tips for dogs? Tweet me! @PawsForReaction

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