Dear Daisy Dog
My 10-year-old Golden Retriever seems stiff when she gets up and less energetic than usual. She also has trouble going up steps. I think she's in pain, but she never cries. What's going on?
It's not uncommon for seniors to suffer from the stiffness and pain of osteoarthritis. We try not to cry about it because our ancestral canine genes tell us that if we show any weakness, a predator might attack us. So, unlike many of you humans, we pets suffer in silence.
To minimize discomfort and improve mobility, maintain your Golden's body weight at the low end of the normal range. Here’s how to tell what’s normal.
Run your hand along your dog's back. You should be able to feel her spine and ribs easily. And her "waist" should be easy to see from the top and side. If you feel "love handles," she needs to lose some weight.
Provide moderate exercise daily.
"Nutriceuticals" such as GlycoFlex®, Cosequin® and glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate improve joint lubrication and function, and they are relatively free of side effects.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Rimadyl® relieve pain. It's important to periodically check organ function through blood work if your dog uses NSAIDs for long periods of time.
And acupuncture is quite effective in relieving pain and improving function in dogs with arthritis.
So make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your Golden needs a physical exam and perhaps radiographs (x-rays) to help your vet tailor a treatment program especially for her.