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D2006-14

Dear Daisy Dog

I am 10 years old, and I am concerned about our 6-month-old black Lab puppy, also named Daisy. The veterinarian diagnosed arthritis and said she needs an operation. We wonder about exercise instead.

Daisy Responds

Consistent, moderate exercise helps all of us dogs, especially those with arthritis. It’s also important that we remain lean, because excess weight stresses our joints.

My brother Sam, a golden retriever who is the same age you are, learned that lesson when he gained a bit too much weight and started limping on his front legs. Once he lost the extra pounds, he stopped limping.

He has arthritis in each wrist, or carpus, caused by years of pouncing on balls and digging up rocks.

In addition to regular exercise and weight control, a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement, fish oil capsules and acupuncture help his arthritis.

On bad days, an anti-inflammatory medication provides additional pain relief.

These treatments should help Daisy’s arthritis, too.
However, given her youth, she also might benefit from surgery, especially if her arthritis is caused by abnormally shaped joints.

For example, hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint is abnormally (dys-) formed (-plasia). Surgery can correct the problem and prevent arthritis from worsening.

It’s major surgery, something I wouldn’t want to undergo without a second opinion.

So ask your regular veterinarian to refer you to an orthopedic surgeon, a veterinarian who specializes in surgery on bones and joints.

The orthopedic surgeon will help maximize the function – and comfort – of Daisy’s joints.

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