What if Treatment Fails

Arthritis is a fluctuating and progressive disease. Often it is not a case that treatment has failed, but that treatment has not kept up with the change in disease. A good treatment plan for arthritis will be reassessed and adapted regularly. By monitoring your dog’s pain status with chronic pain indicators, you can act quickly to counteract deterioration.

However, sometimes treatments fail because it isn’t arthritis, or the dogs has arthritis with another condition. It is very important to get an accurate diagnosis, as well as have routine consultations with your vet to ensure that other geriatric diseases aren’t affecting your dog.

This point is well demonstrated through case studies of where the above has happened:
Max Baker, male 13-year-old Beagle X

Max had the appearance and mobility of a classic arthritic dog. He was overweight, walked with a very stiff gait, and was very weak and poorly muscled in his hind limbs. He struggled through each day and was already on long- term anti-inflammatories.

For two-and-a-half years his arthritis has been managed with Galen Myotherapy, laser therapy, regular check ups, blood and urine testing, weight loss, controlled exercise, joint supplements, additional pain relief medication as required, and house changes. He then deteriorated relatively suddenly, becoming increasingly slower and incapable of his normal routine. We initially assumed the pain from arthritis was getting worse. But when he showed a new clinical sign another blood test identified that he had developed hypothyroidism.

Within 3 days of starting the thyroid supplement he was back to old Max, and we continued his management plan.

  • Thyroid supplement
  • Weight control
  • Controlled exercise
  • Galen Myotherapy
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Joint supplement

Holly Capon, 14-year-old Border Collie

Holly had begun to slow down in the last year and it was assumed the beginnings of generalised early arthritis was the cause. Nothing serious was seen on her X-rays. She received anti-inflammatories intermittently, and controlled exercise, as well as having the house adapted and a new bed.

She became very food obsessed, and it was thought it was dementia-like behaviour, but a blood test showed her liver was abnormal, and a subsequent scan revealed a large liver tumour. Fortunately Holly was able to have specialist surgery and made a full recovery. She is back to her old self, but still facing the slow effects of ageing.

Daisy Wade, 12 year old female German Shephard

Daisy’s mobility had deteriorated gradually over her last 2 years to the point she could not walk a few hundred metres. She was on a long-term anti-inflammatory and paracetamol, as well as a joint supplement.

Initially a small improvement was made with house adaptions as well as myotherapy, but this wasn’t sustained and she continued to deteriorate and quickly became incontinent. Due to her poor response to our intervention, and a repeat neurological, she was tentatively diagnosed with lumbosacral disease, which is where the spinal nerves near the pelvis become compressed.

The owners were able to say goodbye knowing they had tried everything they could

Truffle Rowling, female 10-year-old Collie X

Truffle had been very lame in her left hind limb for 4 weeks.She had radiographs of the limb taken and arthritis in the left knee was confirmed. The strength of the cruciate ligament within the stifle was checked and felt to be intact.

She was given anti-inflamatories daily as well as rest and myotherapy but she did not significantly improve over the next 3 weeks.She was reassessed and an orthopaedic exam repeated. This time there was evidence the ligament had been damaged which required surgery.

Within 2 weeks of surgery she was very much better, and now 2 years on she bears weight evenly on both hind limbs. She is now on a constantly changing management plan of...

  • Controlled exercise
  • Joint supplements
  • Weight control
  • Adapted house with increased number of rugs, improved bed, and little access to the stairs
  • Opioid pain relief if she is thought to be in pain (she cannot tolerate anti-inflammatories

Having to say goodbye due to quality of life issues? This will mean that the grief of losing your dog will be close to the grief of losing a close family member which emphasises how emotionally difficult it can be for that owner.