Post 4.7 - The Golden Years

Part of the heartbreak of having a dog or a cat is watching them get older so much faster than we do, and it seems to come on quite suddenly.

Our oldest dog is 15, and in recent years, she's developed arthritis in her back, which has had the collateral effect of making her back legs weaker than they used to be. She's been through oral surgery recently, and it was while she was coming out of the anesthesia that it seemed her arthritis was at its worst. It was hard to watch -- she was clearly upset by the betrayal of her body, and her spirit is normally lively and energetic.

Generally, she's fine. She takes thyroid and allergy medication, but otherwise, she does well from day-to-day. This past weekend was an exception, when her arthritis flared up enough to make virtually any position painful, her back legs weak, and a limp appear in her right front leg. She's taken to clinging to me, specifically, when she's in distress like this. I keep her wacky packmates away from her since she's in no mood to play, and I comfort her as best I can. I accompany her into the backyard for her bathroom rituals, and I'll occasionally gently hold her up so she can relax her legs a bit.

And all this is a reminder that there are fewer days ahead than there are behind.

But fewer days or not, we want her to be as comfortable as possible. Many older dogs benefit from acupuncture for pain as well as stress management, so that is one avenue we're going to explore. She's been taking a product called Phycox for joint support, and normally it does the trick, but our fear is that she may be building up a tolerance, and that her back doesn't quite count as a "joint".

With luck, in the next day or so, she'll be in less pain and be back to her chipper, upbeat self, albeit a bit slower.

Have a question or a suggestion for a future topic? E-mail me at facetsblog@gmail.com.

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