Meet Monty, a 12 year-old pointer with a long history of osteoarthritis and back pain. He was a very special dog as he acted as a friend for new foster dogs that were rescued from puppy farms. Monty was calm, friendly and showed the new dogs how to act like dogs – chasing squirrels, getting cuddles and stealing food from the bin!
Before Visiting the Specialist
Monty had stiff, thickened stifle joints and increased fluid in both elbow joints. He had been struggling to keep up on walks with his foster friends and was unable to get on and off the sofa (his favourite place to watch TV!). He was even struggling to get comfortable in his bed! Previously he had slept in his owner’s bedroom but difficulty getting upstairs meant he had to sleep downstairs. He had been receiving pain killer once a day and physiotherapy sessions but Monty’s owner was concerned about his quality of life and keeping him comfortable.
Following an assessment using the Helsinki Chronic Pain Index, Monty was given an additional pain killer, gabapentin. Unfortunately, gabapentin is not licensed and there is limited information on its use in dogs. But Monty’s owner, understood and agreed to the treatment. Monty improved after 2-weeks, but Monty’s owner was still concerned about his comfort at night. At this stage amantadine, an NMDA antagonist, that may be useful for chronic pain was introduced and his specialist recommended a 4-week course of acupuncture. Monty really enjoyed his acupuncture – he fell asleep and only roused when the treat tin appeared!
Within 5-days, Monty had started to get on and off the sofa for his TV fix and was more eager to play with his foster dogs. After 4-weeks, Monty was walking in front of his owner instead of trailing behind on walks. Monty continued to receive physiotherapy every 2-weeks. Not every case follows such a positive timeline but Monty’s story shows that for some dogs, drugs used in other species and acupuncture can be very beneficial.