Monday, July 20, 2015

Arthritis: That's Not 'Getting Old', It's 'Pain'

Few things make me quite as sad as seeing an elderly dog limping badly, and knowing that there is no relief in sight for that dog. There are a lot of people who genuinely believe that debilitating pain is just a normal part of getting old for dogs. The thing is, they don't fully realize that "getting old and creaky"="debilitating pain".

I do understand that getting old hurts. I have autoimmune joint issues that mean I get to deal with some of that decades earlier than many of my peers. However, I always have the option to take pain medication. My dog doesn't have that.

It's true that dogs slow down and spend more time sleeping in their senior years. Keeping them at a healthy weight and making sure they get plenty of exercise can help keep them comfortable. Rehab and physical therapy can also help them compensate. However, it's important to recognize and treat the pain that comes with arthritis.

"Getting old" doesn't slow down you dog, pain does. The reason he stops jumping up on the couch or your bed is because it hurts too much to do that anymore. Often the reason he stops tolerating the antics of children or younger dogs is because it hurts too much for him to play. He can't play ball for as long as he used to because after a few throws it hurts too bad for him to keep playing.

Is pain medication "natural"? Nope. You know what else isn't "natural"? Getting old. In nature, animals that slow down fall prey to the many dangers of life in the wild. Let's face it, most of our dogs would starve or be the victim of a more able-bodied predator long before they reach this geriatric stage of life. It's our fault, through advances in diet and health care, that our dogs live long enough to suffer debilitating arthritis. Though it is through the best of intentions, we did this to them.

Our dogs don't have thumbs. They can't open a pill bottle, or make an appointment to complain to the vet that they just can't handle a game of fetch anymore. I think we owe it to them to make their twilight years as comfortable as possible. Even if pain meds have the potential to shorten their lives, I am firmly of the opinion that it kinder to give them a few comfortable years. Forcing them to live longer years in great pain is just selfish.


  1. I work at a doggy hotel/daycare and it hurts me so much when older creaky dogs come in with absolutely no medications/supplements. I wish some people would just try to get them something for relief. Amen to this postt

    1. Same here, it pains me to see them hobbling around and struggling to stand.

  2. I got rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 31. Was diagnosed with fibro at 35. I'm now 39. I strongly agree with your opinion. I have not reached the point of managing my illnesses and that gives me a unique view on the subject. I can assure you that when my babies get the the slow down point and arthritis or pain sets in, I will do all I can to alleviate that for them. My dogs are as much my children as my human kids. I treat them with the same care. Great post. I hope others will realize this and give their dogs some relief if and when it's needed.

    1. Thank you! It really means a lot to hear from people who know what it feels like to hurt all the time.