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Friday I’m In Love. –by Elizabeth F. Baird, DVM, CVPP

Friday is a huge black dog who can only be described as a gen- tle giant. He weighs 90pounds but looks much larger due to his wild and woolly black coat and massive head. According to his DNA, he is a mix of multiple breeds, but both the Chow Chow and Bouvier de Flanders make sense when you look at his face, fur and size. Friday is a special dog by any-

body’s standards, but his mixed her- itage did not provide hybrid vigor. Instead, it led to a potentially serious orthopedic affliction as an unlucky result of genetic roulette. Although his first problems arose as a young dog, those were fairly easy to resolve and return him to a normal level of activity. By age eleven however, he faced a disability that proved a good bit more difficult to overcome. But overcome it he did. It’s amazing what a strong spirit, dedicated owners and some creative medical therapy can do for an older dog. Friday had his first encounter

with pain and disability shortly after he turned three, in early 2006. Given his size, hip dysplasia was suspected, as his symptoms included stiffness upon rising, exercise intolerance and discomfort over his hindquarters. His x-rays revealed fairly normal hip joints, but showed extensive boney changes in the vertebrae of his spine known as spondylosis deformans. Many times, this is found on x-rays of older pets and seems to cause only minor problems. But this was advanced and Friday was only three years old. He improved rapidly with anti-inflamma- tory therapy and his quality of life returned to prior levels. After suffering three painful episodes in as many months, we decided to keep him on an anti-inflammatory consistently for his back pain. This regimen sustained a level of comfort and mobility that allowed for regular exercise and weight maintenance over many years. Fast forward eight years to late 2013, early 2014... Rather suddenly, Friday is having tremendous difficulty

As is often the case, the worsening pain had led to a decrease in activity which then caused further loss of muscle as well as a loss of flexibility. At this point, his quality of life was definitely at stake. Friday could no longer manage the slick floors at home and had to wear booties just to improve his traction and getting up was consistently a slow and painful process. Fortunately, his owners were willing and able to try to reverse his disability. The treatment regimen began

with multi-modal management of the pain and osteoarthritis. The goal with multi-modal therapy is to approach the problem from multiple angles, each of which impact the pain and arthritis cycle at different levels. By using multiple techniques, it is often possible to achieve far greater results than by utilizing only one or two modalities. The first step for Friday was to

Chillaxin, it’s Friday.

improve his pain control as he was far too uncomfortable to begin therapeu- tic exercise and muscle rebuilding. Two analgesic medications were immediately added to his anti-inflam- matory - all three modulating pain via

with his normal activities. The slick wood floors at home are becoming a huge challenge and his activity had declined pre- cipitously in just a matter of weeks. Updated x-rays, compared to those in 2006, show continued progression of the spondylo- sis deformans and mild changes associated with hip dysplasia. But his function was markedly decreased, most likely related to the changes in the lower part of his spine (lumbosacral area), creating a syndrome called cauda equine that involves pain, weak- ness and sometimes partial paralysis. Thankfully, his nerves and spinal cord seemed fully functional despite weakness and pain.


different mechanisms. Low Level Laser Therapy, also known as cold Laser or therapeutic Laser, was started with the focus on the lower back where the spondylosis seemed to be having the most negative impact. Laser therapy utilizes biostimulation to accelerate healing and decrease inflammation and pain, all with- out adding more medication or risk of side effects. The term for how Laser works is photobiomodulation but essentially boils down to increasing the activity of the body’s own healing mechanisms. Friday received a total of six Laser sessions over three weeks. Adequan injections began immediately also. Adequan, a Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan, is similar to the cartilage matrix that provides much of the cushioning in joints. But these represent more than just replacement of the building materi- als—they actually have anti-inflammatory properties of their own that help slow the damage that occurs to the cartilage over time. They also encourage joint repair and help the joint create more lubricating fluid. The best thing about Adequan, is the true rarity of side effects as compared to many pharmaceuticals. Friday’s owners also began simple isometric exercises to

gradually start building core muscles and improve balance. Within three weeks, Friday had improved enough to begin a bit more rigorous home exercise program to improve flexibility and balance as well as build muscle strength in his core and hindquarters. Since Friday’s housemate Nani, also has some arthritis

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