Henry first came to Westgate Pet Clinic when he was 12 ½ years old. Henry's moms brought him to our rehabilitation service because his joint arthritis was negatively impacting his quality of life. He took a daily pain medication, but he would still show some signs of discomfort. He was also losing strength in his back legs. He had difficulty going up stairs, and sometimes his legs would give out on him.
Henry had torn both of his cruciate ligaments in his knees several years prior and had had them both repaired. He then developed arthritis in both knees, and to compound that, he also has arthritis in his right hip. The effect of this was that both of his back legs were painful. He had muscle wasting, poor range of motion, and was living with chronic pain.
Henry's owner's main goal was for him to have as minimal discomfort as possible during his golden years. We started by customizing a pain medication plan that better fit the problems and symptoms he had. The pain pathways in mammals is very complex, and using drugs that target different parts of the nervous system is the best way to manage pain. Next, we developed a rehabilitation program to address some of his weaknesses. Improving strength, coordination, flexibility and endurance were our main goals.
Initially we started by seeing Henry twice a week at the clinic. His mom would drop him off in the morning, and pick him up after work. In between getting walked by "Auntie Sue" and the other dedicated staff at Westgate, he got a work out that was specially designed to meet our rehab goals. Henry ran on the treadmill, had targeted electrical stimulation of his muscles, did special balance and strength exercises and performed active stretching. When the session was over, he was tired, but he enjoyed the stretching and icing we did for him. We also used acupuncture as a tool to help with his arthritis pain.
Within a month, Henry's owners were noticing that he had more spring in his step. After several months, they saw him "counter surfing" which he hadn't done in years because he was previously to sore to rock back on his back legs and stand up.
Although Henry's arthritis will never go away, his quality of life has improved. He can go for longer walks with his owners, and is comfortable most of the time. He still comes in for a session once a week to keep his strength up. His favorite exercise is the hurtles and he usually starts doing them while we're setting them up and continues even while we're trying to take them down. Every person at Westgate knows and loves Henry, and we feel fortunate that we are able to help him stay strong and active so he can age gracefully.