Osteoarthritis in DOGS

    Degenerative joint disease (DJD), also known as osteoarthritis, affects as many as one in five dogs. The disease cannot be cured, but there are several treatment options available to help ease pain and improve mobility.

    Dr Alex Niven explores these options in this highly humorous extract from his book The Bull with the Bent Willy, where he introduces the lovely Labrador, Fliss, and her eccentric owner Mrs French.

    At closing time I entered the reception area. The waiting room was empty of clients, although three nurses and two other staff, all ladies of course, were huddled together, and, as I approached they broke into raucous laughter. That made me smile and say, ‘Surely it is time you left Mrs French in peace?’

    Eleanor tugged at her straggly brown hair and said, ‘You must admit she does offer us some great entertainment, I wonder what she is like . . .’

    We were interrupted by the phone. Penny was still smiling as she cradled the receiver against her ear, and her smile got even bigger. She put her hand over the mouth piece and said, ‘You will never believe this, but it is Mrs French again, she needs to talk to you.’

    Eleanor blurted out, ‘Fabulous! Can we go to speaker phone?’ All eyes were on me as I picked up the receiver, ‘Hello Mrs French, how is everyone?’ The lady gave me one of those long, slurry chuckles of hers, and then said, ‘We are all well, thank you. I simply need some reassurance about Fliss.’

    ‘I did not think she was too bad this afternoon. Has something else happened?’

    Fliss was an ageing Labrador. She had the most gorgeous personality, but was slipping into a degenerating cycle of hip arthritis. When I examined her she had the sexy sway of the hindquarters that many of them develop, but thankfully her pain was not severe.

    I suggested that an increased pattern of regular exercise would be good, and prescribed some aspirin as the first stage in pain control. I still feel that the judicious use of aspirin is a good starting place in the management of these conditions.

    After that I consider Eco-Joint where the pain is mainly related to soft tissue damage. Remedies such as Bryonia and Rhus tox quickly reduce joint swelling and improve function. If there is actual radiological evidence of degenerative joint disease then Eco-Arth is my first choice. The remedies Abrotanum colchicum and Manganum take a bit longer to help, but still bring about improvement due to their ability to actually mobilise abnormal bony deposits.

    I have to admit I was also finding it difficult to control myself as I said, ‘You do not appear to be distressed so please tell me what is worrying you?’

    ‘Not at all. Not at all. I simply need you to answer me a simple question.’

    ‘OK then, how can I help?’

    ‘I understood exactly what you were saying, and indeed Fliss enjoyed how you examined her. She obviously then turned to the dog and had a chat to her. When she came back to me she said, ‘Where were we?’

    ‘You were going to ask me a question.’ ‘A question, a question, indeed?’
    I remained quiet.

    At last I heard what I took to be a healthy slurp from a glass, and the enormous burp she released had the girls in knots. She said, ‘I simply need to know how to give the aspirin. Should I push them down her throat . . . or should I push them up her bum?’

    I dropped the phone and fell into the arms of my jolly band of ladies.

    continue to top