I remember clearly the first day that I noticed that Bella was in pain.
Maybe there were signs before, if I had known what to look for.
I wasn’t a trained Veterinarian though, just a regular dog owner, like you, doing the best I could to take care of my dog, along with the rest of my responsibilities.
Either way, on that day, there was no doubt what Bella was trying to tell me as she lowered her head and stared into my eyes. “I don’t feel like walking anymore, please let’s just go home.”
I was confused at first. The day was a beautiful one, warm with a light spring breeze, and we had been out for no more than ten minutes.
“C’mon girl,” I pleaded, hoping that she was just being a bit stubborn. She lowered her head a bit as if disappointed in her decision, but refused to budge.
As we headed for the house, I noticed that she wasn’t walking with her usual enthusiasm, even though I had agreed to change direction and she knew dinner would be waiting.
She took a little extra time with each step, as if measuring it carefully. If it was someone else’s dog I probably would not have noticed, but it wasn’t. It was my Bella and I knew for sure that something was very wrong.
Our Veterinarian, Dr. Peterson confirmed these suspicions when I brought Bella in several days later. He pointed to the MRI of her joints that he had placed up on the white screen and got straight to the point:
“She has bad arthritis. Her joints are so inflamed that honestly, I’m surprised you didn’t notice earlier.”
I took a moment and then answered. “Ok…What now? What do we do?” The options he gave me, did little to improve my mood.
It seemed that the options were:
A) Prescription anti-inflammatories that would only manage the pain and had to be used sparingly because they were damaging to the digestive system.
B) Expensive surgery that would set me back thousands of dollars, and was as likely to worsen the symptoms, as it was to make them better.
C) Just deal with it for the years that Bella had left, limiting her physical activity and hoping for the best.
“I’m sorry Debra, but Arthritis is a degenerative condition” Dr. Peterson said. “What that means is it’s only going to get worse.”
I thanked him politely, but silently committed to proving him wrong.
I felt guilty about not noticing the signs earlier, but I was sure that another option was out there if I looked hard enough.
My initial research was not promising though.
I was shocked by how common of a problem arthritis is.
According to Stephanie Clark, a researched from the famed Mayo Clinic: