The Story of Whiskey

Due to old age, Whiskey has been suffering from osteoarthritis and IVDD for the past 2 years and has not been able to get up or walk on his own for a year. By the time Whiskey came to RA, he is in such intense pain that even the daily NSAIDS (non-steroids anti-inflammatory drugs e.g. Cartrophen), pain medications (e.g. Tramadol), and morphine patches prescribed by the vet could no longer hold off the pain. He started to display symptoms of teeth chattering and shaking. His entire spine, especially the lumbar invertebrate was so painful for him to be touched that he would attempt to bite anyone who touches him except his owner. This gave the wrong impression that he was aggressive when it was really his way to avoid contact. Due to the constant intake of painkillers and NSAIDS, his blood works have started to show elevated liver values despite taking conventional liver protectant supplements. The owner was also cautioned that Whiskey might suffer from the side effects of some of these conventional drugs which include diarrhea, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Severe muscle atrophy had set in his rear hind limbs as a result of his reduced mobility.


Initial part of therapy focused on reduction of pain and inflammation so that reliance on NSAIDS and pain killers may be reduced. Hence LLLT (Low Level Laser Therapy), infrared therapy, electrical stimulation and light weight proprioception exercises were used mainly. Owner implemented the recommended home care diligently which included placing anti slip mats, ice-packing on acutely inflamed areas, nightly heat therapy with massages and gentle core muscle building exercises. Whiskey was also placed on additional human grade supplements such as Omega-3, Vitamin E, vitamin B, glucosamine and activated Curcumin. Aquatic therapies were introduced after his pain was noticeably reduced. Therapy was intensive during the first 3 months and subsequently scaled down as Whiskey’s conditions improves.


Generally, the time required to rehabilitate any dog is twice the time that they have suffered the condition. However, Whiskey was able to stand and take small steps after 2 sessions of intensive rehabilitation. Over the next few sessions, Whiskey was able to be slowly weaned off the morphine patches and NSAIDS and in time he was able to get about his daily life without pain medication. While it is most effective to administer pain killers and NSAIDS on the onset of pain and inflammation, studies have shown that these have their own side effects with prolonged use. Consequently, his blood works started to improve. After 2 months, he was able to get up on his own, jump up cars and go for his regular walks at his favourite beach. He has become such a chill dog that anyone was allowed to handle him. With conventional vet care and physical therapy, Whiskey is proof that senior dogs with age related diseases could still have a good quality of life. Currently, he continues to come for his “chill out” sessions at RA fortnightly as senior dogs generally are not so active at home and tend to go into muscle atrophy very fast.

Dr. Sara Lam

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