Dr. Arnold
One of the things I struggle with is balancing the passion my pets have for the constant and seemingly tireless will to go go go all day long and the concern I have that they may be overdoing it and hurting themselves. Over the course of Marley’s (“Best Dog Ever”) life I watched him swim for hours as a youngster, take a brief nap, then bring back his favorite neon frisbee for more. At one point along the Oregon Coast he plowed into the ocean,
swam through massive crashing waves and hauled in a giant log to shore… why? I have
no idea but it made him happy beyond belief and I love him for that. During these
adventures he wasn’t limping, stiff, or struggling to move. I’d put my Veterinarian hat on
and examine him… perfectly normal. How could this be… I was exhausted and my
Marley shoulder still hurt from “Frisbee Elbow”… similar to “Tennis Ball Elbow” or “Chuck-it
Shoulder”… I know some of you out there can relate to this phenomenon that occurs after
a fetching session with your furry companion(s). Over time I humbly came to grips with the
inescapable fact that Marley was aging…his body… not his mind or passion to go go go.
His hikes and play sessions were a little bit shorter. He took a little bit longer naps, and
was a little bit slower to get up. His bright eyes and big flopping tongue still matched his
typical ear to ear grin but I felt a responsibility to be an advocate for him and started paying
closer attention to managing his adventures. I also started to think about long term
implications of the wear and tear of all of our adventures. Admittedly, some of my personal
Marley beliefs affected these concerns as well. I like to be active, I love being outside, and I spend
very little time sitting still. Unfortunately, adventure is not without its aches and pains,
humans and animals alike. I was slowing down on my hikes too (not that I could ever
come close to keeping up with Marley as he ran ahead and ran back to make sure I was
still there, then ran ahead again… a five mile hike for me must have at least been a ten
mile hike for him). I was sore afterwards too. The difference was that I could advocate for
myself, take an anti-inflammatory and take proactive steps to manage my pain. Managing
pain in animals has improved leaps and bounds over the past decades. Our animals now
have the benefit of what we as veterinarians call a “multi-modal” or “multi-faceted”
approach to pain. This approach involves matching a specific pain plan to each specific
furry individual. Marley’s plan started with making sure he was at an ideal weight. I relate
this to when I hike up Horsetooth Rock with a heavy pack versus when I hike up with just
some water and no pack. I found my knees were much more sore when I went with the
heavy pack.

Chronic pain plans for animals these days may include:

  • weight loss programs
  • environmental modifications (ramps for the car or bed etc.)
  • joint supplements
  • a variety of different pain medications (more detail here in future blogs)
  • physical therapy
  • acupuncture
  • laser therapy
  • chiropractics
  • massage

I’ll chat more about Marley’s specific chronic pain plan in future blogs. I know I see a ton of
super active and outdoorsy animals (and humans) here in Colorado. Just wondering what
your thoughts are on how you manage your active pets. Anything mentioned above that
hits home with your animals? Summer is almost here and I know I’m excited to get outside
even more with our furry family members. Until next time, Thanks for reading:)
-John Arnold

One thought on “Marley

  1. It was great to read about Marley and your love for him. Our animals are so important to us. They bring such comfort and love.

    Our Clooney is 10 years old now and we see definite changes in him. He is such a love and we love being with him.

    Will look forward to the next sequel to the story.

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