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When my dog is in pain, I listen to our veterinarian, not strangers on Facebook! ~ Kimberly Gauthier, worried dog mom
This is going to be somewhat of a rant post, but I'll throw in some useful information as well. This week Johan and I found ourselves at the emergency veterinarian clinic with Scout. This is the second time we've taken him to Diamond Veterinarian Clinic for an emergency, the first time was a few years ago when he developed a fever of 105 degrees (deadly) out of nowhere.
This time, Scout hurt his shoulder, leg, and/or paw – we weren't sure. What we did know was that he wasn't putting weight on his leg and we didn't want him to be in pain while we waited until the next day to make a vet appointment.
It costs $110 to walk into the emergency vet (exam fee) and we left with a bill of $175. The veterinarian diagnosed a soft tissue injury and prescribed two weeks of rest and two prescription medications:
- Tramadol, which is a drug for pain.
- Vetprofen, which is an anti-inflammatory.
What is Tramadol for Dogs?
Tramadol falls in the opioid family, which is scary considering the opioid crisis in this country. However, we don't have the intention to abuse this medication. It's being used to alleviate pain. Opioids are successful because they zero in on the central nervous system to offer pain relief. Tramadol is used to alleviate both moderate and chronic pain and basically tells the brain that the body can't feel pain.
Tramadol is a painkiller that works partly like other mild opioid medications. Vets sometimes give it to aging dogs with constant discomfort. Some side effects that may occur include an upset stomach, vomiting and dizziness. Talk to your vet if you are concerned.Pets.WebMD.com
Side Effects of Tramadol
One thing I love about our regular veterinarian and the staff at Diamond Veterinary Hospital is that they respect my choice to feed raw and to no longer vaccinate after a dog's one-year boosters. Another thing I love is that they take the time to explain everything as if they know that I'm going to research everything when I get home. They're right.
As with many medications, tramadol does have side effects, including:
- Lack of appetite (Scout is still eating)
- Upset stomach
The only thing we've seen so far is slight drowsiness. The veterinarian recommended staying at the lowest possible dose (one pill every 12 hours) and only giving more (e.g. one pill every 10 or 8 hours) if Scout's pain continues at the current level.
My main concern, besides any possible impact on Scout's liver as his body processes the medication, is that he'll feel better and want to play, run, or rough house with Apollo, which will further injure his leg. So we're hesitant to do anything to completely remove his pain because we need his help to curb his activity level. So our focus is on making him comfortable.
Does Tramadol Work?
In my research, I came across an article that stated that it has been shown that Tramadol isn't effective when used to treat arthritis pain.
Researchers from the University of Georgia have found that tramadol is ineffective in alleviating signs of pain associated with osteoarthritis in dogs, according to a release from the Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), which funded the study. The research team published their results in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.VeterinaryNews.dvm360.com
There are veterinarians who agree that Tramadol is ineffective when used to treat arthritis or chronic pain; however, there are veterinarians who have used it successfully. So, we'll have to trust the veterinarian who examined Scout and pray for the best. However, due to this news, I will be contacting our veterinarian to hear her thoughts on the use of Tramadol.
What is Vetprofen?
Vetprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which is commonly prescribed for pain management.
NSAIDs are used to control signs of arthritis, including inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and joint pain. Inflammation—the body’s response to irritation or injury—is characterized by redness, warmth, swelling, and pain. NSAIDs mediate the production or function of prostaglandins (enzymes) involved in inflammation.FDA.gov
Side Effects of Vetprofen
The side effects of Vetprofen are the same as many NSAIDs prescribed to pets. Whether or not a pet experiences these side effects can't be predicted because every pet is different. The side effects we're monitoring for include:
- Loss of Appetite
- Depression / Lethargy
If the medication isn't used appropriately, i.e. someone decides to increase the dose because more will work better (not always the case), more serious side effects may come into play, including ulcers, kidney and liver issues, and death.
Traditional Medicine vs. Natural Medicine
My dogs aren't often sick, but the times when my dogs do require medical attention beyond their annual wellness check, people are often surprised that I'm not 100% on the side of natural medicine. What people don't understand is that I'm 100% on the side of my dogs.
Because I'm a blogger with a growing following, I share everything that's going on with my dogs because (1) I'm also here to learn and someone may have some advice that will be useful and (2) others may be going through something similar and I may be able to help by sharing my experience. But because I put myself out there, I inadvertently welcome feedback and criticism.
When I posted that we were headed to the emergency vet with Scout, I knew exactly what I'd get:
- Lots of prayers and well wishes – thank you.
- Unsolicited advice from people who don't have a veterinarian degree.
- Judgment for not treating my dog with only natural medicines.
So this is where the ranting starts.
It's in a dog's DNA to mask their pain. Millions of years ago, a wild dog that showed that they were injured was at risk because they couldn't protect themselves. As a result, when my dogs (all except Sydney, who runs to me immediately if she's in pain) show signs of pain, I know that this has been brewing for a while and it's serious. Pain also induces stress in our dogs, which suppresses the immune system and slows healing.
“We found that chronic pain changes the way DNA is marked not only in the brain but also in T cells, a type of white blood cell essential for immunity,” says Moshe Szyf, a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill. “Our findings highlight the devastating impact of chronic pain on other important parts of the body such as the immune system.”ScienceDaily.com
Scout won't put weight on his leg. His limp is very exaggerated. He needs relief and natural supplements don't do enough at this stage of pain. If it were a minor limp, then I'd give him DGP for Pets or Duralactin and I'd add Canine System Saver and Canna-Pet CBD capsules to his diet for a couple of weeks. This is not a minor limp.
As raw feeders, we often turn to our community for support and guidance and while most people are realistic about our dogs' medical needs, it seems that the loudest people are fast to tell us what we're doing wrong and my response to those people includes:
- Oh, I didn't realize that you had gotten your veterinarian degree.
- Thanks for the aggressive advice, do you also plan to pay for part of the vet bills?
- I'm sorry, you seem to think that I asked for your advice and that you have a say in how I raise my dogs. I didn't and you don't.
I am the nicest person in the world (most of the time), but when it comes to my dogs, I'm not afraid to let my inner bitch rise to the surface and growl. And I encourage others to do the same. Our dogs count on us to be their voice. There is no way that I am going to allow my dog to be in serious pain because some random person on Facebook doesn't like prescription medication.
Combining Natural with Traditional
All that being said, I do need to protect my dog's system while he's on the medication.
- I'll be giving him raw goat's milk and kefir daily to support his gut health.
- I'll be giving him milk thistle to support his liver.
- And, as I stated above, I'm adding Canine System Saver and Canna-Pet CBD capsules to his diet for a couple of weeks.
There is room in human and animal health for medicine based on science and medicine from nature. We need to choose what is best for our dogs because, ultimately, we're responsible.
What NOT To Say to a Pet Parent in Crisis
Okay, so “in crisis” is probably too strong of a description, but for a few moments last night, we worried that he was seriously injured. As in, “Does he need surgery?” and “Thank Heavens for pet insurance!!” serious. Today, I have a better handle on my emotions.
But I'm not going to choose a different word.
When someone shares that their pet is in trouble, here are a few things that strangers (we may be Facebook friends, but we really know each other?) on social media do that I think are inappropriate.
- If you're not a veterinarian, don't diagnose or recommend treatment.
- If you disagree with traditional/prescription medication, keep it to yourself. We don't need you in our heads right now.
- Stop assuming that the veterinarian tossed the worst of the drugs at us and sent us on our way. We had a great discussion about what I was comfortable doing, what each drug did for our dog, the side effects, the dosage, etc. We're good. Again, do you have a veterinarian degree?
- And I'm so not interested in your dog that died from something similar. OMG! That is the shittiest thing to say to someone who has a sick dog. What is WRONG with you?
It's all about setting boundaries and I've become excellent at doing this. I have no trouble ignoring, deleting, banning, and blocking people who are feeding my anxiety. I don't care if they are well-meaning, I think that we can all see how some messages aren't helpful.
Think of it this way…
If a neighbor down the road that you shared pleasantries with here and there walked out the door with a baby bump, would you stop and tell her all about your sister who had a terrible pregnancy only to lose the baby in the third trimester? If your answer is “yes,” then you're a monster and an asshole. If your answer is “no,” then keep this in mind when giving unsolicited advice to a pet parent who was at the emergency vet.
Unless you're a veterinarian or a dear friend of the pet parent, be careful about what you share. That's all.
How is Scout Doing?
Within a few days of being on medication and rest, we noticed a depreciable decrease in his limping. Of course, this could have been due to the pain medication so we continue the rest and light exercise (walking slowly around the property). I picked up all outside toys to keep Scout from being tempted and because it forced us to be creative when outside with the dogs.
Traditional medicine combined with natural alternatives are speeding his recovery.