Monday, December 21, 2009

A bone to pick with dog walkers

This morning I headed down to the local dog walking park to catch the scenary. I'd planned an hour-long powerwalk so I left my elderly four-legged companions at home. Why? Because they can't keep up. They get a shorter, slower, stop-and-smell-the-flowers walk later on. So it was dismaying to see not one, not two, but at least three dog walkers this morning, all decked out in their fitness gear with ipods insulating them from the rest of the world, walking at a fast pace while their arthritic dogs bunny-hopped, limped and panted behind them.

Maybe, a few years or months earlier, these dogs might have kept pace with their owners, but degenerative joint disease has set in. A plea to dog walkers then: pay attention to your dog and try to work out his or her limits. Don't hurt the poor dog trying to kill two birds with one stone (the obligatory dog walk, the exercise regime) - they may not be compatible.

And there are now plenty of things that we can do to help dogs with degenerative joint disease. Aside from weight loss (less calories in, more calories out) there are nutraceuticals (eg glucosamine, joint guard diets), pentosan injections, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and even acupuncture that can make them more comfortable and potentially slow the progression of degenerative joint disease.