Consistent barking

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Our 13 year old Lab was diagnosed with arthritis about a year ago and since August has been on a very low dose of steroids which has helped enormously. In the last few months she has started whining/ barking for no apparent reason. It gets worse in the evenings and doesn’t seem to matter what we do she continues. It is distressing for us all including our other lab. Does anyone else have this issue .. she doesn’t appear to be in pain but we are concerned that we are missing something.

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Hi SJ,
Unusual behaviour can often be linked to pain, but in older dogs there can be the added element of canine cognitive dysfunction, a kind of dog dementia. This sometimes causes them to behave differently, and seemingly particularly in the evenings. There is little that can be done, but there are some diets and a few medications that can help, ask your vet for their input. Brain games and mental stimulation can be helpful too.

However, I would also rule out pain being a cause. To be blunt, if she has arthritis then she WILL be in pain, and I would revisit your vet for a medication review. Are you sure she is on steroids and not a non steroidal anti inflammatory? Steroids would be an unusual first choice for a dog with arthritis, and if there is no medical reason other than arthritis for their choice, then I would suggest asking for a vet check to discuss this.

See our website for further tips re home, lifestyle, and complementary therapies for further ways to help your dog and slow the progression of arthritis. Sadly it is debilitating and painful, and only worsens as it progresses. Avoiding high impact activities like ball chasing, stairs, getting in and out of the car would all make an impact too.

Let me know about her medications and I can help you further with regards to speaking to your vet going forwards, and perhaps help you with picking up on some of her chronic pain signs; these can be behavioural, like the barking, circling before laying down, seeming low in mood to postural; how she stands, head carriage, tail carriage, how she defecates etc.

Lynsey.

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Thanks Lynsey
We have done a lot of things to help her with the pain of Arthritis, such as having non slip rugs on the floor, changing her bed for a better one with no sides, (although she prefers to sleep on one of the rugs) she is also on turmeric tablets. She doesn’t climb stairs and very rarely goes in the car as the vet visits her at home. We take her on short walks about 4 times a day, which she still seems to enjoy. In general terms for a 13 year old Lab she’s doing amazing but it’s just this whine/bark that is not like her. She’s on prednisolone and they have made a huge difference.
The other thing we did wonder is that her eyesight is not good now and whether she was scared as it gets darker.
I really appreciate your response as we want to make her last period of time as pleasant as we can, despite the pain of the Arthritis.
Sj

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Ahh well perfect! Good job on the other stuff as it all adds up to make her as  comfortable as you can.
Re the steroids, it is an unusual drug to use for arthritis, although your vet may have reasons for using them in her case. Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) tend to be the cornerstone of treatment for arthritis, as they work on inflammation in the joint itself, plus along the pain pathway in the spinal cord and also on pain receptors in the brain. There is a lot of other pain associated with arthritis, including compensatory pain, neuropathic etc; so if your vet didn’t prescribe NSAIDs for a particular reason, they may be able to add something else in for her….. I would really recommend another chat with your vet regarding this.
With long term pain, the nervous system can also get a bit confused, adrenaline is elevated when the sympathetic nervous system – responsible for the “fight or flight” instinct is constantly being stimulated and this leads to sleeplessness, restlessness, depression etc. The usual curve of being up and ready to go in the mornings gets mixed, and they then tend to be tired and sleepy in the morning then up all night and restless in the evening. So this could be a contribution.
Her eyesight might be adding to her issued, or indeed she may be suffering with CCD as I mentioned in the last post. Here is a link to explain it a little more; https://www.purina.co.uk/dogs/key-life-stages/ageing/what-is-cognitive-dysfunction-syndrome

Hopefully some food for thought for you there 🙂 Let us know how you get on over the next few weeks with her.

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Thanks Lynsey – I’ll let you know how she does.

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