Help with getting arthritic dog to rest

1.05K viewsCanine Arthritis Management

My dog Maggie, 5 year old Saint Bernard, has quite advanced arthritis in both elbows, she is on a cocktail of supplements and pain medication, however over the past 2 weeks she will not settle through the night and as a consequence neither of us are getting more than a few hours sleep.  She has had xrays and a full medical review with her vets and her treatments has been changed accordingly, however the vet advised that it may take anything up to 6 weeks for the increased Gabapentin/Tramadol/Paracetamol/supplement cocktail to fully get in to her system and have the desired effect. She is happy to play, walk, run, eat and cuddle and has no problems in the day at daycare, she is even happy to have a play in the garden with her newfie brother in the evening.  She has an orthopaedic bed with blankets and the house is kept relatively warm for her.  Is there anything I am not doing or should be doing because I am worry that she is in pain and not sleeping because of that and I am so, so tired and cant face (potentially) another 6 weeks of only getting a couple of hours sleep.
Please help.

I would also add that she cant take NSAIDS (Metacam, loxicom, caprieve and the likes) she has also had Catrofen injections, hydrotherapy and PAUL surgery on both elbows, poor girl.
Louise & Maggie

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Hi Lynsey,
Thanks for the advice.  Our mastiff used to eat off a raised feeder and we had no issues with him but it is something to consider.  I also know quite a few other people with giant breeds such as mine that used raised feeders.
You will be happy to know that Maggie has slept through the night for the past two nights.  I took her back to the vets on Friday after she had been sick on Thursday night and we came to the conclusion that her stomach was upset, she had been on a high dose of steroids, sedated and had her meds up in less than a week, she seems to be so much more comfortable now but I have found this website so useful with ideas that I had not thought of.
I also spoke to the vet and we are starting acupuncture in the new year to try and see if that helps.
Thank you for all your advice on this as I couldn’t see past the sleeplessness and felt rather negative with it all.
Louise & Maggie

Answered question

You’re welcome.
Just so that I know I have given you all the information for you to make an informed choice, there have been a couple of studies regarding raised feeding and the risk of bloat in dogs who may already be pre-disposed to it (such as large breed/deep chested). There has been no conclusive proof either way, as the only two studies undertaken disagreed with each other. A summary of those studies says:
“….Authors found that, where the feeder was raised, the height of the feeder that increased the GDV risk was affected by the size of the dog. Large breed dogs were more likely to develop a GDV if fed from a bowl ≤ 1 foot tall, whereas giant breed dogs were more likely to develop a GDV if fed from a bowl > 1 foot tall. No studies found that feeding from a raised feeder reduced the risk of GDV relative to feeding from the floor. Therefore, the safest option in the absence of further evidence is to advise that owners of ‘at risk’ dogs feed from a feeder on the floor. This may not reduce the risk of GDV, but there is no evidence to suggest that it will increase the risk. ”

Confusing isn’t it, but I just wanted you to be aware. If you choose NOT to raise her bowls in light of this, I would still suggest non-slip matting around her bowls so that she doesn’t slide when trying to get down to them, and has some traction when she gets back up. Really, as the studies were in disagreement it is up to you to balance the “possible” risk with how much discomfort you think she is in. It may be worth posting on Holly’s Army on FB to see how many other owners of large/giant breeds feed from raised feeders.

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Thanks again for the advice,  I have had a look at the homesafe tool and noted that she always lays down to eat or drink so will try her on a raised feeder today. I didnt realise that meant she was uncomfy. I am also going to look at some interactive feeders for her and see if that helps.
I think the massage is also probably another good idea as she had some massages as part of her hydrotherapy and she loved it.
She had another restless night and she seems to be up from 1-3/3:30a.m. she was wandering around crying then playing then crying.  She settles after I give her a little bit to eat so I will speak to her vet rethink the timings of her food and meds to make the most of her down time as well as the acupuncture.
Honestly if you saw her you wouldn’t think her arthritis was as bad as it is, she moves around so well and loves to play, run, cuddle, all the things that she should be doing so I think the complimentary therapies are worth a look at if she is having tension pain elsewhere for any compensating she might be doing because of the arthritis.
Thank you for the advice, I have lots of options to explore that I can do at home for her so feeling much more positive although sleep deprived lol.

Answered question

Hey Louise,
Have a look at our CAM homesafe tool, it may throw up some things you haven’t considered already:

Yes, acupuncture may be another option. Massage or myotherapy may be useful if she has any compensatory pain, it helps to relieve tense, tight muscles that she could be overworking to take the strain from her elbows.
I’ll see if any of our vets or Gwen, our pain specialist, has any thoughts or insights on the NSAIDs with her kidney function, although they can’t comment on individual cases they may be able to give us some up to date advice 🙂

Bless her, she sounds like she’s been dealt quite a hand xx

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Hi Lynsey,
Thanks for the reply. Maggie was on Carpeive/Rymadyl for about two years and latterly she suffered quite badly with her stomach, sickness, bloating and when a blood test was done her Kidneys showed signs of damage so the Carprieve was stopped and our vets are trying to stay away from them as long as they can. We recently changed vets and have to say that the depth of discussion and options have been really great.
Maggie is really slight for a Saint Bernard, she sits around 47kg, so technically, according to some she would be underweight but she eats 2 really good meals a day and some treats.
Prior to having PAUL surgery she was having hydrotherpay and KLaser treatment, we didnt see a marked improvement in her but just assumed its because she required the surgery. Myself and my husband have been discussing whether to try these therapys again and the vets have also me tioned acupuncture.
At home, neither dogs are allowed upstairs, mainly because of their size that I dont want the impact of that on their legs, we have runners that are gripped to the floor as our floors are laminate and Maggie has an orthopedic bed witg blankets and self heated pads. We also have a ramp for her for the car too. Is there anything elae I should or could be doing?
maggie has always had trouble sleeping but once she turned two and started daycare (which is run by my cousin and vet nurse) she started to sleep through the night and when she is comfortable she will be curled up on her bed and wont move for the whole night.
I would also point out that Maggie has alot of other issues, she is incontinent and has been since before being spayed, she has also had a vulvaplasty and both of her eyes operated on twice for entropian, as well as IBD.  Sometimes I am not sure whether the not settling is more behavioural than pain related but most recently she is pacing and shuffling instead of laying down.
Sorry for the long post and all the info on Maggie.

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