First Arwen Pic

I had quite the unpleasant experience today. Arwen, my dog, was at the vet’s for an X-ray of her right foreleg. She has been experiencing lameness and I wanted to get a definitive answer as to why. Based on a previous X-ray, the vet suspected a bone chip in one of her toes was the cause. So it was expected that a simple X-ray followed by amputating the toe, would have Arwen back to her mad cap self.

As I was eating, a delicious curry as it happens, he rang with the results. It turns out that Arwen has rather bad arthritis in the both of her elbows. I was shocked, but then, dogs do get arthritis. Surely this was not an insurmountable problem? According to the vet however, elbows present a particular problem as does Arwen’s relatively young age. She is approximately six years old. This is a guesstimate as she was an abandoned little thing.

Medications that are usually used to treat joints are not as efficacious with elbows. I think I began to cry at this point. It was likely that she’d require long term anti-inflammatories, which would shorten her life. And eventually she’d need very strong pain killers. Her quality of life would be so reduced that I’d be faced with a difficult decision, sooner rather than later.

Arwens elbow xray
I had thought it was going to be all so straightforward.

It became difficult for me to speak. My curry began to disgust me. Had I perhaps over-exercised her? No. This stems from the first few months of her life, when diet and exercise have to be carefully managed to ensure the correct development of her joints. Apparently dogs aren’t born with their joints fully formed. They are mostly cartilage, which over time ossifies into joint bone, joining with the surrounding legs bones.

In desperation I asked about surgery, mentioning Arwen was insured. There was an abrupt change of tone. In that case, if the therapies failed to solve the issue, she could see a specialist in Cork and have elbow replacement surgery. It would cost in excess of €1000, but she’d be almost as good as new.

I should have mentioned the insurance when I dropped her for the X-ray. I would have avoided feeling shattered for those few minutes. On the other hand, I am now more relaxed than I have a right to be about the possibly of her having both her elbows replaced with metal joints. Now there is still a possibility that drugs, therapies and losing a bit of weight will do the trick and she won’t need to have two major surgeries, followed by difficult recuperation, but I’m fortunate enough to not have to make any decisions based on affordability.

Now, I have thrown away her ball and her treats. So has my mother, who delighted in spoiling her. She’ll need more running but no more chasing. Her diet will be strict and perhaps that’ll be enough. But if it isn’t, I know she will be taken care of.

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