This article will first allow you to get to know a little about Jack’s riveting “tails” and how as a senior dog low level laser therapy (LLLT) helped his quality of life. According to Jack’s Owners: “If we had it to do over again, we would have tried laser therapy first, before any other treatment. The staff were amazing and always worked with Jack like he was a member of the family; his quality of life improved immensely and worth every penny.”
Meet Jack, a 14 year old black Labrador retriever who had been coming to Oakview Veterinary Medical Center (OVMC) for over a decade and many at the clinic have been blessed to have watched him grow into such an amazing dog. He was a gentle soul, always eager to please and with his happy-go-lucky can do attitude had everyone at “Woof”. Jack would light up the room when he pranced in, tail wagging and a beaming smile on his face like he had no cares in the world befriending anyone around. Brimming with enthusiasm, this fearless warrior would hold his head high no matter what procedure was thrown his way never wavering away from his loving and tractable nature.
Jack, a bright-eyed black lab would come to OVMC for routine wellness examinations that included updating vaccines such as DAPP (Distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and Parvo virus), Lyme, Leptospirosis, Bordetella (Kennel Cough) and got his yearly heartworm check with a tick exposure test.
Also, during these visits the doctors would perform a physical examination looking in his ears and eyes, checking the mouth and teeth, feeling the his lymph nodes and performing range of motion techniques on his limbs looking for any discrepancies that could affect Jack’s well-being.
Another wellness examination Jack took part in was Senior Wellness Screen which is recommended for senior and geriatric patients to help detect minor changes that can be interpreted as the onset of disease or worsening of existing conditions. The screening process starts with the physical examination and some diagnostic testing that include urinalysis, complete blood count, thyroid panel and biochemistry blood testing but depending on a pet’s condition there could be more diagnostic testing recommended.
Jack had been to OVMC for not so routine visits as well. One of these visits was when he was about 12 weeks old and somehow this curious black lab puppy got his paw twisted in the wires of his kennel and injured his left paw. After taking x-rays the doctors noted that he had a transverse distal fracture to the 2nd and 3rd digits (broken toes!). Treatment at that time was to clip and clean the affected area, apply a splint, and a mild pain medication. The owners had the toughest job though, keeping a puppy’s activity restricted for weeks to allow the fractured bones to mend and not letting that splint get wet. After a couple splint changes and exercise restriction, Jack was ready to leave that altercation in the past. Other non-routine visits that he was seen for included skin and ear infections, rodenticide poisoning, and gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea. The doctors and staff also got to enjoy Jack’s invigorating aura when he came to stay for boarding and laser therapy visits.
Jack becomes a senior
As Jack aged so did his body, and by late 2012 at the age of 9 his owners noticed that he was starting to exhibit some mobility issue such as difficulty jumping on and off furniture, trouble getting up from laying position, limping and lameness, and difficulty going up and down stairs.
Promptly the owners started Jack on glucosamine which is a natural compound found in healthy fluid and cartilage around the joints. It is classified as a nutritional supplement and is gathered from shells and shellfish or synthesized in a laboratory. The idea behind the use of glucosamine is that it hampers inflammation and regenerates cartilage cell growth and can be used in conjunction with a chondroitin to strength the cartilage.
Jack was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and suspected hip dysplasia in 2013 and was started on Rimadyl which is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and a pain medication called Tramadol (opioid analgesic) along with the glucosamine supplement. This treatment allowed provisional relief for the next few years letting Jack do the things he loved such as going for walks, playing around the yard, scavenging for food, and all the little things that get harder to do with age.
In 2015, Jacks owners noticed his symptoms were becoming more frequent and intensifying. At one of his visits the doctor recommended adding gabapentin to his regiment of pharmaceutical medications. Gabapentin is used both in human medicine and small animal practices. It is an anticonvulsant originally made to treat seizures associated with epilepsy, but now it is widely used to relieve neuropathic pain. The doctors also recommended changing Jack from oral glucosamine to an injectable medicine called Adequan. This medicine is a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan and can inhibit bad enzymes that breaks down cartilage in dogs joints. They also suggested trying something relatively new to many clinics called low level laser therapy.
From 2015 to 2018, Jacks owners managed his mobility conditions to the best of their abilities and looked forward to everyday they got to spend with their beloved pet. Taking on new challenges along the way, Jack’s human parents were faced with some new symptoms suspicious of cognitive disease (senility) that included pacing, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, disorientation, and weight loss. To top it off, Jack was having episodes of fecal and urinary incontinence and intermittent diarrhea. A few more medications were added to Jacks arsenal to help with the new conditions that arose.
It is hard to watch a longtime friend and companion get older and go through these difficult times, but one is willing to do what they can to make their pet the most comfortable while fretting the decisions that lie ahead. Taking into consideration Jack’s quality of life, his owners decided to discontinue some medications and use others on an as needed basis while weighing their options for what best suited Jack’s needs. His devoted owners decided to try laser therapy, a non-invasive procedure that increases circulation by reducing inflammation and the associated pain.
Jack starts laser therapy
Jacks owners stated “By the time we tried laser therapy, Jack was on nearly every pharmaceutical treatment available and I was a bit skeptical that laser therapy (or anything new) would help, but we decided to give it a try.”
Jacks first laser appointment was on January 20th 2018 and the targeted treatment areas that were focused on were his hips and knees. The therapeutic dose was calculated for those areas based off his hair color and length, weight, and type of condition being treated. Since Jack had dark hair, he was lightly spritzed with tap water to keep his hair damp to avoid fringing. The treatment time for one session was approximately 20 minutes and Jack’s owners never left his side. The hand piece used was the roll ball design that offered a gentle and soothing message to the area being treated with the laser light. Jack stayed in good spirits soaking up all the attention and treats he could receive.
“Within 24 hours of his first treatment Jack was moving like a much younger dog, eventually running around the back yard, stealing food, and generally causing trouble like he used to.”
Since Jack’s owners saw a significant change in Jack’s mobility and a beaming light back in his eyes, they decided to buy a cold laser therapy package of six sessions. Over the next month Jack came in a few times a week for laser therapy treatments, allowing temporary relief of pain and inflammation and giving him more time to spend with friends and family. Jack’s owners continued treatments over the next few months and got down to weekly and biweekly visits. This was possible because Jack’s owners were vigilant and able to notice trends in his mobility and behaviors that indicated it was time for another treatment.
Most have heard the old saying “Hard to keep an old dog down,” and that fit Jack perfectly. During his laser appointments Jack usually liked to stand or walk around the room but at times he would take advantage of the soft blanket or rug all the while eating treats. Surprising, a lab that likes to eat! Anyone having owned or worked with Labradors know they typically have insatiable appetites. His desire to keep moving could have been due to any one of his medical conditions, such as hip dysplasia, arthritis or even the cognitive dysfunction. Or it could have been just his zany Labrador nature! Cold Laser Therapy gave Jack the ability to sit, lay, and move around with more ease allowing his essential nature to shine bright one day at a time from just a simple ray of light.
As Jack’s dad said, “If you are skeptical about laser therapy and your dog is suffering, take my advice: try laser therapy…you just might be as amazed as we are.”
In Loving Memory of Jack
October 30, 2003 to April 30, 2018
written by Amanda Haebig
Amanda was born in Indiana but has lived in Stevens Point most of her life. She joined the Oakview team in March of 2016 and has quickly become part of the family.
She enjoys Motorcycle riding and Horseback riding when not working.
She shares her life with her significant other, Kevin and their Siberian Huskies Storm and Hale.