We had an interesting trip to the vet this week.
I used the occasion of going up north next week to get Tala microchipped. Our local Animal Services is really pushing the microchipping, by giving a huge reduction on licensing fees.
This also seemed like a good occasion to talk to the vet about several changes we've noticed with Cody.
For a while now, Cody has seemed stiff and uncomfortable (perhaps in pain?) after getting a lot of exercise, such as at the dog park or a hike. I'm familiar with this, as arthritis and hip displasia is very common in large dogs.
I've been giving Cody an aspirin when she seems uncomfortable, something I learned to do with our first dog Gypsy. We've also been giving her Cosequin - glucosamine/chondroitin developed specifically for animals - as a preventative for several years. Cosequin gave Gypsy at least another two years of life, so we swear by it. But I didn't want to keep medicating Cody without at least talking to the vet.
More disturbing, Cody has developed fears and anxieties that she never had before. If the windows are open and a breeze is blowing the curtains, she's afraid - really afraid. If a blind is banging against a window frame, she's frightened. A few times when it was very breezy and I had all the windows wide open, she was so fearful she couldn't stay in the house. She begged to go outside, frantic, and then ran to the farthest corner of the backyard.
The worst is when a storm is coming in. As the sky grows dark and the humidity increases, she becomes extremely anxious. Several times she's woken me up at night, asking to be comforted. This is extremely different for Cody, a dog who generally doesn't ask for a lot of affection.
She's taken to spending most of her time in the basement, where there are no windows. That means walking stairs more often, and steeper stairs than if she slept in our bedroom. Is she so frightened that she is putting herself through discomfort in order to feel safe?
So we talked to Our Wonderful Vet about both of these issues.
After examining Cody and watching her walk, OWV is fairly certain Cody has arthritis and probably some displasia, too. There are several good meds we can give her to reduce the pain and inflammation. But OWV wants us to have Cody x-rayed, too. If something else is going on there - like a bone tumour - the drugs would mask the pain while a serious condition was getting worse. We're going to start the anti-inflammatories and get the x-rays done soon.
That part was not surprising. But I was surprised when OWV said that anxieties, fears and phobias are very common in aging dogs. If a dog is already fearful, it will often get worse with age; and it's not unusual for dogs to develop phobias in their senior years, even if they've never had them before.
We're going to try some anti-anxiety meds, if we can anticipate the rainy weather. It might work, it might not.
Ah, Cody. Sweet, gentle, quirky, steadfast Cody. She's been through so much in her life. It's very hard for me - for both of us - to think of her growing old and failing.
We've had her 8 years, and she was about 1½ when we adopted her. So we figure she's around 10, although that's only an educated estimate. I'm trying not to get ahead of myself. She might have several more good years to come. But realistically, no more than that. Plus none of our dogs have lived to advanced old age, so perhaps that makes my fears stronger.