Pickles’ Arthritis Story: Pickles, an 8-year-old black lab and crisis response dog, has elbow and hock arthritis.
Pickles was bred to be a show dog but a limp in her front legs made that impossible. However, her personality made her a perfect fit for Raquel Lackey to adopt her and work with her as a crisis response dog. Her brother, Bungee, is also a crisis response dog and certified superhero, as seen in the picture!
Raquel was initially told that Pickles’ limp was from panosteitis, a type of growing pain that some large-breed dogs experience and generally outgrow. But when Raquel took her to Dr. Kirkby Shaw for x-rays and tests, Dr. Kirkby Shaw diagnosed Pickles with elbow dysplasia at 10 months old.
Elbow dysplasia is a type of degenerative joint disease, and dogs who have it need to follow a long-term arthritis plan to help them stay active and manage pain and lameness as they age.
Dr. Kirkby Shaw recommended the following for Pickles:
She could do surgery to remove bone fragments that were contributing to Pickles’ lameness and pain. This is the most common treatment for elbow dysplasia but would still require Raquel to follow an arthritis treatment plan for life.
But, there was another option. This included the traditional treatments of anti-inflammatory medication to decrease pain, weight loss, and supplements to protect her joints. However, when Pickles had her spay surgery, Dr. Kirkby Shaw would harvest stem cells from Pickles tissue and then inject those stem cells into Pickles’ joints.
Pickles’ Arthritis Plan
Raquel opted for the stem cell therapy treatment option, and to date, Pickles’ has received approximately 5 stem cell injections, starting when she was around 1 year old.
Pickles was also an overweight puppy, and extra weight on dogs is closely linked to arthritis and joint pain.
Did you know: Helping their dogs lose weight is one of the best things dog owners can do for their dogs, especially if they have arthritis.
To help Pickles lose her “puppy weight,” Raquel changed Pickles’ diet, started taking long walks with her, and got Pickles swimming regularly – one of Pickles’ favorite activities, according to mom Raquel.
In addition to diet and exercise, Raquel worked with Dr. Kirkby Shaw on a customized plan that includes
- Stem cell injections
- Monthly injections of Adequan
- NSAIDs as needed
- Adding fish oil and sardines to Pickles’ diet
- Installing carpet on the stairs to make them more manageable for Pickles
- Underwater treadmill therapy
- Acupuncture for pain
How Pickles is doing now
Today, Pickles loves to go swimming and hiking, chase balls, and hang with her brother, Bungee, who recently underwent CCL repair surgery (ACL in people) with Dr. Kirkby Shaw.
According to Raquel, Pickles’ mobility hasn’t significantly declined over the years, which allows Pickles to continue her work as a crisis response dog.
“Before we started managing her arthritis, Pickles would run and chase balls all the time but would come up lame if she played too much. Now I know how to manage her pain and help her have more good days where she isn’t in pain,” said Raquel.