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Pets of the Month

Rudy

Canine Pet of the Month - February 2024

Although puppies and kittens may be adorable, we love our senior pets at the Animal Hospital of Statesville and find it so rewarding to help them and their families. Our Canine Pet of the Month is Rudy, the sweetest 10-year-old German Shepherd you’ll meet. Weighing in at just about 100 lbs, he almost looks like a bear. Like many of our grey muzzled big dogs, mobility has been our biggest conversation as Rudy has gotten older. When he was younger, Rudy was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joints that ranges in severity. He had been on anti-inflammatory medications for several years since this condition increases the risk of hip arthritis with time. In January 2021, Rudy came for his semi-annual wellness visit and his mom mentioned he’d been growling and snapping at nothing at home and seemed to be turning into a “grouchy old man” at times. Just like with older people, chronic pain, such as arthritis, can make you grumpy. We had a conversation about possible reasons for the behavior change and chose a pain medication trial to rule out pain as a possible cause. Sure enough, adjusting his pain medications fixed the problem! Rudy seemed much more comfortable and like his old self again. Over the next two years, Rudy maintained his mobility on three daily pain medications and regular joint supplements. But by January 2023, Rudy’s mobility was worsening, and all the pain medication options were at their max doses. We discussed alternative therapies, like Adequan, therapeutic laser, physical rehabilitation, etc. With radiographs (x-rays), we confirmed Rudy to have arthritis in his lumbar spine and hips. We suspect Rudy was also developing a progressive neurologic disease common in older German Shepherds called Degenerative Myelopathy, which causes loss of function and ability to walk with his hind end with time. Between his neurologic deficits and worsening hips, Rudy’s mobility was declining to the point of needing a wheelchair. In fall of 2023, Zoetis released an FDA-approved product called Librela to help control pain associated with osteoarthritis (arthritis). Librela is a once-monthly injectable antibody therapy (given like a vaccine) that binds the protein leading to worsening joint pain in dogs. By binding this protein, Librela effectively “blocks” the pain a pet feels from arthritis. Librela will not reverse arthritis, but it will control pain for a month until the next dose is due. Best of all, because Librela is an antibody therapy, it does not rely on the kidney or liver for metabolism and does not have any short- or long-term effects on the body. Since many of our other pharmaceutical options can stress the liver and kidneys, Librela is unique in that it is safer than many of our other arthritis pain management options and opens the door for better pain control in pets with liver and kidney concerns. At Rudy’s annual exam in October, we discussed his mobility. Although quality of life was still reasonable at this point, likely we’d be having a conversation before too long since he was struggling. We decided to start Rudy on a trial of Librela. Within a week, Rudy’s mom witnessed him RUNNING in the backyard!! Talk about a full 180! Rudy has gotten around much better since starting the Librela. He is heading towards his 5th injection and continuing to do well. Because Rudy is a big boy with mobility concerns, he stays in the car while a technician goes to him for his monthly Librela injections. We have loved seeing the comfort Rudy has gotten from Librela and his improved quality of life – plus these quick monthly visits give us extra chances to spoil him! Rudy is so fortunate to have such a devoted and attentive mom as he navigates his senior years! We love being a part of you and your pet’s journey from puppy to adulthood to senior and are always available to discuss your concerns as your pet ages.

Tiny

Feline Pet of the Month - February 2024

Tiny is a 6-year-old neutered male cat. He was rescued as a kitten from the shelter. Tiny has always been an anxious kitty and started at a young age mutilating his tail. Hyperesthesia syndrome was suspected. This is a poorly- understood condition in cats that often has multiple underlying factors. The The skin on the back and tail of the affected cat is very sensitive. It is either painful or severely itchy. There can be an anxiety component, a spinal pain component and an allergy component. Tiny’s owners are diligent about keeping him on flea control and he is housed alone as other cats tend to worsen his anxiety. Tiny was started on a combination of anxiety medication, corticosteroids for itch and gabapentin for nerve-related pain and antibiotics as needed. Tiny did not improve much and would mutilate his tail so severely that amputation would have to be considered due to the damage. A new pain injection has come on the market called Solensia. It consists of monoclonal antibodies against nerve growth factor that are injected under the skin for arthritis pain in cats. Nerve growth factor is an important component of arthritis pain, but hyperesthesia pain is unknown. As a last resort, Tiny’s owners were interested in trying it for this issue extra-label, as it is very safe. The injections are monthly. After 2 injections, Tiny’s tail was starting to improve, and Tiny was not chewing it as much. Now the tail is completely healed and Tiny gets a monthly injection to maintain his nerve pain. We were very glad Tiny responded to this novel therapy and his quality of life is much better. That is why he is AHS feline Pet of the Month!

View "retired" Pets of the Month here!

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