Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

It Doesn’t Have to Hurt

Diagram Credit: chiro4critters
Diagram Credit: chiro4critters

Our Labradoodle, Polly, has had minor hip dysplasia since she was about 4 years old. In Polly, this manifests as occasional limping, doing a sort of “bunny hop” run that tries to take the impact off her hips, and just in general chasing after the tennis ball less than we know she’d like to. When she’s feeling good, she will retrieve that ball all day long. So you can tell when her hips are bothering her, and it hurts me to watch her hurting, I can tell you.

If your dog or cat suffers from chronic pain such as arthritis or hip dysplasia, you know what I mean. And if you have a senior pet, chances are he or she experiences joint or muscle pain from time to time. Maybe your cat doesn’t seem to like being picked up as much anymore; perhaps your pup seems reluctant to climb or descend stairs; or maybe your pet doesn’t jump like she used to. If he doesn’t like to stand up after lying down, or if he seems stiff, he’s probably suffering some sort of muscular or skeletal discomfort.

What to do? The good news is, there are lots of options – more than there were even 15 years ago. You’ll of course want to visit and chat with your veterinarian, but here are some remedies you might want to explore:

Medication: Your vet can prescribe meds like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) that can help. Steroids are also helpful but only for short-term use, as they can have negative effects if used for long periods of time.

Weight management: Keeping Polly’s weight at a healthy level helps her tremendously, because it means less stress on her hip joints. The catch-22 is, however, that when she is hurting she is less willing to exercise, which means she tends to gain weight. Swimming is the answer for her, as it is great but low-impact exercise – plus, it’s fun!

Cold laser therapy: A recent ABC News article noted the amazing success many pet owners have found for their aging pets with this treatment, explained as “a noninvasive procedure that uses light to stimulate cells and increase blood circulation. At the correct laser wavelength, pain signals are reduced and nerve sensitivity decreases. The procedure also releases endorphins, or natural painkillers.” It’s also non-surgical, low-stress, and painless, all big points in this therapy’s favor.

Acupuncture: Other pet owners swear by the traditional Chinese practice because of its lack of side effects and chemicals. Acupuncture stimulates the release of an animal’s own natural pain-relief and anti-inflammatory substances; it stimulates blood flow, relaxes muscles, and helps the body rid itself of toxins.

Massage: Gentle, skilled massage can do wonders for sore joints or backs, by stimulating blood flow to the muscles, relaxing them and releasing tension. You can find a practitioner by visiting

Bedding and ramps: Keep your pet comfy in soft but supportive bedding; get her a ramp to get up and down instead of using stairs; put down non-skid material on slippery floors and surfaces.

Ask your vet what she recommends – and remember, it doesn’t have to hurt so much! Let your pet show you what he needs, and be sure to get him the relief he deserves.


King Street Cats is holding its 8th annual Theater Night fundraiser on Tuesday, August 5 at 6:30pm to raise money to support its rescue mission. This entertaining event will be held at the Little Theatre of Alexandria, featuring the musical, Spamalot. The event promises an enjoyable evening of theater, hors d’oeuvres, and a silent auction. Tickets for the event are $40 in advance or $50 at the door. All ticket purchases and donations are tax deductible. Tickets may be purchased at King Street Cats’ website at: Last year’s event was a raging success and we expect even better this year!

King Street Cats (KSC) remains Alexandria’s only cat-exclusive, no-kill, free-roaming cat orphanage. Relying solely on private donations, the all volunteer-run rescue provides safe haven and veterinary care for over 300 cats and kittens each year until they find their forever homes. What is even more remarkable is that many of these cats are considered “hard-to-adopt” senior and special needs animals, which often require extensive and expensive veterinary treatment. For more information on King Street Cats, please visit their website: or their Facebook page:

Written by: Ashley Denham Busse

Ashley Denham Busse has worked part-time for since 2006. is a professional pet-sitting company located in Old Town Alexandria, celebrating more than 13 years of providing daily walks and customized in-home pet care. Visit or email 

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