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An alternative to pet pain meds

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At 13-years-old, my 70 pound Catahoula Leopard Dog, Sage, is showing her age. Her muzzle is white. Her eyes are cloudy and her hearing seems to be diminishing by the day. Still, we're determined to keep her as active as possible, which means regular walks through the East Bay hills. As you might imagine, life changed a few weeks ago during a leisurely neighborhood stroll, when she fell on a steep descent and was unable to stand up.

Obviously, we made the first available vet appointment. Dr. Han, who I trust even more than my own doctor, did a preliminary exam and said that to have an accurate diagnosis, he would have to do x-rays. However, he said, short of surgery (which I ruled out on non-life threatening illnesses because of Sage's age), the treatment would be the same no matter what the diagnosis - a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Sage had already tried the most popular and let's just say her digestive system didn't agree. I was worried about other potential side effects as well. Especially in the liver.

A while ago, when Sage's limbs were simply stiff, I had a long talk with Heidi Hill at Berkeley's Holistic Hound. She said she had an alternative to NSAIDs with limited to no side effects. After my visit with Dr. Han, I paid her a visit. She sold me a pain med (which I haven't yet had to use) and an herbal medication called, DGP.

The ingredients include: marine collagen extract, boswellia extract, corydalis root, wheatgrass, turmeric, fever few extract and celery seed extract. At Sage's size she takes three pills a day and at just under $30 a bottle, there is a 20 day supply.

Heidi insisted that all dogs like the flavor of DGP and I don't doubt that most dogs like it (Rusty would love it, I'm sure), but Sage is a special kind of dog. She hates medications of all kinds, so we simply grind it up in her food, along with her joint supplement and an anti-gas enzyme. We also add pumpkin and fish oil.

The next day, I noticed a difference. Sage was a little quicker to get up. Within three days, she seemed more energetic and was less likely to fall, although I still kept her off steep hills (thank goodness for Point Isabel). Now, a bit over a month later, she is going down some fairly steep hills - although not the hill on which she fell - and she seems a bit younger.

For Sage, DGP has not exactly been a fountain of youth. She isn't back to being a puppy, although she obviously thinks she is sometimes, but she is back to a younger version of a senior dog and for that, I am thrilled. It's worth it for me to spend about $40 a month.

Obviously, check with your vet first, but DGP might be the solution to help you and your dog navigate pain.

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