Why is my dog sore?
November 11, 2018 9:53 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I have a dog, a 90 lb Labrador named Miles. He is a good boy. Sometimes he gets sore, and I want to understand why, and how I can help.

Miles is now 7 years old. He has never especially craved exercise, usually content to lie around and sleep most of the time. At times in the past we have been able to be more active with him than we are right now. We still make sure he gets a few walks every day and we try to run with him or take him to the dog park as often as we can.

In the last year and a half, we've found that on the mornings after some exercises, he is very sore. On these occasions we will find him lying on the floor, upright on his stomach, usually shivering (not sure whether this is fear or cold or both, he usually sleeps on the bed with us). When prompted to move he will reluctantly try to stand up, and yelp and cry as he's doing so. We coax him into walking back and forth in the room, sometimes with treats, and once he's been up and moving about for a minute he appears to be completely fine from then on. Obviously his suffering is alarming and sad to us, and we're also concerned about it's long-term effects.

We understand that taking him on a long challenging hike will make him sore. What is baffling is sometimes going to the off-leash park does it to him, just the other day we had only 10 minutes there, and he was sore the next morning.

Taking him for a run will NOT make him sore, I have been running 3 miles with him and though he is slow, he is completely fine afterward. I can also take him for a quick sprint around a block or two, which he enjoys, no problem.

I have started giving him glucosamine tablets every day, and I give him some aspirin on nights I think he's going to wake up sore in the morning. I don't know if either of these things is helping.

Can you offer any insight about what is going on, and what I can do to help him? Thank you metafilter!
posted by counterfeitfake to Pets & Animals (14 answers total)
Huh. This sounds like doggie arthritis to me- you might need to take him to a vet for a check-up. My late pooch was very stiff and sore in her later years, though she was older then your good good boy. Her's was mostly due to ankylosing spondylitis, which is rare and shouldn't be the case in your dog. But before the x-ray which showed her problem the vet was convinced it was doggie arthritis. I think this is a case where a vet is needed.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:05 PM on November 11, 2018 [13 favorites]

Poor pooch. Yeah it sounds familiar. Look into beefy glucosamine chews (we used glycoflex) and consider acupuncture and cannabis options. Our dog responded well to these things. In her later years she also took previcox. A big thing we learned very quickly was that no matter how comfortable we made her in the car, like when we wanted to go on a hike or bike ride that was too much for her, we could no longer leave her there for a few hours or she’d stiffen up so badly she’d hobble for days after. She had to have the ability to move about freely. Good luck.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 10:42 PM on November 11, 2018

Shivering is often sign of pain in dogs. Please go to the vet and get an evaluation. Your dog may need stronger meds than just an occasional aspirin and glucosamine supplement.

For a dog of this size, it's not unheard of to start seeing more serious signs of arthritis by this age. Shorter walks on easy terrain as well as supplements like glucosamine and anti-inflammatory formulations can help a lot. I would avoid running, especially on hard surfaces like pavement. Also make sure his weight is managed. He looks like a very good boy, indeed!
posted by quince at 11:08 PM on November 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

Labs are known to suffer hip dysplasia. It is painful. Check with your vet.
posted by Cranberry at 12:38 AM on November 12, 2018 [6 favorites]

Definitely time for a thorough vet appointment. Labs are prone to joint pain and yeah, hip dysplasia as Cranberry says. There might be different things you can try depending on what's going on with him, like water therapy (labs often love this, I knew a younger arthritic lab who would go into paroxysms of joy when her person got her into her doggy life jacket), or timing when you engage him in more strenuous activity better so he doesn't cramp up after, or changing up his diet in case there's inflammation being caused by that. Then of course there's maintenance pain medications which can really help.

One quick thing to check though is his paws. Sometimes they can get deep fissures or cracks that heal poorly and there's hard-to-notice swelling that affect walking and running. It's probably not this as your good boy is, going by that picture at least, Extremely Good, and probably would have come to you with any ouchies, but it's something to make sure of while you're at the vet.
posted by Mizu at 1:08 AM on November 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

Definitely get to the vet - our 11 year old old english sheepdog developed arthritis this year so we started him (and our almost 19 year old patterdale/lab/whippet cross) on Metacam in the mornings and cod liver oil + glucosamine in the evenings. The improvement in quality of life has been dramatic in both and it's a joy to see.
posted by humph at 2:27 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Vet tech here.

Arthritis is definitely a possibility, as is Lyme disease, so I would get him tested. Lyme can present as lameness/stiffness. Aspirin isn't generally recommended these days for dogs, as it can lead to bleeding ulcers. Your vet can prescribe some more appropriate pain meds.
posted by cozenedindigo at 4:44 AM on November 12, 2018 [6 favorites]

Echoing the other calls to get your good boy to the vet ASAP. Labs are bred to be stoic and hide their pain. So if he’s visibly painful, it’s past time to do something about it. I would want xrays to rule out something serious. Arthritis can also often be seen in xrays.

Do not give aspirin (or Advil/Motrin or Tylenol) to dogs; it’s toxic for them. There are canine-specific pain relief drugs. And also, yes, cannabis may help.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:55 AM on November 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

Echoing the recommendations to take him to a vet.

At 90lbs he is well outside the typical weight range for male labs. Here's a helpful diagram showing body conditions for labs. It's hard to tell from your photo if he's truly overweight or just a big dog, but you should know that (a) even a little extra weight can exacerbate arthritis and other chronic pains and (b) because almost all labs are overweight in the US,* many vets choose their battles and only broach the topic when the dog is horribly obese. You should ask your vet if your dog is a healthy weight.

* This is anecdotal, but I had three separate vets comment that my (now-deceased) lab was incredibly anomalous in that he had an actual waist and wasn't just a jiggly lump.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 5:31 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Someone here on Metafilter turned me on to Avoderm Joint Relief dog food. It is basically nothing but avocados and chicken cartilage. It is expensive, and hard to find, but it has made a HUGE difference to the life of our ten-year-old English bulldog. She is no longer sore, and now moves like she did four or five years ago. I wish I could find the link to give that Mefite credit, because here in my house we bless her name almost every day.
posted by seasparrow at 6:54 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

My chocolate lab had very similar symptoms which turned out to be disc disease/arthritis in her lower back. She would be fine for long periods of time and then would have flareups after exercise or a mistimed jump into the car. Eventually I kept a prescription of muscle relaxers and doggie pain meds on hand. She was about 60 pounds at her lightest and definitely did better with regular exercise. She died before CBD really came on the scene, but I would have tried that with her. I'd definitely get your beautiful boy checked out by the vet and get some recommendations for managing his soreness.
posted by bookrach at 7:01 AM on November 12, 2018

Response by poster: Miles is a healthy weight, vets always tell me so. He has a defined waist and you can feel his ribs by touch. He's just s big lug. I don't know how much you can generalise a breed like labs, I'd guess him falling outside the AKC's guidelines just means he can't ever be a show dog, I won't tell him as I'm sure it would break his heart.

Thanks for the advice all, this has been bothering me and him enough that going to the vet is clearly the right answer.
posted by counterfeitfake at 8:06 AM on November 12, 2018 [4 favorites]

It is time for x-rays, and talk to your vet about what an ongoing exercise regimen - like, daily - should look like for a dog of his size, medical concerns, and age. The good news is that there are some great medications now for intermittent or daily pain management if they are seeing signs of arthritis - Galliprant, in our case, has bought us a lot of bonus time with our old man with arthritis and connective tissue issues, but there are others.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:07 AM on November 12, 2018

If it turns out to be arthritis, our cat has very bad arthritis in her spine and hind legs, and I think her treatment can be extrapolated for dogs.

For a year or so we had her on a regular regimen of injections of Adequan, which seemed to be working. Then our vet got a laser treatment machine and we now take her in for a treatment whenever she seems to have started being bothered by it again, and that absolutely produces a marked difference in her behavior. She jumps up on funiture again instead of dragging herself up with her front paws, and actively starts shit with the other cat instead of merely defending herself when he starts shit.

The laser treatments are essentially a concentrated heat treatment on the affected areas, which is completely painless (aside from the psychological pain of being at the vet) and reasonably cheap ($25/treatment). If your vet has that option available, I highly recommend it!
posted by telophase at 11:30 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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