Dear, Sweet DeDe and Stressed-Out Me

DeDe has arthritis.

My sweet, happy girl
My sweet, happy girl

Part of me is relieved that that’s all it is.

Part of me is not. Arthritis is not just a condition to live with. Arthritis means DeDe is in pain, and from the looks of things, she’s been in a great deal of pain.

It also means that she has yet another condition that, while treatable, she will not recover from.

Now there are two arthritic animals in my home to worry about. Neither can tell me how he or she feels. At least with Bubba Cat, I knew something was wrong when he started hiding all the time. But DeDe tries so hard to please me, she may have been in pain for a long time now and me not know it.

There are many questions swirling around in my head.

How much pain is she in?

Is it worse for DeDe because of her other health conditions?

How will I know if the pain is so great that it’s time to say, “enough?

Bubba also has arthritis
Bubba also has arthritis

As companion animals live longer, there will more of us who are asking ourselves these questions. And it’s something we need to start encouraging people to consider when they take on a companion animal. I know it wasn’t in my mind when I brought DeDe into my home.

I’m fortunate in that I’m able to afford DeDe’s medications, which now cost over $200 a month.  She also requires a special diet, and her food is expensive. There are many people who love their pets who simply could not afford to meet the needs of a dog like DeDe. That doesn’t make them bad people.

In addition to the impact on DeDe and Bubba, I have to consider the others who live here. I also have to consider myself.

I have no lie to tell- I’m tired. With a high-stress job, the need to find a new place to move, and now two geriatric patients to care for, I’m about at my limit.

For now I am watching to see if DeDe appears to be in less pain.

And I’ll say a prayer for the rest of us out there who are caring for elderly companions.

83 thoughts on “Dear, Sweet DeDe and Stressed-Out Me

  1. Poor DeDe and poor you…..indeed taking care of an elderly animal – especially one who ALSO has health conditions and need of special medication and care HAS to be exhausting. We’d like to think that our animals will tell us when they’re hurting but they put on that innocent and brave face and we sometimes just don’t know. Hopefully DeDe will adjust to this new challenge – and perhaps the new routine and needs of your crew will become less exhausting in time. We sure hope and pray so anyway!

    Pam and Sam

  2. There are times when I see posts like these from friends far away, who I have only met online that I wish I lived closer to them so I could help them out. This is one of those times. You have brought joy into our lives with Rumpy’s blog. I want so much to help, so I will do what I can only do from afar and that is pray for you and the clan. When things start to get to stressed, just stop, sit down and think of something that brings you great joy and peace. Isaiah and I send you virtual hugs.

    Isaiah and Joyce

    1. Awh that’s a lovely response and my sentiments too. Thinking of you both and hoping it gets easier x

  3. I understand about being at your limit. I hope the meds make DeDe comfortable and take some strain and stress off of you. Those are two sweet faces up there.. 🙂 Sending you prayers and thoughts of support.

  4. MOM and I will say prayers for all of you. And I am sending my very best vibes. As a senior dog myself my MOM often thinks about these things too. As of now I am doing well at 13. But you never know as time goes on. Thank you for you love and care.

  5. Thank you for the update. I was thinking about DeDe since your first post. You are doing all you can for DeDe and more than some people are able.

    DeDe having arthritis is a double edged sword and trying to treat it is stressful. They still try to please us and act as they were in spite of their pain. And the only thing we can do is manage their pain, which is what you are doing. Whatever else, you also need to take care of yourself or your and all of your pets will suffer.

    As much as animals try to please us, they do have subtle ways to tell us they are in pain. From a different reaction to touch, from not jumping up on our beds, to standing differently, and a slight vocal sound, you will notice the slight changes. Hopefully DeDe’s pain will be managed my the medication. I have read that cold laser treatments have helped tremendously with pain. They helped BJ after his fall.

    Animals also have a way of telling us when they are in so much pain that it’s time. I hope that this is a long way off for DeDe.

    I will continue to pray for her and send positive thoughts.

  6. Arthritis is not the end of the world. My older sister has had issues with it for a couple years now and there are so many ways to treat the pain so she can continue to lead a fun life with very little discomfort. Our biggest issue is her dragging her one back foot and wearing down the claws because of it but a shoe has helped with that. It is not always easy but it is better than a lot of other things that she could have. DeDe will hopefully do better with her meds and hopefully you will find a place to live that is even better than where you are now. Try to stay positive and take things one day and one issue at a time, otherwise it is too overwhelming!

  7. Jen, I left a comment on your post today and left a second one to yesterday’s post, and I did want to add something for you personally.

    When BJ was in all that pain because of his fall, one of my neighbors suggested DGP. She uses it for her 12 year-old arthritic Weimaraner and said that it appeared to be helping. Actually I have seen a difference in Jake’s walking. I stopped by DGP’s booth at BlogPaws and agreed to review the pills. They sent me a bottle, which I no longer need for BJ and would like to send it to you. If it’s helpful, I’ll give you the site that sells it for less than others.

    If you would like the bottle, please give me your address and I will send it. It might as well go to good use and maybe it will help DeDe like it helped BJ and Jake.

    I have been following your blog since I started blogging and feel I know you and your animals as if I were there in person. I’m sad about DeDe and hope her pain is lessened. My thoughts are with you.

  8. It is not easy…at one time, I had one diabetic dog(2 insulin shots a day) and an epileptic dog( 2 phenobarbital pills a day). I got a puppy who had a subluxation of her hip and had to have a hip operation. Bonnie(the hip) is still with me. We all got used to it and were able to have a happy home. My older dogs have always let me know when it was the sad time when I had to let them go. For DeDe, may she have years of doggy joy left.

  9. i totally could relate.. my kittycat Star is also sick and right now i need to give her 3 medicines on different time intervals.. yes, it’s really taking so much time caring for her (and expensive too) everyday and every moment i check on her and i make sure she eats and drinks well, and i say a prayer of thanks everyday for seeing her back to her usual self, running, jumping, playing and get up on top of the door and sure makes me happy and relieved.. i know you are tired and worried but i wish you all the best, and when i pray i will also include dede in my prayers, and bubba too..

  10. We will continue to pray for all of you as you begin to come to terms with DeDe’s diagnosis. Is Cosequin one of her medicines? My last dog, Smoki had arthritis, and took Cosequin. She lived almost 17 happy, active years. Meanwhile, as a human living with RA, DeDe, I feel your pain!! Hang in there.

  11. German shepherds suffer from this hip stuff relatively early in their age and it is devastating. I still shed a tear for my yellow lab
    I put to sleep 25 years ago. If there is an afterlife and can have only two “people” with me it would be that dog and my first grandchild.Have not had a pet since.

  12. MayzieMom here. So sorry to hear about DeDe but wanted to encourage you to look into cold laser therapy. My sister’s 11 year old, 90 pound dog had arthritis so bad she was on the verge of putting him to sleep. He was in a great deal of pain and could barely stand or walk. Laser therapy was a miracle for him. It’s now 2 years later and he’s like a whole different dog. AND the cost is surprisingly inexpensive. Anyway, just wanted to give you another option that I have seen the success of firsthand.

    Good luck to you and sweet DeDe!

  13. My heart goes out to you. It IS hard, I know, (as do so many of us) how hard it is not only to watch our pets age but to take care of them (and to be able to AFFORD to take care of them) throughout their golden years. Sending you tons of prayers and good thoughts!

  14. Awwww poor DeDe! At least there is a diagnosis and there is treatment! Sending you many hugs and purrs. Take care

  15. Oh I’m really glad you’ve found out what the problem is. I’ve done quite a lot of reading and trolling about joint care because of Flo’s issues with her leg in the past. I found that Green lipped mussel powder worked as an anti-inflammatory. I had to stop using it because anti-inflammatories have an unwanted plumbing side effect in Miss Flo, however, at least I knew it was working the same way that a synthetic anti-inflammatory prescribed by the v-e-t was working! You can also get a powder called Sascha’s Blend, which friends have told me worked really well for their arthritic dogs in the past. 🙂 I hope you’re ALL feeling a little more on an even keel soon. xx

  16. Oh my, I too am glad they figured out what it was although it doesn’t make it any better with what you are going through now and the daily stresses you are facing. I admire your strength to care for your geriatric babies. You’re right, not everyone could do it nor afford to do it. Shows how much your truly love your sweet babies.

    Although I can’t take away what you’re going through, know that our thoughts are with you and your babies.

  17. Awwwwwwwwwww Poor DeDe, am glad it nothing sumthing too major even though i know it must be pretty painful for DeDe n i can so imagine wat stress u must be going through, taking care of not just one but two animals wid special needs. ive just been taking care of one that too i know is temporary but i am already finding it hard to cope wid it. Its not easy to do a full time job n take care of the needies and ur self at the same time. ur dedication to them shows how much u love ur lil companions.
    plz know that my love n prayers are always wid u n ur lil partners who share the love n life with u 🙂
    n big hugs for DeDe

  18. Honestly, even though I know the implications and costs of caring for a geriatric pet with arthritis, I’m glad it was not an acute condition that might require immediate interventions or unhappy decisions. We are wishing the best for DeDe–and you!

  19. Aw, Jen, I’m so sorry – you certainly have a full worry plate. Our beloved Bubba kitty also knew Arthur all too well, and I knew it was “time” when he could no longer jump up to watch birds out the window or hop in bed on his own with us. You could see it frustrated and sometimes embarrassed him. I’m betting you know your babies better than your self-doubts acknowledge. Big, gentle hugs to sweet DeDe, and to you, too!

  20. I really feel for you as I have been there myself. We often joke that perhaps we were not given children because we were meant to provide special care for the pet companions that have been in our lives (we currently have 3 that need special care in our home, and none of them are geriatric yet!). Anyway, I wish you and your companions the best in this current situation and moving forward 🙂

  21. I glad it’s only arthritis, which is treatable – but the medicine certainly isn’t cheap! As far as how will you know when it’s time, you will know because she will tell you. I’ve been through it twice, and while it’s not an easy decision, it’s the right thing to do. Hang in there!

  22. Our hearts are with you. We’ve been through this way too many times to recount. Glad it’s nothing worse but so sorry she’s in pain. You’re a savvy incredibly wise loving furry momma and my heart knows you will continue to do well by all of yours. Sending you lots of love and wags, all of you. Paulette

  23. We are so sorry to hear that ANYTHING is wrong with DeDe… but of all the thingys we were thinking Yesterday… arthritis is the lesser of them. We know that DeDe will have all the care that could ever be hoped for…

  24. Jen, what you’re doing for your family are great things that we always admire. Because your fur family is quite big and you look after them on your own. We know how hard it is doing your job….
    We would love to send lots of hugs for you, Jen. I hope you feel a little bit better and also DeDe and Bubba can have less pain….arthritis is a difficult illness to deal with even humans…
    We send our prayers for you and your furfamily. xxx

  25. I am on the scale of things, that DeDe has arthritis. I am sorry for the load you are carrying…I understand it well. I have some info I want to share with you, so I’m jotting of an Email to you. Thinking of you!

  26. Ooops…that should have said I am glad that on the scale of things that it is arthritis…typed too fast!

  27. As with humans; I think arthritis in dogs is treatable with aspirin and other drugs. She will be stiffer after she rests and get loser and have less discomfort as she moves about. I usually give both of my dogs a 325mg aspirin with a bit of bread or other treat when I wake up so they are ready to start moving around about 30 mins later. Gives me time to make coffee etc. Works out well. Good Luck. I am struggling with many of the same questions as both of mine are now about 13 yrs. Talk again soon. Scratch some ears for me.

  28. The question of when is enough enough is always a hard one, but I do believe the pet will let you know in some way when it is enough. If you aren’t sure, then now is not the time. There are things you can do to make things a little easier for DeDe, and the web is a great place to start.

    I just signed up for a pet program at a local pharmacy. The cost of joining was $10, but I paid $3 for MMM’s prescription which is usually $11, so it won’t take long to pay for itself. You might want to call around to see if there is a program by you. Or maybe the vet could write a prescription for a med that is cheaper with the same benefits.

  29. So sorry, DeDe. Having companion animals is very rewarding. But dealing with their health issues and determining when ‘the end’ is right can be very very stressful. There are no easy answers. 😦

  30. Did the vet start DeDe on pain management? Did they discover a particular reason behind the arthritis (e.g. hip dysplasia etc ..?)

    Arthritis can indeed be very painful. Certainly sounded like a lot of pain from your earlier article.

    There are many options for helping a dog with arthritis, starting from physical therapy, massage, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, supplements, herbs, all the way to regenerative therapies such as platelet rich plasma therapy and stem cell therapy. These can do almost a magic for an arthritic dog.

    For Jasmine, stem cell therapy was one of the best things we’ve eve done for her.

  31. Well, the good news is that there are things you can try to keep Dede comfortable. The bad news is that it may cost more money. But we also think that Dede will let you know in her own way when she has had enough. Just keep doing what you can and we will keep our paws crossed for the rest to work out.

    Woos – Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

  32. Some thoughts – if you can find a vet who does acupuncture this may be a huge help in alleviating her pain. Likewise vets who use homeopathy have great success with pain reduction.

    Also, if you can find someone with a pool who will let her float in it for awhile (assuming it is not too cold) this can also help as it relieves stress on the joints.

    If you know a Reiki practitioner, most animals will respond to Reiki treatments. Oddly enough, owners who practice EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique – you can get the manual free) often see pain reduction results with their pets. I’m not sure how it works, but it is apparently an energy treatment like Reiki.

    If I were local I’d be more than happy to give DeeDee free Reiki. For all that folks talk about remote Reiki I have never found it to be nearly as effective as a hands-on treatment. Animals love Reiki – they just soak it up.

  33. Poor DeDe and yes, poor you, Jen! You have a lot on your plate. I hope some of the comments above have been helpful and that DeDe will be able to have relief from pain! xx

  34. Do you have insurance on DeDe? I’ve had insurance on my dog for 6 years now, and it’s paid off. He’ll be 11 this week, and I dread the day I either have to put him down, or he just dies. People who don’t like animals simply don’t understand how we animal lovers feel about our pets.

  35. Things are different for each and every person or animal, so there are no hard and fast rules for arthritis either. Treatments often work very well and can give an excellent quality of life. So fingers and paws crossed this will be the case. You can usually tell if things get really hard. Hang in there!

  36. I understand what you’re feeling. We just found out a few weeks ago that Remy has bilateral ccl partial tears and arthritis in his knees and right hip joint. He’s not even two years old. Sigh. Have you looked into Adequan for DeDe? I’ve been using in arthritic horses for over 20 years and it is a wonderful drug. Give the new meds a little time; arthritis management has come a long way.

  37. You will know when it’s the right time, don’t worry about that. You’re right about the money, I wouldn’t be able to pay that much (at least not now). I’m a bit worried about you, I know you got a lot of stress. A lot of mouths to feed and you moved in that area not long ago. (But I’m worried about me as well. German women are always worried.) Sometimes I wonder if I should move to the USA and spend the money I’ll get for my house to start a dog daycare, where we both could work. Really, that’s a dream of mine. But don’t worry, I’m not crazy (at least not much) and that’s not very likely to happen.

  38. M here – – so very sorry about all the health issues in the dear furbabies. Arthritis is yukky. Our dog had it and he reached the point where he could no longer go up and down stairs – thus he coudn’t go outside for potty either. He then reached a point where he basically just sat around and looked at us with a forelorn look. It was then we decided to help him cross the bridge. I think you will see some sighs of pain. Arthritis pain can be every day or it can come and go depending on the weather. I think DeDe will eventually let you know.

  39. Poor DeDe – my brother Jerry-Lee was on cartrophen injections monthly for the last 3 years of his life (he died of an unrelated cancer) it made such a difference to his quality of life .. Best wishes fur DeDe xx

  40. Ugh so sorry Jen. Though I am glad it’s treatable and that it wasn’t something more serious. But still. I know it’s not easy. You’re a wonderful and caring mom, and DeDe is so lucky to have you.

    Be gentle with yourself, take some time to breathe….

  41. I have been there as well, and though we are fortunate to be able to make kind decisions for our companions, we are also fully responsible for that, both financially and mentally. I was wondering if DeDe was put on Metacam? I used to work in Vet hospitals and know that Metacam, while pricey, can turn dogs back into puppies. I don’t recall if it is safe for use on cats, but good on you for being such a responsible pet owner!

  42. Poor DeDe. We’re purring for her. Like someone else said, maybe you could find a vet that does rehabilitation therapy. We are lucky to have such a vet near us. When we discovered Ernie suffers from intervertebral disc disease, we took him to this vet and she did massage therapy, acupuncture and laser therapy on him. We think it helped him feel better. She treats lots of dogs and cats with arthritis to manage their pain.

  43. *hugs* I really wish this was stressed at shelters and rescues. You adopting a pet is for the rest of their life. Better or worse, sickness and in health… I have a girl kitty who has an auto immune disease between vet visits, meds and normal care for the other 3 I’m sure I’ve spend at least $1000 on them, but I made to promise to care for them. I just wish other people would take it as seriously as I do.

  44. I understand. My Buddy has cancer and we are spending $300-$500 a month for treatment. He’s 11 but I feel he has good years left and isn’t in any pain. Poor DeDe. I hope her pain can be controlled adequately.

  45. Watching your animal in pain is a very difficult thing to do. We can’t fix it and do not (as you said) have a way of determining how badly they hurt. We will pray for you and DeDe and hope the medicine relieves her pain.

  46. Kisses to Dede – our Charlie also suffers with arthritis and the worst part is not knowing if he’s in pain, because he’s so stoic. But these days, arthritis can be well managed, quite conservatively. Good luck to you and to beautiful Dede.

  47. Such a shame, heartbreaking when they are poorly. I am a human with arthritus and it’s not nice but the meds help and will also help for your furry family.

  48. my dog has arthritis too, and as we have lots of stairs, it’s literally painful to watch her sometimes. I’m so sorry for Dede. I hope life gets a little easier for you all soon, you deserve it xx

  49. All we can do from so far away is send love and gentle purring. We do this every day for all of you. It’s hard to get older and we’re very thankful for the care and concern of OurPeople. They used to take Laurence to the park in a Red Flyer wagon when he couldn’t walk that far anymore. And there’s still steps beside the bed from when Shadow couldn’t jump up after his neck and leg surgeries. Some of us cats still use them now. ❤

  50. I would imagine your stress levels are going quietly through the roof. Too many unresolved issues and that draining uncertainty… But there will be changes for the better and you will find a new home for you guys. Remember God doesn’t test us beyond what we can endure! Many animals suffer from arthiritis and still manage to live on happily for many years and treatments are much more advanced these days. My landlords cat has suffered with it since being hit by a car. She’s no more than 2years old. Granted some days shes in a lot of pain with her hip and hind leg-arthiritis-but that’s mostly in cold damp weather. The bulk of the time she acts perfectly normal and she still manages to scale rooftops on good days! She limps slightly and maybe has slowed down somewhat but she doesn’t let it atop her enjoying life or playing like a kitten if you toss her a pigeon feather! Good luck and don’t give up.Wolfie hugs 🙂

  51. Dear Jen, I can totally relate to your predicament – I too am a working mother of two dogs and a cat (whom I lost) and a frequent mover primarily owing to neighbour unrest LOL.
    And I need to tell you that the time I’ve spent slogging, poo-cleaning, hysterically calling up vets for help, crying, fighting, etc. etc. is well spent. My life revolves around my pets – and howsoever I try, I do realise that I fall short of expectations – from my pets as well as from my family. However, the love I experience in sharing my life with these guys makes up for all the trouble. With all my shortfalls and imperfections.
    It’s ok to be tired and vulnerable. All I’d say is don’t forget to enjoy every bit of it.
    I’m glad DeDe is fine. You needn’t think of the end when you’ve got lots of miles left yet 🙂

  52. Sorry to hear this dear Dede and lovely cat! My prayers for you all, and dear Jenny I hope you are able to control her pain. When they are ill how make us so sad… Thinking of you All, love, nia

  53. There is a part of me that is relieved it is arthritis which as you say is treatable. I will send my best wishes to all of you.

    There is another part of me, having lost the last of my geriatric pets this year that says, this is the worst time. Watching our beloved pets in the sunset of their lives, in pain and not being able to tell us just how bad it is. I am sorry.

    1. Thank you. Not that I don’t appreciate all the positivity, but it’s nice to hear someone tell me that it really isn’t an easy time. I was beginning to wonder if it was just me.

  54. DeDe has such a good heart and is so grateful for you, she tries to hide her condition. We had a Bouvier like this – he struggle and was ever cheerful – but the pain did get too much and his eyes said “I trust you to take care of me and do what is right.” I still tear up. Later the vet said many a dog would have been vicious dealing with so much pain.
    Dede was sent to you. Her life is rich. She will let you know. Meanwhile adore and comfort each other.
    Hugs and prayers. (and soft warm dreams so you can sleep and rest)

  55. Old dogs and old people … we all deal with arthritis. There are some very good treatments. Glucosomine is a good start and there are other effective treatments. Dogs usually hide their discomfort … I think it’s an instinct. Seriously, glucosomine and gentle exercise. Keeping moving really helps keep all of we arthritics from becoming tree-like.

  56. Our sweet senior Tasha had very painful arthritis and I did not realize how much pain until I took her to the vet. She put her on low dose of a liquid pain med, administered AM and PM as I recall with a dropper. It made the last couple of years of her life so much more comfortable. And it was not costly

  57. Big hugs to you and DeDe, arthritis is a painful condition and it is hard to see our fur kids hurting. Our girl Maxi is a geriatric and has been living with arthritis for a few years now, we give her green lipped mussel capsules daily and she has regular cartrofen injections as well as pain medication when needed. We have seen how hard it is for her to get up and down especially during winter, but she is still very playful and loves short walks and swims, blood tests have also indicated that she is overall in pretty good health. I do worry about the times when she seems slower and walks more stiffly, each year gets harder but I know that she will let me know when it all gets too hard for her, in the meantime we’ll keep her warm and do what we can to minimise the pain and discomfort.

    Look after yourself, I hope that your stress eases and that you get to have some ‘me time’ to rejuvenate your body and souls.

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