Labrador Charlie gets a new lease of life at 13

As we get older our joints start to creak and we become less supple in our movements.

This applies just as much to our canine and feline companions, and is perhaps becoming more evident because, like us, they are tending to live longer.

One case that springs to mind is Charlie, a black Labrador with a friendly outgoing temperament who in his youth had enjoyed long walks and an occasional day at the shoot. He is now 13 years old and inevitably not as active as he was.

But two years ago his owners were considering putting him to sleep. Due to family circumstances, he had had very little exercise for six months and had become overweight.

He also suffered from arthritis in his hips and elbows, and the extra weight he was carrying was just too much for these creaking joints.

He really struggled to get up if he had been lying down for a while.

I discussed the options with Charlie’s owners: Euthanasia was certainly considered, but it was decided to see if we could help Charlie with a programme of pain relief, weight loss and physiotherapy.

Charlie was put on a course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory treatment, which brought about an improvement in his mobility within three days.

He was also put on a strict low calorie diet, and as he lost weight his activity improved further.

He also embarked on a course of physiotherapy; his owners were a little dubious at first, but were won over as the benefits became apparent and Charlie got a new lease of life.

Charlie’s case is by no means unique.

There is much that can be done to keep dogs and cats mobile and active in their later years.

To this end, Alnorthumbria Vets are hosting Nose To Tail, an interactive seminar which will feature information on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia and osteoarthritis.

We find that many owners want more in-depth information about the conditions – even if their pets show no signs during the early years.

Many can miss the early signs – so being able to recognise changes in your pet will help keep the healthy and active for longer.

Alongside vets from Alnorthumbria, Chartered physiotherapist Hazel Potter will discuss therapies you can use to keep your pet in top condition, and how physiotherapy can aid potentially debilitating conditions of the joints, muscles and spine.

This can be really important for all breeds, especially those prone to hereditary conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia.

Key tips about exercise at an early age will also help with the long-term health of your pet.

As they say – prevention is better than cure.

We know that within our practice we have a pool of very talented canine athletes as well as seasoned working dogs; because of this we have included a practical demonstration on how to keep your canine athlete at peak fitness, ideal for those with working dogs, agility dogs and flyball dogs.

You will learn the safe ways to warm up/cool down your dog and how using simple exercises can have a positive impact on performance and long-term joint care.

This will include a few yoga acrobatics from our team of dogs!

The evening will take place on Wednesday, July 1, at The Pegasus Centre from 6.45pm.

It’s free to come along but places are limited and booking is essential.

To book your free place, call our Morpeth surgery on 01670 505321 or email