Category Archives: Dogs

Doggy quote of the month for April

The journey of life

So appropriate for these Covid-19 isolation times…

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Online Dog Trivia Quiz

Dog Trivia Challenge for Facebook

We’re supporting our customers with dog-themed entertainment during the country’s Covid-19 shutdown.

Join us at 4 pm on Sunday, 5th April (NZ time) for our dog trivia challenge – think of it as a pub quiz without the pub! (you supply the drinks and snacks at your place)

Upon registration, we’ll send you a link to join the quiz using Zoom.  You don’t need a Zoom account to participate.  Simply follow the Zoom link that is emailed to you and you will be prompted to download and install Zoom when you click the join link in the email.  It’s always wise to try this before the quiz starts.

The purpose of this quiz is to have fun.  Write down your answers to each question and we’ll email the answers out after the quiz has finished so you can check and share your score.

We’ll draw one name at random from everyone who registers and that person will receive a prize pack of our dog treats worth $30 – we’ll ensure delivery after the lockdown is over!

***Only New Zealand residents qualify to win the prize pack but we would welcome participation from our overseas followers***

Book your place on the quiz here

 

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

What I learned from the Canterbury earthquake that is relevant to Covid-19

I consider myself to be resilient and adaptable.  In 1994 I moved to New Zealand on a great adventure.  Within weeks of my arrival, we were in the midst of the Auckland Water Crisis.  In 1998, there was the 5-week Auckland Power Crisis which I remember because I worked in a multi-story building and had to walk up internal access stairs, in the hot summer months with no air, as an asthmatic.

These crises were nothing compared to the February 2011 earthquake in Canterbury, a shallow earthquake of 6.2 magnitude that hit us at lunchtime on a working day with multiple deaths and two collapsed buildings.  Most of the central city was evacuated and closed down and my office was included (eventually to be demolished like many others).  We were home for many weeks, although we could socialise.  But we had water restrictions, the constant interruptions of aftershocks on our frayed nerves, and the uncertainty about our work and future.

Tonight, at midnight, New Zealand goes into mandatory isolation for a minimum of four weeks.  I am again at home.  My canine companion is Izzy, whereas back in 2011 it was my dear Daisy.

Daisy birthday portrait

Daisy

For those of us self-isolating with dogs, here’s what I learned from 2011 that is equally important now.

  1. Your dog loves having you at home.  However, most dogs sleep for the better portion of the day.  So don’t keep going over and cuddling them at every opportunity because this wakes them from deep sleep and the lack of sleep can affect their health.  Leave them be!
  2. Your stress is their stress.  Dogs are intuitive and sentient creatures.  They know something’s up.  Develop a new routine that gives both of you structure to your day and certainty.  Dogs thrive on routine.
  3. Exercise is useful for managing stress in both dogs and people.  That said, please remember that most dogs cannot cope with a sudden increase in their daily exercise.  Increase activity slowly. Many older dogs won’t cope at all.  Be watchful for signs of discomfort or pain (see my post from the aging dogs series about recognising pain and discomfort)
  4. Live in the moment, as our dogs do.  Accept the lockdown because you cannot change it.
  5. Shit happens
  6. We will survive (and thrive) – this is just a temporary glitch

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Warmth works wonders

Spot with wheat bag

This is Spot, an ex-racing greyhound who is a regular client for massage and laser therapy.  Today as part of his session I used a wheat bag (warmed in the microwave) to help warm the muscles in his hind legs; by initially warming the muscles, I was able to massage Spot more deeply in these congested areas  without causing discomfort.

Why do we use a hot pack/warm compress/hot water bottle/wheat bag?

Warmth stimulates blood vessels to dilate to help blood flow to an area which is why it is quite helpful for people and animals who have arthritis.

Warmth also helps muscles to relax and, on a chilly morning like today, warmth is generally comforting (which is why in the above photo the bag is resting on Spot’s side.  I had finished using the wheat bag on his hind legs but left it on his rib cage because he was enjoying the weight and warmth of the bag).

Warmth should never be used in the acute phase of an injury, when there is swelling, redness or pain because warmth will exacerbate the inflammation.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

New Research Unpicks Root Causes of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation anxiety in dogs should be seen as a symptom of underlying frustrations rather than a diagnosis, and understanding these root causes could be key to effective treatment, new research by animal behaviour specialists suggests.

Separation anxiety photo

Many pet owners experience problem behaviour in their dogs when leaving them at home. These behaviours can include destruction of household items, urinating or defecating indoors, or excessive barking and are often labelled as ‘separation anxiety’ as the dog gets anxious at the prospect of being left alone.

Treatment plans tend to focus on helping the dog overcome the ‘pain of separation’, but the current work indicates dealing with various forms of frustration is a much more important element of the problem.

Animal behaviour researchers have now identified four key forms of separation anxiety, and suggest that animal behaviourists should consider these underlying reasons as the issue that needs treating, and not view ‘separation anxiety’ as a diagnosis.

The team, led by scientists from the University of Lincoln, UK, identified four main forms of distress for dogs when separated from their owners. These include a focus on getting away from something in the house, wanting to get to something outside, reacting to external noises or events, and a form of boredom.

More than 2,700 dogs representing over 100 breeds were included in the study.

Daniel Mills, Professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, said: ´Until now, there has been a tendency to think of this as a single condition, ie ´My dog has got separation anxiety¡ and then to focus on the dependence on the owner and how to make them more independent. However, this new work indicates that having separation anxiety is more like saying ´My dog’s got an upset tummy which could have many causes and take many forms, and so both assessment and treatment need to be much more focussed.

´If your dog makes themselves ill by chewing something it shouldn’t, you would need to treat it very differently to if it has picked up an infection. One problem might need surgery and the other antibiotics.

´Labelling the problem of the dog who is being destructive, urinating or defecating indoors or vocalising when left alone as separation anxiety is not very helpful. It is the start of the diagnostic process, not the end. Our new research suggests that frustration in its various forms is very much at the heart of the problem and we need to understand this variety if we hope to offer better treatments for dogs.

The new study, published in the academic journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science, highlights how different emotional states combine to produce problem behaviours in dogs. Although it is first triggered by the owner’s departure, the unwanted behaviour arises because of a combination of risk factors that may include elements of the dog’s temperament, the type of relationship it has with the owner and how the two of them interact.

The research team will soon be building on the latest study to examine in greater detail the influence the dog-owner relationship has on problem behaviours triggered by separation. It is hoped the research will open up new, more specific treatment programmes for owners.

Source:  University of Lincoln

Beyond Izzy’s pram (managing dogs through to old age) Part 6 – modifying exercise

The 4th rung of our ladder is about modifying exercise. This particular aspect is easy to explain, but many owners find it a challenge to put into practice because they build a routine of dog walking or perhaps ball chasing as their dog’s sole form of exercise.

And as I discussed in Part One of this series, our dog’s age often creeps up on us because they are aging faster than we are.

Arthritis management diagram with 4 rungs

An older dog needs age-appropriate exercise based on their physical ability.  A dog that walked for 10 kms when it was aged four may not be able to cope at aged eight, nine, ten, or more (every dog is different).

But, our dogs love us and so many will continue walking to the point of collapse which is what happened here in 2016 to a 12-year old Huntaway.   In this case, the dog was taken on a steep hill track with, no doubt, the best of intentions. She walked until she could walk no farther, collapsing and spending the night in the freezing cold until she could be rescued.

The duration of a walk is just as important as its intensity.  A walk in soft sand at the beach or hill walks are much more intense that an amble around your neighborhood on flat ground.

I often ask clients to monitor the amount of exercise their dog is getting by recording both the amount of time they spend out and also distance walked.   (A Fitbit or other fitness tracking device can be used for this).  Because I practice in-home, I usually get a good understanding of the local area where the dog is often taken for its walks.

Just because your dog wants to chase the ball, or run, or walk for hours, doesn’t mean he/she should.  It’s our responsibility to moderate their exercise – even if that means that we can no longer run with the dog that has run with us for years.

Replacing high impact exercise with brain games – foraging for kibble in the yard, as an example – presents an aging dog with the chance to weight shift and walk at a pace that suits them and on familiar ground.  If they get tired, they can rest easily.

Sometimes, it’s as easy as alternating a day with a longer walk, and then maybe only short toilet walks – or no walk – the following day.

In Izzy’s case, we are dealing primarily with corns in her right front paw that are aggravating arthritis in her carpus (wrist).  There have been days when she tells me (by refusing to go out the front door), that she doesn’t want to walk.   We often get in our morning walk with no issues.  But her afternoon walk can be variable.  There are days where we have no issues.  On some days, though, she will start out with a happy gait and no lameness and then she’ll start to slow up, sometimes I’ll notice a small trip or scraping of the nails or she will be walking with her head held low – a sign she is tiring.

That’s when we use her pram so she can continue with sights and smells, but with no walking.  The ultimate in modified exercise!

Izzy greyhound in pram stroller

The biggest hurdle I often face is owners who just don’t seem willing or able to modify their daily routines to accommodate their dog’s changing needs.  It’s part of our lifetime responsibility.  Be flexible.  Be resilient.  Be kind.

If your feet were hurting, you’d want to slow down – wouldn’t you?

Got questions about this post?  Please feel free to post a message or contact me through my practice, The Balanced Dog.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Goodbye, Dumpling

DumplingIt is with almost unbearable sadness that I must share with you that we lost our beautiful soul Dumpling today.  She took a bad turn the past few days which turned out to be the result of a large mass in her abdomen.  At age 17+ we simply could not put her through any more testing and surgery.

When my wife first saw her picture on the Best Friends website, she fell in love immediately.  It was our hope that we could give a 10-year-old dog that was missing most of her teeth, had eye problems and was going through a second heart worm regimen, a couple of years enjoying the life every dog deserves.  It is our dream that she thrived for more than seven years because she was so happy here.

We know that the heartache will subside and are comforted in the knowledge that the joy and love she gave us will live with us forever.  So please give all those close to you an extra hug today, be they human, canine, feline or all manner of G-d’s creations.  Do it for you, do it for them, and today do it for Dumpling.

Kathleen thank you for always keeping her in your thoughts.  Give Izzy a hug from us.

Stuart 



In May 2012 during my first working visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, I fell in love with Dumpling, a dog that had her fair share of health problems and hard times.  Because I lived in New Zealand, I was unable to adopt her.  I knew from the adoption website that Dumpling had been adopted and when I returned to the sanctuary the following year, I asked if the adoption staff would pass on my details to her new family so I could find out about her.

Thankfully, Stuart was happy to write to me with Dumpling updates; typically I would have an annual update each Christmas with a photo.  The family vet estimated her to be 10 when adopted.  During the course of her life with Stuart, she had to have an eye removed from a recurring infection but still loved to go for walks and take long naps during the day.

Yesterday, I got the email I knew was likely to come – Dumpling has passed.  But she proved something that is very important – rescue dogs are not their history – they are what they become in a loving home.  Dumpling recovered from heartworm and became a member of the family.  She was no longer the down-and-out dog found in a Texas landfill next to the bodies of her dead puppies.

I am very grateful that Stuart and his family were able to give her a long and happy life post-adoption and for their kindness in keeping me updated about her.

July 2013

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand