Category Archives: dog care

Quantifying Cognitive Decline in Dogs Could Help Humans With Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers have found that a suite of complementary tests can quantify changes in dogs suspected of suffering from cognitive decline. The approach could not only aid owners in managing their elderly canine’s care, but could also serve as a model for evaluating cognitive decline progression in – and treatments for – humans with Alzheimer’s disease.

Photo by Ken Reid on Unsplash

Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CCDS) is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans in that cognitive decline is associated with the development of amyloid plaques as well as cortical atrophy, a progressive degeneration of brain tissue. CCDS is also challenging to diagnose. Traditionally, CCDS is diagnosed based on ruling out any obvious physical conditions and an owner’s answers to a questionnaire.

“One problem with the current approach is that questionnaires only capture a constellation of home behaviors,” says Natasha Olby, the Dr. Kady M. Gjessing and Rahna M. Davidson Distinguished Chair in Gerontology at North Carolina State University and co-senior author of a paper describing the work. “There can be other reasons for what an owner may perceive as cognitive decline – anything from an undiagnosed infection to a brain tumor.”

Olby and co-senior author Margaret Gruen, assistant professor of behavioral medicine at NC State, wanted to determine whether cognitive function could be accurately quantified in dogs.

“Our goal was to bring together multiple tools in order to get a more complete picture of how CCDS presents in dogs,” Gruen says.

To that end, the researchers recruited 39 dogs from 15 breeds. All of them were in the senior and geriatric age range, but in good health overall. A dog is considered “senior” if it is in the last 25% of its expected life span based on breed and size, and geriatric beyond that.

The dogs underwent physical and orthopedic exams, as well as lab work that included a blood test that is a marker of neuronal death. Their owners filled out two commonly used diagnostic questionnaires, and then the dogs participated in a series of cognitive tests designed to assess executive function, memory and attention.

“The approach we took isn’t necessarily designed to be diagnostic; instead, we want to use these tools to be able to identify dogs at an early stage and be able to follow them as the disease progresses, quantifying the changes,” Olby says.

The team found that cognitive and blood test results correlated well with the questionnaire scores, suggesting that a multi-dimensional approach can be used to quantify cognitive decline in aging dogs.

“Being able to diagnose and quantify CCDS in a way that is clinically safe and relevant is a good first step toward being able to work with dogs as a model for Alzheimer’s disease in humans,” Olby says. “Many of the current models of Alzheimers disease – in rodents, for example – are good for understanding physiological changes, but not for testing treatments.”

“Dogs live in our homes and develop naturally occurring disease just like we do,” Gruen says. “These findings show promise for both dogs and humans in terms of improving our understanding of disease progression as well as for potentially testing treatments.”

The work appears in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. NC State postdoctoral fellows Gilad Fefer and Wojciech K. Panek are co-first authors of the work.

Source: NC State News

What does your dog’s tag say?

Sox is gradually coming up to speed with all the coats, food, treats, toys and accessories he needs for pet life. This week, I added his ID tag which I chose because it featured a greyhound.

On the reverse, it reads:

I’m Sox If I’m lost Call my Mum (and then my phone number)

I think ID tags are a personal choice with many designs available. Sox is happy with his tag.

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

Most US dog owners don’t follow FDA pet food handling guidelines

A new analysis suggests that most U.S. dog owners are unaware of—and do not follow—guidelines on safe pet food and dish handling from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but that better education and implementation of the guidelines could reduce contamination. Dr. Emily Luisana of North Carolina State University in Raleigh and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on April 6, 2022.

Study mascot, Sally Star, at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Photo credit: Emily Luisana, CC-BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Pet food and dish handling involves potential health risks for both dogs and people, especially those with compromised immune systems. Multiple outbreaks of bacterial illness among dogs and humans have occurred as a result of contaminated dog food. The FDA has issued guidelines on protocols for safe pet food and dish handling, available online, but the information is limited, and the effects of the recommendations have been unclear.

To help clarify, Dr. Luisana and colleagues surveyed 417 dog owners. They found that less than 5 percent were aware of the guidelines, and many owners did not follow many of the recommendations. For instance, only one third reported washing their hands after feeding, and only two thirds reported preparing dog food on separate surfaces from those used for human food. The latter fact is of potential public health importance, but is not addressed in the FDA recommendations.

To better understand the effects of the FDA recommendations, the researchers tested 68 household dog food dishes for bacterial contamination. After initial testing, they divided the owners into three groups with different instructions for implementing food handling guidelines, then tested the dishes again after 1 week. They found significantly reduced contamination of dishes from owners who instituted the FDA’s pet food handling guidelines, either alone or in combination with the FDA’s human food handling protocol, versus dishes from owners who were not asked to implement either protocol.

The researchers note that their study was small and that future research could clarify optimal hygiene strategies and ways to communicate them.

Nonetheless, on the basis of their findings, the researchers outline suggestions to reduce contamination in pet food dishes for owners, veterinarians, pet food sellers and manufacturers. These include ensuring household members who feed pets adhere to FDA guidelines and including written information on guidelines with pet food sales.

The authors add: “Most pet owners are unaware that pet food bowls can be a hidden source of bacteria in the household. Knowing how to mitigate this risk and practice proper pet food storage and hygiene may make for a happier, healthier household.”

To access the journal article in PLOS ONE: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0259478  

FDA’s Tips for Safe Handling of Pet Food and Treats

Source: EurekAlert!

Cannabis poisoning cases in pets have increased significantly, study finds

A survey of veterinarians in the U.S. and Canada highlights mounting cases of cannabis poisoning among pets and sheds new light on symptoms, treatments, and outcomes. Richard Quansah Amissah of the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on April 20, 2022.

Pets that are exposed to cannabis, most often by ingestion, may experience symptoms of cannabis poisoning — also known as cannabis-induced toxicosis — with varying degrees of severity. While prior evidence suggests that cases of cannabis poisoning among pets are increasing, the actual magnitude of the problem, including typical outcomes for pets, has been unclear.

To improve understanding of cannabis poisoning in pets, Amissah and colleagues analyzed survey data from 251 veterinarians based in Canada or the U.S. Conducted in 2021; the survey included questions about cannabis poisoning cases encountered by participants over several previous years.

Statistical analysis of the survey responses showed that the number of cannabis poisoning cases jumped significantly in both the U.S. and Canada following the 2018 legalization of cannabis in Canada. Unattended ingestion of cannabis edibles was the most frequent cause of poisoning, but it was unclear what proportion of cannabis products had been obtained for human consumption versus medicinal consumption by pets. The authors note that the post-legalization boost could be explained by increased cannabis use, but that increased reporting may have contributed as well.

Cannabis poisoning was most frequently seen in dogs, but cases were also reported in cats, iguanas, ferrets, horses, and cockatoos. While most cases were benign, observed symptoms — seen primarily in dogs — included urinary incontinence, disorientation, and abnormally slow heart rate. Most animals were treated with outpatient monitoring, and nearly all animals recovered completely.

In a small number of cases, veterinarians reported that pets had died due to cannabis poisoning, though the researchers note that other potential causes, such as underlying conditions, could not be ruled out in the study. With use of cannabis products continuing to rise, they call for additional research into the effects of cannabis on pets to help inform veterinary efforts and policies to keep pets healthy.

The authors add: “This is an important topic to study in the light of recent legalization of cannabis in Canada and across multiple states. In order to understand the mechanisms underlying cannabis-induced toxicosis in pets, and to develop treatments for it, we need to first understand what it looks like; this is what we had hoped to accomplish with this survey, and believe that these findings will help us get a better handle on this under-studied topic.”

Journal reference: Prevalence and characteristics of cannabis-induced toxicoses in pets: Results from a survey of veterinarians in North America

Synchrony study unveils staggering findings surrounding lifetime cost of pet ownership

figure image

A new Synchrony study, “Lifetime of Care,”1 has revealed that 7 out of 10 pet owners consider their pets family members; however, nearly half underestimated the lifetime cost of care which ranges from $20,000 to $55,000 for dogs and $15,000 to $45,000 for cats.* In addition, about half of all pet owners who believed they were financially prepared for unexpected pet expenses, were not, and would consider a designated financial solution for pet care.

This research,1 based off on findings from 1,200 pet parents and 100 veterinarians and confirmed by veterinary clinics, offers consumer insight into the cost of lifetime care for canine or feline ownership. Conducted on behalf of Synchrony’s pet and veterinary financial solutions—CareCredit and Pets Best Pet Insurance—the research covered an extensive array of dog and cat expenses (ie, first-year expenses, food and health insurance, end-of-life expenses, etc).

According to the American Pet Products Association,2 90.5 million US homes currently have a pet, and in 2020 itself, $103.6 billion was spent on pet care. The Lifetime of Care study1 displayed dog owners can expect to spend between $1,300 to $2,800 and cat owners approximately $960 to $2,500 in the first year alone.

“Millions of Americans choose to share life with a pet, yet the true cost of ownership has historically been incredibly vague. Our Lifetime of Care study serves as a helpful tool to prepare prospective pet parents,” said Jonathan Wainberg, senior vice president and general manager, Pet, Synchrony, in a company release.3

“We want pet parents to have a deeper understanding of what to expect financially, and knowledge of the flexible payment solutions that are available to help them manage the costs of care throughout their pet’s lifetime,” he added.

Amid the COVD-19 pandemic, it is estimated that 1 in 5 households4 gained a new companion animal. This data propelled Synchrony to promote the financial preparation options available to pet parents including pet insurance like Pets Best and credit cards such as CareCredit.

Together, CareCredit and Pets Best provide a complete financial solution as cardholders can pay at the veterinary practice using their CareCredit card, and then apply the reimbursement from Pets Best towards their CareCredit account.

“Veterinarians often see pet parents struggling to balance the care their pet needs with what they can afford,” said Peter Weinstein, owner of PAW Consulting, author and veterinary industry leader, in the release.3 “This new study provides us a comprehensive look at the true costs of pet care so we can arm our clients with the information and financial solutions they need to care for their pets for a month, year and an entire lifetime.”

View the entire Lifetime of Care study here. Learn more about CareCredit and Pets Best by visiting carecredit.com or petsbest.com.

* Includes initial costs, spaying/neutering, technology cost, and end of life expense (high). Low does not include health insurance, wellness plans, or other non-basic expenses.

References

  1. Lifetime of care study. Synchrony. January 2022. Accessed January 11, 2022. http://petlifetimeofcare.com/#page=1
  2. Pet industry market size, trends & ownership statistics. American Pet Products Association. March 24, 2021. Accessed January 10, 2022. https://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp
  3. Synchrony study reveals pet owners spend as much as $55,000 during a pet’s lifetime. News release. Synchrony. January 11, 2022. Accessed January 11, 2022.
  4. ASPCA pandemic pet ownership survey. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. May 26, 2021. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://aspca.app.box.com/s/v4t7yrwalwk39mf71a857ivqoxnv2x3d

Source: dvm360.com

Ed’s feature for Christmas gift vouchers

Ed, a Bull Terrier, loves his regular massage sessions. Ed responds to massage much like a person does, so we decided to cover him in a blanket and take a video.

I have launched this video on social media as a promotion for gift vouchers for Christmas 2021. Dog massage is the calorie-free gift which supports wellness, relaxation, and can provide an early warning for sinister lumps and bumps. It helps arthritic dogs like Ed with pain relief and mobility and should be an essential part of any rehab program following an injury or surgery.

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

3 in 5 people consider their pet a ‘soulmate’

Would you risk your life for your fur baby? A new survey reveals that three in five Americans would willingly run into a burning building to save their pet.

The poll of 2,000 cat and dog owners also shows that 81 percent wouldn’t think twice before saving their pet from immediate danger. Six in 10 (59%) would willingly fight another person to save their four-legged friend.

Say hello to my little friend

Pet Love

Sixty-two percent would even describe their pet as their “best friend,” while three in five agree that their pet is their “soulmate.”

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Figo Pet Insurance, the survey also reveals that pet owners often search for similar affirmations of love from their pets as they do from their partners. That includes their pet “following them around” (63%), “giving them kisses” (59%) and sleeping in their bed (53%) as the top signs of endearment.

Research also showed that 84 percent of Gen Z (ages 18-24) are likely to include their pet in their wedding or a milestone event. More than three-fourths of Gen Zers are likely to get a tattoo inspired by them as well. Of those who own multiple species of pets, 48 percent admit they’ve bonded to one in particular — including 80 percent who feel more tied to their dog than their cat.

Regardless of which pet they bond more with, two-thirds (67%) believe that because they are so connected, they can read each other’s minds. Four in five pet owners believe that their pet significantly impacts their mental health in a positive way.

Furthermore, more than one-third of the survey admit turning to their pet for a boost of serotonin at least once every single day of the week.

“The connection we have with our pets goes much further than just owner and companion. Our pets comfort us when we’re sad, stick by us through ups and downs and provide unconditional love like no other relationship can. Our pets are family, and while they may not be able to verbalize their affection for us, any pet parent can attest to the strength and depth of their devotion,” says Lizbeth Bastidas, claim supervisor and certified vet technician in a statement.

No hesitation in pet health

Pet Love

Because of being the most loyal companion, more than two-thirds of pet owners feel obligated in some way to repay their pet for all they do for them. Eight in 10 say it is likely that they will take their pet to the vet straight away if they even suspect something is wrong.

Almost one in five add they would pay more than $7,000 to save their pet’s life, and 53 percent would willingly go into debt or spend any amount necessary to save them from immediate danger. Although only one-third have pet insurance, 54 percent of pet owners agree that it is a good way to repay their pet.

Of those who have pet insurance, one in three say it has come in handy three to four times. Of those who don’t, two in five believe it is too expensive.

“With the growing cost of vet care in the U.S., the sad reality is that many pet parents will at some point face an expensive vet bill that could put them in a terrible position – having to choose between their beloved companion and their financial health. Our pets are there for us through thick and thin, and many pet parents would do anything to return the favor. This is especially true today, when pet medical care has advanced so drastically; sophisticated cancer treatments, alternative therapies, pain management and the list goes on. Pet insurance lightens the financial, mental and emotional load for pet owners, ensuring that cost does not dictate their pet’s care,” Bastidas adds.

Source: Studyfinds.org

Survey finds a need for pet care during hospitalizations

It’s hard to heal in your hospital bed if you’re concerned about your pets at home.

Credit: Bryan McCullough

Tiffany Braley, M.D., M.S., an associate professor of neurology at University of Michigan Health, was surprised when a patient she was caring for explained why they needed to go home from the hospital as soon as possible: their pets.

After she heard several more patients voice concern for their cats, dogs and other animals at home as they sat in the hospital, she soon realized that this occurrence was not uncommon. In many cases, it involved patients who were the sole caregivers for their pets.

“I’ve had patients with acute strokes explain to me that they needed to get home to their pets, even though it was in their best medical interest to be admitted or remain in the hospital,” Braley said. “Through these interactions, it became evident to me that we needed to learn more about the scope of this problem and how we could find better ways to address it.”

Braley, who also loves animals, then reached out to fellow animal lover colleagues in neurology, social work, nursing, and U-M’s Office of Patient Experience to investigate this question.  The first step: learning about pet owner experiences from Michigan Medicine’s own patient advisors.

Study results

In partnership with U-M’s Office of Patient Experience, Braley and colleagues sent a survey to patient and family advisors who previously offered to help share their experiences to improve the patient experience. The purpose of the survey was to understand how a need to care for animals at home might affect how hospitalized patients follow their doctors’ recommendations.

Researchers published their findings in the Journal of Patient Experience.

More than half of the 113 people who responded to the survey (63%) reported difficulty figuring out pet care during their own hospitalization and/or that of a loved one.

Nearly a third reported that pet care needs impacted their decision, the decision of someone they knew, or both, about whether to stay at the hospital when the medical team recommended it.

And 16% of respondents said they know someone who has left the hospital against medical advice to go care for their pets.

“These patients are stressed already; how do you heal or accept staying in the hospital for treatment when you’re also worried about the welfare of your beloved pets?” said first author Carri Polick, R.N., a doctoral student at the U-M School of Nursing. “It can be hard if a patient doesn’t have a lot of social contacts or family members.”  “I’ve had patients with acute strokes explain to me that they needed to get home to their pets, even though it was in their best medical interest to be admitted or remain in the hospital.” Tiffany Braley, M.D., M.S.

Although social work is typically brought in to help patients come up with care plans for their pets, they may not be notified until several days into the hospitalization, typically when the situation is urgent, and are usually forced to turn to the patient’s social circle for help. Unfortunately, some patients do not have available social support, and there are limitations in what is available for assistance.

“We see a rising need for a formalized services to identify patients early in their course who need assistance with pet care, and a need to provide better resources, before it becomes a crisis and impacts their care or the welfare of their pets,” said Braley, the senior author and principal investigator.

The study team notes that, while this study is an important first step, the survey was small and included mostly women and white participants who live in nearby Washtenaw, Wayne and Oakland counties, which could indicate low estimations of the issue at large. To learn more about the overall scope and impact of pet care needs in a larger, more diverse group, the team is now studying people currently hospitalized or in the Emergency Department at Michigan Medicine to explore how pet care needs affect their hospital outcomes.

They’ve also started talking with potential local partners, including the Michigan Humane Society, to brainstorm what a future foster care collaboration could look like.

“This research is further evidence that pets are truly a part of the family and an important part of how and why we make decisions,” said Matt Pepper, the organization’s president and CEO. “Here at Michigan Humane, our work has taught us that people will forego their own health and safety for that of their pet. This study reinforces the need for communities to support families inclusive of the pet.”

Braley said a pilot program might start by focusing on a specific unit or patient population first – perhaps people needing inpatient rehabilitation, or parents of a child in the hospital who have an animal back at home. That way, the team could start helping people and their pets while they continue learning about the needs.

“Given the importance of pets to human health, follow-on studies are needed to explore how pet ownership impacts patients’ healthcare decision-making and outcomes,” Braley said. “If there is a link between pet ownership and adherence to medical treatments, I hope that early assessment of pet care needs and implementation of patient-centered methods to meet these needs will become standard of care for hospitalized patients.”

Additional authors include Jennifer W. Applebaum, M.S., Caitlin Hanna, Darnysus Jackson, II, M.S., Sophia Tsaras-Schumacher, LMSW, Rachel Hawkins, LMSW, Alan Conceicao, Louise M. O’Brien, Ph.D., M.S. and Ronald D. Chervin, M.D., M.S.

Paper cited: “The impact of pet care needs on medical decision-making among hospitalized patients: A cross-sectional analysis of patient experience,” Journal of Patient Experience. DOI: 10.1177/23743735211046089.

Source: University of Michigan Health

The business of dog massage – how my brief reply to an email turned into an adventure in filming

I have been in professional practice since 2009 and one of the more consistent battles I have fought over the years is to ensure that dog massage is recognized for the professional skills and training it requires. Consequently, I have never turned down an opportunity to promote my practice and the benefits to customers – both human and canine.

So when accounting software company Xero sent me its October newsletter last year with a little item – if you’d like to feature in one of our Customer Stories, please tell us about your business and how you use Xero – I replied and didn’t think much else about it after receiving an acknowledgement of receipt.

Then suddenly it was early 2021 and I received a request for a Skype interview with a copywriter from Xero. It was a lengthy interview- and very detailed – and I was totally comfortable telling Roz about my business and passion for dogs. And then I was invited to another meeting, with an Executive Producer and another when I was told that the Xero team had considered many businesses – and The Balanced Dog kept popping up to the top of the team’s list.

It was a little like going down the proverbial rabbit hole.

I had clients to contact to ask if they would lend their dogs and homes to be filmed. My lovely clients all said yes (only two were chosen once the logistics of filming were worked out). I then wrote a brief biography of each dog and information on address, logistics, etc. Special massage table coverings were ordered using my company logo, and lots of questions were asked and answered in email exchanges as we prepared for the shoot.

The date was set. The weekend of 1st and 2nd of May with an initial meeting at my home on the Friday afternoon. It turned out to be an entourage of four people who turned up that afternoon: the Director, the Social Media Director, the Producer and the Director of Photography. Little did I realize there would be more…

Saturday dawned. My hair and make-up artist arrived at 6:30 am and then I dropped Izzy with a friend and drove across town.

….to meet a crew of 13!

A Stills Photographer would be taking photos throughout the two days, I was told. We’d be filming a Customer Story that would be edited into several versions. There would be other filming for social media and stories. The Set Dresser would take care of props and arranging furniture and everything would be put back in its place.

They’ll tell me what to do. Just relax.

Thankfully, Canterbury turned on exceptional weather on both days – frosty and chilly for one day, warming up nicely the next.

Our first hill location above Halswell Quarry was perfect in the light of the morning, shame about the rounds of gunfire going off in the background at times. 1st May was the start of duck shooting season, you see.

Timings were monitored carefully by the Producer; everyone got down to work including wiring me for sound and checking lighting. Furniture was moved, my massage table and gear were set up.

I was told that Bryce, the Director, was ready to film. And we do it over and over again. I soon learned that ”one more time” wasn’t to be taken literally. He seemed trustworthy enough on other issues – just don’t believe him about the one more time… Walking up a flight of stairs with my massage table in hand was also becoming serious aerobic exercise.

Then while the film crew set up for another segment, I was needed outside for other filming for social media. There was another director, Cat, for those segments and yet another Director of Photography, Mike, for those.

Stephen, the Stills Photographer, kept asking me to smile. He was always there. I hate having my photo taken, but if anyone was going to be able to make me look good, I figured it would be a professional.

Then a carefully timed lunch break followed by wiring my car for sound. Don’t use the visor for the sunshine, I was told, because there’s a microphone hidden in there. Drive to our second filming location with Arlo and Neisha and their parents while being interviewed behind the wheel at the same time. This was live action filming!

Day 1 was soon over. Pick up Izzy and re-heat leftovers for dinner. Get some sleep.

Day 2 transformed my home into a film studio and we would also walk in our neighbourhood so that Izzy could show off her pram-riding skills and stellar personality. Another carefully timed lunch break in between.

Here’s what my lounge looked like from the other side of the lens during my filmed interview:

Two film cameras and one still – all pointing at me. Izzy was resting in the bedroom at this point (smart dog).

Then everyone rushed to pack up my house to take a drive across town to set up at sunset on Waimairi Beach.

Izzy and I were filmed using a long lens and also a drone.

And just like that, a whirlwind two days came to an end. It was hard to wind down after all the excitement.

I had plenty of time to wind down, as it turned out. This was probably the hardest time of all – wanting to share the experience with friends and clients but keeping quiet about it until the final product was ready for release.

Production takes time. A lot of patient waiting for the professionals to do their jobs editing, followed by scheduling of social media releases. A second Covid-19 lockdown in New Zealand postponed things a bit further.

It was worth the wait. Versions of my story are now making their way into regular posts onto Facebook and other social media.

Here it is – The Business of Dog Massage – HERO story version.

With thanks to everyone at Xero for choosing to profile my business and to the professional crew. I have a new appreciation for the long line of credits that are shown after a full length feature film!

Left to right: Set Dresser Chris Reddington; Production Assistant Harriette Logan; Hair and Makeup Artist Simone Thurlow; Copywriter and Director Roz Sanderson; Xero Producer & Director for Social Stories Cat Montford, Director of Photography & Hero film Ado Greshoff; Kathleen Crisley & Izzy from The Balanced Dog (also known as ‘Talent’); Bryce McNamara Creative Lead and Director of Hero film; Alix Wilson Workparty Producer; Kelly Chen 1st AC/Focus Puller; Director of Photography Social Stories and Drone Mike Sherrell; Best Boy Zac Beckett-Knight; and Sound Recordist Joseph Veale. Stephen Tilley, the Stills Photographer managed to stay behind the camera for this photo.

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

The importance of a greeting

The Balanced Dog is a fully mobile practice. Working in home gives me much better information than if I practiced in a clinic setting. Clinics are not a normal environment for a dog and so they often don’t act normally when they are there. A common issue is that the owner reports lameness but the dog isn’t lame in the clinic – because their nervousness overrides any pain signals and the muscles are tighter than normal.

Another benefit to me and the dog when I arrive is that I am often greeted off-leash, as Dalmatian Velo did with me on Saturday.

In the act of greeting me, I got to watch Velo’s gait (a relaxed doggy on a Saturday morning at home) and I was able to confirm also that he’s being kept warm in his jumper.

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