Category Archives: dog care

Moving day(s)

One of the reasons that things have been quieter on the blog over the last few weeks has been because we have needed to relocate.  Our home is undergoing repairs from damage received in Christchurch’s 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and so everything (including us) had to go.

As most of you know, moving house is rarely fun and often stressful and our animals have to be managed carefully during these events.  As I’ve said many times, having a solid routine is extremely important for dogs – they get comfort and a sense of security from routine.

So in our case, Izzy was catered for as the #1 priority.  All of her beds, her caterpillar and her crate were packed and driven to our temporary house.  Meanwhile, she went to a friend’s house for a play date with his greyhound.  I picked her up in the evening and brought her to the new place, where she was fed dinner and was put to bed.

Although unsettled for the first few days, I kept her to her routine which included morning walks, feedings, and sleep time followed by afternoon walks and evening meals.  Temporary House

I’m proud to say that Izzy has settled in well; me – well I’m making due with the typical soft mattress and cheap furniture that is found in most holiday rental homes.    After all, I wasn’t able to travel with my bed!

 

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Marketing Fear Free

Fear Free certification is something that is still new to the veterinary and complementary professions.  I saw an ad recently on Facebook for a Fear Free certified veterinary practice looking to hire and I’ve amended it to explain a bit more about what I stand for.

Where do you want to take your dog?

If you want your dog treated where…

  • dogs are allowed to rest on a comfortable, padded massage table – or the floor if they are more comfortable
  • appointments are booked hourly so there is no need to rush
  • you see me – a  fully qualified therapist with a commitment to ongoing professional development
  • I adjust my pace for each dog, so anxious dogs may take longer (but it is worth it)
  • and yummy dog treats and food diversions are used on a liberal basis

…then please book your dog into The Balanced Dog.  I look forward to working with you in the Fear Free way.

Bailey and Neisha May 2018

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

FF Certified Professional Logo jpg

The differences between flower essences and essential oils

I have found that there is often confusion between essential oils and flower essences.  This isn’t surprising – both evoke connotations of fresh smells and flowers.  However, it’s important to understand the difference and the use of these products when caring for your dog.

Essential oils are a fundamental part of aromatherapy.  They are often diffused in a burner of some sort, such as the traditional one with a tea candle below the area where the oil is placed, or in the newer modern version – ultrasonic diffusers.

When used for massages, the essential oils (which are very strong) are diluted in carrier oil such as sweet almond oil or in a waxier, balm-like base.  Most of my human massage therapist colleagues use essential oils in their practices in this way – lavender is very common, for example, for relaxing human clients!

Essential oils are very much for use outside the body (not to be ingested).

Now here’s the thing:  I am generally not a fan of using essential oils in dog care. 

These oils are quite powerful.  And for the same reason that I don’t like chemical sprays for air fresheners and fly control (See:  Before you install these devices, consider your dog), I don’t think they are useful with dogs.  If dogs have a sense of smell that is 100,000 times more powerful than ours, how can we be sure that we aren’t driving them crazy with the odour of these oils?  I don’t believe we can.

Flower essences are a whole other ball game.  The most famous of the flower essences is Bach’s Rescue Remedy, which is a blend of flower essences designed to help with stress and anxiety.   Dogs can be given Rescue Remedy in times of need  – such as fireworks season.

Because of the popularity of Rescue Remedy, many dog owners don’t realise that there are a wide range of flower essences (some of which technically come from trees) which can be used for emotional and other imbalances.  Dr Edward Bach, an English doctor and homeopath, originally studied and documented flower essences in the 1930s.  For this reason, they are often referred to as Bach Flower Remedies.  However, there are other essences such as those that come from Australian wild flowers which cannot be attributed to Dr Bach.

Flower essences are made by infusing the plant material using a heat source (often sunshine) and air into water.  The infusion is then preserved with something like brandy and stored – ready for use.  Flower essences contain the natural energy of the plant material (not the plant material itself) and we can use these, internally – unlike essential oils –  to help with imbalances.

The principle behind flower essences is that they are based on energy and so if your dog doesn’t need that particular energy, nothing will happen.  But by matching the right essence to their condition, flower essences can help.

The only thing that ‘smells’ about a flower essence is the alcohol preservative in the mixture.  This is a major difference between the essences and essential oils and is key to why I am happy to use them in my practice.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Increased protections for animals

Earlier this month, I reviewed Run, Spot, Run by Jessica Pierce.  In that book, Pierce provides a list of incremental changes each of which would offer increased protections to animals.

I quote them here for sharing purposes because they are the most comprehensive list I have found thus far in terms of explaining the shortcomings we still have in animal care,  welfare, and protection.

Chester looking out window

  • licensing requirements for all pet owners
  • laws limiting or prohibiting the sale of live animals
  • laws regulating international and interstate shipping of live animals
  • a federal prohibition on the sale of crush films, in particular, and animal pornography in general
  • state laws making sexual assault of an animal punishable (not limited to sexual assaults that are fatal or cause severe injury)
  • better and more frequent inspections of breeding facilities
  • better and more frequent inspections of animal wholesale facilities
  • greater transparency in the pet industry, such as, perhaps, in identifying the sourcing of animals for sale
  • greater transparency in the shelter industry
  • state laws requiring at least eight hours of training for anyone performing euthanasia
  • free speech protections for those who expose corporate animal abuses
  • reporting requirements for veterinarians (e.g. abuse, sexual assault)
  • combined/coordinated reporting of animal abuse and domestic partner, child or elder abuse
  • a publicly accessible national registry of those convicted of animal cruelty or sexual assault
  • increased (and responsible) media reporting of crimes against animals
  • more community resources (e.g. tax money) dedicated to shelters, animal control facilities, and cruelty investigators
  • state-appointed lawyers to represent animals in court
  • required humane education in schools
  • laws making failure to provide timely veterinary care a legally enforceable welfare violation
  • laws allowing pet owners to collect damages for emotional pain and suffering resulting from the loss of a pet at the hands of another human
  • laws making “convenience euthanasia”an animal cruelty violation
  • greater regulation of the pet food industry, including more rigorous inspection of ingredients, greater transparency about sourcing and ingredients, and a well-coordinated method of alerting customers about recalls

Source:  Run, Spot, Run by Jessica Pierce, pages 211-212

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

More communication needed about disposal of pet pharmaceuticals

If no one told you the proper way to get rid of those leftover heartworm pills, bottles of flea shampoo and other pet care products your household no longer needs, you’re not alone.

New research from Oregon State University found that more than 60 percent of veterinary care professionals do not counsel their clients when it comes to the environmental stewardship aspect of medicine disposal – findings that are troublesome but also represent an opportunity to dramatically reduce watershed contaminants.

OSU dog

“People are just starting to understand the impact that discarded pharmaceuticals and personal care products have on the environment,” said the study’s corresponding author, Jennifer Lam, who worked on the research while a graduate student in marine resource management at Oregon State University.

“This study opens the door and shows a communication gap, shows where there’s an opportunity to help educate people. There’s not much communication going on between veterinary care professionals and their clients on how to dispose of expired pet medicines, meaning there’s a lot of potential for those professionals to help their clients learn what to do.”

Lam, now a senior analyst for Blue Earth Consultants, and other researchers at OSU surveyed 191 pet owners and found nearly half of them got rid of unneeded care products and medicine via the garbage; Blue Earth, based in Oakland, California, is an environmental management consulting division of ERG.

Researchers surveyed 88 environmental educators and 103 veterinary care professionals. The survey revealed 61 percent of the veterinary professionals did not share information about proper disposal with their clients. And the 39 percent who reported sharing that information did so 19 percent of the time – roughly one appointment in five.

“It’s not a popular topic to bring up,” said Lam, who noted the professionals listed a number of barriers to communication, including lack of knowledge about proper disposal, time, cost and lack of concern on the part of both client and care provider.

“Survey respondents said their professional organizations, such as their veterinary associations, are their top source for disposal information,” Lam said. “This shows that veterinary-care professionals can serve as role models for other pet owners on environmental stewardship practices.”

Scientists have long known about the potential environmental effects stemming from the use and disposal of products aimed at keeping people healthy and clean, but with roughly seven in 10 Americans owning at least one pet, animal medications and other care products are slowly beginning to move into the spotlight too.

Pet supplies and over-the-counter pet medications are a nearly $15 billion industry in the U.S. Veterinary care including prescription medicine is close to a $16 billion chunk of the economy. Both figures are on the rise.

“But you can count on one hand the number of studies that have been done on what people actively do with the disposal of PPCPs – pharmaceutical and personal care products – for both themselves and their pets,” said Sam Chan, a watershed health expert with the Oregon Sea Grant program at Oregon State. “PPCPs are used by almost everyone and most wastewater treatment plants are not able to completely deactivate many of the compounds they include.”

Increasingly, Chan said, chemicals from PPCPs for people and pets are being found at low levels in groundwater and surface water; anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, antibiotics, estrogens, insect repellant, antimicrobials and sunscreen compounds are among what’s being detected.

Some impacts are already appearing, he said. For example, fish exposed to antidepressants become more active and bold and thus more susceptible to predation.

“Most people tend to throw extra pills or personal care products into the trash and, in fewer instances, flush them down the drain,” Chan said. “It seems like the right thing to do but it’s not the best thing for the environment.”

The national Sea Grant program is partnering with the American Veterinary Medical Association to promote proper PPCP disposal: Dropping them off at a take-back event or bringing them to a depository such as those in place at some police stations and college campuses.

“This study is one of the first to really show a baseline on the environmental stewardship of pet owners regarding their use and disposal of personal and pet medicine and care products,” Lam said. “It also shows the correlation between what pet owners do with their own medicine versus their pets’ – both types of products are being disposed of in similar ways.”

This research was funded in part by Oregon Sea Grant. Findings were published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Source:  Oregon State University media release

Why I chose Fear Free

This week, I announced that I attained my Fear Free certification; completing this certification was one of my professional development goals for the year.

(I am currently New Zealand’s first practitioner in the canine massage and rehab field to hold this certification.)

Fear Free certification

I have been in practice in canine massage and rehabilitation since 2009. I see dogs who are injured, are recovering from surgeries and those who have developed age-related conditions like intervertebral disc disease or arthritis.

An ordinarily friendly and happy dog can become fearful when it is in pain – which is totally understandable.  For this reason, I became more interested in dog behavior and how behavior was a reflection of physical status (and often, vice-versa).

So I spent a fair amount of my professional development time between 2013 and 2017 at Best Friends Animal Society learning from their dog trainers and behavior consultants.  Understanding non-verbal communication, and methods for de-sensitization and counter-conditioning are all skills that are very useful when working hands-on with dogs.

Added to this is the fact that in many cases, management of these dogs requires me to develop a long-term relationship with them.  These dogs need to trust me – that I won’t knowingly hurt them and that I respect their boundaries when they tell me that something hurts too much.

They also help me in my job when they let me know that something feels good and is working.

So Fear Free certification was on the To Do list to expand my skills tool box.

Then one day last year, I was asked to see a new client.   Her 12-year old mixed-breed dog was regularly lame; she had stopped seeing a physical therapist about 4 months earlier after 6 months of regular sessions. Her dog needed to be handled on the floor because he would not tolerate being lifted onto a massage table.

During our first session, he progressed with his warnings to me that he wasn’t happy:  first a low growl, then a lip curl, and then baring of teeth.  The entire time, the owner was telling me, ‘he’s just being a guts’ to which I replied, ‘no, he’s telling me he isn’t happy with being touched there.’

This owner was also one of those who was adamant her dog wasn’t in pain, to which I also disagreed, based on his age and regular lameness.  She also didn’t have many positive things to say about her vet, which for me was a signal that perhaps she wasn’t willing to listen to either her vet or me.  She hadn’t supplied copies of her dog’s veterinary records, either, and so I explained that until I saw his vet records, I wouldn’t be able to book him in for subsequent appointments.  (Provision of vet records is part of my standard intake process.)

Then she said, ‘our other physical therapist muzzled him.’

This is when I explained that I didn’t want to do that; that massage and physical therapy were likely to feature in her dog’s long-term management for quality of life.  Dogs don’t ‘opt-in’ the way people can for a massage.  They don’t book me in – their owner does.  And they don’t know what to expect from a massage and so it is all new to them.  Add a level of pain into the equation, and you can understand a dog’s reluctance to be touched.

By muzzling him for hands-on work (without pain management), the previous therapist set this dog up for escalated levels of fear, anxiety and stress.

The relationship with both owner and dog was going to take time.  Sadly, this owner didn’t like my recommendation that her vet should be consulted about trialing a short course of anti-inflammatory drugs to see if this resulted in a happier and less lame dog.  She wanted a quick fix which I was unable to give her- and I also had my personal safety to consider.

It was a light bulb moment.  I had more work to do – and Fear Free was another platform to explain and educate my customers about my approach to working with their dogs.

Fear Free seems like a ‘no brainer,’ but in reality it isn’t for many owners and therapists who don’t understand that there is a better way.  Some procedures are a ‘must have’ (veterinarians will know this!), but others are worth the wait if we can build a better relationship with the dog that doesn’t make them go over threshold into anxiety and fear.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

How to make a puppy pie

Puppy photo
Take one puppy, roll and play until lightly pampered, then add the following ingredients:
1 cup patience
1 cup understanding
1 pinch correction
1 cup hard work
2 cups praise
1 ½ cups of fun
Heat with the warmth of your heart until raised or until puppy has doubled in size.
Mix with owner until the consistency is such that owner and puppy are one.
                                                                 Author Unknown