Tag Archives: acupuncture

Teddy’s journey: big improvement this week

Teddy 10_9_14Teddy, bright and alert, met me at the door this week.  He’s looking and feeling much better now that his pain is under control.  It is great to see him up on his feet again.  The mood in the entire household has lifted, too.

Teddy’s medication regime has been changed from Previcox to Rimadyl as the preferred NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) with Tramadol for added pain relief.  He’s also had a second acupuncture treatment which is clearly helping to improve his energy and pain levels.

Since last week’s osteopathic adjustment, the compression in Teddy’s back has been relieved and I have been able to use more massage and acupressure techniques on him because he is no longer in pain.  I’m still using laser on Teddy, but the ability to manipulate his muscles and limbs is essential to help with the movement of blood and lymphatic fluids.

Yesterday, I gave Teddy a full body massage with emphasis on lengthening and stretching important muscles.   I did a lot of work on the latissimus dorsi – one of the major muscles that supports the back.   All of Teddy’s remaining legs have good range of motion, although some of the muscles in them need a little help to be warmed and stretched.

Teddy slept through most of his massage – another great sign that he is able to tolerate rehabilitation and that his body is able relax, which will support recovery.

The right hind leg, which has arthritis and is affected by hip dysplasia, is causing us some concern.  Teddy is noticeable wobbling on this leg and so we’re focusing on giving this leg extra attention with lasering and acupressure points.

Jill says, “To hear Teddy’s cries and whimpers was distressing for all of us.  I’m so happy that Teddy’s condition has improved.  I feel like we have turned a corner.”

The floor layout in the main living area has been improved, too.  Baby gates still restrict Teddy to a small area.  Jill has installed rugs with a foam underlay in the areas where Teddy walks.  These will help with shock absorption.

A couch with a very low seat is now Teddy’s preferred sleeping place – he can watch the garden from this position.  A foam mattress crash pad is below the sofa to ensure Teddy doesn’t do any damage to his remaining foreleg when he decides gets down.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Teddy’s journey: pain and anxiety come to the fore

The past week has been a tough one for Teddy and for Jill.

When Teddy first came home from the hospital, he seemed to be adjusting quickly.  He’s always been an independent boy and so he has rejected any support such as a strap or harness when taken out for toileting.

However, this week, Teddy became noticeably withdrawn.  For much of the time, he was restless and would whimper frequently.  We were sure he was in pain.  Because he was so out of sorts, we also felt that he was suffering from anxiety.

When I saw Teddy on Monday, Jill was stressed and Teddy was clearly not himself.  We introduced a hot water bottle (or ‘hottie’ as they are known here) on his back which seemed to provide relief and comfort.  I also gave Jill a CD from the Through a Dog’s Ear range.  This music is designed specifically for dogs to help calm and treat anxiety.  These seemed to assist Teddy in the short term to relax and rest.

But Teddy needed better pain management…

Teddy and his 'hottie'

Teddy and his ‘hottie’

Jill took Teddy back to his vet several times this week to discuss pain relief.  She freely admits, “I didn’t feel that I was being listened to as the owner.  I knew Teddy better than anyone.  Persistence, in my case, finally paid off.”

We seemed to agree on Monday that he was taken off his pain medication too quickly – he was taking only Previcox at the time –  and his body had been left vulnerable.  A Fentanyl patch was re-introduced on Monday and replaced again on Thursday.  Jill also started Teddy on Tramadol on Thursday and Teddy received a ketamine injection, too.

Meanwhile, I could tell that Teddy’s back muscles were stiff; his top line did not seem normal, and he was clearly distressed at being handled along the withers and the back.  Thankfully, since Teddy was too uncomfortable for deep massage, I was able to use the low level laser along his spine and muscles to help with blood flow and pain relief.  I know I want to passively stretch Teddy’s spine but we agreed to wait until Teddy was more comfortable before attempting this.  I was able to do passive range of motion stretching on Teddy’s legs.

Armed with this information Jill took Teddy for acupuncture on Tuesday and an osteopathic adjustment on Friday.  Both his acupuncture vet and his osteopath agreed that Teddy was in pain and that support with traditional veterinary medicines were needed.  The osteopath used gentle traction on Teddy’s back since she found his spine has become compressed.

With his pain properly managed, we can do more to help Teddy’s muscles, tendons and ligaments to adjust to his new gait.  And then true rehabilitation and exercise can begin including a greater focus on core muscle strength.

During this stressful week, Jill took to the Internet for help with Teddy’s condition.  She found a wonderful site – Tripawds Blogs – for owners of amputee dogs.  Owners soon responded with news that helped to assure Jill she had made the right decision for Teddy and gave her information to help her discuss pain management with her vet.

Owners who have been through similar adjustments with their dogs said:

  • Amputees go through an initial ‘good’ period after coming home, only to suffer because they do too much, too soon
  • The muscles of the body are under incredible strain because the body’s mechanics have changed rapidly
  • In Teddy’s case, his amputation was not preceded by a period of pain or dysfunction in the front leg – so his body had no time to adjust (such as would be the case for an osteosarcoma patient, for example)
  • Pain management medication is critical; the switch from Fentanyl to Tramadol was recommended
  • Teddy’s size is a big advantage – he’s a lot smaller than, say, a Labrador with the same conditions
  • Every dog is different and it takes a little time to find the right balance of therapies

Jill says, “In hindsight, we really took things too quickly and allowed Teddy to move around the garden area with enthusiasm.  I wish I had thought of this sooner and we may have avoided him seizing up so badly.  The Tripawds site has been a fabulous resource for me  knowing that there are others who have been through this before us.

I do feel that vets should listen to owners when it comes to understanding their animal.  And if you are not happy with your vet, you need to find someone who you are more comfortable with.  The vet can’t have all the answers when they are not with the dog as often as the owner is.  This proves that vets are not the final word in recovery – and I’m grateful that complementary practitioners are part of Teddy’s healthcare team”

It’s a new week – and we are all hopeful that Teddy is back on track to recovery.  He’s booked for massage and acupuncture this week.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Spa weekends

In my opinion, part of owning an older dog means ensuring you devote time to them for bonding, love, attention and care.

Daisy and I are just finishing a Spa Weekend.

Daisy’s spa weekend started on Friday with a regular acupuncture session.  Daisy gets acupuncture every 5 weeks:

Daisy is happy to lay still while Dr Susanne Anderson places her acupuncture needles

Daisy is happy to lay still while Dr Susanne Anderson places her acupuncture needles

On Saturday, it was then time for Daisy’s hydrotherapy session.  Daisy swims every fortnight (2 weeks) to keep her muscles strong and to keep range of motion in her hind legs:

Swim time

And today (Sunday), it was time for Daisy to enjoy a massage and laser treatment – lovingly delivered by me – her personal massage therapist and DoggyMom:

Massage time

The only thing that was missing from Daisy’s spa weekend was a bath.  But that’s because she had a bath last weekend!

How do you spend quality time with your elderly dog?

Lessons from a Freethinking Dog

I have just finished reading Merle’s Door (Lessons from a Freethinking Dog) by Ted Kerasote.  This book was published in 2007 and became a national bestseller.  That’s not a surprise.

Mr Kerasote is an accomplished author.  He has written for publications including National Geographic, the New York Times, and Science.  And he has other books to his name.

Merle’s Door, however, has to be one of Mr Kerasote’s top literary accomplishments and something that will be remembered as a hallmark of his writing career.  Buy it (don’t just download it into your Kindle).

Merle’s Door is a biography of Merle, a dog adopted by Kerasote when they met totally by accident in 1991.  Merle was ‘living rough’ in the Utah desert and Ted was on one of his many trips with friends to enjoy nature.

“You need a dog, and  I’m it” says Merle.  And so begins a lifetime of 13 years together where Ted learns to translate Merle’s thoughts, to give him free reign to learn about life and his surroundings and, in turn, Ted learns many things from Merle.

Using his dog door and the freedom that Ted allowed him, Merle becomes the unofficial mayor of Kelly, Wyoming and makes many friends.  Along the way Ted establishes a ‘dedicated quadruped couch’ in his house and Merle leaves lasting footprints in the varnish of the balcony of the house they built together (and where Kerasote still lives).

Merle’s Door is Merle’s biography.  Lovingly written by Ted, we learn about Merle’s trademark “Ha ha ha” as he would converse with Ted in a language all his own.  He’d go hunting for elk, but was gun-shy when hunting birds  (and we find out why later in the book).  He has his scraps with other dogs and comes out learning valuable life lessons.

Later in life, Merle’s back end starts to deteriorate and Ted employs the use of acupuncture and massage to help his dog recover (no wonder why I like this book!).  With respect, he lets Merle define what will be a good day and a bad day and they enjoy one another’s company to the end.

Mr Kerasote does a wonderful job in depicting the human-dog bond that so many of us dog lovers have appreciated in our lives.  And he does it with the flair of an accomplished writer.

Like all true dog stories, be prepared for the end of Merle’s life in 2004 which is  obviously written by someone who has lived through the last days of their dog’s life.  Have a box of tissues handy – you’ll need it.  (I did)

This is a book I intend on keeping and adding to my dog book collection.  I’m grateful for Mr Kerasote’s writing talent because, not only is this Merle’s story, but it is well referenced with footnotes to key pieces of dog research (15 pages of references in total).

Through Mr Kerasote’s writing, Merle’s story lives on for all of us to share.  A wonderful dog that walked this earth for almost 14 years and left pawprints on many hearts….

Would a raised dog feeder help my dog?

A massage client asked me this question earlier this week.   The dog in question is a Boxer (beautiful boy) who happens to be suffering from degeneration in his spine.

Although he is doing well with regular swimming, acupuncture and massage therapy, his owner knows that he is comparatively young (8) and she wants him to have a good quality of life for a long time.  So that’s when we started talking about changes she could make to his physical environment to make things less stressful for him (ramps, steps, etc.)

Would a raised feeder help my dog?

Raised feeders can be a real advantage for a dog with orthopaedic problems or arthritis.  Eating from a raised feeder helps to relieve strain on the neck and back, allowing the dog to eat without dramatically altering their posture and helping them to retain balance.

But – some studies have shown that dogs who are susceptible to bloat have an increased risk from eating from a raised feeder.  The most notable reference for this link is an article by Dr Larry Glickman in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 17, No. 10.

Gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV) is known by the common term ‘bloat’  and other terms such as ‘stomach torsion’ or ‘twisted stomach.’  Regardless of what name you use, the condition is life-threatening.  Dogs can die of bloat within several hours.   Even with treatment, as many as 25-33% of dogs who develop bloat will die.

In bloat, the stomach fills up with air and puts pressure on the other organs and the diaphragm. The pressure on the diaphragm makes it difficult for the dog to breathe. The air-filled stomach also compresses large veins in the abdomen, preventing blood from returning to the heart.

Filled with air, the stomach can easily rotate on itself, pinching off its blood supply. This rotation is known as volvulus.  The stomach begins to die and the entire blood supply is disrupted.  A dog with this condition can deteriorate very rapidly – meaning a trip to the vet as an emergency.

Purdue University ranks Boxers as the 16th breed most susceptible to bloat (Great Danes are the highest).  So, in this case, the owner decided not to opt for a raised feeder.  Not only is her Boxer on the higher risk list, but he also is a gobbler – making quick work of his food!

This is just one example where it pays to do a little research.  An idea that seems like a good one may not be so.

In memoriam

On Monday, we lost a great dog by the name of Olliver (yes – that’s the correct spelling). A Dalmatian, Ollie had great spirit, which showed through even more when he lost the ability to walk in July 2010.  The veterinary profession have been stymied as to the reason for Ollie’s sudden loss of function and his owner has generously offered Ollie’s body for study at Massey University.

With the love and constant care of his owner, Ollie was engaged and alert until his sudden crash on Monday with internal bleeding.  I miss him.   Working with Ollie three times per week over the last year, we connected in a way I haven’t had the privilege of doing with any other dog.  Rest well, Ollie, my special boy.   I will take you with me for the rest of my days.


The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of Heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.  When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.  There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.  There is plenty of food and water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.  All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigour:  those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing:  they miss someone very special to them who had to be left behind.  They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddnely stops and looks into the distance.  The eyes are intent, the eager body quivers.  Suddenly he begins to break away from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.  You have been spotted and when you and your special friend finally meet you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.  The happy kisses rain upon your face, your hands again caress his beloved head and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you pass over the Rainbow Bridge together…

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

Special needs pets

On Friday evening, Prime showed a BBC documentary on owners of special needs pets.  It was great to see this issue being covered on New Zealand television because there are owners here who need support as they care for special needs pets.  I love working with special needs dogs in my massage practice and the owners of these animals are special people, too.

This is  Ollie, a Dalmatian who is unable to walk on his own.  However, he is not in pain and is very alert and happy.  His therapy regime includes massage and acupressure, laser therapy, and regular acupuncture treatments.  His strength in his front legs is improving and he has a mobility cart to help him with rehab.

Ollie in his mobility cart.

Ollie’s mobility cart was purchased from Doggon’ Wheels and imported into New Zealand because his owner could not find a supplier locally.  We measured Ollie for his cart and the cart was made especially for these measurements.

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