Tag Archives: arthritis

In odd circumstances…

Yesterday, I pulled into the service station to fill the tank.  I also asked for help because I was filling a gas canister for the first time and didn’t want the nasty stuff splashing all over me.

I have advertising on my car.  In fact, it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made.  Because of the advertising, I find myself in some odd circumstances explaining what I do.

IMG_0711

The Balanced Dog’s car

This time, it was the station attendant.  “I suppose they do that a lot in America,” he said as an opening statement.

I then replied with something of a stock-standard explanation, “for the same reasons people get massage, dogs benefit, too.  I work on dogs of all ages – those who have arthritis, some are recovering from surgery and injuries and I even help with dogs that are suffering from anxiety and stress.  Some of my clients are only young puppies to help them become calmer and used to handling.”

“Oh, I met a dog at my in-law’s holiday home who is afraid of men.  I only had to say something and the dog ran away.”

Me:  “That’s definitely a stress response.  I use massage combined with behavioral training techniques to work with dogs who have stress problems.  Last week, I started work with a puppy who gets so stressed at the thought of going in the car that she vomits.”

“Wow”

Wow indeed.

I consider every conversation an opportunity to educate people about the wellness impacts and multiple benefits of dog massage.  It isn’t just about ‘rehabbing’ from injuries – it’s a lot more!

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

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It’s just old age…

It happened again yesterday.

Someone asked me what I do for a living and I described my dog massage practice and how many of my clients are older dogs with varying degrees of arthritis and other orthopedic problems.

And then he said it.  “My friend has an old dog, he’s almost 10, and we’re pretty sure he’s got arthritis.  But then again, it’s just old age.

I tried to explain that there are many things we can do for dogs with arthritis which keeps them pain free and happy.  And because their pain is managed, they live longer.

Old Dog Buster

Buster, an older dog of 10+ is enjoying a new lease of life thanks to a combination of pain medication, massage, laser and weight loss

The message still wasn’t getting through…and then he described his friend’s dog:

  • he’s getting more aggressive; he even bit my friend one night when he went to feed him
  • he doesn’t run around much any more
  • he doesn’t come to greet me when I visit; he used to

I did my best to say that his friend needed to get his dog to a vet for an examination and that I would be too happy to see him for an assessment.  Behavior changes often occur when a dog is in pain.  And, just because the dog is older doesn’t mean the issue is arthritis.  We would need a working diagnosis from a qualified veterinarian.

He took my card; I hope his friend calls.  I can’t stand the thought of another dog who is in pain and doesn’t have to be.

It’s not about old age; it’s about the right care.

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

 

Taking the dog for a stroll

dog in stroller

Many people think that a dog in a stroller is a step too far.  But if you have a dog with mobility issues, including old age, they can work wonders for your dog’s mental health and save you a lot of stress and strain.

Imagine not being able to walk a few blocks to the local park…  Driving is one way, but then you don’t get as much exercise and your dog enjoys less time in the outdoors.

This is where a stroller can come in.  You can still enjoy a walk and your dog gets out without having to rev up the car.  In addition, you will probably find that a dog in a stroller is an attention-getter – so be prepared for people to interact with you and your dog on a regular basis.

The Happy Trails Pet Stroller

The Happy Trails Pet Stroller

The Dutch Dog Designs DoggyRide stroller

The Dutch Dog Designs DoggyRide stroller

There are many stroller designs to choose from and most can easily be ordered online for convenience.

When should you consider adding a stroller to your dog’s regime?

  • Does your dog pull up lame after only a few short blocks on a regular basis?
  • Is the condition chronic – such as arthritis – meaning it isn’t curable?
  • Are you managing an older injury, such as a cruciate repair or strain and surgery is not an option?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, a stroller should be considered.

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

Does my dog have arthritis?

Fireplace photo

Arthritis is a common condition in older dogs.  At first, though, owners may not always realise when their dog is suffering.  That’s because dogs tend to hide discomfort and pain from their pack.

Signs that your dog may be suffering from arthritis include:

  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Sleeping more
  • Weight gain
  • Reluctance to jump, run, walk or climb stairs
  • Decreased interest in playing or engaging in activities
  • Being less alert
  • Favouring a limb
  • Changes in attitude or behaviour

One day in 2011, Daisy let me know something was wrong.  We were out walking and she slowed down and stopped and the look in her eyes was one of pain.  She had finally let me know that she wasn’t feeling herself.

A series of x-rays confirmed arthritis in her lumbosacral spine and left hip.

Since then, she has responded to rest, conventional treatments, hydrotherapy, and other complementary therapies including my massage and laser treatments.

Quality of life for an arthritis sufferer can be attained – once the owner is aware of the problem!

The State of Pet Health in 2013 – The Banfield Report

As most of my regular readers know, I’m passionate about holistic health for our dogs. It helps, though, when we have statistics like the Banfield State of Pet Health Report 2013 to show us the ailments that are more common. In this report, we see that obesity and dental health are 2 major problems.

So ask yourself honestly – is my dog a bit heavier than he/she should be? Is the dog’s bad breath a sign of something more sinister? Through my practice, I can help dogs with both conditions (plus others, like arthritis).

Get in touch!

No Dog About It Blog

Chihuahua Wearing EyeglassesLast year, I shared a summary of Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2012 report on the state of pet health in America. The report was full of interesting information on the common ailments and diseases they see in the cats and dogs who visit their hospitals. It also called out a disturbing trend being seen in both types of pets – an increase in pet obesity.

In their 2013 State of Pet Health Report, Banfield shares even more interesting information on the average lifespan of pets and some frequently occurring themes (also seen in the 2012 report). This year’s report provides pet owners and veterinarians with even greater insight into the health of all our pets and where we should be focusing our attention.

Here is a summary of some of the more interesting findings:

  • Toy or smaller breed dogs live 41% longer than large breed dogs.
  • Large breeds reach their senior…

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Developing methods in pain management and osteoarthritis

Researchers at Kansas State University are devoting their time to the study of improvements in pain management and the treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs.   (For more information on pain management, see my June 2012 blog)

The projects are led by James Roush, a professor of clinical sciences.

In one study, the research team determined that the maximum effective time for using hot and cold packs for pain management is 10 minutes.   The researchers studied how packing affects tissue temperature in beagles and beagle-sized dogs after surgery because hot and cold packing is a common technique for reducing swelling.   After 10 minutes, the maximum change in tissue temperature has been reached.

In another study, a special mat is being used to study lameness in dogs suffering from osteoarthritis.  When dogs step on the mat, it measures the pressure in their step and the study team can determine in which leg the lameness is worse.

“We’ve designed the study to help improve osteoarthritis treatment,” Roush said. “We will also use it to measure clinical patients when they come in for regular checkups. We can measure their recovery and a variety of other aspects: how they respond to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, how they respond to narcotics or how they respond to a surgical procedure that is designed to take that pressure off the joint.”

And in a third study,  Roush is collaborating with researchers to study the effectiveness of a painkiller used to treat dogs to identify potential alternatives.

“To achieve the drug’s effect, the dosage in dogs is much higher than in people,” Roush said. “It also may not be a very good analgesic in dogs. We want to see if there is an alternative that requires smaller doses and does not have not as much of a discrepancy for patients.”

Source:  Kansas State University media release

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.