Tag Archives: lameness

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

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Canine cancer: the warning signs and the way to a cure?

According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, one in four dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime.  That’s a pretty scary statistic.  A diagnosis of a malignant cancer for one’s dog is just as traumatic and worrying as a diagnosis of the disease in any member of the family.

Experts in both human and canine cancers agree that we still have much to learn about the types of these diseases and how to treat them.

The National Veterinary Cancer Registry has been launched recently to identify and register pets diagnosed with cancer.  The Registry’s goal is to facilitate and promote medical treatments that lead to advances, higher success rates and eventual cures for cancer in pets and people by matching animals with cancer to clinical trials for new cancer treatments.

NVCR logo

The Registry is a joint venture between the CARE Foundation, Baylor University Medical Center (BUMC) at Dallas and the Texas Veterinary Oncology Group.

Dr Gerald S Post, Founder and President of the Animal Cancer Foundation says there are 10 warning signs of cancer in both dogs and cats.  They are:

1. Swollen lymph nodes: These “glands” are located all throughout the body but are most easily detected behind the jaw or behind the knee. When these lymph nodes are enlarged they can suggest a common form of cancer called lymphoma. A biopsy or cytology of these enlarged lymph nodes can aid in the diagnosis.

2. An enlarging or changing lump: Any lump on a pet that is rapidly growing or changing in texture or shape should have a biopsy. Lumps belong in biopsy jars, not on pets.

3. Abdominal distension: When the “stomach” or belly becomes rapidly enlarged, this may suggest a mass or tumor in the abdomen or it may indicate some bleeding that is occurring in this area. A radiograph or an ultrasound of the abdomen can be very useful.

4. Chronic weight loss: When a pet is losing weight and you have not put your pet on a diet, you should have your pet checked. This sign is not diagnostic for cancer, but can indicate that something is wrong. Many cancer patients have weight loss.

5. Chronic vomiting or diarrhea: Unexplained vomiting or diarrhea should prompt further investigation. Often tumors of the gastrointestinal tract can cause chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea. Radiographs, ultrasound examinations and endoscopy are useful diagnostic tools when this occurs.

6. Unexplained bleeding: Bleeding from the mouth, nose, penis, vagina or gums that is not due to trauma should be examined. Although bleeding disorders do occur in pets, they usually are discovered while pets are young. If unexplained bleeding starts when a pet is old, a thorough search should be undertaken.

7. Cough: A dry, non-productive cough in an older pet should prompt chest radiographs to be taken. This type of cough is the most common sign of lung cancer. Please remember there are many causes of cough in dogs and cats.

8. Lameness: Unexplained lameness especially in large or giant breed dogs is a very common sign of bone cancer. Radiographs of the affected area are useful for detecting cancer of the bone.

9. Straining to urinate: Straining to urinate and blood in the urine usually indicate a common urinary tract infection; if the straining and bleeding are not rapidly controlled with antibiotics or are recurrent, cancer of the bladder may be the underlying cause. Cystoscopy or other techniques that allow a veterinarian to take a biopsy of the bladder are useful and sometimes necessary to establish a definitive diagnosis in these cases.

10. Oral odor: Oral tumors do occur in pets and can cause a pet to change its food preference (i.e. from hard to soft foods) or cause a pet to change the manner in which it chews its food. Many times a foul odor can be detected in pets with oral tumors. A thorough oral examination with radiographs or CT scan, necessitating sedation, is often necessary to determine the cause of the problem.

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