Tag Archives: laser

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

 

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Hi from Kenny

I’ve been taking a break from my massage practice this week, doing some additional study (and enjoying every minute of it.)  One of the things I love about my clients is that they understand the need for me to have a break, but they also like to update me about their dogs…

Here’s one of my emails:

Just thought I would send you a quick message!

I hope all is going well on your holiday.

Kenny is doing as well as can be. He has had 2 panting episodes over the past week, one was all day Saturday and one started in the evening on Tuesday and lasted a few hours. We popped the thunder shirt on him which did seem to calm him a little.

He sends his love and wanted to tell you he is loving the sun and warm weather we have been getting here and he even had a bath the other day which felt amazing!

Kenny

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

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

Teddy’s journey – the bandages come off

Teddy has had two consultations this week to assist his recovery.

On Monday (a day after discharge), Teddy was at home resting near the log burner and constrained in either his crate or a playpen area that Jill had set up for him.  His pack mates – sister Verdi (shown in the background) and his mother, Maggie were a little confused by the new situation.  Verdi was showing some signs of dominance – growling at Teddy.

Teddy sleeping with compression bandage

Teddy’s amputation incision was covered in a compression bandage to help with swelling

Jill was using an ice pack on the incision area four times per day to help with swelling and pain relief (Teddy was also receiving pain relief through a Fentanyl patch which delivers pain medication through the skin and also Previcox, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.)

On this day, I performed an acupressure sequence on Teddy to help his body recover from the anesthesia.  We also measured Teddy for his Walkabout Harness.

Teddy received a replacement Fentanyl patch on Tuesday.

I returned on Friday to see Teddy – with his bandages removed.  This is the first time I’ve been able to view his incision up close.

Teddy's incision

Teddy on the massage table, ready for a light treatment

Teddy was very tired on Friday and favoring his right side by sleeping mostly on his left.  This is not surprising since the comfort of the compression bandage and padding on his surgery site had been removed.

We will treat Teddy conservatively and manage his comfort in the early stages of his recovery.  Consequently, I only worked on Teddy in the above, resting position.  I gently massaged over his hips and back and he received cold laser therapy over his hips and his left forepaw (which has some arthritis).

Teddy was deeply asleep after his session – a sure sign that he needed the time out and that rest is the best thing for him.

Teddy has always been a receptive dog for massage and I expect him to be even more so post-amputation.

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

 

Treating canine cancer with nanotechnology

An 11-year-old Labradoodle named Grayton  is the first patient at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in a new clinical trial that is testing the use of gold nanoparticles and a targeted laser treatment for solid tumors in dogs and cats.

Grayton is suffering from a return of nasal adenocarcinoma, a cancer of the nasal passages that typically has a short life expectancy.  (Grayton’s tumor was originally treated with high dose radiation which extended his life by three years.)

Dr. Shawna Klahn, assistant professor of oncology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, performs a checkup on Grayton four weeks after his experimental cancer treatment involving gold nanoparticles and a targeted laser therapy. (photo courtesy of Virginia Tech News)

Dr. Shawna Klahn, assistant professor of oncology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, performs a checkup on Grayton four weeks after his experimental cancer treatment involving gold nanoparticles and a targeted laser therapy. (photo courtesy of Virginia Tech News)

“This (nanotechnology) treatment involves two phases,” Dr. Nick Dervisis, assistant professor of oncology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, said. “First, we infuse the patient with the gold nanoparticles. Although the nanoparticles distribute throughout the body, they tend to concentrate around blood vessels associated with tumors. Within 36 hours, they have cleared the bloodstream except for tumors. The gold nanoparticles are small enough to circulate freely in the bloodstream and become temporarily captured within the incomplete blood vessel walls common in solid tumors. Then, we use a non-ablative laser on the patient.”

Dervisis explained that a non-ablative laser is not strong enough to harm the skin or normal tissue, but “it does cause the remaining nanoparticles to absorb the laser energy and convert it into heat so that they damage the tumor cells.”

Like all clinical trials, the study involves many unknowns, including the treatment’s usefulness and effectiveness. One month after the AuroLase treatment, the nosebleeds that initially brought Grayton back to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital had stopped and Grayton has no other side effects.

Grayton’s owners report that he recently enjoyed the family’s summer vacation at the beach.

Grayton may be the first companion animal in the study at the veterinary college, but he certainly won’t be the last. Dervisis is continuing to enroll patients in the study and is seeking dogs and cats of a certain size with solid tumors who have not recently received radiation therapy or chemotherapy. For more information about the trial and eligibility requirements, owners should visit the Veterinary Clinical Research Office website.

Source:  Media release, Virginia Tech News

National Holistic Pet Day

Today, 30 August 2012, is National Holistic Pet Day.

This is the day to celebrate all of the ways we can care for the ‘whole’ dog – their physiological health and their mental health.

As a canine massage therapist, I’m naturally a supporter of holistic approaches because I help treat dogs with acupressure, laser and massage therapies.  I also help dogs with rehabilitation programmes, even measuring dogs for mobility carts when necessary.  I also like to use bach flower remedies.

Here are a few ways to celebrate National Holistic Pet Day:

  • Treat your dog to a massage
  • Take your dog to the local hydrotherapy pool for a fun swim
  • Walk your dog in the fresh air and enjoy each other’s company
  • Take advice on feeding biologically appropriate dog food to your dog
  • Brush your dog’s teeth (and keep it up!)
  • Take your dog to a homeopathic or holistic vet for a check up
  • Look in your cleaning cupboard and throw away all of those chemical cleaning products – buy natural based products as replacement or even learn to make your own cleaners using natural products like vinegar and baking soda

Whatever you do – enjoy National Holistic Pet Day together.  The best thing you can give your dog is your time.

The cost of veterinary care

Last night on consumer television programme Fair Go, there was an item about the high cost of veterinary care in New Zealand.

The makers of the programme compared costs for common veterinary procedures in cats and dogs – thinks like dental cleanings and microchipping.  And for those of us working in the companion animal field, it came as no surprise that there can be a huge variability in costs.

I remember when I was studying pet nutrition, our first assignment included a question about the cost of the first year of a dog’s care.    We had to itemise all costs for  everything from food to flea treatments to veterinary care.  And like so many other living costs in New Zealand, our prices were higher.  That’s what happens when you live on comparatively small islands in the middle of the Pacific!  In fact, my tutor said that our costs were the highest of all others in the class from around the world.

However, the Fair Go programme basically advised viewers that the way to control their costs was to shop around.  While I agree with this point – to a point, there’s a lot more that you can do to keep the costs of your veterinary care –  and your dog’s overall care – reasonable.

And I’m also a big supporter of the adage – YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.  In every aspect of my dog’s care, I aim to purchase quality products and services. They may not be the cheapest – but I’m satisfied that they are the best.

In my opinion, you should:

  • Adopt a preventive healthcare approach first

As soon as your dog comes into your life, vow that you will do the best you can for them.  This means choosing high quality, nutritious foods (‘you are what you eat’) and giving your dog the right amount of exercise.  Ensure your dog doesn’t become overweight and clean their teeth.

For teeth cleaning, there’s the old-fashioned approach which includes giving dogs raw meaty bones.  There are also good dental chews on the market and toys like rope chews act as dental floss.  There’s also some very good toothbrushes and toothpaste you can buy because not all dogs get enough cleaning from the items that they chew.

  • Build a relationship with a vet

If you go all over town chasing the best price, no single veterinary practice will have a full picture of your dog’s health history.  Shop around and then try to stick with the same vet.  Be honest about your ability to pay and if the practice knows you, they will be in a better position to offer you a payment plan or a reduction in price. You probably won’t have that as an option if the veterinary practice has never seen you before!

If you are unhappy with any service that a veterinarian provides you (including cost) you should raise your concerns with the practice first to see what solutions are available.  Then, if you’re still not happy, go out and find yourself another vet that you can work with.

  • Complementary therapies for longevity and quality of life

Complementary therapies like my massage, acupressure and laser therapy practice have a role in keeping your dog healthy (and the vet bills down).   I  offer advice on rehabilitation and exercise programmes that can help reduce your dog’s dependence on pain medication, for example.  I’m an advocate for therapies such as hydrotherapy and acupuncture, both of which I use for my own, aging dog.

  • Shop online

There are many outlets where you can find pet products at a more reasonable price than a traditional pet store or veterinary practice.  These include sites like Trade Me, but also online pet pharmacy My VetI also source and sell products online through my company – Canine Catering and, because I’m a smaller operation with lower overheads, you will pay a lower price.

(In general, retail costs are higher because there are more costs for doing business.  They have shop assistants to pay, rent, and bills for heating, maintenance and electricity. )

I hope these tips give you a broader perspective on the costs of caring for your dog.  If we save money, we have more money to spend on our families which includes our pets!