Tag Archives: massage

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However, this week, Teddy became noticeably withdrawn.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

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Megaesophagus

Megaesophagus is a condition where the muscles of the esophagus fail, similar to a limp balloon that has inflated several times and lost its elasticity:Limp balloonWhen the condition is present, the esophagus doesn’t contract normally and food can’t make it down into the stomach to be digested.  Food can ‘pool’ in the esophagus causing regurgitation.  Worse, the undigested food can be inhaled leading to a condition called aspiration pneumonia.  Megaesophagus can affect puppies and adult dogs.

Vets normally have to diagnose the condition from its range of symptoms which include:

  • Regurgitation of water or food
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss that is sudden
  • Frequent clearing of the throat
  • Sour smelling breath
  • Difficulty in swallowing or frequent swallowing
  • Aspiration pneumonia

Megaesophagus is a condition that can be managed, but it does take a dedicated and vigilant dog parent to do this.

Dogs with the condition have to eat and drink in a device called a Bailey Chair.  The chair allows the dog to sit in an upright position for an extended period of time.  A megaesophagus dog needs to be fed in the chair and kept upright for at least 20 minutes to allow gravity to take the food and water into the stomach.

Dogs with megaesophagus have special nutritional needs, too.  Since dogs with this condition can’t drink normally, they often need water added to their meals and to receive high moisture treats that are thickened with gelatin or other ingredients.

A megaesophagus dog needs a diet that is calorie rich and nutritious but without too much fibre.  Raw foods are a special risk to these dogs because of their sensitive digestive systems.  There’s also a risk of bacterial contamination, particularly if even small amounts of raw food are aspirated.

Prescription medications like Carafate liquid can also help these dogs because it provides a protective coating for the esophagus.

It’s also important to think holistically for these dogs, with support with Bach flower remedies, herbs and supplements.   In my practice, I work with the dogs to keep their digestive systems healthy through massage and acupressure and nutrition.  The spleen, liver and stomach all need support when a dog has megaesophagus.

In older dogs with arthritis, having to sit in a Bailey Chair presents additional challenges that require holistic veterinary care.

The good news is that megaesophagus doesn’t mean a death sentence.  It does mean that your special dog will need special care and attention to maintain its health throughout its lifetime.

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

The notice at dog park

Flynn's death noticeI had seen Flynn at dog park a number of times before his owners asked for me to give him a relaxation massage.  Then I received an email several weeks later informing me that he had died suddenly.

His owners felt it was important to let everyone at dog park know of his passing.

Rest in peace, Flynn!

Those ‘Bambi’ falls…

I had a lovely email this evening from a new massage client.  She says ‘Ash was very happy after her treatment and has not had any bad falls (i.e. the ‘Bambi’ ones which are really bad for her hips.)’

You know what she means, right?  If not, here are a few examples:

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Does your dog fall like Bambi?  Landing like Bambi when you are an older or mobility-challenged dog can really hurt.  Please take care!

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?

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!

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.