Tag Archives: veterinary care

Beyond Izzy’s pram (managing dogs through to old age) Part 10 – other veterinary procedures

Today, we have reached the final rung on our ladder.  It’s time to discuss Other Veterinary Care.

Arthritis management diagram

Sometimes, more extreme measures have to be considered and this is where our ‘Other’ category comes in.  Specialist procedures are undertaken by qualified veterinarians.

They may include:

  • hip replacement – for dogs with severe hip dysplasia, sometimes a hip replacement is the last option remaining – a procedure undertaken by a surgeon with rehabilitation to follow
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections – this involves taking blood from your dog and spinning it in a centrifuge to separate out the plasma portion of the blood.  This fluid is then injected back into tendons and ligaments to stimulate the healing process.  PRP injections seem to be the best hope for chronic tendinopathies that are hard to shift with other treatments.
  • Stem cell therapy – in this procedure, adipose (fat) tissue and some blood are collected from your dog and processed on-site through a special procedure to release and purify the stem cells. The purified material is then injected into arthritic joints and intravenously to help repair damaged tissues directly and through circulation through the bloodstream.

Our dogs are benefiting from the research into regenerative medicine techniques; as our human population is living longer, they also suffer from diseases like arthritis for longer.  Regenerative techniques, once proven, offer hope for chronic pain sufferers.

Depending upon your location, access to specialist procedures may be limited particularly because of the investment required for specialist equipment and training.  If you feel that your dog’s condition isn’t being managed sufficiently with a mix of the other modalities mentioned in this series, then you should discuss specialist options with your vet who can refer you to a practice.  (Be prepared to travel and for the costs of specialist expertise.)

I hope you have enjoyed the ageing dogs series.  There is a lot we can do to help our dogs age gracefully and with a good quality of life.

Finally, a ‘plug’ for my practice, The Balanced Dog.  You may have noticed my logo in all but two of the rungs on the ladder.  That’s because my integrative practice focused on Fear-Free, in-home care, offers:

  • In-home assessments
  • Gait analysis and health history review
  • Hour-long consults with an interview process involving the dog’s health and behaviour – to ascertain symptoms of discomfort, pain and anxiety
  • Individual canine fitness and exercises programs
  • Weight loss recommendations and coaching
  • Food therapy
  • Complementary therapies including canine massage, acupressure, low-level laser therapy, flower essences and supplementation recommendations

All new clients must submit a copy of their dog’s veterinary records and certify that their dog is under regularly veterinary care.  Remember that we can go up and down the ladder as we re-evaluate a dog’s condition and care needs.

Got questions about this post?  Please feel free to post a message or contact me through my practice, The Balanced Dog.

 

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Beyond Izzy’s pram (managing dogs through to old age) Part 9 – medications

Today, I’m talking about medications and their role in your dog’s care.  Medications are the 7th rung of our ladder…

Arthritis management diagram - the ladder

Medications are prescribed by your veterinarian after they have examined your dog and are confident on the match between the medication and your dog’s conditions.  For dogs with multiple health problems, it’s incredibly important to use the same veterinarian or to declare all medications you are using with every vet to ensure there are no adverse drug interactions.

As with healthcare for people, we now have more drugs than ever to support and treat health conditions in our dogs. Although we have been talking a lot in this series about arthritis, aging dogs often develop other health conditions.  These include things like urinary incontinence and kidney disease, as examples.

My English Pointer, Daisy, took Propalin syrup for many years because of urinary incontinence (she would leak urine, usually while asleep).  Thanks to the liquid form of the medication, I was able to gradually get her to the lowest effective dose – and that’s something I really liked because I didn’t want her to be over-medicated.

Words of advice #1:  Always ask if your dog’s medication comes in a liquid form.  Many pet parents struggle to give their dog a pill, whereas liquid is often easier to put over food or down the throat.  And, as noted above, with a liquid medication you have greater ability to adjust dosages than with pill formats.

Medications have a huge role to play in the management of arthritis, an inflammatory disease that causes pain and discomfort.  The most common group of drugs used to help patients with arthritis are the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  These include:

  • Rimadyl
  • Carprieve
  • Metacam
  • Previcox
  • Trocoxil
  • Pentosan Polysulfate

Other pain medications which are not in the NSAID class include:

  • Gabapentin
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Ketamine
  • Amantadine
  • Paracetemol

It is fairly common for me to meet dog parents who are concerned about giving their dogs medications because they’ve heard that they can have side effects.  That concern is valid to a point, but not to the point that you allow your animal to live with enduring pain.  Pain is an animal welfare issue.

In addition, I have never met a person who said that they would withhold arthritis medication from their aging mother, father or grandparents because they were worried about side effects.  If it’s good enough for your human loved ones, this approach is also good enough for your dog.

Words of advice #2:  Adopt a trial approach to pain medication.  I’m not talking about ‘free samples’ here – I’m talking about a medication trial that lasts a few weeks to see what effects they have on your dog and to help you get accustomed to the idea of giving them medication.  Many veterinarians will endorse this approach.  After a consultation, your vet will prescribe several weeks worth of pain medication.  Your job is to follow the dosage instructions and to watch your dog’s behavior…

By the end of many pain medication trials,  it is common for me to hear that the dog is bouncing around again, walking for longer distances, eating more robustly, etc.  That tells us how much pain they have been in and justifies prolonged usage of the medication.

Remember, arthritis is a degenerative disease.  It’s not going away – and so neither is the pain.

During New Zealand’s Covid-19 lockdown, a woman contacted me about her dog who, she said, prior to lockdown had been reluctant to walk on an intermittent basis. But since she was home more and walking him regularly, she had noticed that some days he wouldn’t walk at all and on others, he’d want to head for home a lot sooner than planned.

She described his behavior to me and, since I was unable to work with clients at the time, I suggested she talk to her vet about a pain management trial.  Vets were classified as essential services during the lockdown.

She took my advice and when I followed up with her, she told me that her dog was a puppy again.  He’s going for x-rays now because in post-lockdown, the vet is able to admit the dog for x-rays.  The images will tell us the extent of his suspected/likely arthritis.  And we’ll use massage, laser and exercise to manage him along with the medication.    (Remember, we can go up and down our ladder)

 

Izzy the greyhound in her pram

In closing, I’ll bring this post back to Izzy.  She has corns and arthritis and, based on our experience with NSAIDs after surgeries, they weren’t an option for her for longer term pain management.  Her stomach doesn’t tolerate them.  Our vet suggested gabapentin, which she takes twice each day.

The pain management is part of her daily regime which includes, of course, rides in her pram when she is too tired or sore to continue walking.  We review Izzy’s health and degree of lameness on a regular basis with our vet before getting a refill of her gabapentin.

Over time, medication needs can change.  If one medication doesn’t work, there is usually something else that the vet can prescribe for your dog.

 


Got questions about this post?  Please feel free to post a message or contact me through my practice, The Balanced Dog.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Re-branding and going viral

It’s been particularly busy the last few days.  I had expected it to be busy – just not this busy.

The planned part of the weekend was my company re-branding.  At long last, my business is now The Balanced Dog Ltd – a practice focused on professional dog massage and natural care.

When I started in business in 2007, it was as a maker of preservative-free dog treats and cakes and so the company name of Canine Catering suited…but by 2010, my dog massage practice was growing and it is this aspect of natural dog care that has become my passion.

The new name also reflects my interests in Traditional Chinese Medicine and nutrition.  It’s all about balance and health.

But what I didn’t expect this weekend was my first truly viral post on Facebook.  A client of mine shared this cartoon with me and it all took off from there:

This is Jill

You see, last month my column about this subject was published in NZ Dog World magazine.  I’m increasingly concerned about how people are taking to Facebook for medical diagnosis (instead of seeking professional veterinary care).

It’s okay to seek advice from peers when your dog has a known condition.  Support groups for all types of disorders exist on social media; I’ve used them myself.

And I guess a lot of people agree with me – I’ve tripled the number of Facebook likes on my page and have had over 1.5 million views.  Not bad for an independent canine massage practitioner from little old New Zealand…

Thanks for reading my blog; I’ve been writing it for five years now and I still enjoy it and the connections I have made with some dedicated dog parents.

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

Oh…and here’s my column about “Dr Facebook” if you’re interested:

December 2015

Promises to my dog

DSC03008

Promises I make to my dog

  1. I promise to have realistic expectations of the role my dog will play in my life. I will remember that she is a dog, not a furry little human; she cannot satisfy all my emotional needs.
  2. I promise to protect my dog from dangers, such as traffic and other creatures who might want to hurt her.
  3. I promise to keep her well dressed with a collar containing up-to-date I.D.
  4. I promise to learn kind and gentle training methods so that she can understand what I am trying to say.
  5. I promise to be consistent with my training, since dogs feel secure when daily life is predictable, with fair rules and structure.
  6. I promise to match her loyalty and patience with my own.
  7. I promise that my dog will be part of my family. I will make a commitment to schedule time every day to interact with her so that she will feel loved and will not develop behavior problems from a lack of stimulation and socialization.
  8. I promise to seek professional help if my dog develops behavior problems that become unmanageable.
  9. I promise that my dog will have opportunities to exercise and honor some of her instincts. She’ll have walks and runs outside of her daily territory, so she can sniff and explore.
  10. I promise to provide veterinary care for her entire life. I will keep her healthy and watch her weight.
  11. I promise that if I move, marry, have a baby, or get divorced, she will continue to share my life, since she is a beloved family member.
  12. I promise that if I absolutely must give her up, I will find an appropriate home for her that is as good as or better than my home.

Source:  Best Friends Animal Society

Get Healthy, Get a Dog

The Harvard Medical School has published a special health report entitled Get Healthy, Get a Dog:  The health benefits of canine companionship. 

The report details the many ways that dogs can improve the lives of humans.

Get Healthy, Get a DogIn promoting the report, the School says:

There are many reason why dogs are called humans’ best friends: not only do they offer unparalleled companionship, but a growing body of research shows they also boost human health. Owning a dog can prompt you to be more physically active — have leash, will walk. It can also:

  • help you be calmer, more mindful, and more present in your life
  • make kids more active, secure, and responsible
  • improve the lives of older individuals
  • make you more social and less isolated

Just petting a dog can reduce the petter’s blood pressure and heart rate (while having a positive effect on the dog as well).

The report can be purchased in print (US$20), in .pdf electronic version (US$18) or both (US$29) from this webpage.

I’m pleased to see this type of publication coming from such a reputable institution.  Dogs and humans both benefit when  humans take responsibility for a committed and healthy relationship.  I particularly like that the report also covers grief, since we all will face grieving the loss of beloved pet (given the odds – since we live a lot longer than our dogs do).

The chapters in the report include:

  • Our dogs, ourselves
    • Benefits of dog ownership
    • Service dogs
  • How dogs make us healthier
    • Physical activity
    • Cardiovascular benefits
    • Reduced asthma and allergies in kids
    • Psychological benefits
    • How human contact benefits dogs
  • SPECIAL SECTION
    • Nutrition guidelines for dogs
  • Exercise for you and your dog
    • Exercise whys and wherefores
    • The exercise prescription for people
    • Exercise guidelines for dogs
    • Help your dog avoid injuries
    • Walking with your dog
    • Hiking
    • Running
    • Biking
    • Swimming
    • Playing fetch, Frisbee, or flying disc
    • Agility training
    • Skijoring
    • Playing inside the house
  • Adopting a dog
    • Deciding on the qualities you want
    • Breed considerations
    • Finding your dog
  • How to be a responsible dog owner
    • Basic equipment
    • Veterinary care
    • Dogs in cars
    • Providing for your dog while you’re at work
  • Raising a well-behaved dog
    • Obedience training
    • Housetraining
    • Keeping dogs off furniture … or not
    • Soothing the anxious hound
  • Grieving a loss
  • Resources
  • Glossary

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

Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You? | Video – ABC News

One of the things I try to do through this blog and my column in NZ Dog World magazine is to educate dog owners.  This item, from ABC News in the United States, gives you some food for thought.

The key messages are:

1) Be an educated dog owner about health care

2) Ask knowledgeable questions about recommended procedures (including vaccinations)

3) Understand that some practices market procedures (up-selling) to increase sales

And the subtle one for me is really to develop a working relationship with your vet.  I believe that most vets are ethical and are willing to have an intelligent conversation with you.  But, it’s up to you to be the steward of your dog’s care.  You are the one who says ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to all treatments given to your dog.

Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You? | Video – ABC News.

When your dog has the runs…

A client rang me this week to say that her dog had a major case of runny poos – the runs – or diarrhea to be exact.  She said her dog was her normal happy self but was going to the toilet regularly with fairly dramatic consequences – would I keep our massage appointment?

My answer was ‘no’ – not advisable – not because I was concerned that I’d have poo all over my massage table but because this dog’s body was telling us something.  Diarrhea is a symptom and not a disorder in itself and the dog’s body was working double-time to rid itself of an irritant.  Her system had enough to handle and a massage would only add to her metabolic load as lactic acid was released by the massage.  She didn’t need that.

My advice was to withhold food for 12 to 24 hours and to keep up the fluids.  Some people add low salt chicken or vegetable stock to the dog’s water bowl to encourage them to drink and keep hydrated, for example.  When food was again on the menu, I suggested replacing half the normal volume of food with cooked pumpkin to add fibre to the diet that the dog could easily tolerate and to keep this up for a few days until the stools returned to a normal consistency.

Other home remedies include a diet of boiled chicken with white rice, for example.

Typically, diarrhea is the result of a digestive indiscretion but it can be the result of poisoning from household or garden chemicals, a symptom of parasites such as hookworm, or a food allergy.  Some worming treatments can also stimulate a bought of diarrhea.

If a dog has additional symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, abdominal pain, blood in the diarrhea, vomiting and fever  then you need to see your veterinarian as soon as possible.   In this case, the dog seemed happy in herself and so that was a sign that she was probably not in danger.

A trip to the vet is a good idea if the diarrhea lasts for more than five days or so.

Diarrhea isn’t any fun for the dog owner or the dog.  Keeping an eye on symptoms is critically important to ensure you do the right thing when your dog has the runs…

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!

Resolve to be a great dog owner this year

There are lots of jokes that circulate at this time of year about a dog’s resolutions for the new year (e.g., kitty-box crunchies are not junk food, etc.).  But what about your resolutions for your role as a Doggy Mom or Doggy Dad?

Here are my suggestions for new year resolutions:

1.  Resolve to feed your dog the highest quality dog food you can afford.  Not sure what to feed or even if you are feeding the right amount?  That’s where a nutritional assessment comes in.  People like me are trained in reading the labels of your existing dog food and with some information about your dog’s condition and lifestyle, we can tell you a lot about whether you are feeding the right amount and make un-biased suggestions about your core dog food.

In my case, I’m not affiliated with any veterinary practice or brand of dog food (many professionals take their nutrition training from a programme offered by dog food manufacturer – ask about this when selecting a provider for nutritional advice!)

2.  Exercise more – for your dog and yourself!  Exercise is important mental and physical stimulation for both you and your dog.  Discover new walks, link up with walking partners and doggy buddies for more variety, and manage your exercise according to the temperatures of the day (your dog doesn’t have the heat regulation system that you do in the summer; and their paw pads can be irritated by road salt and ice during the winter).

3.  Groom your dog – regularly.   If you don’t know what to do, then take your dog to a professional groomer and get advice on maintenance that you can do at home.  It breaks my heart to hear about veterinary nurses and groomers that have to work on severely matted dogs because their owner has neglected their grooming responsibilities.

4.  Make time for your dog.  I signed off last month’s newsletter to my Canine Catering customers saying “remember that the best thing you give your dog this holiday season is your time.”  It goes for the rest of the year, too.  Your dog is a social animal and needs your love and attention throughout the year.

5.  Keep a watchful eye on your dog’s health, ensuring they are not overweight (or underweight) and that they receive regular veterinary care.  (For a dog to be accepted into my dog massage and rehabilitation practice, the owner must certify for me that their dog is under regular veterinary care.)

6.  Have fun together – play time is essential.  Dog walks are not the only stimulation for your dog.  Choose an activity that suits both you your dog.  It could be agility or obedience training, rally-o, fetch, cross-country skiing, hiking/tramping, or the use of interactive dog toys.

I wish you and your dog a wonderful 2012.  Contact me through this blog or my website for information on any topic I cover in this blog.