Archive for the ‘Disk Disease in Dogs and Cats (IVDD)’ Category

Rush to Stem Cells Carries Some Risk

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

There’s a thought-provoking article in this month’s Veterinary Practice News by Dr. Narda Robinson that raises some good questions about the safety of stem cell therapy, which is being used more frequently in veterinary medicine to address a number of health issues, including arthritis and spinal cord damage.
If you’re considering stem cell therapy for your dog or cat, you might want to take a look:

Rush to Stem Cells Carries Some Risk.

Also, be sure to read this post from the International Society for Stem Cell Research.  Although meant for human patients, it’s applicable to animal patients, too:

Prepare to Be Amazed

Friday, November 5th, 2010

by Lisa Stahr

Almost on a daily basis, I am awed by the quality of rehab therapy at Scout’s House.  The difference our therapists make in our patients’ lives can be downright job-dropping–and I think you’ll agree after watching these new Before & After videos of some of our patients:
Two of them are dogs (one big, one small) who had difficult recoveries from hemilaminectomy surgery, another dog who refused to use her rear leg after a successful extracapsular repair of a torn CCL, and an older dog with weak rear legs who walks like a youngster now!
All are wonderful testaments to the benefits of rehab therapy–and to the incredible knowledge and dedication of Krista Niebaum (the head of our rehab program), Andrea Mocabee, Debbie Eldredge, and Misa Tsuchikawa.  Prepare to be amazed!

Our Autumn E-Newsletter is Out!

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

We just published our Autumn e-newsletter!  This issue features a lot of great information about degenerative myelopathy and discounts on products helpful to dogs with DM.  Check it out at

Conservative Management: An Alternative to Surgery for Your Pet

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Does your dog or cat need surgery but isn’t a good surgical candidate because of age or health issues?  Or would you just prefer not to do put your pet through another surgery?  Join us tomorrow at 1pm Pacific when Scout’s House Director of Rehab Therapy Krista Niebaum, MPT, CCRT, talks with us about conservative management, what it is, and how it might keep your pet from going under the knife.  That’s at on PDX.FM.

The Low Down on Low-Level Laser Therapy for Pets

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Recently, we had a number of emails asking us what low-level laser therapy is and can it help a pet with osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative myelopathy (DM).  So I thought it might be good to give a quick overview of it here.

First off, low-level laser therapy is a form of intense light therapy that can reduce pain and stimulate healing by promoting positive physiologic changes at the body’s cellular level.  It’s a lot like therapeutic ultrasound, which heals with sound waves, only low-level laser therapy uses light.  And while there hasn’t been a lot of research into the use of low-level laser therapy in dogs and cats, but there have been plenty of studies on its use in humans and horses and from that we know that it accelerates tissue repair, increases the formation of new capillaries in damaged tissue, and speeds the formation of collagen.  For those reasons, it’s proven effective for wound management, alleviating chronic pain from joint conditions, including osteoarthritis, and healing soft-tissue injuries, including sprains, strains, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, capsulitis, and bursitis.   Is it effective for DM?  No, it won’t slow the progression of the disease, but often dogs with DM compensate for their limited hind limb mobility by putting more weight on their front limbs and low-level laser therapy can help mitigate pain in those overused muscles.

So those are the conditions where it can be helpful.  There are times, though, when you want to be very careful with a low-level laser–for example, when using it on an animal with black skin as it can burn–and you never want to use low-level laser therapy on an animal who has or has had cancer as it can stimulate tumor growth. 

For more information about this and other rehab therapies and techniques, including hydrotherapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, pulsed electromagnetic field therapys, and acupuncture, please visit our website at

IVDD and DM, Wobblers and CVI: What Are These Neurological Issues Our Pets Face?

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Join us today at 1pm Pacific for an in-depth conversation with veterinary neurologist Dr. James Lavely from the VCA Animal Care Center in Rohnert Park, CA, about chronic disk disease (IVDD) and DM, Wobblers/CVI, and spinal stenosis–all issues that can cause serious neurological problems in our pets.  Go to

The Best Dog Harness Ever–Now on Sale!

Friday, January 1st, 2010

To kick off our new monthly specials program on our Scout’s House online store, we’re putting the best dog harness ever made for special needs dogs on sale!  Check it out:

If You’re Doing Internet Research on Your Pet’s Health Issue…

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

…first read Dr. Nancy Kay’s recent blog post, “Everybody’s Gone Surfin’,” which explains how to find “instructive, accurate, worthwhile Internet information” and avoid “online junk food.”  (Love that phrase!)   This is a must-read post for all of us who use the Internet to learn more about the health issues our pets face (and who, besides my 86-year-old mother, doesn’t do that?)!  

Check it out at

Dr. Kay is a Board-certified internal medicine specialist with VCA Animal Care Center in Rohnert Park, CA, and the author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life, which is a wonderful soup-to-nuts guide for any pet owner, newbies and old hands alike.   Her info is:

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Spot’s Blog:

Why Do Pets Need Rehab Therapy?

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009


by Lisa Stahr of Scout’s House


     At Scout’s House, we get asked all the time why should pets get physical rehabilitation therapy*.  And the answer is simple:  Because it can improve your pet’s quality of life.

     If you’ve ever had physical therapy for an injury, you can understand the benefits of rehab therapy for dogs and cats.  But let me give you three quick reasons your pet could benefit from physical rehabilitation therapy:


1)  Rehab therapy improves outcomes and speeds recovery, particularly for post-operative, neurological, and trauma patients

     Animals recovering from trauma or surgery will generally have a more rapid and more complete recovery with physical rehabilitation therapy.  In fact, studies have shown that dogs recover more quickly and more effectively from certain surgeries—TPLOs, for example—with rehab therapy than without.  And physical therapy is especially well-documented in improving outcomes in humans affected by many of the same conditions dogs suffer from, such as ACL rupture repair, spinal surgery, and neurological injury.

     So, how can rehab make a difference?

     In the case of a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) recovery, at Scout’s House we’d take the animal through a series of activities and exercises designed to:

            • strengthen specific muscles around the joint to increase its dynamic stability;

            • regain functional range of motion at that specific joint, as well as in those joints further up the kinetic chain;

            • and, while following all the appropriate weight-bearing restrictions, we promote “reuse” of the limb, often earlier than the animal would choose to resume weight bearing on its own.


2)  Rehab therapy helps animals live more comfortable and more functional lives

     It’s especially helpful with ill and aging patients, as well as those with chronic or progressive conditions.  Just as with a human who’s suffered a stroke or a spinal cord injury, rehab won’t “fix” the source of some problems (such as permanent injury to the brain or spinal cord), but it can help to improve the quality of life by strengthening and re-educating the abilities the patient still has. 


3)  Rehab therapy helps to prevent future problems

     Through the exercises and activities that rehab therapy introduces, we can reduce—or even prevent—compensations that could cause stress up the kinetic chain and lead to future injuries.  Active exercise, particularly, is critical because it keeps muscles loose and functioning correctly.   


* In California, where Scout’s House is located, “physical therapy” is a protected term, meaning it can only be used to describe the work done with humans.  So we use the term “physical rehabilitation therapy”or “rehab therapy” when talking about the work we do with animals. 

Products for Disabled Pets

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

by Lisa Stahr


     When I adopted Bear, my Manx cat, I learned very quickly about the challenges of living with an incontinent pet. 

     Bear was the cutest little black-and-white, tailless Manx you’d ever want to see.  But she leaked urine all the time: when she slept, when she walked, when she ran around the house.  Most people thought I was crazy to “put up” with that, but I loved Bear and wasn’t about to give her up.  Besides, if I—someone who professed to love animals more than anything—wouldn’t keep her, who would?  It’s not like shelters see a big demand for cats who leak. 

     So I just learned to deal with it.  Not that it wouldn’t have been nice to have had some help, but that was back in the early 80s, long before products for disabled pets existed.  So, instead, I relied on my washing machine and a mountain of old towels to cope. 

     Today, there are all sorts of products out there for special needs pets like Bear, but unless you’ve lived for awhile with a pet who has those kinds of unique requirements, it’s unlikely you’d know about them.  At Scout’s House, our rehabilitation therapy, boarding, and daycare center for special needs animals, new clients often arrive for their first visit feeling overwhelmed about how to care for their pet, particularly when the dog or cat has recently suffered some sort of medical emergency that’s affected its mobility or function.  Disk ruptures, FCEs, car accidents, these are just a few of the more common events that can change a pet’s life—and the owner’s—in an instant.  As someone who’s had many special needs pets, including Bear and Scout, the dog I named our facility after, I understand how they feel.  It’s like you’ve been thrown down the rabbit hole and you suddenly find yourself in a strange, new world, not knowing what to do or where to turn.

     That’s why we carry so many products for special needs pets at Scout’s House.  We understand what a difference disposable diapers or a good harness with a handle can make in the life of a disabled pet—and in the life of the person who loves him.  We’ve seen how the right booties can keep a dog who drags her back feet from scraping her knuckles raw and how a simple thing like a rear harness can save an owner’s back.  We’ve learned about these products any number of ways:  through continuing education, veterinarians, surgeons, Internet searches, catalogues, sales reps, online discussion groups for animal rehab professionals, and talks with clients.  And we’ve tried these products out ourselves, evaluating how well they fit, protect, clean, absorb, or last. 

     We consider it our responsibility to learn as much as we can about these products—and to find out about all the new ones coming on the market everyday:  things that help disabled pets be more mobile or that make incontinence easier to deal with, or products that help animals get better traction as they walk or just be more comfortable. 

     So if you have a pet whose rear legs don’t work like they used to or who’s incontinent like Bear was or who has any other issue that compromises his or her functionality, don’t despair.  There are many wonderful products out there that can help you—and your pet—live more comfortable and more functional lives.  And everyday there are more and more places like Scout’s House that are dedicated to helping you find them.