Today’s must read: Breast cancer survivor Sue Glader’s inspiring blog post on staring down the N-word. Wise words for people facing cancer, but also for those of us whose pets face critical diseases or disabling injuries. Too often we, as well, are told no. No, your dog can’t have a good life with degenerative myelopathy. No, your cat will never walk again. No, you should put your pet to sleep. Thank you, Sue, for encouraging us to “juke, jive, bob and weave around the negatives in life.” Some people do it to live, we do it to love.
Archive for the ‘Geriatric Dogs and Cats’ Category
For a comprehensive (and perhaps exhaustive) look at canine hip dysplasia, don’t miss this article from Clinician’s Brief. It’s written for veterinarians but there’s a lot of great information in there for those of us on the other end of the leash!
Our post on how to keep your dog out of rehab sparked a conversation here at Scout’s House about some of the most common conditions we see. We were sure we knew what we saw the most, but after running a few statistical reports, even we were surprised at the results.
Number One complaint? Osteoarthritis–by a landslide. Not surprising when you think about it–most animals coming in for physical rehab therapy are bound to have arthritis, along with other ailments, but we thought we saw more dogs with neurological issues. We were wrong.
We were wrong, too, about the second most common complaint: knee problems related to the cranial cruciate ligament, or CCL. Many of the dogs we’ve seen were recovering from one of the various surgeries used to fix a CCL rupture–TPLO, TTA, tightrope, or extracapsular–although a handful were hoping to avoid surgery with conservative management. Of course, some of them had had surgery years before and were having problems with that knee (or stifle) now. Can you say arthritis?
And while we would have guessed stifle problems were the third most common complaint amongst our patients, disk issues win there. Intervertebral disk disease, disk ruptures, laminectomy surgeries–we see them all.
Wrapping up our Top 6: unidentified “rear limb weakness,” hip dysplasia, and degenerative myelopathy.
Coming up next: Some of the unbelievable predicaments our patients have gotten into–and ended up in rehab because of!
I’m always amazed by the scientific rigor that goes into clinical studies, but sometimes the results just confirm what seems like plain old common sense.
In this study, researchers found that overweight dogs with osteoarthritis who went on a diet and received intensive physical therapy lost more weight and moved better after 30 days than did dogs who just went on a diet or who dieted and received moderate physical therapy. If your dog has arthritis and you’re wondering whether rehab therapy can help, read on:
I am not known for my patience. In fact, when I was a kid, my father used to joke that when the good Lord passed out patience, I didn’t bother to wait in line.
As many readers of this blog know, I started Scout’s House because I saw what an incredible difference it made in the life of my own dog. But when I started rehab with Scout, I had no expectations that it would help her. To be honest, she was such a neurological mess, I didn’t think anything could fix her. But rehab did. Not overnight but over months, slowly and steadily. And I’m so glad I was patient enough to give it time to work.
So if there’s one bit of advice I’d give to anyone considering rehab therapy for her or his pet, it’s this: have patience. Too many people come to Scout’s House expecting overnight miracles, but that’s not how rehab therapy—or physical therapy for humans—works. It takes time to regain lost muscle strength, particularly when a leg hasn’t been used for a month or two. And it takes even more time to retrain a brain to move limbs properly again after, say, a disk rupture or an FCE.
We often tell our new clients to start by bringing their pets in twice a week for two to three weeks and by then they should see at least a little improvement. And we say twice a week because often the more therapy a pet gets each week, the more quickly you’ll see gains. It’s just like going to the gym: go once a week and you won’t see much change over the course of several weeks. But go twice a week—or even three times a week—and you’ll improve far more rapidly.
So, if you’re headed to rehab with your pet, have patience and give it time to work. I can’t promise it will–rehab doesn’t help every animal just as physical therapy doesn’t help every human–but if you commit to at least twice a week for two or three weeks, you’ll know if rehab is right for your pet. And you’ll have the peace of mind, knowing you tried.
Having started a rehab therapy center for animals, I often get calls from friends–and friends of friends–about sudden-onset health problems their pets are having. In the last month, though, I’ve had a run on those calls, all from people whose dogs suddenly couldn’t stand or walk. They all wanted to know what to do. And to be honest, I want to scream into the receiver: TAKE YOUR DOG TO THE VETERINARIAN!
If your spouse or parent or child suddenly couldn’t walk, what would you do? Would you call a friend to ask what she or he thinks you should do? Would you just “wait and see” because maybe it’ll get better on its own? No, I don’t think you would. I think, at the very least, you’d call a doctor, who would probably tell you to call 911 as it would clearly be a medical emergency.
Likewise, it is a medical emergency when your dog or cat suddenly can’t stand or walk.
There are any number of reasons for sudden paralysis in pets, but I’m here to tell you, none of them are good. And for most of those issues, time is critical. If it’s a disk rupture, for example, you have a 24-hour window to have a surgery performed that may give your pet a chance to walk again. And if it’s a saddle thrombus, your pet is in excruciating pain and needs to be treated immediately.
So if your dog or cat suddenly can’t walk or use even just one of his or her legs, please call your veterinarian immediately. I guarantee you, it will save you money, time, and heartache in the long run.
I wish I could say cats would benefit from the use of a cranberry supplement, but in my conversation with the veterinary researcher from Nutramax Labs, she explained that Crananidin only works with E. coli and that cats don’t often get E. coli-based infections.
That said, Nutramax does recommend the use of Dasuquin for Cats for idiopathic cystitis in cats. She explained that the chondriton in Dasuquin for Cats replenishes the compounds in the cells lining the bladder wall, which strengthens the bladder lining and wards off infections.
And I can say from personal experience that it really does seem to work. My cat G is paralyzed in his back legs and, as a kitten, I was told when I adopted him, he suffered from constant, recurring urinary tract infections. I knew about using Dasuquin for bladder health in cats, so I decided to give it a try with G, and I’m happy to report he hasn’t had an infection since he moved in with us, going on four years now.
So if you have a cat who suffers from recurring urinary tract infections, consider this a personal recommendation to try Dasuquin for Cats. It won’t get rid of an infection once it starts, but it definitely seems to help avoid them. Just ask G.
For those of us who live with special needs pets, especially geriatric or paralyzed dogs or cats, we understand the dangers of urinary tract infections, or UTIs.
According to an article published in the May 2010 issue of Clinician’s Brief, UTIs develop when the pet’s natural defense mechanisms break down enough to allow virulent microbes to attach and multiply within the urinary tract. In dogs, these microbes are most often E. Coli, a particular nasty bacteria that can be especially problematic for dogs who are paralyzed (such as from degenerative myelopathy or disk disease, or IVDD), dogs with diabetes mellitus or hyperadrenocorticism, dogs who have been on long-term courses of steroids, and dogs who have had indwelling urinary catheters. The risk of getting an E. coli UTI also increases as dogs get older.
Veterinarians often combat E. coli UTIs with antibiotics, repeatedly if a dog suffers from recurring UTIs. But the reality is no one really likes having a pet on antibiotics longterm. As our clients have often asked us at Scout’s House, is there a more natural remedy? Turns out, cranberries just might be the answer.
One cranberry-based product that supports urinary tract health in dogs is Crananidin from NutraMax Labs (the same people who created Cosequin and Dasuquin). As a veterinary researcher from NutraMax recently explained to me, Crananidin uses bioactive proanthocyandins, or PACs, to minimize the ability of the E. coli bacteria to adhere to the bladder wall. She described it as “putting boxing gloves” on the bacteria so that they can’t grab onto the bladder epithelium and are instead flushed out in the dog’s urine. A NutraMax Labs study showed that by Day 7, a once-daily dose of Crananidin increased the bioactivity, or anti-adhesion, of the urine by over 78%.
My understanding is that Crananidin is best used in dogs who get recurrent E. coli UTIs, not for first-timers who really do need antibiotics to knock out the infection. But if your dog suffers from recurrent UTIs, talk to your veterinarian about Crananidin or other cranberry-based remedies. You might be able to avoid that next round of antibiotics after all.
Next up: What about cats?
1)Â Get non-slip dog boots (we have a couple of good ones to recommend)
2)Â Put down area rugs or carpet runners (yoga mats work really well, too)
3)Â Use stick-on paw pads
4)Â Strengthen your dogâ€™s legs with rehab therapy (had to put that in!)
5)Â Use baby gates to block off the rooms with hardwood or tile
6)Â Carry your dog everywhere (not really an option for those of us with big dogs)
7)Â Put a RuffWear harness on him and hold on to the handle (labor intensive but it works)
8)Â Use an anti-slip spray (created for show dogs to keep them from slipping in the ring)
9)Â Carpet the house, bathrooms included (because dogs always follow you to the bathroom)
What would your #10 be?Â Post ideas by clicking Leave a Comment above or in the box below
Cats are stoic creatures, which means they’re often very good at hiding pain. Â But as this article points out, the things our cats do that we think are just normal signs of aging–becoming less active, finding new sleeping spots that don’t require jumping up, even pooping alongside, and not in, the litter box–may be signs of arthritis instead. Â Although this was written for veterinarians, it’s a good overview of feline arthritis, including symptoms, how it’s diagnosed, and what treatment options are available. Â From Veterinary Focus, courtesy of IVIS:
For more information about Scout’s House, go to scoutshouse.com