The Rehabilitation Process for Dogs with Ligament Injuries

Ligaments are the fibrous tissues connecting bones to a joint. If your dog suffers a ligament tear or rupture, it’s likely he has a long road to recovery. Working with a good veterinary physiotherapist and keeping up with necessary therapeutic exercises is the key to successful rehabilitation. You may have to keep an energetic, rambunctious dog quiet during his recuperation – perhaps the most difficult of the tasks involved.

 

Common Ligament Injuries

In canines, tearing or rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) – equivalent to a human’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) – is the most common type of such injury. Trauma may cause a sudden tear, but more often it results from degeneration over time. Dogs with exceptionally straight legs are at greater risk of experiencing a CCL injury due to conformational factors. In a rupture, the dog is obviously lame in the rear leg and usually experiences considerable pain.  A partial tear is more subtle. The dog won’t use his leg effectively and is generally off-and-one lame. Without treatment, the ligament will usually rupture. While smaller dogs may improve with conservative treatment – long periods of rest and inactivity – medium to large canines almost always need surgery to fully recover.

Dogs may also injure their Achilles tendons in the hind legs. These injuries also result from trauma or degeneration. Less severe injuries may only require splints or casts, but most dogs need surgical repair of the tendons. It can take up to three months of rest and rehabilitation therapy for a dog to recover, but the overwhelming majority of canines undergoing this surgery return to full function. Of course, some dogs aren’t good candidates for surgery because of age or other health issues. There’s also no getting around the fact that surgery is quite expensive.

 

Medication

Your vet will prescribe anti-inflammatories for pain relief. Supplements such as MSM, glucosamine, and turmeric may help but always check with your vet before giving them to your dog.

 

Dietary Therapy

Dietary changes aren’t the first items that come to mind when dealing with ligament injuries, but they are often an important part of a dog’s rehabilitation. Excess weight puts additional stress on a dog’s legs, so if your pooch needs to lose some pounds, your vet may recommend a reduced fat, low-carbohydrate diet. Even if your dog’s weight is normal, he does not require as much food if his activity is extremely limited. Your vet will recommend a nutritious meal plan that won’t make your dog excessively energetic at a time when he has no outlet for his vitality.

 

Physical Therapy

During his recuperation, your dog can’t run, jump or climb stairs. About the only non-therapeutic activity he can engage in are brief “bathroom” breaks – and they are not walks, just short forays outdoors. On the plus side, that means he should look forward to his physical therapy sessions, which consist of range of motion exercises and stretching. The veterinary physiotherapist shows you how to perform the exercises, and develops a custom treatment protocol for your dog. Expect to spend at least two hours daily, broken up into several sessions, working with your dog.

Your veterinary physiotherapist may use various modalities, including lasers and electromagnetic therapy to help your dog heal. She’ll check your pet’s progress during weekly appointments.

 

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy provides excellent benefits for dogs recovering from ligament injuries. Dogs receive exercise without pressuring their joints. It’s also a safe way for a dog to let off some of his pent-up energy without putting any weight on his legs.

Using the underwater treadmill allows the dog to build muscle and stay fit. Since surgery is so expensive, some owners may opt to use hydrotherapy as part of a conservative management regimen. Hydrotherapy may prevent dogs diagnosed with partial tears from completely rupturing, as water exercise aids in muscle development.

With patience and perseverance, you and your dog should once again take long, enjoyable walks.  

 

http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/acl-injuries-in-dogs

https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/cranial-cruciate-ligament-disease

https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/achilles-tendon-injuries

http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/musculoskeletal_system/arthropathies_and_related_disorders_in_small_animals/joint_trauma_in_small_animals.html

 

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What if…..

Spiritual but not religious….. but then Zeus barked at me a year after his death. I was not the only one to witness it. You see Zeus died on August 27, 2009. For the last four years of his life, he was getting Reiki every Thursday at 10:00am in Virginia, and I swear he knew that it was Thursday and it was our time together.  Zeus died…. A year later, Pouch, our Golden retriever, was diagnosed with Lymphocytic leukemia, cancer in one word. I thought he might benefit from Reiki, so I took an appointment for him. It was a Thursday at 10:00am, I guess nobody took Zeus’ spot. Yes, it was eerie to go back one year after his death. I had been at that place so often.  As a matter of fact, I won’t be ever able to go back there. Too many ghosts now. Zeus, Pouch, Lola, Buddy…..

 

Anyway, when we left the place, it was Pouch, me and Jessica, my daughter. She was playing with her Ipod and suddenly when we were leaving the parking lot, I heard some barking, and asked her how she was making her Ipod bark. She had to remove her ear things and screamed at me: “Mom stop! You must have hit a dog!” Pouch, our Golden, was on his four legs listening to the bark as well. Except that there was no dog under my car, there was no dog anywhere. The bark was coming from my truck but at the same time from far away. It was Zeus’ bark. He barked at me for over a mile after we left the place, and then it was a deafening silence. What was the purpose? Why was he barking at me? From where? Was it to tell me: “Hey bitch this was my spot, it was our time together. You can’t rob us from that moment.” Or was it just to say hi?

 

zeusrainbowZeus stayed quiet after that for a long time, then on August 27, 2012, around 9:00 something am, my door bell rang. I lived in the middle of nowhere, so I was quite surprised that someone got to my door so early. I opened it…. No one. I closed it. The door bell rang again. So, I left the door a bit ajar with my mutts barking all over. I thought it might have been a mischievous woodpecker. The door bell rang twice more, and then it never happened ever again. I was texting my daughter about it, and of course, I might be slow some time, Jessica screamed at me (meaning she texted me in capital letters!) “MOM THIS IS ZEUS’ DEATH ANNIVERSARY.” And yes, he died around 9:15am on that day. Was it a warning? That ring bell froze my blood afterwards. You see two days later, my beautiful and sweet 3 and half year old black lab, George, was put to sleep out of the blue from Lyme nephritis. He was fine until his last evening. ccgeorge

So, was Zeus trying to warn me that something was off? I never heard from Zeus ever again. It will be four years this year. The thing is I was not even thinking about him that morning, and the time before, yes it was sad to go back to a place where I had been so many times but I was not looking for any sign, so why?

So yes, my dogs could be over the rainbow bridge, and I do hope that they are and that at one point, I will see them again, but….. spiritual but not religious…. What if we were just the most sophisticated game in the universe and that freaking alien kids are having a lot of fun with me and my love for my dogs…. and my friends? So the dogs get cancer, and the friends all die from heart attacks….   Not bad. Sorry Matt Damon but this has been my theory for a long time….. Just the most sophisticated game in the universe…..

 

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Seriously?

My daughter, not long ago, was commenting on my relationship with the mutts, and was telling me “Can’t you diversify your language? “Seriously” is probably the word you say the most!” She is a teacher, so she has a way to be kind of judgemental!

My answer was: “Seriously?” And I saw in her eyes that she thought I was a totally helpless cause!

Yes, “seriously” comes back very often in my mouth as well as in my mutts’ mouths! I love with labs! Sue me! So yes, labs have a sense of humor and can also be as judgmental as my 3rd grade teacher daughter. “Your Honor, I am not the only one to say this. They talk back, and yes they do!”

I always say that labs are my kind of dogs because I really do believe that they are probably one of the few  – or only – breed(s) with a sense of humor. I had many other dogs in my life before, but labs are just my kind of dogs!

jacknewtoyJackson is probably the one who says the most “Seriously?”. It happens almost on a daily basis, and he is screaming it at me. Jackson has a passion for his Frisbee or any Frisbee. And I just plain suck at throwing a Frisbee. I do. I am totally aware of it, and I take responsibility for all the Frisbees which landed on my roof and are staying there as witnesses of my useless way of throwing it. We had one left, yesterday, and the last one landed on the roof. I think Jackson was speechless for a minute, then he thought it so loud that I heard it: “Seriously????” So, we went to PetSmart to get a new one. If you were around that area yesterday evening, and saw a black lab dragging a flying woman behind him, that was me! I felt so guilty that I decided to buy a few. I swear, he was not the one to put them in the basket. He just sat there waiting for me to fill up the cart with like 6 Frisbees, then he must have thought that we were safe for a week. Seriously?IMG_4282

 

 

 

IMG_3898Jackson’s sister, Sophie, is the one who always, always, always wants to have the last word, and I am not kidding. Sophie has always been a smart ass, and it takes one to know one! When Sophie was a pup, she was half dog, and half monkey. After I was tucking them in bed – matter of speaking – but my five kids were in a big playpen, I just had to turn my back 10 seconds and Sophie was already out of the playpen. Sophie is smart. Most likely the smartest dog I have ever had. You can almost hear her brain work. I swear!

Sophie is a challenge any time of the day…. or night. She is like a prodigy kid, bored in her regular IMG_4055life, so she is taking it out on her brother, Max. She loves to terrorize Max. When Max goes out in the yard, Sophie is just right on top of him, grabbing him by his neck and dragging him around the yard. Hold your horses here! She is not hurting him, but yes Sophie could be a bully! So, Max, my little boy, my perfect lab, Max in one word, doesn’t want to go to the yard when Sophie is around. And Sophie being Sophie got it right away. So Sophie went to hide behind a tree. And Max being Max seeing the yard from the deck thought it was Sophie’s safe. But as soon as he was on the grass, she was jumping on him and having her way with him, and I was like: “Seriously?”

Sophie is throwing it right back at me. When I leave the house, very often, Max (the baby of the family) is having a tantrum, and Sophie, being Sophie, she just wants to help, right? So while Max is squealing at the thought that I am leaving without him, she grabs him by the neck to pull him away from the door. When I say “Sophie, NO!”, she looks at me like “Seriously?”

 

IMG_3903Max, it’s another story. Max was the runt of the litter, Max is the baby, Max is the one who hashibiscus tantrums, but Max also loves my hibiscus bush! I love hibiscus flowers, so yes I always have one on the deck. I guard that hibiscus like a hawk! I mean it. Max knows it, so now when Max goes outside, he doesn’t even stop, he grabs whatever he can grab: a leaf, half of a flower, or even a whole flower, and I scream at him “Max, seriously?” Don’t panic. Hibiscus flowers are okay to eat, but don’t ever say that to your dog, or you can remove hibiscus from your flowers list.

 

 

 

 

 

Then comes Zoe….. Zoe is the last one of the mutts or siblings. Zoe has a lot, and I mean a lot of blonde moments. Not her fault. That’s just the way she is wired. When I fixed their meals, as soon as the bowls are out, she start jumping and screaming, and I mean screaming. While Zoe screams I would never ever cross a bridge in fear of the bridge collapsing! I am talking about the resonance thing which can makes things collapse. That’s what I fear when Zoe screams, so I face her, and say: (yeah, yeah, yeah!) “SEROUSLY?”1350

“Seriously” can be said in so many tones: amused, serious, mad, gentle, sweet. Just the tone of your voice made it have so many different values!

And then, came Maia, my beautiful sweet girl who became a diva while fighting cancer. Maia doesn’t drink from the dogs’ bowl of water. I have to hold a bowl with cold fresh water from the water cooler and wait for my girl to decide if she wants to drink or not. If she perceives any stress in me, she won’t drink, so yes sometimes I can start to get upset and “Maia, seriously?”

So yes, we use a lot of “Seriously” in our home. The labs use it, and I do too. Funny I have two cats (don’t even ask….). I am not a cat person, but my daughters got cats, and at one point in their lives, moved out and kind of forgot the cats behind. My two cats, I guess they are my cats now, don’t give a rat about the “Seriously” thing, so it might just be a dog thing! Seriously? charlie

 

Brachial Plexus Injuries in Dogs

A brachial plexus injury results from trauma to the dog, but it can cause emotional trauma in the owner. The brachial plexus consists of nerve tissues, specifically the first two thoracic nerves and the last three cervical nerves. These nerves control the front legs. If a dog experiences a brachial plexus injury, most commonly a brachial plexus avulsion, the nerves are stretched or torn and leg paralysis results. It’s always a veterinary emergency.

There is no cure for brachial plexus avulsion, but certain therapies can improve your dog’s condition and quality of life. Amputation is often performed to prevent the dog from constantly biting and mutilating the affected limb. On rare occasions, spontaneous recovery occurs. However, if the dog doesn’t improve within four weeks of the injury, there is no chance of such a recovery.

 

Severe Trauma

Brachial plexus injuries generally result from severe trauma, such as getting hit by a car, failure to negotiate a high jump or falling from a considerable height. It takes a great deal of force to tear or stretch the nerves in a dog’s leg. Your veterinarian will diagnose the extent of the injury via an MRI or CT scan.

 

Symptoms

When a dog suffers from a brachial plexus injury, it is obvious that something is very wrong.  The animal drags the affected, paralyzed leg, but doesn’t appear in pain. That’s because the damaged nerves are not sending pain signals. While the shoulder and elbow are dropped, some dogs might retain the ability to flex the wrist.

 

Horner’s Syndrome

More than half of all dogs diagnosed with brachial plexus injuries also suffer from Horner’s Syndrome, an eye condition occurring on the same side as the injured leg. The upper eyelid droops, the third eyelid appears and the pupil remains small. The nerves involved in a brachial plexus tear also affect the eye. Although the eye may look strange, the dog can still see.

 

Therapies for Brachial Plexus Conditions

Therapy as soon as the veterinarian allows it is crucial in your dog’s regaining any sort of movement or control of the leg. Such therapies usually begin within a week to ten days after the injury, by which time the swelling has lessened. These include:

  • Physical therapy – Exercises to encourage leg stretching may result in some muscle movement.
  • Laser therapy – Laser light helps repair damaged tissue, and may aid recently injured dogs.
  • Hydrotherapy – Warm water helps dogs heal. Because the muscles in the affected leg quickly atrophy, regular water therapy sessions can prevent serious wasting. Hydrotherapy also aids the muscles on the opposite leg. These muscles often become contracted, since there’s no longer a leg on the other side forcing them to stretch out. The majority of dogs really enjoy hydrotherapy.

 

Amputation Therapy

Veterinarians generally don’t amputate a leg immediately after the injury. The procedure usually takes place about six months after the trauma, when it is clear there is no chance of recovery. By that time, the owner knows whether the dog will incessantly chew or otherwise irritate the foot and leg. Because the dog can’t feel the limb, the owner must constantly monitor it for signs of infection. Removing the leg can prevent the dog from developing a systemic infection originating in the limb and not noticed until it is too late.

There’s no better therapy for tripod dogs than swimming. Regular hydrotherapy sessions allow three-legged dogs to exercise and stay in shape.

Many dogs get along just fine with three legs. Remember that your dog doesn’t consider himself odd-looking. He’ll require some extra care, but there’s no reason he can’t live a long, relatively normal life.

 

References

http://www.petplace.com/article/dogs/diseases-conditions-of-dogs/brain-spinal-cord-nerves/brachial-plexus-avulsion-in-dogs

http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/nervous_system/diseases_of_the_peripheral_nerves_and_neuromuscular_junction/trauma_of_the_peripheral_nerve_and_neuromuscular_junction.html

http://canadawestvets.com/brachial-plexus-injury

https://www.vetstream.com/canis/Content/Disease/dis92273

http://cal.vet.upenn.edu/projects/saortho/chapter_66/66mast.htm

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A very long goodbye.

 

Monday June 27th, 2016 will be forever engraved in my mind. You see, I lost many dogs before, some from long illnesses, some on the spur of the moment kind of thing, but I never before scheduled an euthanasia for a specific day and time.

After she was gone, I realized than more than any of my other dogs, she was my heart dog. I always joke around – kind 0f… – saying that pups should come with a label: “they will fill you life with joy but one day will break your heart.” I am just not sure how many times a heart can be broken.

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Lola it was ten years of my life. Lola it was a very hectic beginning when she was a pup, and had no manners. I always crated my dogs, except Pouch (don’t even ask about the name, please!), my Golden retriever who was claustrophobic, but crating Lola, was like crating Niagara Falls. So, yes, Lola and I had a very rocky start. I never had a lab pup before. Had rescued labs and other breeds but never a lab pup, and Gosh she was handful. I even fired a trainer who told me my dog was hopeless and had ADD. She was four months old for God sake! But I did fired her (not Lola, the trainer!), and it felt good because she hated Lola, and I could feel it with every pore of my skin.

IMG_1269Lola, it was all about making me happy and proud of herself. She mastered in no time the sit, stay position, and was always looking at me with her big eyes like “I want to make you happy and proud of me….” And she did. She was the only dog I could always trust without a leash, and no,  I would never ever have said to anyone coming with another dog “My dog is nice and just wants to play!” because she never ever did anything I did not agree to. I was in control all the time, leashed or unleashed. She loved the water like no any other dog. When she was a few months old, her mission in life was to retrieve every leaf from the C&O Canal, and it was Fall time, so the mission was a hard one. No matter how much she loved the water, if I said no, she never ever went without my approval.  Lola, I just had to look at her, and she knew without a word. She knew. If we were going to go for a ride, or to sneak out just the two of us, she always knew.lola

STA70852She was my heart dog, and she had to die for me to realize it.

The pools I built them thinking about her. I thought she was going to have a blast until she dropped dead…. but she dropped dead two months after I opened the pools, and that sure was not in the plan.

She had cancer, kind of a bi-polar cancer… so one day, I was all smile, and the next day, I was all tears. The three weeks after she was diagnosed with cancer – I can’t tell you which one, because I never knew – the only thing I knew was that it was a freaking roller coaster cancer. One day, she was going to be okay if we remove a lobe of her lungs, the next day she had cancer in her liver and spleen. The next day, it would be okay if she had lymphoma and everything will go away with chemo (I knew it was true because I have my sweet Maia fighting lymphoma right now) and then it was not lymphoma.

IMG_2984She faded so fast, and I just could not stand the idea of her being in pain. Yes, my philosophy is that it’s better to let them go a week too early than 5 minutes too late. Easy to say, but I owed her that part. We might not do it with humans but I will do it with my dogs any day because that’s how much I love them and respect them. I will deal with myself later. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I am doing right now. Dealing with myself. I had to get that post out of my system. My brain won’t be able to think about anything else until I write about my long goodbye.

That morning, she was next to me in my bed, looking at me with her big eyes when I woke up, and immediately I knew why I was so sad. Today was the day where I was going to lose her. She did not know that, and dogs are not afraid of death. I was just alone with my dog’s death, no matter the crowd, no matter anything. It was between her and me.

Monday is my day off, so I tried to do my errands as I always do. It was a hot day. And I just arrived at Target, and then stopped and thought “what am I doing here when my dog is going to be dead in 8 hours?” So, I left, I rushed back to her, and I found her in my office with tired eyes.IMG_3176

I spent a lot of time lying on the floor with her that day. I wanted to remember forever the softness of her ears. Even with closed eyes, I could recognize her just by touching her ears. I talked to her a lot that day. She listened. I did not cry. Crying would be for later, like now. I reminded her of our crazy nights. Lola was tennis balls obsessed and some times, in the middle of the night, she was waking me up with her ball in her mouth and looking at me like “can we go play?”, and yes sometimes we did. With a flash light and the moon as a witness we played ball in the backyard.  Lola= tennis balls + swimming.

She was too tired to play on June 27th but she put that tennis ball under her chin like she wanted to keep it forever.

June 27th was a very long day and so short at the same time. I was looking at the clock which sometimes was like rushing through the hours, and sometimes slowing down and making the time stay still.

When 6:30 pm came, my daughters were there. My vet arrived. Gosh, she loved my vet. He told me later than Lola’s eyes when she saw him was a moment he will remember for the rest of his life.

She left…. And it’s at that time that I realized the immensity of my loss. I will not dare removing the nose art on my truck window.  She came back in a box, and the only place which made sense was in my bedroom, on my dresser, because even if I am asleep, that’s where I spent the most time in the house these days. And yes, every morning, when I wake up, it takes me a few seconds to realize why I am so sad: I had just lost my heart dog: LOLA.

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Open letter to my “mutts”.

 

Dear Mutts:

I know, I know, you are not mutts but splendid Labrador Retrievers with the best pedigree ever. I remember the first time I took you to our new vet. You must have been around 3 months old, and I told him: “Meet my mutts!” He looked at me, puzzled, and managed to say: “They are not pure Labs?” You were all protesting with tails up in the air! But you are my mutts? No offense there! I am a mutt too with some French, Scandinavian, and Italian blood.

 

Letter to George

I know, before you were born, I was ready to change the face of this Earth with your birth, imagining your new families, and how they would be amazed by each of you. I had them lined up at that time. That was before you were born! And the miracle happened, and I just got crazy with my camera. Yes, George, if you listen to me from the other side of the rainbow, I did make some mistakes. Not my fault if Zoe was coming so fast after you, and I thought Lola was lost in the process, and yes I did cut your umbilical cord which made my poor Lola not understanding something. She knew she had to do something that she did not do. Okay, George you did win! I paid for it it every minute of every day when I decided to sit down! You never allowed me a second without you on my lap. Mea Culpa! Mea Culpa! You were my first born! There was a reason; we nicknamed you “Big Mouth”. And now that you are gone, I miss “my 80lbs lap dog” that you were so much.

 

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We were so careful not giving you names but just funny nicknames going with your personality! The second one was Zoe, aka Blondie! She still has some blonde moments now and then, meaning 24/7! But Zoe even though sometimes I wonder if Lola did not have a thing with the postman’s dog, you are the cutest one! And you do watch TV!

 

You don’t remember it Mutts, but we waited a long time, Deborah, Jessica, and I for the entrance into this world of his Majesty Jackson, nicknamed “Boubou!” Sophie, my reddish girl did not wait a second to go on Lola’s teats, and of course she became “Ms. Piggy”. Max I owe you an apology too! If we had not known that day that there were 5 of you, I would have gone to bed by then, but instead I fell asleep on the floor, and Jessica was the only one to witness the arrival of “Baby” into the world! It took you two hours darn Max to grace us with your presence.

 

I don’t know if you remember Mutts but the first month was a dream, besides cutting your nails! Gosh you were worse than cats! But after a month, Lola decided it was time for me to help, and I thought “Gosh I better enjoy them, they will be gone in 4 more weeks.” No, I am not saying it was wishful thinking! I loved you before you even opened your eyes! I knew it was going to be hard to let you go, at least four of you were almost taken, almost…. Until everyone, one after the other decided it was not the best time to have one of you! I did try to find you new homes, I did! I built that website, put ads at our vet, but I rescued dogs before, and the one who will stay forever the dog of my life, Zeus. And I could not let you go without being 100 % sure that you would not end up like Zeus did, changing owners every year until I came into the picture. Mutts, you also have to realize that Spring 2009 could have been named “Morons Spring”. I got them all…. The moron who wanted two of you boys after losing his three labs one winter after pouring anti-freeze into their kiddie pool, the one who wanted Miss Piggy so bad because she was tired of intelligent dogs…. What do you say to that? Wanna tell me? I was going to forget the hunter who wanted Sophie too. Sophie was very popular, and still is! But what could I have said after he told me it would have been his second lab, he discarded the first one because she was too old to work…. Yeah, right. And I was almost going to forget the one who wanted to get a yellow lab to give as a gift to our daughter going to college? Were you on crack lady?

 

STA72370 - CopyEngraved forever in my mind is the way you were glued to each other in your playpen when someone was coming to see you. It was like you knew that there was a risk someone was going to take one of you away, and you had that funny way of backing out up the end of the playpen and being like a huge ball of fur with 10 scared eyes, and no happy tails! You broke my heart that day…..

 

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One more time though, I had someone for Sophie, a nice lady who had just lost her dog, and wanted Ms. Piggy again, and I said yes… until the next day where I called her back to say no. I couldn’t let go my smart ass Sophie, half monkey, half lab. Do you remember Sophie when you were back in your playpen, and I was turning my back 2 minutes and you had already climbed over the fence? Smart ass you were, smart ass you are! I swear I can almost hear your brain work! The day I decided that no one was leaving was just a regular day. No special recollection of it except that phone call. That lady who barked at me without even introducing herself “what are the colors of your females?”, and it takes a smart ass to know one Sophie, my answer was: “I have one with blue and green polka dots, and the other one has orange and purple ones. Any color you are interested in?” She hung up on me. No big surprise there!

 

Mutts, the worst thing we had to do when it was clear that you were going to be forever ours, was to pick up names. I am so picky about names, and usually one takes me a long time, five, are you kidding me? Fortunately Jessica was around and helped a lot, and that’s how that Jackson, George, Max, Sophie and Zoe became our mutts….

 

Some could say that with the pedigree they have between FC Honor who is the most amazing living being, and Lola, my born to retrieve girl, I wasted them. Do I feel guilty that they did not become champions or working dogs hunting in the fields? No, I am not guilty your Honor! How many mutts have the opportunity to stay together, and live together ever after? They stick together, they sleep together, they play together, and Lola the Mom was still in charge until almost the end. Already a month that your Mom is gone, and we still haven’t totally bounced by from her death, but we will, right mutts? Yes, Jackson you are a bit too quiet, and Max you are a little bit too loud when I leave in the morning while Sophie always try to help me (she is such a good helper!)  grabs you by your neck to make you stay inside when I go.

 

This letter is to tell you Mutts that even though sometimes I can get upset with one of you or all of you on a very bad day, but seven years later,  I am like in the Edith Piaf song: “Je ne regrette rien.” Case closed.

Dominique the Labrador Addict

 

 

 

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How Your Dog May Be Impacted by Osteochondritis Dissecans – and Ways to Address It

In canines, OCD doesn’t usually stand for “obsessive-compulsive disorder.” OCD is the term used for osteochondritis dissecans, a cartilage condition affecting the joints. Cartilage protects the joints, and if it is damaged, there’s pain. OCD may appear in the shoulder or elbow of the front legs or the knee or hock of the rear limbs. While it requires surgical correction, there are numerous therapies that can help your dog get back to normal after his operation. Hydrotherapy is exceptionally effective for dogs with OCD.

Dogs at Risk

Although any dog might develop OCD, it’s far more common in large breeds, with males more often affected than females. Symptoms usually appear between the ages of 6 and 12 months, a rapid growth period. Vulnerable breeds include:

  • Border collie
  • English setter
  • German shepherd
  • Golden retriever
  • Great Dane
  • Labrador retriever
  • Newfoundland
  • Old English sheepdog
  • Rottweiler
  • Saint Bernard.

Normally, a young dog’s skeleton forms cartilage at the end of his long bones. In dogs with OCD, the bones don’t harden sufficiently and the cartilage doesn’t develop properly. Bits of cartilage – the so-called “joint mice” – break off, causing arthritic issues in young dogs. Inflammation is present, and the damaged cartilage or the joint mice rub painfully against the joint.

OCD Symptoms

At a time of life when most dogs can’t keep still, these poor pups have trouble walking. Lameness is the most obvious sign of OCD, and it may come on suddenly or gradually. Sometimes the lameness isn’t apparent until after exercise. The joint may swell, and the dog can’t bear weight on the leg. The dog will react if you touch the joint – it hurts.

If untreated, the dog’s muscles start wasting because of the constant pain and lameness.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your vet diagnoses OCD based on X-rays, along with CAT scans and/or MRIs. She’ll take a fluid sample from the joint for testing to make sure an infection isn’t causing the symptoms. While rest may do the trick in some cases, the majority of dogs require surgical removal of the damaged cartilage and the joint mice.

Post-op Therapy

After your dog’s surgery, his activities are seriously restricted for up to six weeks. While he can’t run loose in the yard or go for walks on hard surfaces, he will require therapy during this period to help him recover. He’ll benefit from visits to a veterinary physiotherapist, who will show you how to perform some basic manual joint exercises on your pet. Your vet will recommend a glucosamine supplement to help with cartilage support.

Hydrotherapy

Swimming is one of the best therapies for dogs with OCD. These are young, energetic animals, and they want to move. In the pool, they aren’t restricted. Regular swimming helps build their muscles and allows them a wide range of joint movement. Since a dog doesn’t have to bear weight during his hydrotherapy sessions, he can move quite freely. The warm water reduces his joint pain and increases circulation to his soft tissues, alleviating stiffness. He’s also having a great time.

If you are in Maryland or Virginia and are considering hydrotherapy as a rehabilitation option, feel free to contact us!

Prognosis

Your dog’s recovery depends on various factors, including the OCD location. The Merck Veterinary Manual states, “Prognosis for recovery is excellent for the shoulders, good for the stifle [knee] joint, and fair for the elbow and tarsal joints.” Therapy plays a large part in the dog’s overall recuperation. OCD often leads to early-onset arthritis. Regular hydrotherapy sessions, along with a healthy diet and appropriate supplements, help keep these symptoms at bay.  

 

References

http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/osteochondritis-dissecans-or-ocd-in-dogs/1045

http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/musculoskeletal_system/arthropathies_and_related_disorders_in_small_animals/osteochondrosis_in_small_animals.html

http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/musculoskeletal/c_dg_osteochondrosis

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Social skills for Man’s Best Friends and their Humans!

 

 

 

 

 

Not long ago, I entered an already quite crowded elevator: a guy with a Saint Bernard and a young woman who just obviously just coming back from the gym. I love dogs. Any kind: the mutts, the purebred, the senior ones, the crippled ones. I love them all. I can’t say the same for their humans though!

 

The Saint Bernard was sniffing the young woman’s crotch, and she was clearly very uncomfortable. The owner of the dog was smiling instead of pulling his dog away; that’s the kind of moment where I have to control my temper! Fortunately, the young woman got off the elevator fast, maybe on purpose. In my book, it’s called bullying.

I know, everyone, starting with myself, believes that their dogs are the cutest ones on this earth, and seriously, they are. But it doesn’t mean that everyone is seeing them with my or your eyes.

Some people are afraid of dogs, some are just “not dog people”, and some don’t want to be littered with dog’s hair. I never “force” my dogs on anyone! If one of them gets inappropriate with someone, I pull back on the leash, and I apologize, because yes – breaking news! – I am not perfect! And my crew is not either! I walk Maia and Max, two of my labs, by a lake. And every time I see a specific lady coming, I make the dogs sit to give her some space. That is after one day, she screamed bloody hell at me because one of my dogs was too close to her that she liked it. One day, out of the blue, she thanked me for keeping my labs at large, and I replied you know “No sweat, I got it that not everyone likes dogs!” She then told me that she did not like them or dislike them but in her country, cats were the only pets, dogs were food. And trying to convince me, she asked me “How would you feel if you were in a country where people walk with their pigs for instance?” My reply was that most likely I would go to pet the pigs, but that’s just me! But I have to say that now, each time, I see her when I walk the dogs, I feel like she is looking at them like she is seeing two dog roasts with parsley in their nostrils!

 

 

What is unfair is that PEOPLE WILL RESENT THE DOGS instead of resenting their humans! I know it’s something I said and said over and over, but there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.

There is a leash law in this country, if my memory is good, and there is a reason for that. If I hear one more time from an owner with an unleashed dog coming straight at me and my restrained ones: “He is sweet, je just wants to play” I am going to scream out of frustration!

 

I am not trying to preach, I am just trying to make some people realize that you have to respect another dog’s or another person’s boundaries.

A French philosopher said one time: “Your freedom stops where mine starts.” Maybe we should conjugate this at every tense! There are many places where you can have your dog run free: your backyard, dogs parks, dogs beaches. Dogs are amazing beings and they should never ever be seen as a nuisance. It’s too unfair to them!

 

A GREAT PUP IS A WELL BEHAVED ONE!

Don’t be lenient with your dog. A well trained dog is a happy one. They are like kids: they need to know the limits. An out of control dog becomes a nuisance.

Some time ago, one of my labs, Zoe, had knee surgery, and as part of her rehab, we had to talk walks, a bit longer every day. We were quietly walking in my neighborhood, when I saw some hundred feet away an unleashed Golden retriever with his Human. I nicely asked the guy to put his dog back on a leash. His reply was: “My dog is friendly. He just wants to play! And I don’t have a leash anyway!”

My answer was: “My dog just had surgery. She can’t play!”

He tried to grab his dog’s collar, lost control, fell down while his 100lbs. dog lunged at me and Zoe. Zoe was shaking with fear, and even peed on herself. The dog sensed it, and started to become aggressive. I would never have thought that I would ever meet an aggressive Golden! I literally had to kick the dog away until his owner finally made it! His first question was: “What’s wrong with you?”

 

 

Then, he got on his knees and started “consoling” his dog, telling him I did not mean to kick him, that he was a good boy, that he loved him…. Seriously? It did not happen once, but several times. And I just stopped walking Zoe there. I never managed to get into the owner’s brain. Too thick? No clue. He just doesn’t get that his out of control dog is a nuisance, and can also get hurt if he gets into traffic running after a squirrel, deer or something else. Yes, the dog is cute, but that’s besides the point. Not everyone want to have in their face a 100lbs. rambunctious dog!

 

DOG’S ETIQUETTE!

Be in control of your dog at all time for his or her own safety!

 

 

 

If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon on the leash or collar: stay away. It means that the dog needs his or her space for whatever reasons.

 

 

Remember that there is no balance if one dog is on a leash and yours is unleashed. The leashed one can feel cornered.

When you are going to meet another dog, ask if it’s okay for them to smell each other’s butts. Hey that’s what dogs do!

Be the parent of your dog, not his best buddy!

 

PEOPLE’S ETIQUETTE

Teach your children not to run to pet an unknown dog: what is true for the dogs is also true for the children! I always cringe when I see small children running and screaming toward dogs. The sweetest dog could be spooked by a child going straight at him or her.

Always ask permission to pet a dog.

Approach your hands slowly to allow the dog to smell them.

If the dog backs out, don’t force it.

Follow the directions of the owner. Some like I do will make their dogs sit in order for you not to have muddy paws all over you!

Good manners will always take you a long way no matter if you are a two or a four-legged one!

 

 

How Dog Rehabilitation Changes Depending on the Breed

Canine rehabilitation is not one-size-fits-all. Various breeds have singular gait patterns, and that may affect the choice of rehabilitation therapies. Some breeds are prone to specific disorders, and the onset may be delayed or minimized by proactive physiotherapy exercises. Your dog’s veterinarian and physical therapist will design a program based on your dog’s size, breed, and individual characteristics.

Brachycephalic Breeds

Brachycephalic – or short-nosed – canines have stenotic nares, the formal term for small nasal openings. That means they must work much harder than dogs with normal nasal passages to receive enough air during exercise. Many of these dogs – including the English bulldog – can’t swim, and will simply sink if placed in a pool. However, they can walk on the underwater treadmill for exercise and rehabilitation.

Other brachycephalic breeds include:

  • Boston terrier
  • Boxer
  • French bull-dog
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu

German Shepherds and Degenerative Myelopathy

Approximately 17 percent of German shepherds and German shepherd mixes will develop degenerative myelopathy. Other large breeds – including the Bernese mountain dog and Kuvasz – are also susceptible to this devastating spinal cord disease, similar to multiple sclerosis in humans. Although there is no cure for degenerative myelopathy, dogs receiving intensive daily physiotherapy – including a hydrotherapy session each week – survived an average of 8.3 months longer than animals receiving only moderate physiotherapy or no therapy, according to a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

The intensive therapy included:

  • 5 -10 minutes of active exercise five times daily – primarily low walking
  • 3 times daily for 10 minutes each of passive exercise, including joint flexion and extension
  • Massage 3 times daily
  • Hydrotherapy at least once a week, for 5 to 20 minutes.

Dachshunds and Intervertebral Disc Disease

Intervertebral disc disease is common in dachshunds and other long-backed breeds with short legs. Roughly 18 percent of “wiener dogs” will eventually suffer from IVDD, which occurs when a disc ruptures or herniation occurs, often resulting in hind end paralysis. Affected dogs require surgery to relieve spinal cord pressure. After recuperation from surgery, hydrotherapy is recommended to help the dog increase strength. Other rehabilitation methods used for dogs with IVDD include acupuncture, massage and laser therapy. Some dogs will regain the ability to walk, while others regain mobility via the use of a wheelchair.  

Golden and Labrador Retrievers and Hip Dysplasia

While hip dysplasia can occur in any dog, it’s particularly common in golden and Labrador retrievers and other large breeds. It appears to have a genetic basis. The hip joint doesn’t develop normally, and the initial signs might show up in puppyhood. However, it’s more common for symptoms to become obvious in middle-aged dogs. Hip dysplasia also affects:

  • German shepherds
  • Great Danes
  • Rottweilers
  • Saint Bernards.

The malformed hip leads to early osteoarthritis, which can completely cripple a dog. Signs of hip dysplasia include:

  • gait changes
  • trouble rising from a prone position
  • stiffness
  • exercise intolerance.

When caught early, your vet can surgically correct the malformation. When diagnosed in later years, a total hip replacement is an option. However, many dog owners prefer less invasive alternatives. Weight management is crucial, as extra weight stresses the hip. Your vet will tailor an exercise program for your dog, and that will likely include hydrotherapy. This therapeutic mode allows the dog to build muscle while walking on the treadmill, while the warmth of the water soothes the joint.  

References

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1939-1676.2006.tb01807.x/abstract

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1939-1676.2006.tb01807.x/epdf

http://www.health-for-dogs.com/articles/hydrotherapy-precautions

http://www.lbah.com/word/canine/disk-disease-ivd/

http://www.caninejournal.com/canine-hip-dysplasia/

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Today is a good day to cry….

I had a rough year, I mean, you really have to try hard to beat me on that one, and I am not into competition, believe me, especially not when it concerns my kids, four and two-legged ones.

Last year, I learned that Maia, my then 9 year old black lab, had Lymphoma, and had a month to live if I chose not to do anything. So, Maia and I chose to fight cancer. I almost lost her last July, when her temperature sky rocketed to 105.5 due to an allergy to antibiotics, but then she bounced back, and with the right oncologist, we made it through the six months – six long months – of chemotherapy. She is now in her 10th month of remission, but I don’t brag about it. I am so afraid to jinx it. I bought months ago a pink rubber bracelet from The National Canine Cancer Foundation and I never take it off. I am not superstitious, and I do walk under ladders, but I guess when it comes to my dogs, I am superstitious.

After Maia, came Jackson who suddenly was diagnosed with heart disease at 7 years old, and is currently doing well. Crossing fingers, toes, paws and whatever is available to cross.

Then Sammie, my little one, my fierce big dog trapped in a small body lost his fight to heart disease. You see you pick your poison: you have heart disease so you take meds which are going to screw up your kidneys. He died of kidney failure a month ago. 14 years with that little devil, and suddenly, despite of six other dogs, the house feels quiet and empty.

And then came Lola. Lola just turned 10 on May 28th, and we celebrated her birthday with roasted chickens. Have you ever met a dog who did not like roasted chickens? Me neither.

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Lola, it’s a long story. I got her when she was 6 weeks old, and she drove me freaking crazy. It was not her fault. She was taken away from her Mom far too early, and had no skills, like she was on my lap, and suddenly she was peeing on me. Yeah, seriously!

But we grew up together in many ways even though I think she really considered my daughter, Jessica, like her Mom. Jessica was with me when we picked her up, and she has a special relationship with Jessica. We went together to visit Jessica in college when she chose to go to Delaware…. Lola was and still is my best buddy, the girlfriend who is always there for you. She is also my crazy girl who must have been a fish in another life.

When she was three months old, her mission in life was to retrieve every leaf from the canal when she went swimming. That was my girl. Gosh, that dog loves to swim. So, when I decided to build a swimming pool for dogs (because swimming is the best thing you can do for your dog at any stage of his/her life), I was smiling…. I thought Lola was not going to believe it that she could go swimming every day of her life if she wanted to. And the pools opened, and Lola went swimming. She is a strong swimmer and can swim non stop for a good 20 minutes. I always joked that she would drop dead before stopping…. I guess this is a lab thing….. until yesterday.

 

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Yesterday I took her to the pool, and after 5 minutes, she just stopped, bumper still in her mouth, but trying to get her breathing back. Yesterday, I knew right away, that something was off. Last night, I spent my time on the computer googling…. lung cancer in dogs. This morning, I went to my vet, asking for the whole nine yards for Lola, because I don’t think I have ever been an ostrich in my previous lives, and I wanted to know. I knew it was bad. Walking her in the morning with her daughter Sophie, for the last few weeks, she was panting right away, and I attributed it to the heat, but…. this morning it was cool and she was still panting….

X-rays were done, and there is a mass in her lung, just one apparently…. Primary lung cancer is rare in dogs. Only 1% of dogs with cancer get that shit. Most of the time it’s secondary, meaning the cancer started somewhere else, and then spread to the lungs. It doesn’t seem to be the case, so maybe she is in the 1%. Her lymph nodes are nowhere to be seen. Call me paranoid but with Maia’s lymphoma, I check out my dogs all the time.

If it’s primary, there are options like removing the lobe, but it also means breaking her rib cage. Do you have any idea how it feels to break your rib cage? I am not sure I want to know.

I had an appointment for Maia for her regular remission check up this coming Monday with her oncologist, so I just called, and I will bring both girls this coming Wednesday instead and we will go from there.

Last time I felt that way was when we had to put our horse down. I will never ever have another horse, but it felt like being skinned alive…. That’s exactly how I feel right now. This is Lola we are talking about, my lovely, sweet girl, my tomboy during the day and love bug at night. It hurts so much than I can barely breathe. Today, I am giving today to myself to cry and cry. Tomorrow and the following days and weeks won’t be about me, but about her. But today I am selfish, and today is all about me and losing my best friend.  Tomorrow and the following weeks will be about fighting and doing the best for her, because she deserves the best. She deserves dignity. She deserves love, and she deserves respect. I love her to the moon and back and I will do what’s best for her. I can always deal with me later on. But today is the only break I am giving to myself and then, tomorrow we will start fighting.