Rehab Reasons to Trim Nails
* Dogs don’t walk correctly when the nails are too long and this strains the leg muscles and torques the spine.
*Long nails grow around and into the bottom of the foot. The dewclaw nail can grow around and into the leg.
* Nails help provide traction and increase a pet’s ability to walk and run without slipping. Pets with excessively long nails hurt themselves because they slip and fall.
At the end of September, the Colorado Sheltie Rescue got a Sheltie into Rescue that was significantly overweight to the point of being morbidly obese. This poor thing came into Rescue at 69 pounds and should be 28-29 pounds. Lucy is her name. We don’t know how Lucy came to be so fat. We suspect a lack of exercise, poor food choices (as in poor quality), scraps being fed from the table, and free feeding (instead of two single meals a day).
As with every Sheltie that comes into rescue, they are given a full vet health screening, checkup, along with blood work to ensure their health. The vet determined that she was morbidly obese and needed to lose 25 pounds immediately and a total of 40 pounds for optimum health. The 25 pound weight loss was just to get her to the point that she could get a dental. She couldn’t breathe properly with all the extra weight, which would have caused significant issues while under anesthesia for the dental, including a possibility of death. Her weight also caused problems with her hips, knees, and other joints of her body. Her body was already starting to deteriorate under all this extra weight. In addition, the blood work showed that she was low hypothyroid. She was immediately put on a prescription diet dog food (Purina OM) and on thyroid medication. The rescue kept her for a little while since she was at a high risk of heart failure due to her weight. Once it was determined that it would be safe for her to start the weight loss program, she was sent to me to get the weight off her.
I’m the foster home that gets the fat dogs, the special needs dogs, and the puppy mill dogs and on occasion, get a healthy, happy, fun dog to foster (but those get adopted quick). Here is Lucy’s story/blog of her weight loss journey.
10/24/14 – arrive at Skinner Fat Camp
Starting weight to Skinner Fat Camp = 68 pounds
My new foster dog and my new weight loss project! Lucy checked into the Skinner Fat Camp at 68 pounds. She should be 28-29 pounds. She’s on a strict diet of low-calorie food (3/4 cup twice a day of OM), veggies as “treats”, and lots of walks/exercise to lose almost 40 pounds. She is a sweet girl! It will be a challenge, but I think she’s up to it! Look how small her head is compared to the rest of that big body!
She didn’t eat all her food today. I put the bowl down and she ate a couple of kernels and walked away. So, I picked up the food. She’ll learn to eat when the food is given to her. This makes me think she was free fed if she thinks she can just go back to the bowl whenever she wants to.
10/25/14 – walked .50 miles – Lucy did really good! She LOVES to go for walks, so this is going to be easier than I thought. Most of the fat dogs that come to me have bodies that are so severely damaged by their weight and the arthritis that they can’t go very far on walks. So, this is a pleasant surprise. I won’t walk her every day to make sure there are no injuries to set us back.
She didn’t eat all her food again (at both meals). She’ll learn…
10/26/14 – walked .75 miles – no issues. She INHALED every last kernel of her food this morning. I don’t think there will be any more issues with that.
10/27/14 – walked .75 miles – no issues
10/28/14 – no walk today – rest break
10/29/14 – walked .75 miles – no issues
10/30/14 – no walk today – rest break
Week 1 weight = 65 pounds
That’s 3 pounds in 7 days! 3 down and 36 to go! Great start girl! Walked .75 miles – no issues
11/1/14 – no walk today – rest break
11/2/14 – walked .75 miles – no issues
11/3/14 – no walk today – rest break
11/4/14 – walked .75 miles – no issues. I think I’m going to increase the distance. She seems to be doing very well at this distance.
11/5/14 – walked .82 miles – no issues
11/6/14 – no walk today – rest break
Week 2 weight = 62 pounds
That’s 6 pounds in two weeks! 6 down and 33 to go! Keep it up girl! She’s doing so good!
11/8/14 – walked .85 miles – no issues
11/9/14 – walked .85 miles – no issues
11/10/14 – no walk today – too cold. I cut back her food a little today since we couldn’t walk today.
11/11/14 – no walk today – heavy snow. I cut back her food a little today to compensate for the lack of exercise.
11/12/14 – no walk today – too much snow. Again, I cut back the food.
11/13/14 – no walk today – too much snow
Week 3 weight = 62 pounds
No weight loss this week. Sadly, due to weather and super severe cold, not as many walks this week. We missed the last four days of exercise. We’ll get back on track this week!
11/15/14 – walked .85 miles – no issues
11/16/14 – walked .85 miles – no issues
11/17/14 – no walk today – rest break
11/18/14 – walked .85 miles – no issues. I’m going to increase the distance a little more.
11/19/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues
11/20/14 – no walk today – rest break
Week 4 weight = 60 pounds
Two pounds this week! Good job Lucy! She’s such a sweet and happy girl. I can’t wait to see her personality even more when she’s skinny. Walked 1 mile – no issues.
11/22/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues
11/23/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues
11/24/14 – no walk today – rest break
11/25/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues
11/26/14 – no walk today – rest break
11/27/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues
Week 5 weight = 57.5 pounds
Two and a half pounds this week! Great job Lucy! That’s 10.5 pounds in 5 weeks! Me, on the other hand, after two Thanksgiving Day dinners, I need to get on Lucy’s weight loss program. Walked 1.1 mile – no issues
11/29/14 – walked 1.10 miles – no issues
11/30/14 – walked 1.10 miles – no issues
12/1/14 – no walk today – rest break
12/2/14 – no walk today – rest break
12/3/14 – walked 1.12 miles – no issues
12/4/14 – no walk today – rest break
Week 6 weight = 56.5 pounds
Only one pound this week. At least it’s in the right direction. Going down! Walked 1.10 miles – no issues
12/6/14 – walked 1.20 miles – no issues
12/7/14 – no walk today – rest break
12/8/14 – no walk today
12/9/14 – walked 1.0 miles – no issues
12/10/14 – walked .5 miles – no issues
12/11/14 – no walk today – rest break
Week 7 weight = 55 pounds
One and a half pounds this week! Great work Lucy! Walked 1.2 miles – no issues.
12/13/14 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues
12/14/14 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues
12/15/14 – no walk today – rest break
12/16/14 – walked 1.20 miles – no issues
12/17/14 – no walk today – rest break
12/18/14 – walked 1.20 miles today – no issues
Week 8 weight = 54 pounds
Doing great Lucy! One more pound this week! That’s 14 pounds in 8 weeks! She’s already feeling better. She now fits through the dog door and is enjoying the outside more! No walk today – rest break
12/20/14 – walked 1.20 miles – no issues
12/21/14 – walked 1.20 miles – no issues
12/22/14 – no walk today – rest break
12/23/14 – no walk today – too much snow
12/24/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues
12/25/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues
Week 9 weight = 52.2 pounds
1.8 pounds lost this week! Woo hoo! Nice work Lucy! She’s getting so playful in the backyard. She gets the zoomies with Wiggins chasing each other all over. I can’t wait to see how energetic she is when she the weight she’s supposed to be! She’s going to be crazy fast! Lucy is getting very agile by jumping up on the couch and making herself very comfortable! She’s still got a long way to go, but she’s obviously feeling better already! Walked 1.2 miles – no issues
12/27/14 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues. I increased the distance a little more. She’s doing so well. She could probably go much farther, but we are taking it slow and easy to increase the distance walked.
12/28/14 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues
12/29/14 – no walk today – rest break – too cold
12/30/14 – no walk today – too cold
12/31/14 – no walk today – too cold
Lucy has a forever home! Someone wants to adopt Lucy, but they can’t take her home until she loses her extra weight and until she can get a dental. They are former adopters with experience with overweight dogs, so she couldn’t go to a more perfect home when she’s ready. Good news for Lucy!
1/1/15 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues
Week 10 weight = 51.2 pounds
Walked 1.25 miles today – no issues
Tough week this week because it has been so very cold. We missed walks on three days. She still lost a pound though! Great job Lucy!
1/3/15 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues
1/4/15 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues
1/5/15 – no walk today – rest break
1/6/15 – walked 1 mile today – no issues. We tried something new today. I’m trying to get more weight off her a little faster since she now has a forever home to go to. However, I still want to be careful of walking her too far and hurting her joints and knees. So, I brought her with me to CRCG, so she could try out the underwater treadmill. Dare swam while she walked in the treadmill. She wasn’t so excited about it at first, but then just rolled on like a champion!
1/7/15 – no walk today – rest break
1/8/15 – walked 1.5 miles today – no issues
Week 11 weight – 49.2 pounds
Lucy is under 50 pounds! Woo Hoo!!! She lost two pounds this week. We are almost half way there! I think the underwater treadmill worked great this week! Walked 1.5 miles today – no issues
1/10/15 – walked 1.5 miles today – no issues
1/11/15 – no walk today – rest break
1/12/15 – walked 3.0 miles today – no issues. She was driving me crazy while I leashed up my other dogs for their walk, so I just brought her along with me on their walk too. She did very well and didn’t lag behind or get tired at all during the second walk.
1/13/15 – walked 1.5 miles today and walked on the underwater treadmill for 15 minutes. She did GREAT!
1/14/15 – no walk today – rest break
1/15/15 – walked 1.7 miles – no issues
Week 12 weight = 47.4 pounds
Lucy is half way to her weight loss goal! She’s lost 20.6 pounds! She’s got 18.4 pounds to go! Woo hoo! No walk today – rest break (plus I was injured)
1/17/15 – no walk today – foster mom injured L
1/18/15 – walked 2.25 miles – no issues
1/19/15 – walked 2.25 miles – no issues – Vet visit for a checkup today! Lucy got her blood checked to make sure things are still going OK and the vet checked her over too. He was very impressed with her weight loss! He said she didn’t have labored breathing like she did when she was first surrendered to rescue (at 69 pounds), so he felt comfortable giving her a dental. So, she’s lost a total of 21.3 pounds in 12 weeks!
1/20/15 – no walk today – dental procedure
1/21/15 – no walk today – too much snow
1/22/15 – no walk today – too much snow
Week 13 weight = 46.7 pounds
Tough week this week and not much walking. I couldn’t walk for a couple days (injury), then we were able to walk a couple days, then Lucy got a dental, and then it snowed like CRAZY. So, we only walked two days this week. At least she lost a little weight and didn’t go up! Walked 1.5 miles today – no issues
1/24/15 – walked 3 miles today and walked on the underwater treadmill – no issues. She was a little tired tonight, but she wasn’t limping or sore in any way.
1/25/15 – walked 3 miles today – no issues
1/26/15 – walked 3 miles today – no issues
1/27/15 – walked 2 miles today – no issues. Lucy also walked on the underwater treadmill for 15 minutes. No issues. She’s pretty sleepy tonight though.
1/28/15 – no walk today – rest break
1/29/15 – walked 2.7 miles – no issues
Week 14 weight = 45.2 pounds
Good week this week! Lucy has walked extra miles and hasn’t had any adverse side effects. She loves to go for walks and is really enjoying them! She gets so excited when I pick up the leash. She is running around like crazy in the back yard too. 16.2 more pounds to go to her goal weight!
She tried something new today! Lucy went swimming! The underwater treadmills were shut down for the day, so Dr. Washington tried Lucy in the endless pool. She swam for only 6 minutes since it was her first time swimming, but she did GREAT! Dr. Washington said that she was a strong swimming and had to hold her back a little bit. When we got home, we went for a 2.5 mile walk and had no issues. She is loving the exercise now!
Sammy, a 9-year-old MC Great Pyrenees, was presented to the Canine Rehab and Conditioning Group in August 2014 approximately 6 weeks after slipping and falling on the stairs. Radiographs revealed severe osteoarthritis in bilateral hips, affecting the right side worse than the left. Rimadyl had initially helped him feel better, but it was clear to his owners that he was becoming more uncomfortable and less mobile. At his first appointment, Sammy was bright, alert, and responsive, with a body condition score of 8/9. He had a very wide-based, plantigrade stance in his hindlimbs. Observation of his gait revealed significant weakness in his hindlimbs with grade 2-3/5 lameness bilaterally. Sammy had severely decreased extension in both hips, worse on the right (left hip extension: 125°, right hip extension: 102°, normal: 160-165°). For the first 2 months, we treated Sammy weekly with cold laser, massage, and walks in the underwater treadmill. He was only able to go 3-4 minutes at first in the treadmill, but after 8 weeks, he was up to 8 minutes. We re-evaluated him at 8 weeks and, due to significant improvement, we decided to decrease the frequency of his appointments from weekly to twice-monthly. He continued to improve thanks to rehab appointments and home exercises to focus on strengthening his hindlimbs and core muscles. For the first time in months, Sammy climbed the stairs at home without assistance just before Christmas. His hip extension has improved, as well: both have increased to approximately 140°. He continues to visit twice monthly to maintain his improved state and continue strengthening his hindlimbs and core muscles.
Osteoarthritis is common amongst both dogs and people—it’s one of the things about which we can commiserate with our furry companions. Put simply, “osteoarthritis” means “bony joint inflammation.” That’s an oversimplified representation of a complex degenerative process, but that’s the basic idea. Just like in people, arthritis is the result of bony changes within joints; once the cartilaginous “brake pads” have worn down, bone grinds on bone, resulting in microtrauma, inflammation, and pain. This, then, often leads to decreased use of limbs, muscle wasting, and immobility.
Perhaps because we can relate to the woes of arthritis, it is a common thing for vets to address at any given appointment. Unfortunately, there is no cure for it, nor one “silver bullet” treatment. Many factors play into this condition, and as such it requires a multifactorial treatment plan. If improperly managed, arthritis can lead to premature euthanasia due to extreme discomfort. Here are the basics for managing arthritis in your dog to help ensure a long, happy life.
HEALTHY WEIGHT. The most important factor in managing arthritis is weight management. That’s significant enough to say again, so let me repeat it: The most important factor in managing arthritis is weight management. More weight means more stress on arthritic joints. No other factor is as important in keeping your pet comfortable. Even with a slue of other aids, such as medications, supplements, even surgery, your pet will still be in pain if he or she is carrying extra pounds. One study showed that in arthritic dogs, healthy weight management increased the median life span by two years! In other words, dogs of a healthy weight were comfortable enough to delay euthanasia by an average of two years relative to their overweight cohorts.
It can be difficult to help your dog stay slim if he or she is already arthritic and slowing down. Do not give your dog “free choice” food, but feed him or her in measured meals two or three times a day. Use a measuring cup so you know exactly how much you’re feeding rather than guessing. If you’re already doing that, try replacing a quarter to half of a meal with green beans (fresh, frozen, or no-sodium canned), or feeding a favorite vegetable or fruit for treats instead of high-calorie processed ones at the store. If your dog has specific dietary limitations, talk to your vet about some options you might try.
CONSISTENT EXERCISE. In addition to helping shed pounds and keep them off, this is an important piece of osteoarthritis management. A moving joint is a healthy joint. If your dog never gets exercise, joints don’t move, weight builds up, and muscles waste away. If you and your dog are “weekend warriors,” and squeeze ALL your exercise into a couple days a week, that aggravates arthritis and causes more inflammation. The same thing happens with “spring fling” dogs that have been lazy all winter and hit the trails running in the springtime.
Instead, focus on small doses of daily exercise. Work within your dog’s physical abilities; if your dog can only make it around the block, then that is his or her limit. If he or she can play fetch for half an hour, make it a priority to spend that time with your dog. It is essential to helping your dog maintain his or her mobility.
REHAB. If you are having difficulties keeping your dog’s weight down or his activity level up, we can help with rehab. The underwater treadmill is an excellent tool to help reduce stress on painful joints while strengthening muscles to help maintain mobility. Modalities such as laser and ultrasound can relieve chronic pain, reducing the need for medications. Massage, acupuncture, chiropractic work, and joint range of motion are other tools that rehab has to offer. Even simply swimming for 10-15 minutes can loosen up tense muscles and provide excellent cardiovascular exercise. The exact exercises and modalities used in your dog’s treatment will be up to your rehab vet, but together, you can make a significant difference in keeping Fido healthy!
NON-STEROIDAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES (NSAID’s). Most clients are familiar with the dog-equivalent of ibuprofen, carprofen or Rimadyl. (Please note: never give a dog any human NSAID’s or acetaminophen, as they can quickly cause liver failure and death. Dog livers are different from human livers and cannot handle drugs made for people.) Anti-inflammatories alleviate pain whenever there is inflammation present in an arthritic joint, but they all come with adverse effects. Unfortunately, many veterinarians build a treatment plan centered around NSAID’s. They should be used sparingly due to side-effects; consider these a bonus of modern medicine to have during times of increased pain (due to cold weather, increased activity, or a slip or fall, for example) rather than a cornerstone of treatment.
SUPPLEMENTS. Arthritis supplements can be very useful, but I caution all my clients to do their own research first before purchasing any. By nature, supplements and other homeopathic remedies are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), so there is no one to ensure that the label matches the contents. For example, one study evaluated label claims for chondroitin sulfate; of 32 products tested, only 5 contained the actual ingredients and concentrations of chondroitin sulfate advertised on the label. There is a lack of scientific studies when it comes to supplements, as well, so it can be a tricky subject to approach. Having said that, innumerable people have seen a difference in their dog with several reputable supplements, and if used in conjunction with weight management and an active lifestyle, they can be very beneficial.
Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be the most beneficial supplements available. They contain essential factors for maintaining healthy cartilage within joints, slowing the breakdown that occurs with normal wear and tear.
OTHER THERAPIES. Less commonly pursued and treatments include intra-articular injections (injecting a drug directly into the joint) and surgeries. Sticker shock usually accompanies these therapy options, but they can be useful if the other therapies used above are not adequate to keep your dog comfortable. Injections contain purified versions of important cartilage and joint components, such as hyaluronic acid and glycosaminoglycans. Surgeries can realign a joint, replace a joint, or eliminate bony chunks that have broken free and are floating within the joint. These options should be discussed carefully with your veterinarian before undertaking them due to their potential risks, especially in older animals.
For more information on managing your dog’s arthritis, or if you have questions not addressed in this article, please contact us at CRCG or your regular veterinarian. We are happy to help, and we look forward to being part of the team to keep your fluffy friend comfortable and going strong for as long as possible!