Archive for May, 2014

Whole Dog Challenge: Day 1

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

Welcome to Day 1 of the WDC!

We hope you and your dog have a wonderful start to the week!


wdcday1_booDN: Read your dog’s food label and look for any ingredients/words that don’t look familiar to you. Look up your brand of food on the Dog Food Advisor. For more information on dog foods: check out this article.

PPN: For today, make a list of foods you eat today and divide it into processed and fresh foods.

E: Go on a 10 minute walk with your dog today (or more if it’s feeling good for both of you!)

H: Choose from: Trim your dog’s nails, Clean his/her ears, or brush him/her





Although going on a walk might seem like a trivial thing to do, or you may even find it boring, going on walks might be something that can really help both you and your dog. Walks give you a chance to clear your mind, take some time to spend with you furry companion, and give you both time to bond, even if you don’t realize it at first. For your dog, going on a walk can be a wonderful form of physical exercise, and all the new smells and information she’s taking in will also give her some mental exercise. Mental exercise can be just as important as physical exercise for our furry friends. The more often you can go on walks, even if they are just 10 minutes each time, you might find yourself enjoying them as much as your dog does. Whatever bad feelings you have towards walks, give them a chance this week. Do whatever you can to make them a good experience for both of you this week and you might find that you actually start looking forward to them!

For those of you with dogs that don’t walk well on leash (and that’s why you don’t go), consider looking into a training collar. Training collars/harnesses can help your dog walk better on leash, and make walks a more pleasant experience for both of you. Here are a few links for training collar options:

Gentle LeaderHalti, Sense-ation Harness

Here is a good link to give you information on the different types of training collars, and their pros and cons.


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Friday Funny 5.16.14

Friday, May 16th, 2014

What does this little one teach us? When you want something, go for it!

Happy Friday!

Family Wellness Month

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

May is Family Wellness Month! In honor of making family wellness a priority, here are a few ideas & exercises to keep the whole family well.


W – Walk: go on a brisk walk with your dog.  This is a good light workout for you and your dog, especially if you walk at a brisk pace. Ask your family to go with you! Walks are great for bonding, enjoying the scenery, and spending quality time with your family (and away from our modern day technology-filled world).

E – Eat Healthy! : Make a healthy meal for yourself and your family, and save some extra vegetables for your dog. Most dogs love sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and would love for some healthy treats or for a great addition to a meal. And your body will love your healthy delicious meal also. (Here are some great sweet potato recipes)

L – Lunges: With treats in hand, ask your dog to sit, then face him and do a reverse lunge (with knees shoulder-width apart, step backwards with one leg so your front leg is bent at a 90 degree angle and your knee is over your ankle). At the bottom of your lunge, hold your position and ask your dog to shake (or touch). Continue with the other leg back for a reverse lunge and ask your dog for his other paw.

L – Learning: Teach your dog a new trick. Better yet, teach your family members how to teach your dog tricks.  Learning new tricks is a great way to engage your dog’s brain, and the mental stimulation will also help to tire them out (and it might tire you out too!).

N – New Things: Try something new (new to you, your family, and your dog)! This can be anything, try an agility class, or go on a new hiking trail, or try swimming, or go just on an adventure. Trying new things together will build your bond, your dog’s confidence, and probably yours too! Check out our Local Pinterest board for some great dog-friendly places in our area worth trying.

E – Eat Healthy, Part 2 : Salmon is packed with healthy omega-3’s and amino acids, as well as vitamins A, B, D and other good minerals like iron and calcium. Plus, it tastes great! Here are some delicious salmon recipes to make for you and your family. And when you’re done cooking for your 2-legged family members, give the salmon skin to your furry ones! They will love it and it is also a great source of oils and vitamins for them also.

S – Side Shuffle: In an athletic position (feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent, back straight) shuffle sideways and have your dog come with you. Then, facing the same direction, shuffle back the other way. Repeat 10 times.

S – Sit: Lean against a wall and slide down until your knees are at a 90 degree angle for a good wall sit position. If you have a small dog, hold her while you hold your sit. If you have a big dog, ask her to put her paws on your lap. OR if your dog knows touch (nose to hand touch), ask for a touch on either side of you and switch back and forth so your dog gets a workout too. If your family members are joining you in the wall sit, have your dog go between family members doing a touch (or shake).


Push-ups: In an area where you have space on the floor, have your dog come with you and and ask him to sit or lay down and stay. Then do as many push-ups (on your toes or knees is fine) as you can without stopping. When you stop to take a break and catch your breath, have your dog do 5 doggy push-ups: tell him to sit, then lay down and repeat 5 times.

Hike: Going on hikes are a wonderful way to get the whole family together to enjoy nature and each other’s company. Plus, your furry family member will love it also! One great thing about hikes is that there is such a variety that you are sure to find something suitable for the whole family. Here is a list of some dog-friendly hikes in Colorado.

Whole Dog Challenge: Global Health & Fitness Month

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

chelsandpi_croppedIn honor of Global Health & Fitness Month, we have a created the WHOLE DOG CHALLENGE!

This is a 10 day challenge that will help you and your dog to have a healthier (and ultimately, happier) life! This challenge is only competitive with yourself, so feel free to modify it however fits your lifestyle.


Things you will gain by completing this challenge:

  • Knowledge about canine health
  • Stronger bond between you and your dog
  • Healthier dog
  • Happier dog
  • Healthier & happier YOU!

This post will have all the information for the challenge, but each day will have a more detailed post on activities and information for that day. There are 4 sections of this challenge: Dog Nutrition (DN), Pet Parent Nutrition (PPN), Exercise (E), and Hygiene (H). The challenge begins Saturday, May 17th and goes through Monday, May 26th. Follow us here as we complete the Whole Dog Challenge (WDC) with you. And please share your progress with us here as well! We’d love to see how you’re doing and give any advice we can to help you fetch the most out of this challenge.

DN: Read your dog’s food label and look for any ingredients/words that don’t look familiar to you. Look up your brand of food on the Dog Food Advisor. DN: If your brand of food rated less than 3 stars on the Dog Food Advisor, consider switching foods.
PPN: For today, make a list of foods you eat today and divide it into processed and fresh foods. PPN: If there are more foods on your processed foods side of the list, try upping your number of fresh foods today.
E: Go on a 10 minute walk with your dog E: Take a trip to somewhere new! Ex: go to Home Depot, or find a new trail/path to walk on
H: Choose from: Trim your dog’s nails, Clean his/her ears, or brush him/her H: Choose a different one than yesterday: Trim your dog’s nails, Clean his/her ears, or brush him/her
DN: Incorporate some fresh food into your dog’s diet. This could be eggs, yogurt, pumpkin, canned tuna, salmon skin, etc. DN: Continue to incorporate fresh food into your dog’s food. You can do the same you did yesterday, or try something new.
PPN: Try to replace your cup of coffee or soda with a glass of green tea PPN: Put lemon in your water today to help your body detox and make drinking water more enjoyable.
E: Play hide & seek with your dog, OR practice sit & stay E: Go on a 15-20 minute walk with your furry friend
H: Choose the last option: Trim your dog’s nails, Clean his/her ears, or brush him/her H: Dental Health Day! Brush your dog’s teeth, OR give him/her a raw bone


DN: Continue to incorporate fresh food into your dog’s food. You can do the same you did yesterday, or try something new. DN: Start adding fish oil to your dog’s meals.
PPN: Put lemon in your water today to help your body detox and make drinking water more enjoyable. PPN: Omega 3’s have the same health benefits for people! Consider adding a fish oil supplement to your diet as well.
E: Play fetch! E: Give your dog a puzzle toy, or ask him/her to work for his/her food (tricks)
H: Give your dog a bath! H: Wash your dog’s food and water bowls


DAY 7 Day 8
DN: Hydration is important for dogs, just like it is for us. If you feed your dog kibble, try soaking the kibble in water before feeding. OR make chicken broth ice cubes. DN: Make your dog healthy sweet potato chews, OR ice cubes OR any other healthy dog treat.
PPN: Make sure you drink at least 60 oz. of water today. And mix it up! Try a new water infusion flavor. PPN: When you crave something sweet today, try replacing it with a delicious fruit salad
E: Start teaching a new trick OR work on an old trick E: Take your dog for a swim OR make a trip to the dog park
H: Choose from: Trim your dog’s nails, Clean his/her ears, or brush him/her H: Wash your dog’s bedding, leashes or collars
DN: Consider giving your dog a supplement with their food
PPN: Consider taking a supplement or vitamin yourself. And if you already take one, good job!
E: Go on a hike, jog or trip to the dog park with your furry family member
H: Dental Health day! Brush your dog’s teeth, OR give him/her a raw bone


DAY 10

This is your last day of the challenge, and a free choice day! Choose your favorites from any previous day’s activities and make today a fun and congratulatory day for completing the challenge!


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Top 5 Conditions that Respond to Rehabilitation Therapy

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Top 5 Conditions That Respond to Rehabilitation Therapy

Suzanne Starr, DVM, CCRP, Paws in Motion Veterinary Rehabilitation Center, Natick, Massachusetts


The goal of physical rehabilitation, in combination with medical and surgical care, is to restore normal or near-normal mobility and musculoskeletal function. Manual therapy includes massage, stretching, passive range-of-motion (ROM) exercise, and joint mobilization. Modalities include heat and cold therapy, therapeutic neuromuscular electrical stimulation, laser therapy, and therapeutic ultrasonography. Targeted exercise can include use of exercise balls or wobble boards, cavaletti rails (ie, horizontal poles positioned at varying heights and distances for dogs to step over), underwater or land treadmills, and pools.

Although dogs with assorted conditions can benefit from physical rehabilitation, the following are the top 5 canine conditions that the author believes best respond to rehabilitation therapy.

Top 5 Conditions That Respond to Rehabilitation Therapy

1. Postoperative cranial cruciate ligament rupture surgery
2. Postoperative femoral head and neck ostectomy
3. Spinal cord diseases
4. Osteoarthritis
5. Obesity

1. Postoperative cranial cruciate ligament rupture surgery
Cranial cruciate ligament disease is one of the most common orthopedic conditions in dogs. Surgery is arguably the best approach to restore stability when the cruciate ligament has been damaged. Regardless of the surgical procedure, rehabilitation initially involves pain management, massage, passive ROM, and icing. As tissues heal, patients often progress to weight-shifting exercises and water treadmill walking (Figure 1). As lameness improves, therapy may include leash walking (ideally involving hills), followed by jogging and trotting.

Figure 1. Because underwater treadmill walking has little impact on the joints, it can benefit dogs affected by orthopedic and neurologic conditions.

2. Postoperative femoral head and neck ostectomy
Femoral head and neck ostectomy is most often performed to treat Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease (ie, avascular femoral head necrosis), coxofemoral luxation, and femoral head and neck fracture. In addition, this surgery can be a salvage procedure for painful hip dysplasia or osteoarthritis. Adequate pain management is important to encourage early use of an affected limb. Early therapy involves massage and gentle, passive ROM. After the skin incision has healed, underwater treadmill activity can promote partial weight bearing and return to normal gait. Once the affected limb is used in a four-legged walk, additional weight-bearing exercises can be introduced. Tools (eg, balance board, exercise ball) can help improve weight bearing while strengthening the core.

3. Spinal cord diseases
Common spinal cord diseases include intervertebral disk disease, fibrocartilaginous embolism, degenerative myelopathy, spinal trauma, and inflammatory CNS disease. Classic signs are proprioceptive deficits and severe paresis or paralysis of the pelvic or all limbs, depending on lesion location. A thorough neurologic examination is essential. When indicated, cerebrospinal fluid tap and MRI or CT should be pursued. Once the diagnosis has been confirmed, therapy, including physical rehabilitation, can be planned. Physical rehabilitation therapy has a role in both these circumstances.

Therapeutic goals for dogs with spinal cord disease include reducing pain, maintaining joint flexibility, preventing or reducing muscle atrophy, and restoring coordination and proprioception. Techniques depend on the severity of signs and spinal cord disease, but massage, passive ROM, targeted exercises using an exercise ball (Figure 2), and water therapy are commonly used. In dogs with severe paresis or paralysis, the benefits of water therapy are extensive. Buoyancy of the patient when surrounded by water strengthens mobility, as dogs often initiate movement in the water before initiating movement on land. When the dog can walk without support, adding exercises such as stepping over obstacles (eg, cavaletti rails) can help improve overall coordination.

Figure 2. Targeted exercises, such as using an exercise ball, can help core conditioning, weight bearing, balance, and ROM.

4. Osteoarthritis
Patients with osteoarthritis can benefit from a multimodal therapeutic approach. A patient’s condition often deteriorates rapidly becomes a vicious cycle: because the arthritis is painful, the animal typically becomes more sedentary, leading to muscle atrophy and weight gain, subsequently worsening the condition. Pain management through analgesic medication and physical therapy can help. Gentle exercise in an underwater treadmill or a pool helps build muscle strength and endurance while minimizing stress on painful joints. When the patient is able, targeted weight-bearing exercise is ideal to strengthen the joints.

5. Obesity
In the United States, an estimated 50% of dogs between 5 and 10 years of age are overweight or obese, making this one of the most common canine medical disorders. Health problems caused or complicated by obesity include joint and/or musculoskeletal problems, exercise and heat intolerance, and pulmonary and cardiovascular disease. Although attention may be given to designing the appropriate diet for weight loss, exercise is often overlooked. When combined with caloric restriction, exercise can induce a negative energy balance critical for weight loss. Scheduled sessions of physical activity can help burn calories,  build muscle mass, and improve client motivation and compliance. Exercise sessions should be customized for each patient.

Closing thoughts
Therapists not only provide a service during rehabilitation sessions, but also participate in designing daily home plans. Clients often benefit greatly from receiving specific guidance following their pet’s injury or surgery. In addition, therapists can recommend slings, harnesses, wheels, and other assistive devices that can help patients and caregivers. It is therefore important for general practitioners and specialists to consider and discuss rehabilitation as part of their patients’ complete care plans when appropriate.

SUZANNE STARR, DVM, CCRP, practices at and owns Paws in Motion Veterinary Rehabilitation Center in Natick, Massachusetts. Her areas of interest include senior and postoperative patient care. Dr. Starr completed an internship at Angell Animal Medical Center and earned her DVM from Tufts University.


Friday Funny 5.9.14

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Happy Friday Funny!

Has this ever happened to you?!

Canine Arthritis

Monday, May 5th, 2014


Arthritis. At one point in time, we have heard that word either for ourselves or for our four legged companions. This condition can be seen in any joint from head to tip of the tail. But what exactly does that word mean? In studying many definitions for arthritis, the consensus is that it is inflammation of a joint, loss of joint cartilage, and bony changes that result from the first two situations.

In simple terms, arthritis can occur for many reasons. Some arthritis originates from infections the companion has contracted. Some arthritis occurs because of an autoimmune situation. The most common form of arthritis noted in our 4 legged companions is osteoarthritis. This particular type of arthritis slowly occurs over time, and is related to instability in a joint whether from an injury, congenital situation (like hip dysplasia) or a repetitive motion on a joint.

So as guardians, what do we see with arthritis? A common story is that your companion is having trouble rising after lying down for a period of time, is slower to go up or down the stairs, cannot walk as far as before, and will whine, groan, or vocalize more often. Some guardians report an increase in panting- a sign of pain in companions. There is often a loss of muscle associated with arthritis. This complicates things because as stated before, arthritis occurs because of instability within a joint. Muscles, ligaments, and the joint capsule, along with gravity, are the main stabilizers of a joint. The more muscle loss, the more difficult it is for a companion’s body to keep a joint stable and the more stress on other tissues.

If a companion has arthritis, cannot walk as far as before, is having trouble moving and transitioning in everyday life, and appears to be losing muscles mass, what can be done to break that cycle? It is amazing what you can do with your companion to help make them more comfortable, more stable, and stronger.

First things first- you need to have your companion assessed. This involves a thorough physical examination, gait, joint and muscle evaluation, and possibly other diagnostics (like radiographs or blood work) if indicated. At this time, a pain assessment will be done. If your companion is painful, medications will be recommended to help with the inflammation and pain. It is important to know that if the inflammation and pain is not under control, you may increase their pain response in the long term. Pain is a tricky situation. If the pain becomes chronic, there are changes to nerves that occur not only at the site of the pain, but that can also occur in the brain. This can ultimately cause a companion to perceive more pain than is present or pain when there is no pain stimulation. Aggressive pain control and inflammatory control helps to prevent this from happening. Icing and heat therapy, when applied correctly, have been known to help with inflammation, swelling, joint effusion, and pain. Joint supplementation has been very controversial in human medicine, but increasing the joint fluid within a joint and its ability to provide nutrition to joint cartilage can be a benefit from supplementation. Ask your veterinarian or rehabilitation therapist about what may be right for your companion.

Next, we need to help the joints and the soft tissues move better. This can be done by gentle range of motion of an arthritic joint. This allows for increased movement of joint fluid- fluid that bathes the joint cartilage and provides nutritional support. This also gently stretches the capsule and ligaments around the joint. Massage of the affected muscles can also help to increase muscle activity and awareness as well as decrease tightness and pain. Gentle stretches are also able to help arthritic patients increase flexibility of the affected area. In some cases, short, frequent walks on surfaces that are compressive (dirt, grass) can help to activate the joint and it’s receptors (muscles/ligaments) that help support the joint, and increase brain and nervous activity. All of these things help to improve an arthritic companion.

Lifestyle modification is another way to help an arthritic companion. Ramps instead of stairs are less stressful on arthritic joints. Rugs can be placed in common pathways or areas that your companion resides to prevent slipping or make it easier for an arthritic companion to rise from the floor. A decrease in running, jumping, and rough play can help prevent painful situations where the companion has over exercised and inflamed the arthritic joint(s).

So how can this be fun for the whole family? Getting together to go on a walk can be fun. Massage, passive range of motion and stretching can be a very one-on-one bonding time with that companion and the family. Not to be left out, other non-arthritic companions can get a massage too! There are also trick classes, nose work classes, and some obedience classes that can be done by arthritic patients to help keep their mind engaged. All of these classes are ways the family can be involved together, and the arthritic companion does not get left at home by themselves, and instead continues to be an active and integral part of the family.

Although arthritis may change your life with your companion, there are many things that can help improve and maintain a good, engaging life and relationship for you and your companion.

Friday Funny 5.2.14

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Happy Friday Funny!

Hope you get to have as awesome of a Friday as this dog.