Laser therapy and rehab can add years to the lives of dogs affected by Degenerative Myelopathy

If you knew there was therapy that could extend your dog’s life by 3-4 years, would you do it?

Degenerative  myelopathy or  DM is a non-painful disease of the spinal cord similar to ALS in people.  If you’re a dog parent with a dog suspected of having DM, you already know the prognosis is poor and the life expectancy is short. This disease causes a dog to develop a clumsy kind of movement in his hind end and lack of body awareness (proprioceptive ataxia).  The condition progresses to rear weakness (paresis) caused by damage to the spinal cord.  Sadly this eventually causes paralysis of the back legs and moves forward in the spinal cord, affecting the forelimbs.

 

I remember when I was first told my beautiful girl likely had this disease.  Initially, I was in denial but I couldn’t ignore the signs. 

One of the most frustrating things about this disease is  the lack of a known treatment.   Up until recently, intense daily physical therapy was the only known therapy that could slow the progression of DM, extending life from a few months to about a year (Kathmann et al., 2006). The complete exercises can be found in the study provided in the references at the end of this article.

 A new retrospective review study now gives hope to dogs and dog parents! This study examined intensive rehabilitation combined with one of two laser therapy (photobiomodulation) protocols. 

🌟Retrospective Observational Study and Analysis of Two Different Photobiomodulation Therapy Protocols Combined with Rehabilitation Therapy as Therapeutic Interventions for Canine Degenerative Myelopathy🌟

Lisa A. Miller, DVM, CCRT, CVA, Debbie (Gross) Torraca, DPT, MSPT, OCS, CCRP, and Luis De Taboada, MSEE

Continue reading “Laser therapy and rehab can add years to the lives of dogs affected by Degenerative Myelopathy”

 A new retrospective review study now gives hope to dogs and dog parents! This study examined intensive rehabilitation combined with one of two laser therapy (photobiomodulation) protocols. 

🌟Retrospective Observational Study and Analysis of Two Different Photobiomodulation Therapy Protocols Combined with Rehabilitation Therapy as Therapeutic Interventions for Canine Degenerative Myelopathy🌟

Lisa A. Miller, DVM, CCRT, CVA, Debbie (Gross) Torraca, DPT, MSPT, OCS, CCRP, and Luis De Taboada, MSEE

Continue reading “Laser therapy and rehab can add years to the lives of dogs affected by Degenerative Myelopathy”

P.O.L.I.C.E. for Injury Recovery

🐶 Have you recently found yourself thinking “what am I suppose to do now, my vet is only taking emergency cases?” 😟

When your dog hurts, it sucks. 🥺 Having limited access to help adds to the frustration. 😫 So what do you do?

The answer? P.O.L.I.C.E.! 👮‍♀️⁉️🤷‍♀️

❌Not that kind of police!

This acronym is a comes from the physical therapy and injury recovery world.

✅Protect
✅Optimal
✅Loading
✅Ice
✅Compression
✅Early (this is actually Elevation but I prefer Early and will explain why)

⚠️ Now it goes without saying that if you dog has a catastrophic injury, you should have them seen by a vet as quickly as possible. These guidelines are for non emergency injuries.

🐾PROTECT – Create a safe environment and protect the injury site. This may include creating non slippery surfaces, hazard avoidance (stairs), a wrap or a bootie, etc.

🐾OPTIMAL LOADING – Once you know that there is no fracture or catastrophic injury, movement is best, but not too much too soon. Gentle passive to active range of motion (P/AROM) with gradual (days to weeks) introduction to functional activities is usually appropriate. You may require a harness or a sling to assist with this gradual process while protecting the injury.

🐾ICE – This is a controversial one because research shows that too much cold can actually slow the healing process. If there is a lot of swelling and pain, a cold pack wrapped in a cloth may assist with pain management along with prescribed medications. Sessions are 10-15 minutes max and discontinue after a couple days.

🐾COMPRESSION – While icing, you can add compression with vet wrap, an ace bandage or even a long sock or scarf. Not too tight! And check ever couple minutes.

🐾EARLY – This is usually Elevate, which can be tricky with a dog. But, Early refers to doing this protocol sooner than later. Early intervention after an injury has been shown to provide faster recovery.

🐶These recommendations apply to dogs and people!😊

P.O.L.I.C.E. is the updated R.I.C.E. (Rest Ice Compression Elevation). Optimal Loading encourages movement. Movement keeps the injured area mobile, reduces stiffness and may help with a faster recovery. 🙌

⚠️ONE MORE THING⚠️
If your dog has suffered an acute injury, a visit to your vet or canine rehab therapist is a necessary first step. He or she may recommend the P.O.L.I.C.E. method to help treat your dog’s injury. Following this method may help your dog return to normal activity quickly and safely. 👍

🙏Stay safe and healthy!🐶

#doginjury #selfisolating #covid19 #doghealth #caninerehabilitation

Get Them Upright!

🐕GET THEM UPRIGHT!☝️

NOT SURE WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR PARALYZED DOG WHILE SELF ISOLATING DURING COVID-19 ? 🤷🏽‍♀️

This will help! 🙏

These are stressful and uncertain times for everyone😔, and if you have a dog that has a condition like degenerative myelopathy (DM) causing paralysis, you may be feeling very unsure or even helpless when it comes to what you can do with your furry friend, on your own. 😢

Personally, I have been through DM with my dog Sammie and have worked with others whose dogs have rear weakness/paralysis. This alone is emotionally taxing and now you are self isolating and may have limited access to your vet or rehab professional. 👎

To make it more challenging, you may have a cart (dog wheelchair) for your dog but are not able to get your dog out in it right now due to restrictions in place related to Covid-19. 🤷🏾‍♂️

 Fret not! 🖐

 I have some easy to implement recommendations for you!

☝🏾GET YOUR DOG UPRIGHT ANYWAY!🐶
Even if you aren’t able to get your dog out for regular walks in their cart, get them up into their cart at home, on a non slippery surface! There are so many health benefits for your dog to be up in their cart. 😃

😊UPRIGHT BENEFITS🐶
MENTAL HEALTH and SENSE OF WELLBEING
⬆️CIRCULATION and LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE
⬇️RISK of BED SORES
⬆️DIGESTION and BOWEL MOVEMENTS
SENSORY/TACTILE STIMULATION with the paws touching the ground
STRENGTHENS MUSCLES that are not currently affected by the condition

It’s basically a use it or lose it scenario, or at least slow it down.

With DM, it is a progressive condition 😔, HOWEVER, sensory stimulus, encouraging muscles that still have a contraction to work a little, and promoting circulation have all been proven to extend the life span of dogs with DM. 😃

THINGS TO DO IN THE CART, AT HOME🐾
FEED upright! Raise your dogs water and feed bowls so they can reach them.
BRUSH and/or MASSAGE them while they are in the cart.
Do BASIC EXERCISES your were taught and/or passive range of motion for the hind legs. Gentle active range of motion for the neck may be appropriate too. This encourages some gentle weight shifting in the front end and keeps the neck strong and mobile.
ENRICHMENT ACTIVITIES such as puzzles or scent games. These can be done statically, your dog doesn’t need to move around to do them. I place a ottoman in from of the dog and hide a treat under 1 of 3 little cups and she finds the treat (see the picture posted)
Prescribed REHAB MODALITIES. You may have a PEMF device or muscle stimulation machine that you are using with your dog. You can do this while they are upright.

😃I even had one client whose dog liked to watch TV while in his cart! And another who got so relaxed she fell asleep on her pillow stool. ❤️

🧰UPRIGHT SETUP🐕
Non slippery surface and decluttered space
May require a pee pad under their hind end Remember, being upright can stimulate the bowels! So you may want a poop bag too.
May require a stool or pillow as a head rest
SUPERVISION!

 NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG UNATTENDED IN THEIR CART!

👍Always do exercises within your dog’s capacity. Conditions like DM slowly progress forward so you may notice changes in your dog’s ability to do these things.

Every dog is different and how long they are upright is going to depend on a number of factors. These include overall health and strength, as well as progression of their condition. In addition, certain activities may not be appropriate for your dog and these are general recommendations.

👍Short periods in the cart, for example 10 minutes, can be very advantages.

You never want to keep your dog in their cart longer than they want to be in it. If they seem restless, uncomfortable, and/or start to whine, it is time to get them out.

If your dog is used to walking in their cart and you have them primarily standing still doing a game, etc., they will fatigue faster then when out walking. If possible, let them move around little. If not, go for shorter durations (i.e. 10-15 minutes) more often, in the cart.

🙏Stay safe, stay healthy and stay upright!🐕

#degenerativemyelopathy #covid19 #dogparalysis #dogcarts #selfisolating

The Arthritis Pain Dilemma

Your dog looks stiff and is having issues getting around and going for regular walks.  They may have a diagnosis of osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease, a form of arthritis that worsens overtime.  You’re advised to do less activity with them and that they may need some medication to manage the pain.

WHAT IF I TOLD YOU THAT YOU CAN DECREASE PAIN NATURALLY AND SLOW THE DISEASE PROGRESSION AND STILL ENJOY WALKING YOUR DOG?!?

Continue reading “The Arthritis Pain Dilemma”

Canine Back Pain & “Spondylosis”

Lola


Please welcome Lola to the Upward Dog Pack! This 16yo cutie has had some difficulty with coordination and weakness in her hind end as a result of a condition called spondylosis in her thoracic spine (mid spine where ribs attach). What is spondylosis? One might call it “age related changes” in your dog’s spine caused by everyday wear and tear and/or past trauma. Below is a little information on what the condition is, how it might look and what to do. Please note that this is general information and that it’s still important to seek out medical assistance. Continue reading “Canine Back Pain & “Spondylosis””

Can CCL tears be managed conservatively…. it depends!

This is a question I get a lot form pet parents/owners. There is no easy answer and it is a controversial subject. It depends on the size, age, breed, health, activity level, function, finances, and degree of tear, just to name a few factors. In many, but not all cases, surgery is often encouraged.


If your dog has been diagnosed with a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tear, regardless of whether or not you surgically or conservatively help your dog — *EARLY INTERVENTION IS KEY FOR RECOVERY! A partially torn CCL is painful and the pain causes disuse. Disuse can lead to further changes in joint health, muscle atrophy (weakness) and nobody wants their dog to be in pain. In addition, research shows your dog is at a higher risk (about 50%) to injure the other knee. Talk with your vet, Orthopedic surgeon, and canine rehab therapist; and make some decisions on how you are going to help your dog and do it as soon as you can. While some dogs can definitely be managed conservatively, and surgery is not appropriate for every CCL tear, I do need to say the unthinkable, if you choose to manage conservatively, there is still a RISK that down the road YOUR DOG MAY FULLY BLOW THEIR CCL and still REQUIRE SURGERY. Continue reading “Can CCL tears be managed conservatively…. it depends!”

Tips for the enhancing the home environment for senior dogs

Just like us, as your four legged friend ages, they may have aches, pangs, and balance issues that affect their mobility. It’s important to help maintain their mobility as they are susceptible to the philosophy of “use-it; or lose-it”. We know from our own experience that if we decrease out activity, we get stiff and and once easy movements becomes difficult, heavier, and that sometimes we feel weaker and have pain/discomfort with once easy movements. The bottom-line is movement is medicine, regardless of how many legs you have. Proper exercise and nutrition help to prevent mobility loss, AND there are ways simple changes you can make to the home environment that encourage mobility thereby helping your senior dog maintain his/her quality of life.

Continue reading “Tips for the enhancing the home environment for senior dogs”