Daily “Physiotherapy” Increases Life Span of Dogs with Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy
Canine Degenerative Myelopathy, DM, Physiotherapy, Canine Rehabilitation

A diagnosis of degenerative myelopathy (DM) can be devastating to a pet parent. I can say that as a pet parent who has lived through it. To find out that your dog has a progressive neurological condition that will eventually lead to paralysis, may leave you feeling raw, lost, angry…. And it’s often hard to grasp the disease progression because your dog is usually doing very well when symptoms are first noticed. If you have gone through this experience, you may have experienced an onslaught of questions running through your mind. Is it going to hurt, how long does my dog have, can I do anything to slow it down….? And the list goes on. Continue reading “Daily “Physiotherapy” Increases Life Span of Dogs with Degenerative Myelopathy”

Canine Back Pain & “Spondylosis”


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!”

This your dog more at risk of heat exhaustion!?


The best treatment is prevention, avoid activity in high temperatures! We will discuss more about prevention in the next blog, however, that said, it is still very important to know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion.

  • Excessive/rapid panting/difficulty breathing. As dogs heat up, panting with a slightly open mouth with turn into a fully openmouthed pant plus a swollen tongue that hangs out to the side. This means shade and rest immediately!
  • Dehydration – signs may include sunken eyes, dry nose, visible tiredness…. in people, something we look at is the skin. If you pinch an area of skin, it should pop back into place as soon as you release it. Dogs too!
  • Excessive drooling – if your dog is drooling A LOT, it may be a sign they are having a hard time cooling down.
  • Tired/weak- you may find in the heat, your dog wants to lay down more often which is a clear sign they need to take a break and cool off. If you dog is having trouble standing up or collapses in the heat, take them to your emergency vet immediately.
  • Muscle tremors – uncontrolled shaking after being in warmer temperatures can very likely be a sign of heat exhaustion.
  • Fast/Irregular pulse – place your hand on the front of their chest, near their elbow. If its racing or really irregular, its a medical emergency – go to the vet ASAP!
  • Vomiting/diarrhea. – If your dog has been in the heat and is experiencing lack of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea, this is a big warning of heat exhaustion and again a medical emergency – go to the vet ASAP!
  • Neurologic signs – Any unusual changes in behaviour, difficulty walking, stumbling, etc is again a very strong warning of heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke and requires urgent veterinary attention. Go!

If you muzzle your dog or walk them with a any device that inhibits their ability to open their mouth wide enough to pant, your dog may overheat faster and be at higher risk of heat exhaustion

What makes some dogs more at risk to heat stroke?

Differences in the respiratory system can cause a dog to be more susceptible to heatstroke. Flat faced (brachycephalic) dogs pose a higher risk of heat stroke. 

Breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Boxers are at higher risk due to differences in their airways.

Another condition that affects the airways is laryngeal paralysis, common in some medium and larger breeds such as pitfalls and labradors.

Is your dog deadly hot?!?

Heatstroke can result in lose of consciousness, fever, organ failure and even death!


I’m not sure where you may be reading this from, but here in Nova Scotia, Canada, we have had a wet spring. Finally, things are starting to heat up! The following months should be filled with lazy summer afternoons, beach days, and sunny dogs walks. You may be tempted to take your pooch out with you for a run in the sun or to hang on the beach but do you know that your dog is actually more heat sensitive than you putting them at risk of heat exhaustion? Continue reading “Is your dog deadly hot?!?”

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”