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dogarthritis

Lucy with Arthritis and a Drunken Walk

dogarthritisMeet Lucy! Lucy is a senior Bichon that started coming to see us because she was dragging her back legs and had some significant arthritis. Though she was older, her mom knew it didn’t make sense for her to be in so much pain. Lucy walked as if she was a little drunk and her back legs crossed over one another from time to time. This was also concerning for her mom, as it seemed like she was showing symptoms of something more serious than arthritis.

After meeting Lucy and giving her a once over, she definitely was exhibiting symptoms of a pinched nerve, possibly even a minor disc bulge. She was uncomfortable and lower energy. Lucy did great getting adjusted and her mom was perfect at following her treatment plan. We first saw Lucy twice a month until she was out of pain (which took about two visits!), after that we started seeing Lucy less frequently as her adjustments were holding. Now, we see Lucy about every 6-8 weeks depending on her activity level.

After seeing Lucy this last visit, her mom told us that she is now doing stairs again and jumping on furniture, both things she has not done for over two years. She also doesn’t have any pain, her legs don’t drag, and she hasn’t tripped over herself since coming to get adjusted. Lucy was showing signs of the beginning stages of a disc problem, which can become quite serious. Her mom was proactive in getting her adjusted and now Lucy has more energy than she did two years ago. Pets are truly wonderful at hiding their pain and discomfort, so it’s always a good idea to get them checked out for prevention’s sake!

Arthritis in dogs

Geriatric Dogs and Animal Chiropractic

I find myself writing this blog today because our practice has seen an uptick in geriatric dogs recently.  What is their biggest complaint?  Typically, the issue is rear end shaking and an inability to support their weight.  The good news is that we are getting great results with this population.  In fact, our patients frequently claim to see significant improvement within 24 hours.  Why is this and what are some other strategies we can use to help them through their twilight years?  Read on to find out.

What is a geriatric dog?Geriatric Dogs

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a geriatric dog is any small breed 7 years and older or any large breed 6 years and older.  There are many issues that affect this population, but one big one is a decrease in mobility.  The body naturally breaks down over time.  However, if the joints of the spine or limbs are in poor alignment they will wear down faster.  Think of it like a car forced out of alignment.  The tires and other parts will wear unevenly and quickly.  A similar thing happens in the body.

Why do geriatric dogs benefit from animal chiropractic care?

Geriatric pets benefit from animal chiropractic because chiropractic restores normal function and alignment to a joint.  When a joint is out of alignment, it places uneven stress along it.  In addition, it initiates an inflammatory response.  Inflammation is known for contributing to joint degeneration.  Therefore, animal chiropractic is an important intervention because it keeps the joints of the body in normal alignment which helps prevent premature wear and inflammation.

What else can we do to help geriatric dogs?

In addition to animal chiropractic care, there are a number of things we can do to help our pets.  These include:

  • Controlling your pets weight – Overweight pets are subject to extra forces on their joints.
  • Keep exercising – You may need to modify their routine, but movement is important for joint health.
  • Supplementation – There are quite a few joint supplements on the market.  The goal is to give a high quality supplement that includes glucosamine and chondroitin.

These tips combined with chiropractic care will benefit your pet’s quality of life.

Unfortunately, arthritis and decreased mobility area conditions that will affect many geriatric pets.  However, there are ways to slow the progression.  This includes adding animal chiropractic care, weight control, exercise, and supplementation.  With these additions your pet will enjoy an improved quality of life during their twilight years.

 

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Laser Therapy and Chiropractic Care: A Perfect Match!

Chiropractic and Laser – A Perfect Match for Animals?

 

Structure determines function. This statement is the foundation upon which the body and chiropractic works. Optimum structure is important for your spine – just as it is for your house. After all, if the foundation of your house sinks in by a few inches I imagine you will see problems in your walls, floors, roof, and more. Animal chiropractors are like engineers for the spine that help restore the foundation. However, how do we repair the damage done secondary to structural shifts of your pet’s spine? Low laser therapy may be the solution.

What is low laser therapy?

 

lasertherapy

Laser therapy utilizes the power of lasers to therapeutically treat ailments. Essentially, the concentrated energy penetrates the body and stimulates mitochondria in the cells of muscles, ligaments, organs and more. As you may recall from biology 101, the mitochondria produce energy for the body in the form of ATP. This stimulation helps promote cellular regeneration and healing by providing the cells with more energy to work.

What can laser help?

                  Laser therapy can help many problems in the body. After all, injured areas can always use more energy for healing. However, it is better known for treating the following conditions in animals:

  • Muscle, ligament, and tendon injuries
  • Post-surgical soft tissue trauma
  • Back pain
  • Ear infections
  • Arthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease

Many of these issues overlap with conditions that may benefit from chiropractic. Is this a coincidence?

Why does laser pair well with chiropractic?

                  Animal chiropractic focuses on normalizing structure in the body. The results of abnormal structure include inflammation, tendon and ligament injuries, arthritis, degenerative disease, and more. As we described previously, structural misalignments in the spine are like shifts in the foundation of your house. It can cause numerous problems throughout the body.

Once we fix the foundation, we still need to address the secondary conditions that are a result of the structural defects. This is where laser therapy is key. It will help flush out inflammation, repair soft tissue damage, help stimulate cells to heal themselves, and assist in treating more problems secondary to structural shifts of the spine. In a nutshell, chiropractic helps stabilize the underlying structure while laser enhances the repair of secondary problems.

As you now know, structure is important for function. To address the structural aspect, chiropractic is a great treatment. However, we still need to deal with all the issues secondary to problems with the abnormal alignment of the spine. That is where laser is the key to a well-rounded plan of care.

Barley and Sam, senior dogs with young hearts!

Barley and Sam…two of my all-time favorite wheatons. They are furry, friendly, and full blown adorable. You’d never know it but these two are both seniors, 12 and 14 to be exact. Mentally, they are sharp as tacks, and physically they aren’t so bad anymore either. When we first met these two fur babies, however, they were both struggling with structural instability. As the saying goes, age before beauty, so we shall start with Sam’s story first.

 

Sam was having a horrible time getting around. He walked like he was drunk, his back legs were crossing over, he was sideways and falling, and frankly his fur parents were very worried. His symptoms didn’t look good at all and after doing all the standard testing and procedures, they still didn’t have any definitive issues. At that they were referred to us and decided to give chiropractic a try.

 

Sam was definitely having a very hard time. His mental state was all there, he was happy as a clam and would run up to greet you, yet half the time he flopped over and lost his back end on the way. What looked very serious, ended up being a result of unstable structure. Sam had a great deal of arthritis and was very limited in his mobility. He wanted to move faster than his little body could take him. After his first adjustment though, Sam was already moving better. He wasn’t falling over and he was navigating much easier. Within the first few adjustments his fur mom caught him on the stairs, something he hadn’t done in years. Sam continues to surprise us at each step of the way, and he’s improved leaps and bounds both literally and figuratively!

 

Barley, on the other hand, is what his mom might call a drama queen. Whereas many animals are stoic when it comes to injury or discomfort, Barley was one to let you know. He like Sam had a great deal of arthritis, especially in his limbs, making it very tough to walk without pain. Barley feels loads better when he gets adjusted and you can easily tell by the amount of activity he does afterwards. Between the running and the playing, Barley becomes a new sort of pooch after treatments.

 

We love these two sweet faces and couldn’t imagine not knowing them or their fur parents. They bring more joy to our practice and more love to our hearts just knowing how appreciative they are. It never ceases to amaze us how quickly they respond and we only hope they decide to stick around for the next several years!

Max the Terrier and his Bad Back

maxrusselOh Max, what can we say about this boy that hasn’t already been said. Max was referred to us because he was depending on medication and steroid injections just to get by. His fur parents saw him improve, but it would only be temporary and was lasting for shorter and shorter amounts of time. Max was on not just one but several medications when we first met him and his parents were anxious to do anything they could to improve his quality of life while also potentially getting him off of his medications. We are so thankful they were referred our way because it gave us the opportunity to fall in love with this sweet and wonderful boy.

 

As Max had gotten older, his little body had started to give him some trouble. He was arthritic, inflamed, and what seemed to be constantly uncomfortable. He would limp randomly and also was walking less and less. With his overall health in mind, his parents decided to try chiropractic and see if it would be the answer they had been looking for. On Max’s first visit we couldn’t believe quite how sensitive he was from head to tail. His back was like a field filled with structural instability landmines. We knew we could help this little munchkin, it was just a matter of time.

 

After adjustment one Max was already showing big signs of improvement. He was moving easier, acting happier, and even walking more. After his third adjustment his parents had been able to ween him off his pain medications entirely. Through continued maintenance, Max is back to how he was a few years ago; a furball full of energy, excitement, and loving life. We were just told today that Max has not had to have any steroid injections since he started getting adjusted and we just couldn’t contain our excitement. To see Max come so far in such a short period of time was inspirational. Just because you have a senior dog, does not mean he cannot adapt and come back to a more normal structure with stability. When that happens, the sky is the limit!

The Pro-Arthritis Inflammatory Diet

Carbohydrates are known in the human and animal world to be pro-inflammatory.  Since this is the case, why would our pets’ specialized arthritis diet be filled with them?  Excessive carbohydrate intake leads to increased inflammation in the body. Inflammation combined with abnormal pressure on a joint contributes to arthritis.  So, why are we giving more carbs to our pets that are already suffering with arthritis?

 

puppy arthritisWhat to Feed and Supplementation for Arthritis

Unfortunately, too many of our pets are not fed a species appropriate diet.  The best solution for a pet with arthritis would be a diet that features a higher amount of protein and a lower percentage of carbohydrates.  These diets range from a high quality kibble (although kibble is inherently higher in carbohydrates due to how it’s processed) on one end of the spectrum and include raw food at the other end of the gamut.  Raw is rapidly growing among pet owners in recent years.

In addition, supplementing with Omega-3 rich oils can be beneficial because of their anti inflammatory properties that help lubricate joints.  You can easily get fish oil, krill oil, etc. from a local pet store.  Adding these to a daily routine will help improve joint health in addition to a plethora of other benefits.

Weight loss

Also, a species appropriate diet will help your pets’ joints health by keeping them at a healthy weight.  Higher carbohydrate diets in humans have been linked to obesity, chronic inflammation and more.  These same rules apply to our pets.

Unfortunately, over 50% of pets are considered obese!  Obesity leads to a whole host of issues, including excess stress on joints.  The extra weight on our pets’ joints contributes to arthritic changes.  Ideally, reducing the amount of carbohydrates by feeding a species appropriate diet would help our pets shed weight and help their joints.

 

puppy arthritisDevelopmental Years are Crucial

Another contributor to arthritis has to do with feeding a high carb diet during the early developmental years. An animal given too many carbohydrates tends to put on significant amount of weight in a very short amount of time.  This growth is often more than a pet’s body can handle in such a short amount of time.  Cartilage development may lag a little and the joints never develop as well as they should, leading to arthritis at an earlier age.

 

What else can you do?

  • Keep exercising your pet! The more your pet moves, the better those joints will feel. Movement blocks pain signals in the body coming from painful joints.
  • Massage, massage, massage! Who doesn’t love a good rub down? Make an effort to give Fifi or Fido regular massages to keep the muscles nice and loose while also moving the joints and stimulating lymphatic drainage.
  • Acupuncture is great for pain relief.
  • Chiropractic treatments are imperative for those with arthritis and just as important for those hoping to prevent the condition.  Adjustments restore normal biomechanics to a joint which helps flush away inflammation and restore normal pressure on the cartilage.
  • Supplement with Omega-3 and joint support products
  • Hydrotherapy is a great way to get your pet moving without loading the joints up with the normal stresses from gravity.

 

A healthy diet is necessary for  animals to thrive just like humans.  There are many benefits for eating well, especially when it comes to joint health.  Diets lower in carbohydrate content cause less inflammation, lead to less weight gain, and help during the critical developmental years.  There are many feeding options for your pet including high quality kibble, wet food, raw food and more.  If you think your pet is suffering from a pro inflammatory diet, head down to your local holistic pet food store to learn about animal nutrition.  Your pets’ joints will thank you.