Google Written by Tracey Patterson

Category Archives: Special Needs Dogs

All About Canine Arthritis

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Dog moving a little slower now, walking a little stiffer? That may be arthritis. Like people, dogs can develop arthritis in their joints as they get older. But what does this mean in regards to dogs?

The Trifecta for Caring for Your Diabetic Dog–Food, Medication and Exercise

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Canine diabetes may not be curable, but it is manageable in most dogs–if the condition is diagnosed early and treated properly. Only a veterinarian can diagnose this condition in dogs, but treatment will largely fall on the lap of the dog’s owners and it is no small thing. Treating any medical condition is a daily responsibility to be carried out consistently for the rest of the dog’s life. However, knowing the knowing the three components of at-home care  for a diabetic dog–food, medication, and exercise–you can create a schedule that is balanced, not overwhelming.

Strategies for Dog Weight Loss

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You know your dog’s overweight. Losing weight is always easier than putting on the pounds. But getting your dog down to a healthy weight will help keep your dog healthy in so many ways. It’s not always easy, but think about adopting a new way of doing things, new strategies for helping your dog lose weight.

4 Things You WANT to Do To Exercise A Dog With Arthritis

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If your dog is diagnosed with arthritis, your vet will likely recommend 3 therapies: weight management especially if your dog is overweight, medication for joints and pain, and exercise. Exercise might seem counter intuitive  your dog is already in pain and their joints are stiff. Actually, you do want to strongly consider exercise. Here are four things to consider when exercising a dog with arthritis.

Arthritis and Dogs and Exercise

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If you are working with a vet, you should have a plan of treatment that includes medication, special nutrients, and exercise. Exercise? The dog is having an even harder time walking now. Why make it worse with exercise? Actually, exercise will help a dog with arthritis feel better in the short and long run.

Puppies and Exercise – Not So Much

You just got a new puppy. You know the basics of dog ownership: someplace to sleep, food, training, and exercise and play. But a puppy is not an adult dog, he is still growing physically and still learning mentally. You need to approach each of these areas differently than you would an older dog.

When I see an enthusiastic new dog owner walking a puppy, I mean a little puppy not an almost-year-old-dog, I want to applaud the owner’s commitment but tell hi–scale it back just a notch for a minute. How much exercise and what kind to puppies really need?

Exercise and Dog Dysplasia

Lately, when you take your dog to play in the yard or at the dog park or for a run, you may notice a slight limp later. It might not slow her down much, but you wonder if maybe you need to take it easier.

What is Dysplasia

“Off-and-on lameness is a common sign of degenerative joint disease,” says Dr. Ann Johnson, veterinary orthopedic specialist at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana. “Dogs show evidence of pain from degenerative joint disease by limping. Lameness can occur suddenly, or gradually increase over time. It can be persistent or intermittent.”

Canine hip dysplasia is an inherited condition where the bones don’t fit well, especially the thigh bone (femur) into the hip socket. This mismatch fit strains the cartilege that acts as a cushion between th bones. This strain leads to this progressive degenerative joint disease.

There are several ways a vet may deal with dysplasia including anti-inflammatory drugs, supplements, surgical procedures such as a total hip replacement, joint arthroplasty (removal of a portion of the bone), or arthrodesis (fusion of the joint). However, one of the first things vets recommend, especially when the condition is mild, is managing dysplasia with moderate exercise.

Why Should You Exercise A Dog with Dysplasia

Even though the joint is improper, you should still exercise your dog-moderately (we’ll talk more about that in a minute). First, exercise will strengthen the muscles around the joint, which lesses some of the stress on a joint.

Second, exercise helps you dog maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight adds stress to the joints and increases pain.

Exercises for Dysplasia

Moderation is the key for exercise. The key is a little exercise often. Even ten minutes, twice a day can help keep strenghthen your dog.

Good exercises for hip dysplasia

  • Walks – casual, short walks
  • Hikes – leisurely walks on easy trails
  • Swimming – if you don’t have a pool or dog friendly pond nearby, look for canine hydrotherapy or rehab facilities
  • Obstacle courses – tunnels/chutes, weaving through objects, balancing are fine–just no jumping
  • Indoor chasing games – games like chase or hide-and-seek can provide rainy day fun, and prevent an energetic dog from running full out, which they would be feeling later
  • Fetching games – easy, non-jumping games of fetch, chase, or catch

Not so good

  • Running/jogging
  • Sprints like squirrel chasing
  • Jumping games

Exercise and Dogs with Diabetes

My stepmother wasn’t feeling well a couple of weeks ago and she asked me to pick her dog up from the vet. PIg had been a little lethargic and was drinking a lot of water. My S-Mom thought Pig might have picked up something from the boarding kennel when she and Dad were in Mexico last month. The vet told me nope, the dog has diabetes and started rattling off instructions and a follow-up appointment. When I got Pig home, I don’t think my stepmother really believed a dog could be diabetic and called the vet. I wanted to say–but didn’t–well, S-Mom with a name like Pig….

Even veterinarians are also seeing more pets with diabetes. And one of the major causes is obesity. Diabetes in pets is often controlled with a specific diet and medication including insulin. Careful portion control and timing of food intake is important. But exercise is crucial for a three reasons:

  • weight loss – Eating healthy and moving more is the basic formula for losing weight. Weight loss helps lower elevated blood glucose levels.
  • weight control – Weight control with diabetes is an essential part of successful treatment. Naturally, any weight gain can make diabetes worse. Managing a good weight helps keeps all the body’s systems, including blood sugar levels, in balance.
  • better blood circulation – exercise generally causes the blood glucose to decrease as muscles pull energy from blood glucose. So, as the dog exercises, the blood glucose decreases. Exercise also helps your dog to absorb insulin better which also causes the blood glucose to drop. In fact, exercise can increase the rate at which insulin is absorbed.

Exercise Tips for Dogs with Diabetes

These are general tips, but please, always talk to your dog’s vet for the best course of action for your pet.

Pick an exercise your dog will find fun, but is low-key. The activity should be reasonable for your dog’s temperament, age, and health. Walking is always a safe bet, but hiking, swimming, and other low-key activities are fine and provide variety. A low-key activity is something you dog can do without panting.

But don’t go overboard with weight loss–a little bit of activity goes a surprisingly long way. If your dog has been inactive, you definitely need to start small, 10 to 15 minutes at a time. It is better to do a little bit most days, than to cram 30 minutes of workout in a couple of days.

It is important to keep their activity level the same from day to day. Try to exercise at the time of day for the same length of time. It helps you both get into the habit, but it also gives her body time to adjust to the changes. In fact, if your dog’s activity changes drastically one day from the previous, her blood glucose levels can surge and really endanger your dog’s health.

Always, take a little sweetener like Karo syrup with you when you walk or exercise. If your dog over-exercises and her blood sugar drops, you will see strange behavior, anything from dizziness to fatigue to convulsions. If so, give your dog a little sugar, and you should see a difference right away.

Remember, make changes one at a time. Go slow, go gradual. But do go! And watch the diet (Check out this video for ideas).