Friday, 22 August 2014

Complementing the Complementary Therapist

When our Mr Sam went to see the veterinary orthopaedic specialists recently to diagnose what had caused his sudden lameness, I was like an anxious father all day waiting for the phone to call to let me know the results. At 11:00 the specialist called and said it could be a number of things from Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) – he is half collie – or soft tissue damage or arthritis or something else. He said there were a variety of investigations they could do with varying degrees of invasion. X-Rays would show skeletal issues, radiographs with injected dye would show any soft tissue issues, injection of steroid into the joint capsule would help with the pain and biopsy of the large lipoma (fatty lump) that has been growing under his armpit would help diagnose if there were any malignant cells. I told them to do the lot while Sam was sedated as I didn’t want the diagnosis to be inconclusive meaning Mr Sam would have to go through the ordeal again.

The outcome was that he does have arthritis in his shoulder, not too bad, and the biopsy showed that the fatty lump was just that, fat with no malignant cells. Big phew! When I brought Sam home he was totally out of it. I carried him into the car and he seemed to forget how to lie down. He just stood there looking vacantly out of the car window. When he got home I carried him into his bed and sat with him. As he came round he really didn’t want to know me. I was “BAD DAD”. Instead he went to over to Chris for his cuddles. The next morning he was still anti-me and only wanted a short walk. So I brought him back and left him while I took his sister out for a longer walk. She thought that was way cool. When we came home she strutted up to her twin brother as though to say “I’m special….Daddy took me out on my own…nya nya nya”. Such a caring girl is our Sarah!!!

The caring Sarah

Fortunately Mr Sam is never one to hold grudges for long and later in the morning I was sitting on the step outside when I felt his head nudge under my arm and he snuggled in for a hug. Clearly he had decided the steroids were working and I was an “OK DAD” after all.

Now we knew what the cause of his lameness was I started doing my geek stuff and researching things we could do to help his arthritis as well as his daily massage. I started by looking up lipomas and the use of frankincense came up repeatedly. So we bought a bottle and he now gets that rubbed into his lumps twice a day. As well as making him smell rather nice it seems to have helped. One of his lumps is decidedly smaller while the big one under his arm is a lot freer so will not be such an obstruction to his movement. I also read that giving your dog filtered water could help so now they only drink freshly filtered water. I’m not sure if that is doing them any good but they seem to love it and get through a lot more each day – there are far more dribbles all over our floor now. The addition of fish oil and bee pollen tablets was also mentioned so they are given those too as well as Rhus Tox homeopathic pills.

They have always been on glucosamine and chondroitin supplements but I found that,in the research I was doing for arthritis, the addition of a variety of tablets including turmeric/curcumin, boswellia, cat’s claw, devil’s claw and ginger could all help alleviate the aches.

We are working through this list, seeing which work best and which seem to make little difference. We can’t give him too many at one time as we are running out of food to hide the tablets in. One of the other things we were told is that they need to lose some weight – about 3 kg each would be good over the next 9 months. So we can’t keep topping up their diet with cheese spread which is our normal subterfuge method for hiding tablets.

Adding these components to my toolkit of therapies has helped me enormously too. I always thought that massage therapy for dogs was the only thing that would work. But I now realise the clue is in the name we are given – Complementary Therapists. I am far more open to adding other therapies into the mix. Chris has taken a course in Reiki which is something else we use while he has his nightly massage.

I’m not going to be using frankincense on my AchyPaw clients but it sits alongside my MSM gel and massage cream with lavender, arnica and comfrey so I can offer it as an appropriate option for the owner to try. And if the supplements start to take effect on Mr Sam, then they can be added to the list of suggestions as well. Maybe some of the other therapists or dog owners in The Pet Shop Connection community could offer me some advice for things you have found useful? I'm guessing that not every dog will respond to the same complementary treatment but knowledge of what has worked for some and not for others would be handy.

My handsome man

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