Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Is that a piece of foam at the bottom of the stairs? No…that is a canine house adaptation.

The other week I noticed that there was a large piece of foam at the bottom of the stairs to Maddie’s house. I know that her Mums had put foam everywhere else plus bought a bed without legs after a “Well..Dr Les said…” moment but the foam at the bottom of the stairs was new. This was to help Maddie make the initial turn from the hall onto the stairwell and also just in case she should slip down one day. 

It made me think of all the little things we do, or can do, to adapt your house to benefit your dog and their mobility. 

When Sarah started to look at the 4 inch jump up into our back garden, Chris put on his carpentry hat and built some smaller steps. These are now known as Sarah’s Steps and she refuses to go into the back garden by any other method than up and down HER steps. Sam doesn’t get a look in…..I guess one day we’ll have to build some Sam Steps. But a couple of bits of old decking, a few screws and bingo…we have a canine mobility adaptation device. 

Kyto’s Mum covered up all her prize wooden flooring with rugs and carpet runners to stop his skittering across. This is the top way to keep your dog injury free according to Natalie Lenton of the Canine Massage Therapy Centre (http://www.k9-massageguild.co.uk/the-number-1-way-to-keep-your-dog-injury-free/). When we refurbished our house 9 years ago we had really lush bamboo flooring installed as it was eco-friendly or recycled or something feel-goody. Now….all is covered by grey Ikea rugs. But the last thing I would want is for any dog clients to slip as they come into my therapy room. 

Memory foam beds for dogs are another great idea. I have lost count of how many new beds we have bought our spoilt pair over the past 10 years as the old one starts to lose it’s ‘memory-ness’. We’ve now found that you can buy really cheap offcuts online and put them inside a posh cover. The dogs don’t know any different from the really expensive ones some of the stores sell. They are just happy being comfy. 

Telephone directories! Now who uses them anymore? Well…I recommend their use to help raise the feeding bowl or water bowl if a dog seems to have difficulty stretching down. Again, cheap as chips to help adapt the home environment to help your dog. 

Keeping the dog’s weight under control is possibly a bit harder but can have dramatic effects on arthritis and other issues. Some years back we took our two for a routine vet visit where they were weighed. The vet said that Sarah was slightly…..portly. I took that to mean as a polite way to say she was fat. Over the next few weeks I reduced her food intake by just a few grams each time and she lost 4 kgs in 6 months. I admit she has put her winter weight back again a little and she is now on reduced intake. It is so little though that she really doesn’t know…..well…she does but her tummy doesn’t rumble at least. 

The owners of my lovely Mary have a clever rear end harness for her to help her stand which makes it possible now for her to get out into the garden and even walk along the road where all the neighbours come out to see how she is. But instead of an expensive one, you can always use a towel under their body to support their weight. 

Look around your house and see what things you have done, probably without thinking about it, to help your dog maintain their quality of life by helping ease their mobility. I’m sure it will more than you think.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Maxx with a double x

Meet Maxx (with a double x) 

This is a sad one. Maxx is a very handsome Staffie cross with a Brooklyn accent having originated from New York. 

Maxx’s mum, Tracey, contacted me from my webpage to ask me my opinion on whether it would be Ok for Maxx to have a massage. She wrote that she wanted to give her dog a special treat. However, he is currently at end stage liver disease, so sadly, he now has ascites and is quite filled with fluid in his abdomen. The vet did a slight draining but was concerned to go further, feeling he might do more harm than good. 

Among the many problems that Maxx has endured recently is an inoperable mass on his liver (and now lungs) for the last year and it's grown at a rapid rate. He has spent a good part of last year at the vet's (with recurring pancreatitis). He has been taken to Fitzpatrick’s Referrals (the Supervet) and their oncology unit. But all the specialists say that the prognosis is that he only has a few weeks left and Tracey’s goal was to keep him comfortable and happy. So much so that she wakes up every 2 hours during the night to take Maxx out for a wee to help ease his fluid retention. And not just in the back garden, Maxx thinks of that as an extension to the house - Tracey has to take Maxx out in the street. He is a double x loveable dog with an equally double x stubborn streak. 

When I contacted her to find out more, she told me that she has drawn up a Bucket List for Maxx and massage is high on that list. Most of Maxx’s issues are contraindications to massage and I wanted to make absolutely sure that the vets were on board with this. His vet at the New Priory replied back that as long as I avoided the abdomen everything should be fine. She confirmed that his large mass is probably hepatic carcinoma with secondary abdominal effusion. 

Maxx had his Bucket List massage last night. I spent a while getting the pace and intensity of the massage right to suit him for relaxation as initially the massage techniques were stimulating him rather than calming him down. But after a short time he started to get sleepy and slowly slid himself down onto the massage mat. His favourite moves were around the masseter muscle in his cheek and around his neck and after 90 minutes he did not want to leave the mat. 

I have worked with other dogs where palliative care is the purpose for the massage therapy and in all such cases it is a privilege and honour to be part of that dog’s journey. 

Thank you Maxx. xxxx 
Maxx with two kisses