Monday, 20 February 2017

Using the Drawer Test in dogs and how massage can help with the results

Way back in July 2014 we delivered a Foundation to Canine Massage workshop to a group of dog groomers in Pevensey (pictures here ). This week I had a call from someone who had attended asking for my help with her senior Schnauzer who now needs a bit of help with his back legs. 

The vet gave me a full and clear outline of his recent history and issues which started last October when he started to limp on both rear legs but particularly the right. The vet found his right knee had a distinct Drawer and suspected a cruciate issue. Due to his age and the fact he did not seem uncomfortable with weight bearing, it was decided to treat this issue without surgery but with medication. 

In a dog with no cruciate issue, the joint should only work like a hinge - bending up and down because the healthy and strong cruciate ligaments hold it in place and prevent it from going in any other direction. When these ligaments have broken or become stretched, the knee can also be made to move forward and backwards. This is the vet meant by 'Drawer' and if you look at some of the YouTube videos of this test, they look very uncomfortable. 

In Sweep's case, a subsequent investigation from the vet in December appeared to show that the Drawer effect had lessened on the left side but he did have pain in both his knees and hips. It was most likely that he hadn't snapped his cruciate but that the tendons had stretched so the joint had become floppy which has altered his balance. 

Now he was on reduced exercise, which started him on the vicious cycle of losing muscle strength in the rear while overloading the front. Time for massage and exercises and a visit from Dr Les. 

The wastage in his rear legs was noticeable and he was wobbly here - preferring to sit side-saddle (see picture) rather than on his haunches. 

His massage session started in that position until he gradually realised this was helping and lay down on the mat for me. 

90 minutes later he was still there.... 

Luckily he loves his treats and with the help of some sprats I was able to devise some exercises he can do with his Mum to try and build up those back leg muscles and restore his confidence. 

It certainly seemed to do the trick as after this time he stood up with more confidence. "He has the spring back in his step" his Mum said. 

Hopefully we can help to restore his quality of life with the massage and exercises and help him to walk without a wobble. 

He sent me a message the next day saying "Hello Les, it's Sweep here. Thank you for coming to see me yesterday, I'm feeling so much more like my old self and I even got up out of my basket (something I haven't felt like doing for a while ) to greet Mum with a waggy tail when she came home from sprat shopping this morning 😊. I've been for a little walk and feel more confident and sturdy , after just one magic massage ! THANK YOU , from Me and my Mum"

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease in dogs and Femoral Head and Neck Excision

Third new dog of the week and we’re back to long worded conditions again. This time it was a dog referred from St Francis Vets with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. This is a degeneration of the hip joint due to damage of blood supply to the femoral head. The disease causes the femoral head to collapse which affects the mobility due to resulting pain. In this case, Shaun operated with a Femoral Head and Neck Excision in December 2016. 

The beautiful puppy with this condition was Scout, an 11 month old Fox Terrier. She had been getting on quite well since the operation and has been to hydrotherapy ten times now. But over the past week she seemed to have gone backwards in mobility so Shaun asked me to visit to see if I could detect what might be going on and offer help. 

The thigh muscles of her affected leg have wasted noticeably. This is no doubt due to her not being able to use that leg after surgery, then realising it was sore so not wanting to use that leg, which in turn made the wastage worse so she is now unable to use that leg. Instead she has moved her right rear leg into a tripod position tucking her left behind it (as shown in the picture).
The aim was to restore her confidence so that she would place her left leg down again. It is not a case of she can’t do it. She can when she wants to. She just doesn’t want to. She is clearly thinking why bother using four legs when I get on quite happily thank you with just three.  How to make her want to use that leg again? 

She sat across my lap and presented me with her affected side. She needed no encouragement to relax in a massage but was unsure when touching her thigh. She didn’t get off my lap, she just looked at me as though to say “That’s an Ouch Dr Les”. But gentle warming moves sent her back to sleep allowing some more therapy. Stretches caused the same response. Hip flexion was fine but with extension I received the look. 

I made an exercise routine for her owners plus gave them a massage routine to rebuild the strength in her wasted thigh. 

Interestingly, her Mum does yoga in the front room and Scout always joins in giving great body stretches. A quick search of YouTube resulted in a number of excellent yoga stretches Mum and Scout can do together. This will be great for rehabilitation as yoga moves are controlled and precise which is what Scout needs at the moment. 

I’m always willing to try something new. Who knew I’d be adding Yoga to the mix of therapies on offer?

Monday, 13 February 2017

Sometimes it is not just the presenting issue that is the problem

Noddy is a desperately handsome black Labrador who is approaching 11 years old and lives over in Petworth.   He recently had a slip and had started to become stiff in his rear legs with possible back strain. His Mum wanted him checked over and massaged to ease out his discomfort. Noddy was described as a ‘very alpha dog’ which fits perfectly with his magnificent regal head and his manner. Although he immediately decided to play cute with me and tuck his head under my shoulder, massage was going to be on his rules. He would settle down for a few minutes, then walked away. He came back, massage, walk away. Repeat. This was the rule. Well, until 60 minutes of that game when he decided that massage was, in fact, wonderful and something that even an alpha male can enjoy. He simply lay down without moving. As well as working on his rear end, which is where he seemed uncomfortable, I also concentrated on his shoulders and neck which had become tight due to compensation and was probably making his out of balance.  

We went through a series of exercises to help keep his back and neck supple and to assist the proprioception of his rear legs. Again, exercises were on his rules. I would set the exercise up. He would do them. He would lick the treat. If the treat was not immediately lickable, he stopped. Luckily the treats I use are 3 calories each so we could abide by his rules of exercise = treat.  

Noddy even has his rules about cuddling. Again, on his terms and when he wants one. But you would never believe that seeing how he responded to guided massage from his Mum. He took everything she could give her.  

With his seniority, the plan is to keep him mobile and comfortable with regular maintenance sessions.  

His Mum sent me a couple of texts when they got home : “He is so chilled he’s almost horizontal”. “We just did a walk and he is moving beautifully. I can see a discernible difference”.  

But the following day the text arrived "Noddy is moving beautifully today. The biggest change is with his shoulders and front legs. He's got his natural bounce back. I could tell immediately he got up this morning that he was in better shape". Working just on his hips, the presenting problem, would not have made such considerable improvement. 

Even Alpha Dogs with loads of rules benefit from massage, especially if all parts of the body are covered.