Monday, 30 July 2018

Treating Femoral Head & Neck Excision in dogs

Bobby’s Mum came to meet us at the RSPCA Open Day a few weeks back. Bobby was rescued when he was 3. He had a femoral head & neck excision as a salvage procedure when rescued. 

His Mum says that, at 6 or 7 as he is now, he’s a little stiff first thing in the morning and after walks but doesn’t have any issues as such. And that is exactly why she asked us for a visit. She doesn’t WANT him to have any issues. 

An operation like that can lead to imbalance. This can, in turn, lead to chronic mobility issues over time. If we can help sort him now and make sure everything is working well, hopefully Billy will be happy for a long time. He already has a number of adaptations in place, such as he uses a ramp to get in and out of the car or is lifted. But during the home visit, we suggested that a few carpets and rugs as Mobility Islands would also be useful over the laminate flooring. 

His Mum had read our website where we suggest massage should be on a special place – such as a comfy mat or rug. The dog will then come to associate that place with therapy time. And has already bought one specially.

Bobby’s right rear leg is slightly shorter which may be a result of the surgery. This, in turn had likely caused his left front leg becoming more developed than the right in compensation. He also exhibited skin quivering when touched which is often a sign he needs myofascial release techniques to ease his skin – like making a tight T Shirt fit you better. 

He had a full 45 minutes of treatment before walking away. But that was only to turn round and give Chris his other side to work with. Dogs are very canny! 

At the end of the session he visibly appeared ‘longer’ and comfortable. Along with the homework we left his Mum, Bobby is on our 3 month maintenance programme.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Home Visits

Most of the dogs we see, we visit and treat at their own home. If the dog has a mobility issue or is uncomfortable, we don’t want to add to any distress by jiggling around on a car travelling. 

It also means we get to have a look around where the dog lives – not for nosiness but to pick up on any areas that could be improved on. Flooring, steps, sofas that are jumped up on, beds. Sometimes these are just missed. You live with that step down into the garden – it becomes part of the routine. But your dog has to navigate it. 

Seeing things through a fresh eye can make an enormous difference. We don’t wag our fingers and go “Oooo, that’s bad” and be all judgey, we simply suggest and offer something that may be beneficial for the dog’s mobility. 

Many years ago, I travelled to Portsmouth to treat a dog who was recovering from a serious illness and several vet visits. He spent his days on the sofa. His Mum said that he just doesn’t want to get off. I looked at the height of the sofa, went over and picked up a couple of the spare cushions, placed them on the floor under where the dog was laying and…lo and behold…..the dog smiled, slipped gently off the sofa, onto the cushions and walked around the house with a silly grin on his face. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to get on and off, he simply couldn’t. Simple. But without an outside suggestion, the owner couldn’t see it. 

Recently I was treating a dog with rear leg issues. I was commenting on how good it was that the house had non-slippy carpets all over. But this dog likes to go upstairs with his Mum & Dad to sleep. I’m not going to be Mr Anti-Pleasure Police by saying that should be banned. Ours do and we carry them but not everyone can do that. I asked how she coped with stairs and they said fine, except for the bottom step which is in the hall – the only place with no carpet. She sometimes slips getting off, they said. I looked around, saw a lovely door mat, picked that up and put it at the bottom of the stairs. Lightbulb moment. Her Mum and Dad looked at it, looked at each other and said, in stereo “Oh yes…..”. When I went back recently, the first thing they said was “And she loves her new mat at the bottom of the stairs. No more slipping. Seems far more confident.” 

Forget Love Island…this is all about creating Mobility Islands. 

It’s not rocket science, but sometimes potential hazards become so familiar they are simply missed. It’s all part of our first treatment session.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

It's the little things.......

Today was Double Therapist Saturday again. 

Second visit to Harry and Lou. Harry is (was) an anxious boy. He can be touch reactive which could make physical therapy challenging. But on his first session he chose Chris and allowed him to do all sorts with his back. Noticeable physical change at the end of that hour. 

Session two today and no signs of reluctance or anxiety. We were greeted by minimal barks. Chris sat on the floor. Harry sat straight in his lap. Lou had already chosen me as hers for the day. 

 This time, Harry’s back fell into place so much quicker. And he even opened his chest allowing Chris to get to those tight pecs.

 After 45 minutes, Harry walked away for a drink and a wee. Then came back. He slowly sidled up to Chris and gently, deliberately, tenderly put his paw on Chris’s leg. We’d all stopped breathing with the touching movement and then our eyes misted up! That was such a trusting thing for Harry to do. It was an “Ok. You’re a good guy. You can carry on now”. 

Take it from me…’s awesome massaging with misty eyes and a lump in your throat. 

Such a little thing. But such an enormous breakthrough for Harry. 


Monday, 9 July 2018

Looking at the whole dog, not just the diagnosis

During the years of working with dogs, we’ve encountered many different names. As well as the Sams, Alfies and Billys we have Lord Nelson, Mr Darcy, Luther, Hector, Muppet and Auntie Pearl. And the other weekend Chris went to treat the adorable and adorably named Pudding. 

Pudding was referred from the vets with severe osteoarthritis affecting mainly the hind quarters and hip. But her Dad told me on the phone that she is currently displaying a stiff back which seems to be the main issue at present. 

We don’t get tunnel-vision when treating dogs for the first time. With a diagnosis of hind end arthritis, we would certainly help that region – there are muscle groups around the hip, which we can target with soft tissue massage, and would then support the rear end to offer increased support, stability and management. 

But stopping there might mean missing areas of current concern. The arthritis is a chronic issue, what else might be going on? Looking at the whole body is all part of our treatment plan. With Pudding, her issues presently were with her stiff back. Imagine if your hips ache and now your back aches. You’re not going to walk properly so your hips will get stiffer and you’ll be generally more miserable. Add to that tight shoulder muscles which she is having to use to compensate for the stiff back and arthritic hips and you’ve suddenly got a whole dog to treat and not just the diagnosis. 

Her Dad described her current state as “Her back seems worse than her arthritis and is quite stiff and sore”. Chris is the ‘back expert’ in the AchyPaw team and went over to offer help a few days after the initial contact as Pudding was clearly uncomfortable and in need of support. 

He received a friendly welcome from Pudding who allowed him to work on her whole body for the session before she decided she had enough and walked away. But came back to give him a thank you kiss! 

During the session, Pudding became visibly longer as her back became more comfy and relaxed. On standing, she didn’t struggle quite so much and the rigid part of her back now moved – so much so that her carer remarked ‘she can’t normally do that’. Her Dad was even able to touch her back and rear end which he hadn’t been able to do in a while. 

Pudding’s Dad wrote back later “Pudding seems looser since she saw you….and is also enjoying the homework! Thankfully there was no limping which we were concerned about so it does seem to be a help for her so very grateful and hopefully we can get her fit to try hydrotherapy”. Adding another, complementing, therapy to the mix is a positive long-term aim. 

Pudding is going on our maintenance programme to keep everything in shape and healthy. As well as looking at the diagnosis, it is beneficial to look beyond – at the whole dog. 

Friday, 6 July 2018

This is why we do what we do.....

“Dear Les and Chris, our parents were impressed with how quiet we were when you came in to our house. Normally we have to warn them of strangers but we knew that we didn’t need to worry about you both. You were very kind and didn’t push us into anything that we didn’t want to do. Thank you for making us both feel relaxed and more comfortable. We look forward to seeing you again , Wet kisses Flint and Alfie 🐾🐾🐾🐾"

Thursday, 5 July 2018

First Massage session in the words of a dog (well...almost!)

Last weekend we had another Double Therapist Saturday with Alfie & Flint. Alfie is a Collie who loves his agility and older brother Flint is a Springer who is a typical bouncy spaniel. Recently Alfie displayed lameness from his rear left leg. 

Alfie can be a wee bit anxious but throughout the 90 minute session he demonstrated a classic “I’m going into the massage zone” routine that we have come to experience so often. 

It went like this (using Alfie’s voice…well…..I think that’s what he would have said) : 

1. “Hmm…I don’t know who you two are so I’ll just stay a little away” 
2. “OK…you haven’t gone away and are just sitting on the floor so I won’t look at you but maybe I’ll sit in your lap Chris” 
3. “Oh…you’re working on my back….oooooo that is nice. I’ll just stay here for a while” 
4. “And now you’re on my shoulder….goodness I’ll stay a little longer” 
5. “I’ll walk away now” 
6. “Nope….I’m coming back with my toy fluffy sheep for you” 
6a. “And my toy fluffy dog” 
6b. “And maybe this toy too” 
7. “Hmm…you’re working on my brother so I’ll go to the other therapist…he looks lonely” 
8. “But I’ll just lie here against the sofa while he works on me” 
…….much later…. 
9. “Excuse me….did I say you could stop touching me Dr Les? I’ll just give you a guiding paw on your arm back to where it belongs on ME” 
10. “Hey…you can’t go….I’m staying here on your mat. You won’t be able to leave now” 
…later still……. 
11. “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” 

Responses like that just make what we do the best in the world. Thank you Alfie and Flint for sharing your Saturday with us (before and after pictures below)