Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Massage and digestion

Cathal’s Mum has known us for many years and even hosted us in her shop to chat to her customers about the many benefits of canine physical therapy. And now it is our turn to help her with a not often discussed benefit of physical therapy - digestive issues. 

In 2016 we had a request to help Floc who was suffering from constipation. When he came to us, we performed lots of gentle work over his abdominal muscles which were, understandably, as tight as a drum. Before he left, he had a few successful ‘movements’ in our garden and then, over the next few days, his carer would send me plenty of texts describing other successes – LOTS of successes. 

Cathal had been suffering from an Impacted bowel for 1 week and, like Floc, had been straining uncomfortably. This was, in turn, affecting his whole body. He was standing hunched, he was wobbly, he was constantly trying to push down. He looked very uncomfortable. Think how you would feel or stand in a similar situation. 

His Mum had taken him to vets a few days before my visit where he had been sedated and flushed as the X Rays showed he was backed up into his colon. But he was still holding himself tight. 

He is a bouncy boy with a short back for a French Bulldog. When he is well, he doesn’t really squat when pooing but stands and pushes. Any extra hunching due to this new discomfort, would affect his mobility further. Cathal was made for massage – he adored it. 

I started working on other areas of his body before getting to his tummy. But I needn’t have worried. He just smiled and sighed when working around his abdominal area. 

I spent an hour with this lovely boy easing out his strained back muscles and generally helping his recover from his poo-tension. 

After I left, he was fast asleep with a relaxed look on his face. Massage therapy is truly holistic working on the whole body. 

Monday, 18 November 2019

Sharing knowledge is the best

Last week we delivered the 9th occasion of the special Relax HAOK9 Massage CPD training we designed for the professional therapists of the Healing Animal Organisation.

This time we had 15 delegates from all over the UK and Europe who attended the workshop in the Healing Barn to add manual therapy to their existing skill sets. 

Throughout the various days, we had more than a dozen dogs of different sizes, age and issues, who came along, with their vet agreement forms, to help the delegates enhance their techniques. And by the end of each day, there was a Pup Puddle on the floor – snoring smiling relaxed dogs. 

Thank you to everyone who came along to spread the benefits of canine massage therapy to many more dogs internationally.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Always learning

We don’t like to stand still with our therapies. We belong to the International Association of Animal Therapists (IAAT) who are a body of recognised, trained, fully insured professionals who are committed to continuous professional development. It means we are able to bring new techniques and ideas into our practice. 

This year we have completed CPD in Animal Physiotherapy, Phototherapy, Thermography, Canine Positional Release & Muscle Energy Techniques and recently a two-day course on Indirect Myofascial Release with Jo Rose who offers a wide array of CPD courses for all professional animal therapists delivered by Dawn McCaig

Both the Positional Release & Muscle Energy Techniques (MET) and Indirect Myofascial Release workshops have added some useful new techniques and knowledge, especially suitable for our senior boys and girls, as they are gentle, slow and safe moves ideal for aching joints and stiff bodies. 

MET minimise chances of over-stretch, stress or inflammation by holding the joints in a direction of ease rather than strain. And, where Direct Myofascial Release work helps to make the tissue move by force, Indirect MR is more of a holding and melting, without initiating any muscle guarding. It looks like the therapist is just holding their hands still on the client but, in effect, the tissue underneath is moving quite a lot. 

So, the next time you see us working with your dog and it looks like we aren’t moving – don’t worry, we are just using our new skills to help. If you watch, you will see the tissue moving under our hands, loads of heat come off and the client relax even more

Friday, 1 November 2019

Team work

Bobi is a 2 year old Retriever cross, (although googling him he looks more like a Kuvasz – Hungarian Sheep Herding dog) who was rescued from Romania earlier this year by Blind Dogs Rescue UK. He only has some vision in one eye. 
It appears his shoulder was dislocated at some point and left unattended. Consequently, it has now fused in a dislocated position. He has early signs of arthritis in that shoulder and also in his hip joints. When he was taken to the vets down here, he was put on an anti-inflammatory and Amantadine. Hopefully he can be referred to a specialist. 

It is likely before rescue, that he had been chained as he has a dread of collars (so uses a harness). It is also unsure whether his blindness was due to a trauma or since birth. 

Added to all this, he has a lump on the bone on his right ribs where they were possibly broken and fused as a lump. Because of his dislocated shoulder, he doesn’t place much weight on his left front leg. This, in turn, throws his rear end out which is already stiffening due to his arthritis. Both back legs are creaky. 

Despite all this, he is a puppy with bouncy puppy behaviour. Our aim, for the first session, was to assess his physical issues and to find out if he is tolerant of physical therapy. He will never have been worked with in a helpful manual manner. 

Chris used Reiki first and calming signals which did the trick and very shortly he was lying in his lap. This allowed him to work on his stiff (very) back and stiff (very) neck. 

Bobi was lapping up all the attention and relief for 30 minutes but then had a bout of puppyness. It was almost as though he had gone “Oooooooooo…that feels so much better. I can be a daft boy again”. 

It took a while for him to regain his position on the floor, but he did. Bobi will be a team collaboration with the carers (for his wellbeing), vets (for medication and possible surgery), us (for manual therapy) and the behaviourists (to help him adapt to live after rescue) who will all work together as a Care Team to help him settle and realise he is now safe.


Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Help to make every day a good day

We all have our good days and our bad days – sometimes that’s due to work, or the weather or our aches and pains. Most dogs don’t really know about going to work – unless it is which bed or sofa to choose. Most dogs don’t really mind too much about the weather – as long as they get a good warm rub down after. But they certainly do have good and bad days with their aches. 

Over the 7+ years of AchyPaw, we’ve found that dogs tend to benefit more when they have maintenance sessions. This will keep them on an even keel rather than ups and downs and being called out to ‘fix’ things. 

Our Sam & Sarah are 13 and a half now and they certainly have those sorts of days. We have dawdling days and we have “Look at me Dad, I can still chase that seagull” days (from Mr Sam anyway, Sarah would never condescend to chase – she’s far too much of a madam). 

By having regular therapies – some daily, some weekly, some monthly - we aim to even things out. We’ve got them on a good multifaceted therapy mix – hydrotherapy, acupuncture, laser, supplements, medication, diet – with massage being the glue that keeps it all together. 

OK, Sam & Sarah get manual therapy daily. Yours could too, with a tailored lesson from us. But the professional maintenance top-ups can be anything from weekly, to 6 monthly or even yearly like Sherlock. There is no prescription, each dog is different and so is their treatment plan. 

Give us a call if you’d like to know more either about our maintenance programmes or learning how to help your own dog. 

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

It’s all about the intention.

Lexi is a 6 year old Portuguese Podengo cross with long legs rescued by Karen from Helping Paws and has been living for the past 3 years in her Forever Home with her new Mum and Dad. 

She has never really been completely settled with her Dad indoors. She doesn’t bark or cower, she just prefers to move away. This behaviour is not as bad when outdoors, but even then, she seems to prefer her Mum. It’s not just her Dad though, she reacts in a similar way with other men. They don’t think she was mistreated before rescue but believe she lived on her own with an elderly lady – maybe not getting much socialisation. She was certainly housetrained although she didn’t know how to play with toys. (That has now been rectified as she has a vast toybox full of things!) 

Overall, she is simply timid. She will accept a hand touch, stroke and may even lick the back of her Dad’s leg in a cafĂ©. Just not a lot. 

The aim for the session was to try and create a better bond between Lexi and her Dad by intentional touch. AchyPaw Massage is all about intention. You need the dog to know that they are your focus. It’s not petting. It’s intentional. It’s beneficial. It has a purpose. 

We don’t force therapy on any dog – they come at their own speed. At the start of the session, Lexi was upstairs, so I sat on floor by the massage mat while her Mum brought her down. She soon sat on the mat, with her back to me. But close enough to let me gently touch her. As I was working, she didn’t move away but just glanced at me over her shoulder making sure I was an OK person. She even let me perform some massage. Guess I was Ok! 

I spent 15 minutes with her helping her feel comfortable. I then asked her Dad to take my place on the floor. I told him to feel rather than pet. We held our breath. Lexi did not resist or move away. After 10 minutes, we all had to breathe again as we were going rather blue from lack of oxygen! 

That was Lexi’s cue to get up on the sofa. I asked her Dad if that was what he expected to get out of the training session. He replied ”Yes but not within 30 minutes…….”. There were lots of smiles. 

As we were on a roll, I got him to shuffle over to her where she allowed him to perform a full one side body massage. Lots more smiles – even from Lexi this time whose head was slowly slumping down as she relaxed. 

Her Dad stayed on the floor while her Mum took over as we wanted Lexi to feel she could go to either carer. Again, no protestations from Lexi – just a ‘bring it on’ look. After an hour, we got her Dad to stand up (many creaking joint noises from us as we had hardly dared move a muscle), walk away and then come back. This would typically have been Lexi’s signal to go. But she didn’t. She stayed on the sofa and let him put his hands back on her and she relaxed her head even further. He said “She has never felt this relaxed with me touching her”. We say it all the time….intention….intention….intention. Lexi was now being touched with a purpose, with benefits. Petting your dog is fine, they will enjoy it. But if you touch them AND help their tight muscles to relax, how much more enjoyable will that be to the dog? 

I think we have won Lexi around to her Dad touching her and hopefully that bond will strengthen with every massage session.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Homework and caregiver involvement

When set from school or colleges, homework could be a chore. But as an ex-academic now, I try to make the homework that we set our dog carers, more fun, informative and useful. 

As well as treating the dogs we work with, we also treat the carers. Not physically (although some have come to Chris for a holistic massage session) but educationally. During a session, the carer is often so involved with watching how their dog responds to the physical therapy that they forget all the things we discovered and showed them about their dog. 

This is perfectly understandable. We make sure that a treatment session doesn’t end without ensuring that the carer has been made aware of where the aches and strains were on their dog, how to help them with massage and rehabilitation exercises and characteristics to monitor so they can monitor progress or change. 

To achieve this aim, every carer is sent a personalised and workbook for their own tailored homework. The workbook details : 
• Where the issues were on their dog 
• Massage techniques that could benefit each issue and area 
• How to perform those massage techniques (with explanation and pictures) 
• Pictures and explanation of any appropriate rehabilitation exercises 

The Mums and Dads who do their homework become far more aware of changes in their dog and describe these in terms of gait, ability and muscle tone. It always raises a smile when a carer says things like “Les…I think the right thigh muscle is far less tight now and my dog is standing straighter”. This means they have been watching their dog and paying attention rather than just walking them. 
Our homework seems to go down well and we frequently receive feedback about it : 

 “Many thanks for your email and our homework, we have started following the plan & think that he seems more relaxed & happy already!”

 “I want to add that Les sent me the most amazing run down of what I learnt explaining everything really well to help my terrible memory not to miss anything out! Super happy with this as it is really clear what to do now.”

 “We have exercises to do and detailed information on how to do the most good, which Les sent through pretty much immediately. We saw improvement in our dog’s walking after the session and following exercises believe this will make the difference he needs without pumping him full of drugs. If you are thinking myotherapy could be the way forward, we would 100% recommend and suggest Les at AchyPaw!” 

Hopefully with all this homework, the dogs we help will have a greater and extended quality of life with an informed Mum or Dad. Don’t underestimate caregiver involvement.


Tuesday, 15 October 2019

No reason...just because

Most therapists – canine and human – have a list of conditions on their webpage of issues which they believe would benefit from manual therapy. Classics things you’ll find listed include: slowing down, unsteady gait, limping, difficulty getting up, arthritis etc. 

While all these are perfectly valid, what do you do if your dog doesn’t show any of these signs? Will massage therapy still be beneficial? In our opinion, and it’s borne out by a lot of research, yes – most certainly. How many of you have had a massage just to maintain your present condition rather than to ‘fix’ something? 

Maintenance, top-ups, prevention, or ‘just because’ are good reasons to schedule a massage session for you or your dog. And please don’t think I’m talking about pampering. We don’t do ‘pampering’. We deliver professional experienced targetted therapy to make your dog feel and move easier. English 

Bulldog Ralph is an example of benefiting from regular physical therapy to keep him in the stunning condition he is. We’ve been treating him for 6 years now and he has always been fit - he has muscles on his muscles! And his regular massage helps to keep him that way. At 10 years old, his Mum and I want him to stay healthy, mobile and happy. 

After his session, he tends to sleep and snore while I work on his sister, Auntie Pearl. He lies there with a big soppy grin. He does wake up to give me a huge Ralph cuddle when I leave and frequently sits by the front door so I can’t get out. 

Do you need a problem or a mobility issue before you think of massage? No. You can come to us….just because. It will benefit your dog anyway. 


Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Involving the family in therapy

13 year old Rosie received lots of good wishes when I first visited her and posted her story. At that time, when I was invited into her house she was sitting in the hall by the wall and had to be helped into the lounge for her therapy. Once there though, she was an “OMG…this is what I have been waiting for” dog. 

When I left, I had a feeling that her family would all get involved and rally round to help her as much as they could. 

And they have….so much. Rosie is a new dog. 

On this visit, she greeted me at the dog excitedly and wagging her broad tail. A different girl. Standing straighter with more confidence. More musculature evident. Bright eyes, attentive and enthusiastic. Her Mum said that she gets a massage daily (her personalised workbook was in a folder on the sofa by the toys). Now, when massage is over, she looks up at her Mum with a “Hmm…why have you stopped?” look. The youngsters in the family are involved too. Every treat she is given, she is made to give a nice long nose to tail stretch working on her spinal and core muscles. She plays with her tuggy toy which she hasn’t done in a long while. She is eager to walk and sometimes even asks to go round the block. And to complete the transformation, she is now confident to start getting on the bed (with some help) and the armchair in the living room. 

She decided to show me how she could get on the armchair – which is where she remained for the next hour’s therapy session. 

Her fur is so much softer now and she now has space under it. She is no longer wearing a coat two sizes too small. She still has her myofascial twitches. Touching the left side, causes the right rear leg to twitch and touching the right side, makes the left rear leg twitch. She knows it is annoying to her but was very tolerant as I eased the fascia. 

But she was happy, smiling, sighing and closing her eyes in delight. Such a transformation due to the consistent work done by her family every day. I look forward to seeing how much progress she makes in the future.


Monday, 30 September 2019

The difference finding a Forever Home makes

10 and a half year old Staffie Bertie, found himself in Arundawn Dog Rescue a few weeks ago ( ) where Elaine put up a video of him walking with a limp. We offered to visit to help him in the kennels, but he was immediately fostered which is where Chris saw him the next day. 

At that time, his coat was quite dull and his fur was very tight, He needed a lot of myofascial release. 

4 weeks later Chris went round to see how he was progressing. First thing – he is in his forever home. His new Mum and Dad became failed fosterers. They said, “He saw a mat in the middle of the room. He lay on it. He crossed his paws. He gave a look of I’m home now”. 

Second thing - his Mum has been keeping up the massage with him from our workbook and said that he can jump up onto the sofa, which they were amazed the first time he did. 

Third thing – he has lost weight. He has started to get his Staffie wiggle back. His Mum said they could see a change in his shape, albeit slowly. He is walked twice a day and they are looking at starting hydrotherapy with him. 

Fourth thing – there are carpet runners in the hall so no slippy stocky Staffie legs. 

All in all, Chris was so pleased with his improvement. His coat is now glossy and loose. He was no longer guarding his body when touched, no reactive looks. Instead his muscles were all moving freely and his gait was balanced with a big grin as he showed off his moves. 

And his personality has really come out. He is a real Mummy’s boy and happily throws himself at your feet and smiles. 

Bertie has clearly landed on his paws.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

One size doesn't fit all

13 year old Staffie Pickle was rescued 18 months ago when she was only 48 hours from being PTS. Her new Mum and Dad think she was kept in one room and possibly used as a breeding dog or maybe even a bait dog as she had big ‘cauliflower ears’ which still need constant attention. When they first put a lead on her to take her for a walk, she simply did not know what to do. She sat down and wouldn’t move. Luckily, she had brother Archie for a while who taught her how to dog. When he passed, she grieved but then settled into being the new head of the family. 

Despite all her past, she is a loving sweetheart. Her Mum and Dad are experienced Staffie parents – and are very bad at fostering. They nearly always end up as failed fosterers adding the new dog to their family. They used to have Archie and Pearl who I visited a couple of years back to teach them how to perform an appropriate massage daily routine 

They introduced me to Sussex Pet Rescue which, in turn lead to a training session for many of their volunteers. 

Although they knew what to do for Pickle, they also knew that one size doesn’t fit all. They wanted me to show them how to use manual therapy for Pickle as her needs were different from those of Alfie and Pearl. 

Pickle has a variety of issues including arthritis and Rhinitis. For these, and other conditions she takes a lot of medication. But alongside that, she is also on supplements and complementary therapy – hydrotherapy and acupuncture. Adding manual therapy is a good multi-modal mix. 

Over the last months, she has started to struggle with her hind legs – her Mum and Dad say that she sways. There are days that she really can’t walk and even on the good days, they have to be her advocate for knowing when is enough. On a good day, she will walk and walk but will then be stiff the next day. So they now decide for her when she needs to turn back. 

Because of her hind leg issues, she has put on muscle mass to her front legs. But these too have now been diagnosed with arthritis. She was very tight fascially having held herself tense for the past month or so with a stiff mid back. 

She truly enjoyed all the interventions, so much so that at the end, when I was taking pictures for her personalised workbook, she remained fast asleep on her Dad’s foot. Even when her Mum and I got up, she stayed fast asleep. Even when I got the treat box out to show them some appropriate stretching exercises, she didn’t move. I had to demonstrate the exercises on myself. 

That was Dad trapped for the rest of the afternoon. 

He did, however, manage to free himself to write a review on our page “Our arthritic Staffie, Pickle, has been a bit of a wonky donkey for a while now, and, although happy , she was obviously very tight and uncomfortable. Enter Les and his magic hands, and such a transformation!! You could literally see her muscles and stance opening up and relaxing. Such a fantastic thing for everyone who loves their dog. Predictably the session ended with a totally relaxed Staffie, fast asleep, grunting and farting happily as Les left. Results are still very much in evidence two days later”  

Friday, 13 September 2019

New ideas, new techniques, new modalities

Meet Charley – the amazing Red Lighting Magnetically Vibrating Chocolate Lab. 

Some months ago. we bought a Low-Level Light Therapy device to target some relief for Sarah. Recently I completed my certification for the application of Phototherapy. 

How does it work? The manufacturers explain it well here

And now we have a Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field (PEMF) machine with a variety of mats. This site has a simple explanation of how that device works : “Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy can decrease inflammation and pain, increase the rate of tissue repair and regeneration. This painless modality can be used adjunctively with rehabilitation sessions or daily at home. PEMF uses pulsing electromagnetic fields to jump start and accelerate normal biological cellular reactions. A small battery current is pulsed through a coil to create the electromagnetic field and initiate the biological cellular reactions. Cells contain electrically charged particles called ions that govern all cellular processes. When the body is stressed (by illness, competition, environmental factors or age) the cellular membrane that conducts the essential ions into and out of the cell becomes compromised and is unable to efficiently do its job of managing the transport of these ions. The PEMF machine generates a magnetic field that creates motion with these ions immediately and positively directly impacts these and the membrane potential to stimulate them into action. The result is an increase in cellular communication and circulation, a decrease in inflammation and pain and a resulting acceleration of healing. There are no side effects seen with the use of PEMF.” 

Me, being the scientist I am, researched further and this, very technical, journal item explains it in great depth.

What does all this technical jargon this mean to our Sarah? Well, she is treated on the large mat every morning after her first walk, targeting both hips, knees, paws and lower back – all her achy bits. In the evening she is treated with the Vetcare light, targeting specific areas of issue. Both may contribute to ease her discomfort. 

Our Sam is suspicious of everything that he can’t eat (or pee on). And would wriggle off the mat. Now with the smaller mat, we can slide it under his elbow, which is where his arthritis is worse, and he just continues snoozing. Similarly, he can be also be targetted on that area with the Vetcare. 

What does it mean to us? We use the PEMF device on our hips, knees, back and neck……and it is so soothing. For a long while after, we feel young again – well……young-ish. But it is a device that we can see and feel working. If it feels as good on our dogs as it does on us, then that is a big addition to their multimodal therapy regime. 

Meanwhile, back to Charley. Like Sarah, his aches and pains are centred on his rear end. As a bigger boy, he can lie on the PEMF mat while having his photo therapy and being massaged. After that, we can then target any new niggles he has picked up – I this case, his elbow on which we used the smaller mat. All in the same session. 

After his second multi-therapy session, his Mum, who is now very observant to changes in his gait and behaviour, wrote “Charley has just woke up, bright eyed and bushy tailed. We went for a short walk- lots of energy, pretty fast I have to say, no sound of nails dragging, front paws back to front position, tail wagging. Thank you so much Les- happy doggy, happy mummy! Now we have to risk the temptation to overdo it.” 

Treatments evolve and improve – new ideas, new techniques and modalities are continually being introduced. Here at AchyPaw, we look into these developments and, where appropriate, offer and incorporate them into our treatment regimes. 

Have a read of our case histories and feedback and, if you think we could help you and your four-legged friend, give us a call or drop us an email. In order to treat your dog, we need a vet consent form – for the most part this is a no-fee formality to allow your vet to check our credentials and approve the treatment as a complement to any treatment they may already be providing. 


Tuesday, 10 September 2019

More mobility adaptations

Some weeks back I put up a post and pictures of our revamped steps around the house to help with Sarah’s changing mobility needs. New carpeted surfaces with more traction. Longer ramps with less of an uphill climb. Rubber surfaces on the new steps into the back garden. 

After I put the post up, Gizmo’s Mum wrote “Saw your post about ramps. Gizmo needs a ramp for very steep steps. Any tips please?” and included two pictures of the really s-t-e-e-p steps out of the back. Gizmo is only a small dog, so could be carried, but wouldn’t it be better for his confidence if he could feel he could do it himself? His Mum said “We tried one of those long plastic ones you get for cars but it was too bouncy and he hated it. So trying to work out how best to build one” 

I then crawled on the garage floor taking various pictures in various angles of the mega-slope frame that Chris made from our back door through the garage onto the front drive. We also supplied a rather quick diagram of how to do it – not quite IKEA flatpack standard but it was a start. 

This week I received a picture with a “We did it! Thanks so much for your advice both.” The steps were even eco-friendly and recycled being made out of a dismantled shed. As you can see, Gizmo at the top, loves it.


Monday, 9 September 2019

Adopt, Don't Shop

Dogs everywhere…and it was heaven! 

I went back for some volunteering with Arundawn Dog Rescue and this time I took an extra pair of hands – Chris’s hands. The dogs loved him – he had a very patient line of them at one point, queuing up and waiting for their turn. Typically working two hands at once. 

We worked with whoever was nearest at the time – sometimes they were resting on each other so one hand could slide over them both, sometimes they were within reach of both therapists so received a double helping. 

By the end, they were all asleep, rested and snoring and we both had wide silly grins. 

Best day. 


Saturday, 7 September 2019

Massage Diva

Charley’s Mum recently put up this post of their new nightly therapy routine “This is how Charley has his massage now Uncle Les .... candles lit, nightlights on, Coronation Street on. What a Massage Diva!!” 


Monday, 26 August 2019

Helping a rescue dog

I’m scheduled for another volunteering session at Arundawn Dog Rescue in a few days. But I saw a recent post from Elaine about Bertie the 10 and a half year old Staffie who was sadly back in kennels at the time – although now is in a wonderful new foster home. 

When I looked at the videos, I felt sure that we could definitely help him – he clearly had issues which would benefit from a physical therapy session. I showed the video to Chris and he agreed. A phone call to Elaine, agreement from their vet and 36 hours later our back expert Chris was with Bertie and his new fosterers to offer a voluntary session. 

Initially Bertie’s coat was quite dull and his fur was very tight – you could see him struggle to get any fluidity in his movement. He was our classic “36 inch chest in a 32 inch coat” dog. This where the fur is so tight it is like you’ve put on your favourite coat after a rather over-indulged Christmas – the buttons pop. We can, at least, tug at our clothes to stretch them. A dog can’t do that – but we can help with plenty of myofascial release. 

Bertie was a dream to work with – all he wanted was attention and touch. As Chris was working with him, he was demonstrating the techniques with Bertie’s new fosterers. They both have monthly massages so fully understand the benefits and didn’t need any convincing that it would help Bertie. 

Chris also left a few suggestions about household adaptations to make things more Bertie Friendly such as following where he walks to see where he might need a carpet runner or two. We offered them support if needed and suggest follow up in a few weeks to check progress. 

At the end of the session, Chris had left behind a new dog who tried to stop him leaving and with a loose shiny coat that actually fitted him. It won’t take Bertie long to become another AchyPaw Massage Diva.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Making adaptations for a degenerative disease

Sarah’s back paws are starting to drag now and again which catches her rear legs and can cause a stumble. Although our house is already senior-proofed we took another look round at things we could change and adapt to help her even more. 

We have slopes and ramps and mini-steps EVERYWHERE. It means Sarah never has perilous steps or slippy laminate to judder and hurt her joints. 

But the slopes and ramps were made out of wood as were her steps up into the garden. I noticed her slip once on the mega-ramp through the garage to the front drive. 

So….time for Carpenter Chris to get adapting. Luckily, he is able to translate my suggestions of “We need an uppy bit there, with a slopey bit at the top and then a short downy part” into reality. He was an engineer in a previous life so that helps. 

The ramps now have carpet tiles glued to the top of the wood – soft, comfy, non-slippy carpet. The mega-ramp also has carpet tiles glued down but not just any old tiles – brightly coloured tiles so she can see them when the garage is gloomy. No more sliding down those. 

The mini-steps outside to the garden now have rubber sheets stapled to them so when they get wet, they will still be safe for unsure paws. 

And the awkward series of small mini steps we made (he made) up and out of the back door, is now replaced with a brand new mini-slope. Which she loves. No more hesitating to go outside because the steps that were there, although small, needed a bit of a “OK…1-2-3…here we go” preparation. 

We swear that the first time she went up her new comfy bright mega-slope from the car through the garage to the back door, she got to the top and looked back with a “Thanks Dad” look. #diva

 Keep your eyes open to think of ways you can continue to change and adapt your house to fit the changing mobility of your dog. Osteoarthritis is degenerative - a few appropriate adaptive tweaks to help manage this condition, can make all the difference. Spend a few minutes following your dog around your house looking for any new hesitations or slips.