Rehabilitation – Core Strengthening

The overall well being of an animal has its foundation in general fitness and conditioning.  Their “core” muscles which include the abdominal, the epaxials, and the intracostals, all lend themselves to provide stability, strength, and also protect both the spine and all internal organs.  Without these “core” muscles, movement, of any kind, would be compromised or impossible.  The control balance, spinal mobility, and aid in general locomotion.

Core exercises are geared to improve functional strength, flexibility, symmetry, and endurance.  It will markedly improve your dog’s physical abilities.

There are several types of exercises that focus on the core. See some examples in the pictures.

 

Challenged stands, rhythmic stabilization, water walking, and swimming as well as side or abdominal crunches, cookie stretches, decline stand planks, sit up and beg, or dancing all target the core.

A strong core is the first goal after any spinal surgery.  Without their core, a patient will be unable to stand, balance, or mobilize.  Orthopedic patients will compensate onto their other limbs which will put the body out of balance, add stress to their spine causing soreness, muscle pain, and longer recovery times.

A strong core is the basis of a healthy life style, to prevent injury, for general well being, and an overall happy dog.  Whether through rehab, focused play, or an actual exercise regiment, a strong healthy core is one of the most important things you can help your pup achieve.

Contributed by Mike Rieskamp, RVT, CCRP

Welcome to Greenbriar’s Rehab Patient Portal!

In the menu to the left, we have a link to a brand new blog specifically about our rehab department.
Here we will be making weekly posts about our growing rehab department and the wonderful patients we see. The posts will range from information on our specific programs, to patient profiles, to information on beneficial supplements, new research, and more!
If you have a specific question regarding our program or any of the information you see here, please don’t hesitate to call us and learn more about it today!
We are so excited about our rehab department and are hoping to share as much as we can with our entire Greenbriar family!

Lyme Disease…

Ticks! Ugh! Those little blood suckers give me the heebie jeebies. Not only do I have to worry about my dogs getting them, but I have to worry about my kids, and even me getting them. The worst: Lyme disease. According to the CDC, over 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year. Each year! Holy cow, that is a lot. In dogs, I am pretty sure it is even higher. The problem with dogs is so many are exposed but so few show symptoms.

 Is my dog at risk? I mean, I only walk it on the side-walk and she only goes in my backyard which is well cared for?  In short, YES. All dogs who come in contact with grass in this area are at risk. I have seen all the scenarios and I have seen them come up positive for Lyme disease. Your dog is not safe from those little blood suckers. Now you know why I hate them! They are everywhere!

I can see ticks on myself, what about my dog?  The small Ixodes (‘deer tick”) tick can sometimes be only the size of a pin head and can be close to impossible to detect.

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How can I prevent Lyme disease in my dog? There are several ways we can try to prevent the ticks from spreading Lyme disease. The first, kill the suckers! There are several tick preventatives that can be applied monthly that kill these ticks. Our practice leans towards Frontline. It is a product that has been leaned on for several years and still does a good job killing ticks in 24-28 hours. The makers of Frontline, Merial, have even come out with a new product that is ORAL, yes ORAL. Woohoo! Nexgard is an oral chew which can be given once a month. Although it is currently labeled only to kill the American Dog tick, I bet it is in the works to be approved for the Ixodes tick as well. I do not know about most owners, but for me, I have been waiting for an oral preventative. The topical is a great product, but with little kids, I have to find the right time to apply the product so my dog hugging children do not get it all over them. The second thing we can do to protect our pets that is not available for humans anymore, is vaccinate. The yearly vaccine is safe and can help prevent your dog from contracting Lyme disease.

How do I know if my dog has Lyme disease? Most veterinarians recommend yearly testing despite monthly preventatives and yearly vaccines. Lyme disease is everywhere around here so we would like to know if your dog is at risk for developing signs and symptoms.

Well, since you brought it up, what are the signs and symptoms? For people, the most common symptoms are flu-like.  Not for our furry friends. Dogs exhibit symptoms which are more arthritis-like. If you see your dog struggling to get up one day or limping with no known injury, contact your vet.

My dog has Lyme disease! How do I treat it?  Luckily, Lyme disease in dogs responds very well to doxycycline or minocycline. They do need it for a 30 day course, but it is worth it to see them feel much better.

Lyme disease is a difficult disease because it is very little understood. Experts are still doing studies to determine a solid protocol for dogs and Lyme disease.  Even with the antibiotic, the Lyme disease can linger and even though the dog has antibodies to Lyme disease, it does not necessarily protect them from getting it again.

Karen R Pearson, DVM

Static and Dry Skin, Welcome to Winter

This time of year we love to cuddle under our blankets by the fire or just keep our heat turned up to a comfy temperature. I don’t know about you, but all these comforts come at a cost. My skin cracks, my socks stick to my sweaters out of the dryer, and my hair just sticks straight up from static. We need moisture!

This is also true for our pets. Their skin gets just as dry but applying lotion to their entire body is just not practical. My solution, fish oil supplements.  Not just any fish oil, Omega 3 fatty acids. This fatty acid supplement can help to improve skin health as well as a healthy coat. This helps to hydrate the skin and help condition the skin from the inside.

Omega three fatty acids are not only good for skin, but they are good for joint health, heart health, kidney health, brain health and helps support the immune system. Something we ALL can use, not just our dogs and cats.

Good news! This month, Welactin (Omega 3s) in capsules and liquid are 10% off.

All Omega 3 supplements are not created equal just as human multivitamins are not created equal. Welactin is from Nutramaxx, a company we trust and we have seen great results from this brand.

So give your pet the gift of comfort this winter.

welactin-canine-product

Osteoarthritis

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Osteoarthritis, also known as OA, degenerative joint disease (DJD) or simply arthritis, is a degenerative condition affecting the cartilage surfaces that line the ends of the bones as they articulate in the joints of the body.  Predisposing factors for the development of OA in dogs are orthopedic conditions of growing dogs known as OCD (osteochiondritis dissecans) and forms of dysplasia, trauma (such as fractures, especially those involving the joints), conformational abnormalities (such as angular limb deformities or as in chondrodystrophic breeds, like Dachshunds), or simply being of a large or giant breed of dog.  

OCD is a condition where the cartilage model we all start off as does not progress properly when turning into bones; it is a failure of the process known as endochondral ossification.  Dysplasia means “abnormal growth or development of”, and in dogs we commonly see dysplasia of both elbows and hips.  When joints develop abnormally, this leads to abnormal motion within the joints, causing abnormal wear of the cartilage surfaces lining the joints.  Abnormal wear of cartilage surfaces is the defining event that gives one OA for the rest of their life.  Similarly, trauma and conformational (shape) abnormalities in some dogs leads to abnormal joint motion and, therefore, OA development.  It is believed the excess weight and muscular forces applied across their joints causes excessive wear and tear and leads to more frequent diagnoses of OA than in smaller, lighter breeds.  

OA is, by definition, a progressive condition, which means it ALWAYS gets worse with time.  No one in veterinary or human orthopedics can completely stop OA’s progression, nor can they effectively reverse the changes that are present.  This is why it is so important to do what we can for our pets in limiting the rate at which their OA progresses.  With the right mixture of weight management, exercise modification, pharmaceutical & nutraceutical (nutritional supplement) therapies, we can greatly abate the rate at which OA progresses in our furry loved ones.  Overweight dogs, similar to large & giant breeds, put excessive amounts of weight across the joints and can exacerbate the progression of OA.  Exercise in patients with OA has to be altered to limit explosive activities, avoid concussive forces across the affected joints (eg, dogs with hind limb OA should not perform vertical jumping, as with catching Frisbees or jumping up for a treat held above the dog’s head), and to strive for more frequent, shorter bouts of exercise as opposed to fewer, longer bouts.  Medicinally, two main modes of therapy are available: the first is NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) therapy, such as Rimadyl or Deramaxx (these are similar to aspirin-like drugs but are much safer to administer to dogs) and the second is injections of hyaluronic acid in a product called Adequan (typical course is 2 injections per week over 4 weeks; clients are often taught how to administer the subcutaneous, or under the skin, injections by our medical staff at Greenbriar & perform the final 7 injections at home for cost-effectiveness).  Probably the most important component of conservative medical management for OA in dogs is nutraceutical therapy.  Because these are not food and they are not pharmaceuticals, DEA & FDA regulation is extremely limited and many manufacturers of these products have little to none of the important ingredients in their formulations.  This is why at Greenbriar Veterinary Hospital we ONLY carry Nutramax brand nutraceuticals.  Nutramax makes veterinary as well as human nutraceuticals and they have independent laboratory analysis guaranteeing 100% of what is on their labels is in their products.  For OA management, the two Nutramax brand nutraceuticals I very highly recommend are Welactin and Dasuquin.  Welactin is their brand of fish oil, or omega-3 fatty acids.  Not only do these substances afford excellent chondroprotection (protects joint cartilage from the damaging effects of OA), but they also prevent allergies in about two-thirds of patients, minimize the risk for certain types of cancer, boost immune system function, help to prevent many types of dermatopathies, give dogs a glossy hair coat & usually increase the palatability of food.  Dasuquin is a combination of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and soy & avocado extracts that has four protective effects for joints.  First, the former two ingredients are the constituents of joint cartilage so they help to bathe the cartilage in the substances it needs to repair itself.  Second, they help to minimize cartilage degradation that place within the joint.  Third, they have mild anti-inflammatory activity.  And, fourth, they have powerful oxygen free-radical scavenging, or anti-oxidant, properties.  And these two products are synergistic when combined and given together- in other words, 2 + 2 = 10, not 4 (you get a greater combined effect than you would if you added up the effects of either given alone).  So if your older pet is seeming a bit slow or stiff upon rising or after sleep, he or she may have OA and their quality of life may be greatly enhanced by having one of our doctors at Greenbriar examine them & possibly prescribe the aforementioned therapies.  

Contributed by Hooman Pooya, DVM, Chief of Surgery

Does this haircoat make me look fat?

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The holiday season is upon us.

I know. I know. It is only September. But as our retail friends tell us, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and even

Christmas are happening soon. Starbucks has hooked many of us again this year with the pumpkin spice

latte and my house is flooded with apple cider, apple pie, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pretzels, pumpkin

cupcakes, and so on. As I gear up for another season of warm, figure-forgiving sweaters and eating until

I drop, I think about my patients that also have expanding waist lines.

Many of us think of overweight pets as cute, pudgy, pleasantly plump, or big-boned. Social media is full

of pictures and memes of these pets and we think nothing of it. The truth, however, is that our pets can

suffer many of the same weight-related illnesses that we find commonly in human medicine. These

illnesses include: Generalized Inflammation and Painful Joints, Diabetes (high blood sugar), High Blood

Pressure, Heart and Lung Disease, Knee Injury, Kidney Disease, and Cancer. Increased weight has also

been noted to decrease pet life expectancy by up to 2.5 years (~15-30% of a pet’s lifespan).

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in a 2014 study, approximately 57.9% of cats

and 52.7% of dogs are overweight or obese. That means that if you have two pets, one will most likely

be considered overweight. In addition to these startling findings, the study also found a gap between a

pet’s actual body condition and the owner’s perception of the pet’s weight. Ninety percent of cat

owners and 95% of dog owners felt that their pets were normal weight, when they were clinically

overweight. There is also an increasing amount of pets in the obese category (greater than 30% of ideal

body weight). For comparison, that would be an adult human whose ideal weight is 150 pounds,

weighing over 195 pounds. That’s an extra 45 pounds!

We, as veterinarians, sometimes have difficulty talking to our clients about weight and weight-related

issues due to a number of reasons; most commonly, for me at least, is the fact that I don’t want to

offend my clients. I know that my clients bring their pets to me, because they care about the health and

well-being of their furry family members. My clients don’t try to cause pain or discomfort to their

beloved pets. So I often find it difficult to balance the realization that there is a health problem and the

sensitive communication needed to express the necessity for change.

Two main scenarios prevail as road-blocks to healthy weight communication: client behavior and client

health. First, many people feed their pets out of love and attention, which makes me the bearer of bad

news; threatening to break that bond. I need to work closely with my clients to give healthier options to

maintain the relationship. Second, weight is a delicate issue, in general, when, according to JAMA

Internal Medicine, two-thirds of Americans are now considered overweight or obese.

The bottom line is this. We can do better. I, as your veterinarian, can communicate your pet’s

nutritional needs and work closely on a plan to get your pet to a healthy and happy weight. You, as a

pet owner, can ask about nutrition. You can also be proactive about increasing exercise; either at home

or at our facility, via walks, play-times, and under water treadmill sessions. You can follow the

nutritional plan devised by your veterinarian closely; remembering that we are working together to give

your pet increased energy, mobility, and an overall, longer and happier life.

October 7 is National Pet Obesity Prevention Day. Please watch for our October specials, including

weight loss programs and promotions and call for an appointment to discuss your pet’s nutrition.

I hope you enjoy your holiday season and I’ll raise my sugar-free vanilla skim latte to you and your pet’s

health!

Dr. Spaar

To learn more, please visit the following sites:

“Inflammation is the new obesity”

http://veterinarybusiness.dvm360.com/inflammation-new-obesity?eid=222754848&bid=1173199

Pet weight statistics and weight loss tools

http://www.petobesityprevention.org/

Hill’s Metabolic Diet (our preferred weight-loss diet)

http://www.hillspet.com/metabolic-pet-food.html