Winter is back and the harsh weather can bring a variety of health issues to our pooches. Biting winds and cold numbing wet days can cause your dog to be uncomfortable and unhappy. Whilst some people think that their dogs are okay with their fur coats and that they can tolerate the cold, this is not always the case. Our dogs are now domesticated and so many of them are now indoor dogs, so cold weather can be hard on them just like it can be for us. We can help our dogs be safe this winter by giving them a little extra care, especially our golden oldies that feel the cold a lot more than they ever used to.
Here are a few winter health risks to our dogs and some ideas on how to get them through these chilly months.
Winter Health Risks to our Dogs
Our dogs if left outside in extreme cold conditions can experience some severe issuess that can be life threatening.
Hypothermia can occur in dogs that are exposed to cold and freezing conditions for long periods of time, if they get wet in cold conditions, if they have bad circulation, old or are in poor health and are subjected to cold and windy weather. Hypothermia is an extreme lowering of the body temperature which causes the heart and respiration to slow down. Symptoms of mild cases would be shivering and their ears, feet and nose will feel cold. As it progresses your dog will start to be lethargic, depressed and weak. Their muscles can start to get stiff and their breathing and heart rate will get dangerously slow.
Frostbite can occur when your dog is out in very cold and freezing conditions. Their body gets exceptionally cold and the body pulls heat from their extremities like their ears, tail and paws to the centre of the body to try and stay warm. Ice crystals may form and the skin starts to become pale and a bluish gray in colour due to the lack of blood flow. The skin may feel icy cold, hard or brittle. This is very painful for the dog and in severe cases can turn black, blister or ulcerate.
Burns: Dogs can happily snuggle up in front of the fire or heater in cold weather but sometimes they may get a little too close. Don’t leave your fur baby alone in front of a fire place or heater even if you do have barriers up. Your pet can still get a bad burn by coming into contact with hot surfaces or spitting fires.
How can we prevent winter health risks?
Swimming at K9 Swim is a great way of exercising in the Winter months. The pool is indoors and heated and we offer a warm water rinse off and blow dry after. We also run a Senior Swim program for Golden Oldies 10 years and over.
For more information Enquire here
Temperature: Some breeds of dogs have big thick coats that can keep them warm but those dogs with thin coats need assistance with a warm jacket for the cold winter months. If your dog is an outside dog then a very good warm shelter and bed is essential to keep them safe from the elements. In freezing conditions a coat or a comfortable bed outside will not protect them from frostbite, to the extremities, or hypothermia if they are out for long periods so try and find a protected, dry, warm place for your dog during these conditions. If your dog is an inside dog then take them out regularly for walks and exercise but don’t leave them out in freezing conditions for a long period of time.
Exercise: Our fur babies still need to exercise in the winter months. The best time for their walks is mid-morning or mid-afternoon when the day is not at its coldest. When the sun is shining, spend time outside playing and get that great Vitamin D supplement. If you are showing or competing your dog in cold conditions then make sure you have a good warm jacket to keep them warm before and after their event.
Bedding: In cold months, its essential to have the right bedding so that your dog is nice and warm and comfortable. Do not let your dog sleep on a cold floor during winter months – get a trampoline bed so it’s off the ground and elevated. Heated beds are available and are great for old or arthritic dogs. Keep your dog away from drafts and provide warm blankets and a nice protected area.
Senior Dog Care: Winter months can certainly aggravate any existing medical conditions and arthritis that your dog may have. Senior dogs need to keep gently exercising especially through these cold months. When exercising, be aware of freezing ground, slippery surfaces, icy winds and freezing rain. Make sure your dog is rugged up when going for a walk and when they return from their outing they have a warm, supportive bed to rest in. You may like to give your golden oldie a mobility supplement to help with the aches and pains associated with age and arthritis.
Massage: Who doesn’t like a massage! Our pooches really benefit from massage, especially in cold months. Massage puts blood and oxygen into the muscle groups, it detoxifies the body, reduces inflammation of arthritic joints and circulates the blood around the body to stay warm and maintain a general well-being.
Nutrition: Your dog doesn’t have to eat lots more because its cold. They are possibly doing less exercise so you may have to reduce the calorie intake according to their activity level. Provide good quality and nutritious meals for your best mate so they feel satisfied in the cold weather.
A great idea especially in the colder months is to make up a batch of bone broth which gives your dog wonderful vitamins and minerals to keep them going through Winter. Bone broth not only is nutritious and yummy to them, but it also helps with their coat which can dry out in the cold months. Bone broth also maintains a healthy gut and is great for dogs with digestive problems, it supports the immune system and assists in protecting joints due to its glucosamine and chondroitin properties.
Here is a recipe for delicious bone broth:
What you need.
How to cook.
The broth will be like jelly when you first spoon it out of the container and some pets love it like that but you can warm it up for 10 seconds in the microwave or leave for a few minutes at room temperature and it will reduce to a liquid form.
Add some freshly chopped parsley to the broth when serving for added vitamins.
A couple of spoons full of broth a day on its own or mixed with food is wonderful for your pet.
You may also be interested in reading:
Winter Herbs - The Perfect Winter Remedies for Dogs
Grooming Your Dog Doesn't Stop Over Winter
Dog trainers and veterinarians often tell you how important socialisation is for your pets. So what exactly is it? It’s essentially the method used to teach puppies how to cope with the world around them as they grow. The critical socialisation period is generally from 4 to 12 weeks of age. This is the time you’d introduce your puppy to various situations they would encounter in their life. The objective is to ensure that every experience they have is positive and that they don’t become distressed in any way.
When your puppy sees something new for the very first time, they are more likely to be startled than interested. The interest quotient comes in later, after which they decide how significant it is and whether they should pay more attention to it. The different things they would be trying to determine are whether it’s safe, can be eaten, played with or is it dangerous?
Important Facts About Canine Socialisation
Being able to discover all this vital information in a comfortable and safe way, with positive outcomes helps them become a more balanced adult dog. Here are some facts about socialisation for puppies:
Tips to Socialise for Success
Once your pup is 3 months old they can come to K9 SWiM’s Hydrotherapy centre for a swim in our state of the art canine heated pool. K9 SWiM also runs regular Puppy Splash classes that run for six weeks where puppies will learn to socialise and get confident in the water. It is a great bonding experience for you and your pup. You will both have lots of FUN!
Check out when the next Puppy Splash starts
You may also be interested in reading:
Making Your Garden Dog Friendly
How To Recognise Whether Your Dog is Anxious- Tips To Help Them Naturally
Hydrotherapy is a form of non-weight bearing, low-impact exercise that is extremely effective in the rehabilitation of painful, weak and sore joints. The non-weight bearing conditions are first treated with controlled swimming movements. The entire body gets proper support from the floatation. The limbs are able to move very freely and there is no jarring like that which occurs while exercising on any hard surfaces.
Swimming is proven to be one of the best forms of exercise because almost all the muscles that are used in movement are also involved in this activity. You don’t have to worry about any stresses that come from running on concrete or any other hard surfaces.
The Impact of Walking on Hard Surfaces
Why Canine Hydrotherapy is a Great Option
It isn’t uncommon for the terms swimming and hydrotherapy to be used interchangeably. But the fact is that these are essentially different in terms of the effects and benefits they offer. When a dog is swimming it means they are completely buoyant in the water and this is very different from hydrotherapy.
The latter is an aquatic exercise that is carried out in a much more controlled manner, which means the pet’s body isn’t overburdened in any way. Hydrotherapy is water healing and its value lies in the buoyancy, warmth and pressure that it provides. Some of the primary benefits of this form of exercise include:
Dogs that require improvement with core strength,cardiovascular strengthening, flexion, proprioception, extension, gait improvement, muscle building, will surely benefit from hydrotherapy.
The Positive Impacts of Hydrotherapy
Here are some facts about hydrotherapy and why it is the best form of exercise for our canine friends:
Hydrotherapy for Arthritic Joints
If your pet has arthritis, that can lead to painful & swollen joints. These conditions can make it very difficult for them to exercise or even walk comfortably. In fact, your dog may find it challenging to get up if they have been lying down for a very long period of time.
The inactivity ultimately takes its toll on your pet’s body and they may start to gain weight as well. This impacts their health even further and adds more pressure on the joints. All of these problems can be addressed very effectively with hydrotherapy.
Swimming your pet in a special indoor heated pool is one of the best ways to speed up recovery post-surgery as well. It helps improve general fitness, stamina and muscle tone and conditions and strengthens the body. Your dog will also learn how to swim and will begin to shed those extra kilos if they are overweight. A five-minute swim is equivalent to a 5 kilometre walk.
Other Conditions That Can Be Helped by Hydrotherapy:
Hydrotherapy typically begins 4 to 6 weeks after their operation. Consult your vet about when the best time is to start hydrotherapy for your pet, post and pre-surgery. Your vet would need to fill in a Vet Referral form . You’d have to give this to the Hydro-therapist before starting on any treatment. This will help ensure your Hydro-therapist designs the perfect treatment plan for your pet. This treatment is extremely effective and can reduce your pet’s recovery time by at least 50%.
Some Additional Facts
Many pet parents wonder whether swimming their dogs in rivers, oceans or dams has the same benefits. If your pet has a condition, swimming in these settings has a number of disadvantages. While it’s true that a dog can swim very freely in these waters, the temperature of the water is cold and some of the points you need to consider include:
Hydrotherapy for Fun and General Exercise
Swimming is a great form of exercise for pets young and old. Hydrotherapy isn’t only for pets that have become injured, are recovering from surgery or are overweight. These sessions can be a source of entertainment and fun for your healthy pet as well. It helps them burn energy, stimulates their mind and canines have a ton of fun retrieving a Frisbee or ball in the water. K9 SWiM has also hosted dog parties where clients have booked the pool for their dog’s birthday and invited some of their pooch friends along.
Enquire at K9 Swim for hiring the pool for your club or party. Conditions Apply.
Hydrotherapy at K9 Swim
The low-impact therapeutic effects of hydrotherapy make it the perfect form of exercise for pets that are suffering from arthritis, aching and inflamed joints. It helps your canine friends gain muscle tone and fitness and also offers a safe and fun way to get a full body work out.
At our centre you can rest assured that your pet will be treated with the utmost care and safety. We are very passionate about what we do and your pets can enjoy some time in the warm water of our indoor pool. Our centre is unique and the modern complex has been purposefully designed and built for dogs’ fitness, fun and rehabilitation. In fact, we are one of a kind in all of NSW.
Different Hydrotherapy Programs
The indoor heated pool and underwater treadmill is great not just for rehabilitation and fun but for conditioning swims as well. While it’s a great place for older dogs, we also run classes for puppies as well. Based on the specific needs of your pets, you can choose from:
When it comes to maintain the long-term wellbeing of your dog, ensuring they are in peak physical condition is what matters the most. The positive muscle toning, strengthening effects and overall fitness benefits that hydrotherapy provides is a whole lot of fun and a great way to get your pet to expend his energy in a healthy and consistent manner. When you choose to bring your dog to K9 SWIM you know that they are getting the best attention from certified and professional Hydro-therapists. No matter what age or size your dog is, we have a program for them.
Focus on Canine Holistic Health at our K9 SWiM Hydrotherapy and Wellness Centre
The Hydrotherapy Centre has an indoor heated pool along with an underwater treadmill and provides services from fun or conditioning swims to rehabilitation. Courses and seminars will be run in the training room within the centre in the near future.
The Wellness Centre is all about Holistic health with the following practitioners practicing out of the centre:
For more information, feel free to browse our website.
Or why not drop by and check out the new centre for yourself.
A dog is considered to be a senior when they reach the age of seven to 10 years old. Smaller breeds tend to become seniors much later than larger breeds. For example, Great Danes are considered to be seniors by the time they are approximately 5 to 6 years of age,
whereas a Chihuahua would only be considered middle age by that time. However, aspects such as the environment, nutrition as well as genetics have a significant role to play in how fast a dog will age.
Some Changes That Come With Age
With age, there are many different changes that can take place in your dog such as:
Helping Your Dog Manage Their Ageing Process
While most of these changes can be very gradual, aging is something that cannot be reversed. However, it is possible to slow this process by following a good health management plan. Some things that can prove to be beneficial include:
How to Improve Balance and Muscle Tone in Senior Dogs
When a dog ages it becomes less active. They begin to lose their ability to balance themselves well. This typically occurs due to muscle loss which in turn leads to further inactivity. When a dog is inactive it causes the body to slow down, age faster, making them more prone to injury. There are certain therapies as well as anti-aging activities that can help your dog remain more active in their senior years such as:
Common Conditions that Senior Dogs Suffer From
As dog’s age there is deterioration in the joint function and arthritis becomes a very common problem. It is important to control your dog’s weight and have an exercise plan that will help alleviate the symptoms. Maintain consistency in daily exercise because sporadic, strenuous activity can stress and strain your dog’s joints.
It’s far better to exercise him multiple times during the day, but for shorter spans of time. Do not take your dog out on days when he/she is lame or stiff. It’s crucial that you provide your dog very good bedding. Orthopedic bedding is also available for senior dogs in many pet stores. Ramps are very useful over steps and to help your dog get into the car comfortably.
Treatments such as hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, and massage will surely help.
2. Dental Disease
This is another common condition in aging dogs. This makes it important that dogs be taken to the vet for regular checkups. Canine toothbrushes, treats and chew toys will also help maintain dental health in senior dogs.
Is more commonly seen in elderly female dogs but can also been seen in male dogs. Incontinence can be caused by infection, neurological issues, spinal problems, hormonal imbalance or senility as well. Older dogs tend to forget all their toilet training and are likely to wet the area they are lying in. In most cases, a certain amount of medication would have to be given on a daily basis to treat incontinence.
4. CDS (Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome)
Many dogs experience Alzheimer’s or dementia symptoms. This condition is referred to as CDS and the common signs of it include:
The progression of CDS can be snail-paced. Keeping your dog active and mentally stimulated is one of the best ways to slow down the progress of this condition. In some cases, antioxidants can help the condition.
While these are quite common in older dogs, it’s important to make sure that your dog actually has cataracts. It’s likely that he is suffering from a condition called lenticular sclerosis, which tends to be more common in senior dogs. This condition causes the eye tissue to become rigid over a period of time and the eyes develop a grayish-blue tint. Lenticular sclerosis doesn’t compromise the dog’s eyesight seriously and no treatment is necessary.
If the dog has a cataract, it can result in cloudiness or opacity in the eyes and the condition can impact their vision eventually. Most owners don’t notice the cataract in their dog’s eyes until it has covered almost 60 percent of the eye. Cataracts are often accompanied by illnesses such as hypothyroidism and diabetes. It is possible to remove cataracts via surgery.
The Benefits of Herbal Treatments in Senior Dogs
Older dogs can benefit significantly from herbal treatments that may be used externally as well as internally. Herbs are packed with minerals and vitamins and provide good support to the natural healing mechanisms in your dog’s body. There are a number of different herbs that can maintain your pet’s overall well-being and keep them healthier in their old age. Herbs can prove to be very effective when used in conjunction with the right amount of exercise, a balanced and nutritious diet, and sufficient sunlight.
Balanced Nutrition Matters
Since older dogs have low activity levels their metabolism is slower. This means, their body requires fewer calories. However, it is important to ensure that your senior dog gets the right amount of easy-to-digest, high-quality protein content in her food. Typically a balanced diet for your senior dog would include:
Low-fat, high-quality, concentrated protein.
Carbohydrates that are easier to digest- these will provide her energy.
Various minerals to support arthritic or stiff joints.
In addition to the protein content in the diet, vitamins can help effectively fight infections that are brought on due to a decline in the immune system.
While it’s a good idea to feed your dog at least a couple of times a day, you may find that they prefer to eat smaller portions, multiple times a day. This is a very normal eating pattern in senior dogs, as their system is able to digest smaller quantities of food much better than larger portions.
K9 SWiM Hydrotherapy and Wellness Centre for all dogs young and old
Even if your dog is aging, you will find that they will crave some level of socialisation and will enjoy an outing. At our centre, we offer herbal, photonic treatments and massages that help with mobility and overall wellbeing. K9 SWiM has a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy centre, where we offer gentle hydrotherapy sessions for senior dogs.
Contact us today to find out how we can help your golden oldie and give them a good quality of life in their senior years.
Watch out for our Senior Happy Hour Classes coming up in the warmer months!
Cruciate ligament ruptures or tears are one of the most common cause of lameness or injury in dogs. Most commonly seen in large breeds but can be seen in any size dog of any age.
What is the canine cruciate ligament?
The cruciate ligament connects the back of the femur (the bone above the knee) with the front of the tibia (the bone below the knee). This ligament is responsible for keeping the tibia in place beneath the femur and stabilising the knee joint.
Canine cruciate injuries.
Cruciate injuries can happen to the fittest of dogs. It is the twisting injury to the knee joint which affects the anterior or cranial cruciate ligament making the joint unstable and causing pain and discomfort. It could just happen from landing the wrong way when jumping, running or playing.
Overweight dogs are more susceptible to this type of injury as their joints have been weakened? by having to carry their extra weight. In some cases, it is just unfortunate that some dogs are predisposed to this condition.
What are the signs of a cruciate injury?
Treatment of cruciate injuries.
A lot of owners are unsure if their dog needs to have surgery or not.
K9 Swim’s Osteopath Sam Sherrington says:
“Traditionally surgery has been the main go to treatment, especially for larger breeds, however there’s plenty of research suggesting outcomes for managing these injuries ‘conservatively’ may be just as good, especially in the longer term.
Conservative management involves weight management, controlled activity and rest and anti inflammatories to manage inflammation and pain. “
Osteopathy and Hydrotherapy rehabilitation.
Sam goes onto say that “Osteopathy and Hydrotherapy are two powerful additions to this protocol, in the acute phase and in the longer rehabilitation phase, both with or without surgical intervention. Rehabilitation is a time where many techniques are available to help ensure the tissues can settle with the best strength and function possible.
Hydrotherapy is a fantastic option for adding healthy stress to the healing tissues, encouraging stronger, symmetrical movement while minimising strain more than is possible with typical land based movement. Dogs appear less likely to reinforce their old dysfunctional movement patterns when they are in water, which means a greater chance of overriding old muscle memory and creating newer healthier movement patterns for the future. This is particularly useful as a preventative for dogs involved in high impact athletic endeavors such as agility, jumping, dock dogs, flyball etc.”
In the conservative approach the muscles are built up around the joint offering stability and support with the tissue around the knee thickening and helping the cruciate ligament to function. The aim is to decrease pain, improve weight bearing on the injured leg and treat the rest of the body as it has been compromised with the dog not bearing weight evenly.
Surgery and post-operative treatment.
For full tears, especially in the larger breed dog, surgery may be suggested by your vet.
Post-operative rehabilitation is exceptionally important with these cases and your dog will need to have very limited activity for 6-8 weeks which includes cage rest and controlled short on the lead walks daily. It may take up to 3 months for a dog to gain good function of that limb and this is where osteopathic care and hydrotherapy is the key to a good speedy recovery.
Cruciate injuries can also lead to more damage.
The unstable joint can also lead to meniscus damage. The meniscus is a C shaped shock absorbing piece of cartilage which is inside the knee joint.
Arthritis will most likely develop in the joint if your dog has suffered an injury as such. This can be controlled as the dog ages and a good maintenance program will assist in reducing arthritic degeneration within the joint.
Avoiding cruciate injuries.
Key points to assist in avoiding cruciate injuries or help repair cruciate injuries and arthritic changes are:
K9 Swim Hydrotherapy and Wellness Centre stock a large range of supplements that can assist in prevention and recovery of cruciate ligament damage as well as knee braces that add stability to the injured limb. We also offer programs for overweight dogs, conditioning and rehabilitation.
For further information on how Osteopathy and Hydrotherapy may help your dog avoid or recover from CCL injuries contact Sam on 0452 472 959 or K9 SWiM on 1300 787 064.
Arthritis is derived from artho (joint) and it itis (inflammation), both of which are Greek words. It is estimated that about 30% of Australian dogs are affected by this condition in some form or the other. Your dog may be diagnosed with DJD (Degenerative joint disease) or OA (osteoarthritis).
Factors that can contribute to arthritis in dogs
Arthritis is generally caused by instability of the joints as well as regular wear and tear. However, there are a number of other factors that contribute to this condition such as:
Understanding what arthritis is
The joints that are most commonly affected include the elbows, shoulders, knees, and hips. All joints in the body have a smooth cartilage cover which allows the free movement of adjoining bones with the assistance of Synovial fluid (lubricating liquid). The cartilage and also offers a cushioning effect to the bones.
In dogs that suffer from arthritis, there is deterioration of the cartilage covering the joints and the lubricating fluid loses its efficacy. These conditions cause the bones to become rough and they begin to rub against each other. The movements result in a significant amount of discomfort and cause even more damage to the cartilage.
Arthritis- the sign to look out for
Most dogs are quite resilient and the signs of discomfort or pain may not be evident right away. However, the common symptoms to look out for include:
Next steps to take
If you have noticed any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet for a thorough check-up. X-rays and a comprehensive physical examination will determine if your pet has arthritis. While it is normal for you to feel dejected, there is hope. Arthritis can be managed and controlled effectively in a number of ways.
Helping your dog manage arthritis
1. Managing the pain
At the outset, your vet would prescribe some pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication. These help in alleviating discomfort, inflammation, and swelling. There are a number of highly potent herbal remedies that can help reduce the pain and inflammation as well.
2. Focusing on the right diet
There are certain foods that can help fight inflammation and these can help manage your dog’s condition. Some of the dietary changes you can make include:
Your vet may prescribe nutraceuticals. These supplements that help provide some relief to dogs with arthritis. They help with symptoms such as inflammation and improve mobility. Some of the effective supplements include Green-lipped mussels, Joint strong, K9 Power, Techneyflex and Tuffrock Joint Formula.
This is a very important aspect in the treatment of arthritic dogs. You need to keep your pet exercising, taking care that their muscles aren’t stressed too much. With this in view, hydrotherapy becomes an excellent exercise option because it:
5. Weight Management
If your dog is arthritic, it’s very important to ensure he or she has a normal weight. The heavier your dog the more load and strain on the joints. This results in pain, discomfort and more inflammation and speeds up the progress of arthritis even further. If you want to successfully manage arthritis in your dog, weight reduction is something you need to focus on.
6. Massage or physical therapies
Visiting a massage therapist, physiotherapist or canine osteopath can benefit your dog. Massages are a good way of increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the affected areas. In addition, these massage and physiotherapy sessions can help improve muscle tone, joint flexibility, and range of motion too. Some of the other alternative therapies that have proven to be effective in providing relief in arthritis are hot and cold therapy, photonic therapy and acupuncture.
7. Toe Grips and harnesses
If your dog is slipping on smooth floors or floorboards, you can give provide some traction. Toe grips are a good solution as they help your pet place their feet correctly on the floor and get a firmer grip. You will find a number of well-designed harnesses that can help your dog get into the car or walk up & down stairs, without you having to do any heavy lifting.
8. Home aids and home improvements
You can use a supportive orthopaedic memory foam bed for your arthritic dog. This type of bed provides good support and comfort. Your dog will feel more rested and will be able to get in and out of bed easily. You can get movable ramps for helping your pet get in and out of the car or even to climb up and down stairs. This will save you some effort and help reduce the stress on your dog’s muscles and joints.
9. Portable doggie stairs
These aids are great for smaller dogs that prefer sitting on a couch or lounge when you are watching your favorite show on television. This little staircase is the perfect alternative to them jumping up to sit beside you.
10. Heat pads
These are a great option for older dogs during the colder months. You can place the heat pads under their mattress. The heat radiated provides some comfort to their joints during cold nights.
Now it's up to you
As you can see, there are a number of things that can be done to manage arthritis in your dog. And it isn’t as difficult or challenging as it is made out to be. If the vet has diagnosed that your dog has arthritis, you would have to make some conscious changes to his or her lifestyle at the outset. This will take some adjusting in the initial stages, but your dog will eventually get used to it over time and it will become a normal part of their daily routine.
Never miss out on scheduled visits to your therapist or vet. Include some mobility supplements and aids to help them move around more comfortably. Watch your dog’s weight and ensure they get regular exercises or swimming sessions. Most dogs simply love the latter and look forward to their weekly swims and hydrotherapy sessions.
Contact the experts
We at K9 Swim Hydrotherapy and Wellness Centre have a number of products in stock such as:
Not only will this help your pet maintain mobility, but will keep their body weight in check too. Richmond Tafe offers excellent massage courses; these courses give you the opportunity to learn the different types of techniques you can use to massage your dog; this goes a long way in managing arthritic conditions.
For more information about our hydrotherapy and other services, feel free to browse our website.
Hi I'm Sam Sherrington
Osteopathy has, over the years, become such a huge part of my life. I graduated from UWS in 2003 with a Master of Osteopathy and promptly set about establishing my human practice. Having been a little obsessed with animals since the time I could express my feelings, and having spent my childhood and teen years collecting stray cats, dogs and horses much to my parents hidden delight, it really was no great surprise to anyone that animals would creep into the practice one way or another.
In 2009 I was able to complete, with distinction, the Graduate Diploma of Animal Chiropractic through RMIT in Victoria. This course was the result of an amazing amalgam of Osteopathic, Chiropractic and Veterinary practitioners, with lecturers and tutors from all three fields. Our discussions over meal breaks were educational to say the least! To say this refueled my passion for Osteopathy and it’s potential to make a difference to all creatures, great and small, is a mammoth understatement.
My new qualifications prompted me to take a leap of faith and head overseas to Ireland to focus on the animal side of practice, and I have just after nearly 8 years, returned from a wonderful time living the Irish life while building up strong skills and experience in my practice with horses, dogs and people.
People often ask why on earth a dog might need an Osteopath, and like with humans, the answer isn’t necessarily a quick one.
What is Canine Osteopathy?
Canine Osteopathy is a gentle hands on therapy for dogs which ultimately aims to restore movement wherever in the body it may be lost, and to reduce pain and discomfort resulting from these restrictions. When the joints, muscles, ligaments or tendons, connective tissue or even the vessels and organs of the body aren't free to move pain and discomfort will often result. Many activities we, and our dogs consider a part of normal daily life, can result in these sorts of restrictions. Degenerative processes due to age, injury, breed predisposition or just bad luck can also create compensation and restriction of free and full range of motion. Helping to reduce the these restrictions can have huge effects on the comfort levels of the dog plus helping dogs gain the most from tailored rehab programmes after surgery and is where Osteopathy holds great value for our beloved animals.
What is the major goal to Osteopathic treatment?
The major goal to Osteopathic treatment is finding and addressing restrictions in movement, the premise being that restricted movement, in any tissue of the body, will reduce the capacity for full health of those tissues. This obviously can result in altered gait, altered ability to carry out normal activities of daily life and predispose the body to injury and/or pain. So with that in mind, the Osteopath primarily uses their hands to find and reduce restrictions in normal movement of the body to allow the natural healing ability to work to its best capacity. That’s the abbreviated version.
The full version is something I’m only too happy to converse at length whenever anyone asks! Even 15 years into my professional life I am still blown away, on an almost daily basis, by how powerful it can be to simply allow a body to move. The changes are often much bigger than even I expect, particularly with animals compared to humans, as they have no preconceived ideas as to what they should or shouldn’t be feeling, and what their pain does or doesn’t mean to their life.
Problems in dogs that Ostepathic treatment can help
So what might an owner see that might give them cause to think an Osteopath could help?
How Canine Ostepathic treatment helped Roly the Jack Russell
Occasionally these cases surprise you and make an almost miraculous turn around, like one wonderful little Jack Russell Terrier "Roly" who presented with full hind limb paralysis. Roly had 3 treatments over the space of a month, and along with veterinary management involving medication to manage pain and bandaging to protect his limbs, and some simple home exercises I prescribed for his owners to carry out, he was up and walking, albeit with reduced coordination. I next saw him almost a year later when visiting his owner to work on one of her horses and could hardly believe when I saw him leaping around the place as though there had never been a problem. He is a perfect example of how sometimes, simply giving their systems the space to heal by removing any restrictive roadblocks can reap huge rewards.
I am very excited to have the opportunity to work with the K9 SWiM team, and have access to the vast skills and knowledge base of the rest of the team, not to mention the ability for my clients to access the hugely beneficial hydrotherapy options.
I greatly look forward to helping your dogs achieve their best physical health in 2018, Initial consultation with you and your dog is generally one hour and then subsequent consultations are forty five minutes. If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact me on 0452 472 959
Sam Sherrington - Osteopath
Fudge first came to us in January with Coonhound disease which is a neurological disorder that effects and inflames the peripheral and multiple roots of the nerves-mainly the spinal nerves — causing the body to malfunction, have paralysis to all limbs and severe muscle wastage. Over the past 6 months we have experienced the highs and lows of Fudge and his loving and patient mum, Liz. Just when we thought the going was getting tough Fudge turned a corner and has not looked back. This is a story written by Fudges mum Liz that gives you an insight into the day of the life and progress of Fudges’ recovery. If it wasn’t for the patience, persistence and the love Liz has for this gorgeous boy he would not be here today. It is important for dogs with this acute polyneuropathy to have physio, hydrotherapy and dedicated owners to get them through. This was well worth the battle.
Sharon, K9 SWiM
Liz's story "Fudge My Wonder Dog"
Coonhound Disease - Idiopathic Polyradiculoneuritis (ACIP)
Poly - like Polio
Radiculo - ridiculous (as in 'bloody ridiculous')
Neuritis - neurological
Thankfully this time we could care for him at home and his symptoms didn't increase as drastically as had previously, he could hold his head up and he could eat, drink and wee and poop!
A typical day in the life of caring for a 33-kilo paralysed adorable choc lab
Make a slurry of water and try everything you have to get him to drink, milk, ice cream, vegemite, stock, meat.... anything! It's a similar procedure with food, chicken, mince beef, fresh veggies ...... Anything ....please eat!
You're very tired as you did this regime at 3am, midnight and probably about 9 or 10pm the previous night. Then there is getting on the floor and doing the physiotherapy, massage and cuddles! It's a test of endurance, this regime changes over time, it does get easier as Fudge gets better as he has more control over his bodily functions and as he is able to wriggle / roll the nights become a lot easier. After many Kurrajong Vet visits with loads of encouragement and support from all the team there a month had passed by with not much change in Fudge.
Then we were introduced to K9 SWiM and we haven't looked back!
These helped and Fudge started to get a bit more movement and strength. (although the side effects were a problem especially with his muscle tone)
We were at the vet regularly with 'he won't wee' or 'he won't poop', or 'he won't drink or eat' one time he had to have his bladder seen to and 2 litres came out!!
He was off the steroids by the time May came around and we persisted, Fudge loved his swims and he loved all the attention and love given to him by all the girls. Not much change happened over the next few weeks except that we were encouraged as his swimming improved with him being able to swim the length of the pool without too much help, which was exciting.
Our Homemade Canine Treadmill
Fudge’s Amazing Progress
The problem with this disease is that not many people have heard about it, most vets have possibly seen it once or twice in their time and rarely have they seen a dog healed from it. It’s hard when you don’t really know the future, you don’t know if your dog will recover, you don’t know the ‘odds’. It’s full time care, you can’t work, can’t go out for more than a few hours at a time, it’s really a choice to put your life on hold and you don’t know for how long.
If you were to ask what has helped the most with Fudge’s recovery, I would have to say it’s been a combined effort of lots of praying, a very kind and caring regular vet, the unbelievable support and kindness from K9 SWiM and having the chance for treatment from Rob Willis with some miraculous results, we have been truly blessed!!
Fudge has started to walk, he has not completely recovered but it's just a matter of a little more time and he will be back to his old self. We could not have persisted this second time with this disease without the help and support of Sharon and all the girls, they have been so encouraging and they genuinely love Fudge and he loves them. If you met Fudge you would love him too!
The cold weather is coming and can be a dampener on your exercise plans; not just for you, but your dog as well. But there is no reason to blame the weather for your inactivity. It’s important that your pet gets daily exercise in some or the other form. The days tend to be shorter in the winter months and your pet doesn’t get the amount of exercise it ideally needs.
The cooler days aren’t comfortable for arthritic or older dogs as this is when the aches and pains start surfacing with more frequency and severity than normal. This is because they are unable to move around as much; and their muscles and limbs don’t get warmed up.
This extended inactivity can cause boredom and stress in your dogs and you will notice behavioural issues such as chewing, digging and barking; some dogs tend to add weight during the winter months as well. While getting them outdoors for a spot of exercise may not be easily possible or even advised when the weather is cold, there are some effective ways of ensuring your pets get the exercise they need, even in the colder months:
Swimming in warm water allows the muscles to work more efficiently and helps to aid blood circulation without risk of cramping. It also helps reduce some of the swelling in joints. The increased limited weight bearing exercise makes joint movement easier; helps regain fitness and can help them to lose weight they may have gained.
Swimming also provides your dog excellent mental stimulus. You can choose to take a “swim for fun” class, a “learn to swim” class, or one for regaining mobility and strength or even for weight loss.
Bring out some favorite toys your pet loves and hide them in different places in the house and get your dog to look for them. You can also hide treats if you like instead. These games are an excellent way for you to bond with your pet.
You can also get a group of friends with their pets together and simply book our K9 SWiM Hydrotherapy Centre’s pool for an hour. You’ll be surprised at how much fun you and your pet can have in the tepid water of the indoor pool. Your pet will also get the opportunity to socialize with other hounds and can find a great outlet for all their energy they have, by splashing around in the water.
We also offer a complimentary warm water rinse and a blow dryer to dry your dog before you take them back home. For more information about our hydrotherapy services, feel free to browse our website.
With days shorter and colder in the winter months we thought we would share some tips and treats on keeping your dog healthy, warm and fit over winter. Our furry friends rely on us for their health, comfort and joy.
Winter Dog Bedding Tips
Your dog’s bedding will depend on whether they are an inside dog or an outside dog.
Even though it may feel warm inside the floor can still be quite cold. Make sure bedding is off the floor and out of draft areas. Dogs are social animals and love to be part of the family and having their beds in a location where they can see you always provides them comfort knowing that you are there.
A dog house should be big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around. Any extra space just means extra area to heat. Make sure your dog house is in a good location so the wind does not enter the opening and gets some sun during the day to add some warmth. You can cover the doorway of the dog house with a flap of carpet to prevent the wind from coming in. You can also place a blanket over the dog house to provide some extra insulation in the winter months. A good insulated mattress and warm blankets within the dog house will ensure a nice warm comfortable sleep.
Extra warmth for your four legged friend can be provided through heat lamps, heaters, heat mats, heat packs and hot water bottles. It is important to make sure that any heating mats, packs or hot water bottles are placed under bedding so the heat radiates through. NEVER apply heat directly to your dog as it will burn the skin and cause discomfort.
If your dog sleeps in front of an open fire it is important to make sure the fire has a screen so your dog doesn’t accidentally get burnt from embers.
How About a Winter Jacket
There are so many warm and protective winter jackets on the market that can keep our pooches nice and cozy in the cold nights. Dogs with arthritic conditions, older dogs, short coated dogs and dogs that have been unwell feel the cold so much more and will benefit greatly in these months with the extra warmth.
In the winter months our dogs can turn into couch potatoes and sleep a lot. They conserve energy whilst sleeping and exercise much less so you will need to adjust their diet accordingly otherwise they may start to put on weight!
Outdoor dogs will burn more calories (up to 30%) and will need extra food if you can’t bring them inside.
Water is just as important for Winter as it is Summer so make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water available at all times.
Adding some great winter herbs to their meal can help them through the cold months- Echinacea for the immune system, turmeric for mobility and it’s a warming herb as well, Rosehips for vitamin C. Consider adding these supplements to their meals to get through the cold days and nights. Remember to ALWAYS consult a vet or an animal naturopath before giving your dog herbs or supplements.
The days are shorter in winter months. You may go to work in the dark and get home in the dark and are unable to exercise your dog like you can do in the warmer, longer months. Exercise is still very important as dogs need to burn off energy, stretch their muscles out, get mental stimulation all for their well-being. Why not bring them for a weekly swim at K9 Swim where the pool is indoors and heated and is a perfect workout. They will sleep well at night after a swim!
Arthritic dogs suffer more in the colder months. This is the time to keep them exercising so they don’t seize up. Swimming in a heated pool is a great exercise for arthritic dogs since it is a non-weight bearing activity. Keep arthritic dogs on regular and no stress to the joint exercise and stick to it, they will get through the colder months a lot easier.
Warm Winter Food - Why not cook up a doggie casserole with lean meat , vegetables and some brown rice! A delicious nutritious winter warming meal for a cold day! Or you can add some warm water to their kibble , this will warm their tummies!
Winter Massage – Massage is wonderful for our dogs and especially in the winter months where muscles can get tight and sore as they are not moving around as much. Treat your dog to a massage whilst you are watching TV or listening to some nice music in a warm room. Not only is it nice for our dogs but it’s a wonderful bonding experience for owners and their beloved pets.
Not sure how to massage? Come along to Richmond TAFE’s next animal massage workshop on Friday 24th June, bring your dog and learn how to make your dog feel great!
Who doesn’t love to snuggle! Winter is a great excuse to curl up and snuggle with your four legged friend inside in the warmth away from the winter cold.
Keep safe, warm and well.
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Hi I'm Sharon Osmond the owner and founder of K9 Swim. The Splash Blog is where I share tips and information on dog's health and safety and some fun facts and stories.