In May, June and July 2017 - FREE Arthritis Checks - Please book now!
New - Available now - Therapeutic Laser and Acupuncture
I have borrowed colleagues videos and thank them for the ability to do so.
Exercise has been shown to improve mobility of arthritic pets (and people). But before you embark on an exercise program with your pet, you must get a full veterinary check up, specifically checking for your pets cardiovascular fitness, and to advise on nutritional support. The exercises shown on this page assume no active injury, no swelling, oedema, infection or cancer is present. Different steps are necessary, and individualised care is required.
Signs that your pet needs a check up now
Difficulty sitting or standing
Favouring a limb
Decreased activity or less interest in play
Attitude or behaviour changes
Having stiff or sore joints
Being less alert
Reluctance to jump, run or climb stairs
And for cats - poor grooming especially over the lower back or missing the litter tray during toileting
Basic joint support suggestions:
1. Do not start any exercise program in your pet until their muscles are warmed up. Gentle massage is essential and fun. Long gentle pats along each side of your pet's body, and gentle finger massages of individual muscle groups. Warm packs also help improve blood flow to muscle groups, but care is taken to not burn pet's skin (as pets skin is thinner than ours).
Massage should take about 4 to 10 minutes.
2. Repetition of steps is important like in any exercise program. You wouldn't go to the gym for a workout, and only do one lunge, one biceps curl and one situp and expect it to do anything. You would do 15 lunges, then rest, then repeat. Your pet's exercise program is the same. At the bottom of the page, I will list some basic general exercises.
3. Equipment - well you can go fancy, and buy equipment or you can fashion something out of what you may already have if it is possible. We suggest a fitness ball, lead, lots of treats and a treat dispensing bag on your belt, wobble board (or a large rubbish bin lid), hair scrunchie (you'll see), poles, obstacles, a small length of wood (for tapping)
4. Exercises - there are alot of videos on youtube, and I will put some up here which show some of the exercises. There are also alot of inappropriate exercises on the net, so if in doubt, double check with me, or use your common sense. The goal of therapies are to alleviate pain, improve flexibility, improve muscle blood flow, reduce muscle loss, slow down progression of degenerative joint disease, to allow the pet to regain a more normal life, without relying solely on arthritis injections and non steroidal medications.
Exercise programs start off slow in the beginning, as your pet needs to improve its fitness (heart and muscle), otherwise you will cause more pain and do more harm. The first rule is Do No Harm!
Make it worth your pet's while, so always pay them well for their attention (yummy treats are what I recommend).
Massage: Always make sure your pets muscles are warmed up with warm towels or warm packs before starting any exercise program, and at the end, always do a cooling down massage (similar to the warming up one).
Passive Range of Motion (PROM) has been shown to reduce the requirement for non steroidal medications, although it doesn't mean your pet can go without them. The difference is that PROM and other exercises requires time and commitment, and some owners just want a quick pill. Some pets, even with time and commitment, will only improve with medication and nutritional support.
Sit to Stand exercises - these are great at improving muscle mass and mobility - start off with a small number of repetitions (say 5) and then build up to do 3 lots of 15.
Water exercise - for proprioception (that is positioning) the water should be at around the ankle level. If your pet needs leash walking exercise but supported,
then have the water at hip height. To work the dog for muscle building, then the water needs to be at knee deep. Allowing the pet to swim actually exercises the front legs only, curves the spine, with the hind legs being used as a rudder, rather than being actively used. I would love to buy an underwater treadmill, but don't have thousands to spare (darn! have to wait till I win Lotto!).
What about other options?
At Russell Vale Animal Clinic we offer "best practice" as well as explore a range of options with each pet with arthritis. There are many options that are now available, many of which are detailed in the handouts below.
Whilst we strongly believe in the benefits of exercise, and targeted exercise as shown above, but we also have available ...
Advice on what is your pet's ideal weight, and help to get them there
Disease modifying injections (such as weekly "arthritis" injections). We choose Synovan (similar to Cartrophen, Zydax, Petosan)
Disease modifying medications (oral medications). It is known that omega 3/6 fortified diets are scientifically proven to help, as does high doses of omega 3 (fish oil).
Pharmaceutical support - there is a range of medications, ranging from anti-inflammatory to strong nerve pain relief available, with the best combination determined on a case -by-case basis.
Acupuncture - ideal for dogs and cats with neck, back, hip and knee pain.
Class IV Medical Therapeutic Laser - this is an FDA cleared therapeutic treatment. We want to provide a drug free alternative in pain control for our injured pets.
We are proud to be the first veterinary hospital in the Illawarra to have a Class IV therapeutic laser, called the K Laser. It is capable of deeply penetrating into tissues with its four wavelengths.