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Introducing the Dashing Dachshund


September 28, 2018

Don’t ever let this adorable unassuming Dachshund fool you. They may look clumsy with their stubby legs and long torsos, but they are very tough, agile and strong dogs.

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The Wunderbar German Shepherd


August 29, 2018

Best Friend Mobility lauds the German ShepherdMost of us love them for another job they do best, caring and helping their owners in whatever way they can. These are just some of the reasons why many have grown to fall in love with the German Shepherd.

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Choosing Dog Shoes for Your Disabled Dog


May 18, 2018

Taking care of disabled dogs is a unique responsibility. The challenges both you and your dog face are much different from those of taking care of dogs with no disabilities.

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Tips on Giving Your Best Friend a Bath


April 5, 2018

 

It has to be done. Whether you or your pet dogs like it or not, they need a bath, especially if they are disabled dogs.

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Benefits of Water Therapy for Disabled Dogs


February 28, 2018

There is a new physical therapy method gaining popularity for animals recently and this is water therapy.

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Dealing with Holiday Travel Stress and Disabled Pets


October 18, 2017

The holiday season is usually also the traveling season. Many of us will travel to visit our folks for the annual reunion, or visit other family members to celebrate the yuletide season with them. Some of us will also plan family vacations during this season. For those of us who have disabled pets, we would like to bring them along since they are part of the family. However, you should prepare for some challenges.

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Weight Management for Disabled Pets


September 12, 2017

Lola suffers from a pinched nerve in her back, making it hard to exercise

Weight management for your disabled pet is very important. Weight has a major impact on your pet’s over-all health.

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Acupuncture and your disabled pet: The basics


August 31, 2017

Sticking needles into your disabled pet may cause most owners to cringe, but it hurts you more than they and may be the best therapy for many conditions.

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The Lowdown on Canine Rehab for Disabled Pets


June 14, 2017

Back in the day, you had to be a prize-winning racehorse to get the benefits of professional animal physical therapy.  In the 1980s, however, canine rehabilitation caught on in Europe and later in the US, and the demand became so great that vet colleges started to offer it as a specialty.

Today, canine rehab is taught formally in US vet colleges, and is the fastest growing specialty in veterinarian medicine.  While agility exercises and physical training benefit healthy dogs that compete or work as rescue or police dogs, modified exercises can also help disabled dogs.

Among the many benefits of canine rehab for injured or disabled dogs include:

  • Higher functional capacities
  • Better pain management
  • Shorter recovery periods from surgery or injury
  • Higher quality of life
  • Improved range of motion and more strength

Goals of canine rehab

The main goal of canine rehab is to enable the patient dog to get back as much function as possible after injury, surgery, or disease. If normal functioning is precluded, such as when the dog suffers from a progressively degenerative disease i.e. degenerative myelopathy, canine rehab can help the patient develop the right way of coping with their disability and lead a relatively normal life.

The biggest problem that a disabled dog may develop is atrophy of the muscles. This can happen quite quickly , sometimes after just a couple of days of inactivity. Early signs of incipient muscle atrophy include swelling in the area of the injury or surgery, shakiness or stiffness in the joints, muscles, and tendons, and diminished muscle control. Because of this, the sooner you do canine rehab, the better the results.

While a dog that has just undergone surgery will not be able to do the normal weight-bearing exercises in canine rehab for up to several weeks, but it can do some activities in water within a few days post-operatively.

Of course, a post-operative dog may not be allowed to do any weight-bearing activities for several weeks. However, canine rehab can take place in a pool much earlier, often a few days after surgery. Water provides some resistance, but also provides support when moving.

Physical therapy using an underwater treadmill is a great way to get your dog’s muscles moving again without causing further injury. This includes natural gait functions such as walking, running, and trotting. Not only will it keep the muscles from atrophying, it will maximize its range of motion.

Eligibility

Postoperative dogs are the primary target for canine rehab, but the science has gotten to the point that it can also provide significant benefits for dogs with disabling conditions such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Abnormal gait
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Joint problems
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Pain
  • Old-age problems
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • Pain
  • Overuse injuries

Specialists will create a program appropriate for the dog’s condition. Canine rehab activities will have to meet a vet’s approval before therapy can begin.

A course of rehabilitation can be as short as two visits or as long as three weekly visits for three months. Sessions are generally an hour, and progress is carefully documented at each visit. You as the owner will also be given a set of exercises for your pet to do at home.

Rehab therapy options

Therapy aids

A canine rehab specialist may require the patient to use tools that will address balance issues such as wobble boards, rockers, physioballs, and therapy bands. These aids will also increase their coordination, strength, and flexibility. Getting the dog to walk on an irregular surface trains it to know where the feet are at all times (spatial awareness). This comes in handy when it changes positions.

Manual manipulation

Canine rehab specialists properly trained in the manual manipulation techniques may perform them on the patient when needed. These are especially important for dogs with degenerative diseases, and include stretches, moving the joints, massage, and other exercises.

Aquatic therapy

Aquatic therapy is appropriate for dogs that may not be allowed to do weight bearing exercises. These include swimming and the use of an underwater treadmill. The water supports the patient’s weight to prevent injury, and at the same time exerts gentle resistance to improve cardiovascular function, range of motion, and strength that will increase its mobility out of water.

Other therapies

Your canine rehab professional may also employ several techniques to treat some conditions. Cryotherapy contracts the blood vessels to reduce deep tissue and surface bleeding using ice packs. This helps keep inflammation down and relieve pain. One the other hand, heat therapy with warm towels dilates the blood vessels to promote healing, which also helps relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Special machines may also be used in turn, such as:

Low-level laser therapy – accelerates wound healing and reduces post-trauma pain and swelling by stimulating the natural production of pain-alleviating chemicals in the dog’s body such as endorphins

Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation or NMES – treats vascular and musculoskeletal issues by causing the muscles to contract and release using low-volt electrical stimulation

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy or ESWT – accelerates healing b transmitting highe energy waves through the dog’s body, generating heat the increases blood flow. ESWT can also reduce muscle spasms, swelling, and inflammation. It is especially effective in treating ligament and tendon damage, fractures, osteoarthritis, and hip dysplasia.

Takeaway

Mobility is more important for your dog than you think. The absence of physical activity can have a significant impact on their physical, mental, and emotional health. While wheelchairs are important to their well-being of permanently disabled dogs in the long term, canine rehab helps them develop the proper coping mechanisms for their disability and make the most of any mobility they retain. Canine rehab together with good quality mobility aids can give your injured or disabled dog a new leash in life.

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Creating a Normal Environment for Your Disabled Pet


April 12, 2017

Most people get teary-eyed and upset when they hear stories about a disabled dog or cat. However, such emotional reactions will most probably go over the head of the afflicted pet. Most animals are incapable of feeling self-pity, and cheerfully adapt and accept any changes in their circumstances. That is, unless their owners consistently treat them with pity.

Pets are quick to pick up their owner’s mood, and may start feeling anxious as a result. The best thing you can do for your disabled pet is to stop projecting your own feelings and start creating a normal environment for your pet. Disabled pets are capable of living long, happy lives if you give them half a chance.

That doesn’t mean you will not have to give them special care, however. Here are some quick tips for living with your disabled pet.

Sight impaired pets

Blindness in pets is not as devastating to them as they are for people that used to have their sight. Most people forget that dogs, particularly, rely largely on their sense of smell, so losing their sight is not all that debilitating. You may not even know they’re blind for a long time! Cats do use their sight much more, but they too can adapt to its loss if you make it easy for them to do so.

  • Reinforce their sense of security by talking to them; the sound of your voice assures them
  • Help them use and develop their sense of smell more by using attractive-smelling treats and toys to keep them alert
  • Make a point of keeping areas they frequent free of obstacles
  • Lead them around furniture and rooms to familiarize them with the layout and dimensions
  • Encourage them to socialize with other pets under controlled conditions until they are more comfortable with their sightlessness

Hearing-impaired pets

Most pets that were not born deaf have good hearing, so the loss of it does have a significant effect on their lives. You will have to make some changes to your communication and routines to cope with a loss of hearing.

  • Start practicing hand signals and touch to communicate with your pet as spoken commands will no longer work
  • Make eye contact frequently so your pet will start picking up on these non-verbal signals
  • Avoid startling your pet by approaching them with a firm step so they can feel your approach
  • Use a light to get their attention at night and keep some light available to give them a sense of security

Mobility-challenged pets

Loss of mobility presents some major challenges for both you and your pet. Mobility impairment renders your pet completely dependent on you, even if the situation is temporary. To create a normal environment order for your pet, you need to make some changes to your daily lives.

  • Get a specialist to give your pet a complete check-up and ask for long-term care recommendations
  • Keep your pet from becoming anxious by keeping to a regular schedule for daily activities
  • Give them more frequent baths if they are incontinent or cannot move quickly enough to take care of business on their own
  • Find out how to express the bowels of your pet to make life much easier for both of you
  • Make a point of regularly checking your pet for sores and wounds especially in the afflicted limbs as mobility-impaired pets can get some nasty injuries without knowing it by dragging their useless limbs around; this can lead to serious infections if not treated
  • If your budget allows it, you might try acupuncture or massage for your pet to improve mobility, especially if they are recovering from surgery
  • Continue walking your pet to give them a chance to socialize and get some outdoor time
  • Seek some support and advice from pet owners in your same situation; you just might get some great tips

Mobility aids are also a great way to create a sense of normalcy for your disabled pet. Adjustable wheelchairs, for instance, are available for all types of dogs provided they have some mobility in their front legs and otherwise healthy. Giving them the ability to get around on their own will do wonders with their well-being and physical health.

Check out these dogs in wheelchairs videos for inspiration.

Conclusion

Your disabled pet is capable of living long and happy lives despite their limitations given half a chance. While creating a normal environment for your disabled pet may requires a significant amount of time and resources at first, it will be worth it in the end.

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