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The Ultimate Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy Guide for Dogs.

Copyright 2009 by Helga Schmitt. All rights reserved. No part of this book
may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic
or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information
storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author.
For contact please go to

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Note to the Reader
Veterinary Medicine is constantly changing. Standard safety precautions
must be followed, but as new research and clinical experience broadens our
knowledge, changes in treatment and drug therapy may become necessary
or appropriate. Readers are advised to check the most current product
information provided by the manufacturer of any drug to be administered to
verify the recommended dose, the method and duration of administration,
and contraindications. It is the responsibility of the licensed prescriber
(veterinarian), relying on experience and knowledge of the patient, to
determine dosages and the best treatment for each individual patient. The
recommendations contained in this book involve methods and remedies
based on the experiences of individual veterinarians. Please note that I am
not a veterinarian and any health related information is from my personal
experience and research. The ideas, procedures and suggestions are not
intended as a substitute for consulting with your pets physician. If your pet
has a health problem, see a qualified veterinarian, preferably one who
practices in complimentary medicine. Neither the author or publisher of The
Ultimate Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy Guide for Dogs and its contents in
its entirety, assume any responsibility or legal liability for any injury and / or
damage to persons, pets or property, or consequences stemming from
information or advice. Information may be changed or updated without
notice and there may be inaccuracies in the content. Although every effort
has been made to ensure the accuracy of information contained herein, the
publisher, editor, and authors are not legally responsible for errors or
omissions. Neither the author nor publisher of the Ultimate Rehabilitation &
Physiotherapy Guide for Dogs assume any responsibility or legal liability for
any injury and / or damage to persons, pets or property, or consequences
stemming from the contents. Any application of the recommendations set
forth in the following pages is solely at the readers discretion and risk. You
should consult a veterinarian concerning any veterinary medical or surgical
problem. If a veterinarian is caring for your pet, for any condition, he or she
can advise you about information described in this book.

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This book is dedicated to Chelsea, Amber and Charme, for giving so much
and touching the greatest depths of my soul.



Chapter 1
Everything you need to know about Water Therapy, Hydrotherapy
and Aqua Therapy for your dog

Discover the amazing benefits of dog hydrotherapy in dog swimming

Underwater treadmills for dogs and how they work.
How I embarked on a canine rehabilitation for my dogs implementing
hydrotherapy, and the revolutionary results they gained from it.

Holistic Dog Care with Proven Natural Remedies Guaranteed to

What is holistic dog care and why its so powerful

Treatments and remedies for common dog problems
How my own dogs lived far longer and healthier and with greater
vitality from holistic treatments

Chapter 3
Signs, symptoms and treatments as well as what to expect from
dogs with cancer, tumors or hemangiosarcoma.

Symptoms and warning signs for possible indications of cancer.

Various treatments for dogs with cancer, tumors or hemangiosarcoma.
How my own dogs survived through it and lived longer.

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Chapter 4

Possible indications of ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear, injury

or rupture and what YOU NEED to know and do about it.

Signs, symptoms of a torn or damaged cruciate ligament.

Conservative, alternative approaches to healing the torn ACL.
The different ACL surgeries your informed options.
How my dogs recovered from having no surgery, then needing
surgery, and what I learned from it all.

Chapter 5
Signs and symptoms of Dog Arthritis and the Amazing treatments
that help.

How to determine if your dog has arthritis.

Arthritis care and treatment to help alleviate pain and re-gain joint
How my dogs instantly improved and how easy it was to get results.

Chapter One

Everything you need to know about Water Therapy, Hydrotherapy
and Aqua Therapy for your dog.

Swimming with your dog in an indoor heated dog pool facility is an

excellent way for puppies to learn how to swim. It ensures their first
experience with water is not going to be a scary one, making them confident
around other bodies of water. It is a great conditioning tool for sporting
dogs, working dogs, and show dogs. It builds their muscles, conditions
them, and expends their energy while they are having great fun. For dogs
that are not getting enough exercise, this burns more energy than any other
form of a work out. Senior dogs benefit from the increased mobility and they
are able to delay the effects of debilitating arthritis and other joint diseases.
A regular regime of swimming also works their cardiovascular systems and
provides weight control.
The pool water is heated to a comfortable 27 degrees Celsius. Swimming is
performed in a controlled environment and an attendant is in the pool with
your dog if it is necessary. In some dog pools, the owners are allowed to join
in with their dog. There are flotation devices and life jackets that can be
used initially and then removed later on when the dog has developed their
swimming confidence.
With swimming being a zero impact exercise dogs are able to rebuild
vital muscle mass with ease. This shortens the length of time to full recovery
from any injury or surgery and prevents the muscle atrophy associated with
it. Muscle atrophy begins within three days of any immobilization. Swimming
gently and safely rebuilds the muscles without exerting any force on the
joints. Stretching and strengthening exercises are done with 70% of the
weight removed just from the buoyancy of being in the water. Dogs are able
to exercise without the pain that is generally present. The warm water pools
relax the muscles, increase the circulation of blood to the muscles, maximize
the uptake of oxygen, capitalize on nutrient supply and at the same time
cleanse out any impurities from the system.

Swimming in cold water (lakes, oceans, rivers) causes constriction of the
blood vessels near the skin and of the superficial muscles, which in turn
restricts the blood flow making the muscles less efficient. So for a healthy
uninjured dog, swimming in lakes and rivers is fine, but it is inferior to
heated pools, for rehabilitative purposes.
Post surgery hydrotherapy of any form is done after the sutures are
removed and the incision has healed. Your veterinarian will guide you as to
when would be the most appropriate time to engage in any water therapy
for your dog. Swimming reduces the dogs recovery time by half. The
following have all been helped by swimming:

Knee surgeries
Anterior cruciate ligament surgery
TPLO surgery
Full hip replacement
Amputation of a limb
Hip dysplasia
Degenerative joint disease
Weakened spine
Neurological disorders
Early signs of cognitive dysfunction

Included are the following additional benefits:

Increased circulation, endurance, flexibility, range of motion, and

Decreased swelling in joints
Increased co-ordination
Muscle development
Cardio-vascular improvement and conditioning
Increased confidence
Increased energy level in aging dogs

For weight management, swimming with your dog is an ideal form of

exercise. The excess weight on the dog is really taxing on their joints, heart
and lungs. By going in a pool, the strain is relieved from the joints while

they are getting a fabulous workout. That is something that cannot be
achieved on land. Their weight will continue to place additional wear on their
bodies. A ten minute swim session with your dog is equivalent to a
five mile walk! For really obese dogs, that is impossible, and the pool is
one of the best things for them to get back in shape.
Water is very calming for dogs and reduces levels of stress in addition to
assisting with improving many bodily functions. It helps stimulate the
sensation receptors up to the brain, enhancing the metabolic functions. The
hormones are affected in a positive way, which helps regulate numerous
bodily processes. The dogs lymphatic system drains itself far better which
helps to improve the immune system. Soft tissues are compressed which in
turn increases respiration, further strengthening the lungs and the heart.
The kidneys are functioning more efficiently which also helps rid the body of
toxins while regulating the electrolytes in the system. A dogs digestion is
improved and as a result, the digestive tract is cleaned out. The health of
the skin and coat is enhanced from all the body functions becoming more
effective from the swimming. Their fur becomes shiny and alive not dull and
Swimming in a large pool allows you to perform manual techniques that
would not be possible in a small Jacuzzi style pool or in an underwater
treadmill. Deep water swimming allows the combining of range of motion,
strengthening and cardiovascular conditioning simultaneously. Swimming
pool exercise facilitates the full use of the legs versus the partial use as is
done in underwater treadmills. There is far more hip and knee flexion
(bending) and extension (straightening) when they have no contact with a
surface. When a dog swims, their swim strokes are much faster than in a
treadmill situation. With the front limbs, the range of motion is enormously
increased. Dogs are much more motivated when they have their owners in
the pool with them or are able to fetch a toy. Owner participation is a great
way to bond with your dog. You will experience the same joy that your dog
is feeling while swimming together.
The pool therapist can facilitate various exercises for the dog while in the
water with them. These exercises can be as simple as guiding the dog to
swim in tight circles, which will help to increase the muscles and strength in
their back. This also is beneficial in strengthening a particular limb by going
in the same direction. By the therapist guiding the dog in the water in a

controlled fashion while swimming, it prevents them from moving too quickly
and possibly over-straining themselves.
Resistance can be useful for building up muscle mass. The therapist can
hold the sides of the lifejacket to have the dog swim in a stationary place,
preventing them from moving forward. This can also be done by guiding
them around the pool from a leash, although that method is not as effective.
If the pool has jets, the water will provide the resistance.
Another method used while the dog is in the pool is physical massage. This
is wonderful for stimulating potential movement in legs that have been
paralyzed from either an injury or illness. A dog that just floats in the water
from lack of movement in the rear legs will actually begin to mobilize them
again while in the water. Eventually these signals to the brain will help the
dog when theyre on land, and their ability to walk may return.
Therapeutic massage in the pool will reduce their level of pain, improve
their circulation even further, and remove muscle knots and spasms. We all
know how good a massage feels after a stressful day, and your dog is going
to feel enormously better from receiving this while they are in the pool for
Another type of therapy which can be done in the pool environment is the
TTouch Method. This is highly beneficial to restore functioning after
surgery, self-healing following injury and for speeding up recovery. TTouch
releases tension from the tissues and increases awareness using gentle,
circular motions with the hands at connected points on the body. This type
of therapy activates the neurological system at a cellular level. Having the
dog immersed in warm water creates a relaxed and soothing environment
for them. A dog that is exposed to TTouch will have profound changes in
their behavior and mental awareness.
Hydrotherapy is emotionally satisfying and the dog experiences a wonderful
sense of well-being. This release of endorphins also assists the healing
process. The whole dogs demeanor changes and they are content. The
swimming pool sessions are not just for injured pets. Your aging dog will
regain a new spark in their life after going for hydrotherapy. Their joints will
feel better, they will be relaxed and they will have fantastic, regular bowel
movements. There is just so much benefit that is derived from going to a
hydrotherapy pool with your dog.

Another type of hydrotherapy is the underwater treadmill. This is
something that has been used many years ago for therapy on horses. There
has been a total resurgence of this exercise therapy but in view of the dog.
In fact, it is more likely that one will find an underwater treadmill designed
for dogs than an actual canine swimming pool. These treadmills are like a
giant aquarium for dogs. The enclosure is easily controlled for depth,
warmth and resistance for each individual size of dog. The height of the
water is adjusted to accommodate their difference in weight. There can be a
therapist inside the tank with the dog while it is operating. This ensures
proper movement and makes it a safe, comfortable and controlled
The treadmill is not a zero impact form of exercise. It is a low impact
exercise with reduced gravity force. The water in the canine aquatic
treadmill displaces about forty percent of the dogs body weight from the
buoyancy. The height of the water determines the amount of weight that is
The dogs range of motion is more pronounced in the treadmill because the
dog is still weight bearing. When they are inside the tank they are essentially
water walking against the current and resistance of the jets. This is most
beneficial for dogs requiring a decreased weight bearing exercise. Each dog
is different and a program would have to be tailored to suit their specific
Great results have been achieved in paralyzed dogs following spinal injury or
surgery. The treadmill helps retrain standing and walking. Once the dog gets
their momentum going it is easier than walking for them and they dont
need to challenge their coordination. Treadmills force the dogs to slow down.
This is very helpful in regulating the pace of a dogs gait. In relatively quick
time, these dogs are able to walk independently on land.
The underwater treadmill is helpful with the following conditions:

Weight loss
Body conditioning
Post-surgical strengthening of muscles surrounding joints
Orthopedic problems
Neurological problems
Cardiovascular development


Soft tissue injuries

The underwater treadmill uses the properties of water to help facilitate an

easier method of exercise for a debilitated dog. The hydrostatic pressure of
the water reduces swelling in the limbs. The jets perpendicular pressure in
all directions, resolves the edema in the distal portions of the body while
they exercise.
It is important to know what type of underwater treadmill that is going to be
used. Dogs should be able to see through the sides and the entrance should
be easy to navigate and not too steep. What is the noise level of the system
when it is running? Are you permitted to remain with your dog? The water
temperature should be no warmer than ninety degrees, and the dog should
be monitored closely. This is especially important for noticing any signs of
fatigue. The jets should not be too turbulent. Dogs that are recovering from
spinal and knee surgery can be injured by the water turbulence. These dogs
require an underwater treadmill with no turbulence when they initially begin
All patients attending hydrotherapy should have a veterinary clearance
before doing so. Not all dogs are suitable candidates and the treating
veterinarian will do an assessment as well as the hydro-therapist.
Some of the questions they will ask are:

Date of last vaccination?

Previous level of fitness or exercise?
Has the dog ever swum before and if so where?
Any incontinence or ear problems?
Have they been toileted prior to arriving?
When they were last fed?
Do they have a veterinary clearance to perform hydrotherapy?

The many factors to consider apart from their current medical or physical
condition are the dogs temperament, and past good or bad experiences with
swimming. How well they do with it and their degree of anxiety depends on
their past experience and the experience of the handler now attempting to
swim them.

Most animals become adjusted after the first few visits. There are buoyancy
vests, equipment to encourage the animal and extra staff to assist with
easing the nervousness. Keeping the first sessions shorter in duration will
also help.
There are a number of conditions the therapist will check the dog for before
allowing it into the pool. Some of them are: the ears for problems, open
sores, torn nails, the dogs heart rate and respiratory rate at rest, and any
skin conditions.
Hydrotherapy for dogs is contraindicated if the dog is experiencing
any of the following conditions:
Open wounds
Surface infections
External skeletal fixators
Incontinence or diarrhea
Suffering from contagious disease (kennel cough, parvovirus, ringworm,
Certain spinal conditions
Cardiac and respiratory dysfunctions
Epilepsy (if dog has had one or more seizures one week prior to
Conditions which compromise the blood supply to peripheral areas
Water phobia causing extreme panic
Vestibular syndrome
No animal should ever be left unattended while participating in
hydrotherapy. Dog pools and underwater treadmills may appear safe but it is
extremely dangerous to leave any dog alone in them. Accidents can happen
very quickly if they are not supervised.
These are some dogs that can participate in hydrotherapy but you would
need to be careful with them:
Very obese dogs
Dogs with a heart murmur
Brachycephalic breeds (Bulldog, Boxer, Pug, Pekinese, Pug, Shih Tzu)
these breeds have small nasal openings which limits the amount of airflow.
They are not efficient at panting so they tend to overheat and need to work
much harder when exercising to get enough oxygen.
Elongated soft palate (this is a flap of tissue which closes off the airway
and when it is elongated it can obstruct the airway. This can cause laryngeal

Dogs with Cushings or Addisons disease
Dogs with Diabetes
Laryngeal paralysis (the dog has noisy breathing, reduced heat tolerance)
Spinal injuries
Heatstroke or hot days
Undiagnosed forelimb lameness
Extreme laxity of joints or hyperextension injuries
A treatment plan or programme needs to be written and discussed with the
owner. The goals of the treatment and the expected time frames for
improvement also need to be discussed. The goals can be anything from just
being able to walk again, to returning to agility or hunting and retrieving
sports. Whatever the reason is for attending a dog pool, canine
hydrotherapy is the best choice for rehabilitating and conditioning dogs prior
to surgery, post surgery, or from an injury.
Every situation is different. In some instances a swimming pool is better and
in others an underwater treadmill is the choice. The health benefits of
assisted hydrotherapy have been studied extensively and is now recognized
and prescribed by Veterinarians around the world. The dogs fitness level,
sense of well-being and mental health are improved beyond measure with
regular exposure to hydrotherapy. The bonding experience between pet
owner and the dog is astounding. There are very few things that can
compare to that. Connecting with your dog in an environment that is totally
stress free, rejuvenating and relaxing, goes beyond what words can express.
The benefits of hydrotherapy have long since been established for people.
Why wouldnt it be of similar benefit to the canine? Hydrotherapy offers
something for every dog.


I started doing hydrotherapy with my dog when she was a year old, on the
advice from my holistic veterinarian, for the possibility of an ACL (anterior
cruciate ligament) injury. I cringed at the possibility of that since I had been
down that road twice before, with another Rottweiler I used to have. So we
checked all of the usual telltale signs, and despite the drawer movement not
being positive, and she exhibited no pain or lameness, we saw something
that just wasnt quite right and couldnt put a finger on it.
So off to the hydrotherapy pool we went, in full anticipation of fixing
whatever it was that just wasnt quite right. We were on total leash
restriction walks, and no jumping or behaving like all puppies do when the
little switch goes off in their heads at 7:00 p.m. every evening. We did
everything to support her conservative rehabilitation, and went swimming
three days a week for 30 minutes a session. I fed her a raw food diet
consisting of chicken, vegetables, fruit, tripe, and organ meats. She was
supplemented with Vitamin C, E, glucosamine, chlorella, chlorophyll, kelp,
flax seed, Bone & Sinew formula, and lots of love and attention. If there was
any possibility that we could help heal her knee without surgery, it was the
order of preference. I did have my doubts, given that she is one of the most
energetic dogs you can imagine. Keeping her tame was going to be
challenging to say the least. I questioned her ability to tear or fully rupture
the anterior cruciate ligament within the first round of excited off leash play
she would eventually be allowed to do.
Well, despite all attempts made to thwart off the potential problem, an
orthopedic specialist confirmed the diagnosis. She had a torn ACL and so we
scheduled an operation that would implement the extra capsular stabilization
I got her back into the pool at six weeks post surgery, with a life jacket on to
assist her with flotation. She was so happy to be back in the pool
environment, and would swim and float around, play with floating squeaky
toys, all the while wearing a smile as wide as you can imagine. Her swim
days became very special days. She could expend her energy and move her
joints without being in any discomfort. Her walking improved dramatically
and her emotional state was as though nothing ever went wrong. I could see
her muscle mass building and her endurance increasing. Despite being on
leash for the next five months, she had an avenue to release all of her pent
up energy and have fun in the process.

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My dogs recovery time was literally cut in half from going to the
hydrotherapy pool. I would swim with her, sometimes have races, and play
games and just float together, connecting to each others energies. I could
be in the pool and perform manual exercises; all the while she was safe and
warm. Understandably, at first I was a little scared that my exuberant puppy
was going to potentially hurt herself. However, after experiencing the level
of care she received prior to surgery, I was never concerned about her
slipping and falling. Everything was performed in a controlled fashion, and
she knew the pool rules.
With our swimming routine in place, we started to resume our walking
routine as well. We were up to 2.5 miles every morning very quickly. All of
this is under controlled supervision of course. She was progressing very
quickly and then I noticed her other knee doing similar behavior. I really
didnt want another operation, but we had to check if that was the same
problem brewing in the knee. My dog is a tough girl and does not show pain
or lameness unless it really is significant. When I saw the surgeon who
performed her ACL operation, he confirmed the same problem. So we
scheduled another operation for her other knee. In the meantime we would
keep on swimming and reap the benefits of the wonderful pool and build up
the supporting muscles as much as we could. The orthopedic specialist was
absolutely amazed at how fantastic she looked, at her muscle mass and her
strength, after the first round of surgery and in just six months. In fact, the
specialist as well as my holistic veterinarian were both impressed at her
speedy recovery and how well she was doing both physically and
I continue to swim with my dog, and credit having the ability to utilize a dog
hydrotherapy pool for her astounding results. It is a great gift to see your
precious pet smiling and happy and having their energy spent. Who would
have thought regular bowel movements would be such a joyous occasion?!
Her fur glistens, she has a voracious appetite, she is always smiling, and
she is one incredibly happy dog with great mobility. After having gone
through the same procedures with a previous dog, and not having the ability
to use a pool, I cannot believe the difference it has made to her overall
recovery and sense of well-being. When we go swimming now, my greatest
challenge with her is getting her to leave the water! Now thats worth
thinking about!

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Chapter Two

Holistic Dog Care

Proven Natural Remedies Guaranteed to work.

Holistic medicine takes a dogs health and looks at it from a mental,

spiritual, and physical basis. It looks at the whole body not just its individual
parts. The word holistic is derived from the word whole, taking into
consideration all of the characteristics of the patient; their environment, the
disease, the relationship with the pet owner, and then devises a strategy to
work within all of these factors. Holistic thinking is based on love, empathy
and respect. Nature will always seek out homeostasis. Holistic veterinarians
seek to promote the animals natural healing processes and the energy of
their body. They will utilize the least invasive, least toxic, most nurturing
and least harmful road to healing. A Holistic Vet uses both Conventional
and Complementary modalities when they treat an animal. You can rest
assured that when you have seen a holistic vet, your dog will have been
thoroughly examined, cared for and treated with their highest regard in
Conventional vet treatments focus more on the disease and to get rid of the
symptoms and the immediate cause of the disease. It is more related to a
biochemical and scientific approach. For example, if your dog is depressed,
the conventional method could prescribe antidepressants and sleeping pills.
The holistic approach would be to look at possible stresses, improving diet
and looking at how to improve the animals sleep. While drugs can be a lot
quicker and useful, they generally have side effects and are not designed to
correct the problem. More times than not, the side effects from those drugs
lead to further problems that more drugs would be given for. It becomes a
vicious circle and the original problem has never been addressed in a way to
alleviate it altogether.
Most pet owners have exhausted all treatments by the time they turn to
holistic care. There is such dissatisfaction from all of the drugs and the

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surgery; they have nowhere else to look. The future of medical care for both
people and pets lies in the integration of complementary and conventional,
utilizing the best of both worlds. The key point is for you to help your animal
heal, and we all need to do whatever is possible to have them healthy and
happy, alleviate any suffering, and be in their highest form. You are their
companion, their caregiver, their best friend. Your dog will love you, comfort
you, protect you and be there by you until the very last breath they take. It
is your responsibility to provide the same for them.

Holistic vet care combines the use of the following into their collection of
healing modalities:

Acupuncture is based on the concept of Qi the life force energy that flows
throughout the body. This is a traditional Chinese medicine and has been
around and used for thousands of years. When a needle is inserted at a
specific location on the body, it stimulates sensory nerve endings which send
impulses through the spinal cord to the brain. The meridians that are being
stimulated help restore the normal flow of energy and stimulate the bodys
own healing process. This causes the release of neurotransmitters,
endorphins and anti-inflammatory hormones throughout the body. The
needles cause very little discomfort if any. This is best described like a dull
ache or pressure. It has been shown on an MRI that certain parts of the
brain light up during acupuncture. This has been proven when a nerve
ending was needled in the foot (a point associated with the eyes), and it
caused the same reaction in the brain as though the eyes saw a flash of
The typical acupuncture session lasts anywhere from ten minutes up to an
hour. Sometimes they are performed with micro-electrical currents attached.
The longer a problem has existed, the greater the number of treatments
required. Every case is different and sometimes it only takes one or two
sessions for dramatic results.

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Conditions that respond really well to acupuncture are:

Hip dysplasia
Muscle and ligament injuries
Lameness due to pain or injury
Arthritis and stiff backs in older dogs
Postsurgical neurological problems, partial paralysis, epilepsy
Degenerative myelopathy
Pain relief especially for chronic pain
Gastrointestinal disorders (vomiting and diarrhea, constipation and
poor appetite)
Skin disorders, lick granuloma
Immune enhancement
Heart disorders
Behavioral problems (fear, aggression, shyness, anxiety, depression,
Respiratory Disorders (coughing, bronchitis, pneumonia)
Urinary tract problems (incontinence, bladder disorders, kidney
Eyes and ears
Postsurgical promotion of healing

Acupressure therapy is one of the earliest forms of point therapy going back
to Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is done in the form of finger pressure
applied on the body at specific points or locations. This therapy is mostly
used to relieve muscle spasms and to alleviate pain. Acupressure can also
boost the dogs immune system, release cortisone to reduce swelling,
enhance mental clarity for focus in training, while removing toxins and
increasing the blood supply. There are over 350 acupoints located along
the meridians and more than 250 non-meridian points. The chi flows
through these channels and is manipulated through pressure on these

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Reactions from your dog can be obvious or very subtle. Some of these signs
can be: licking, salivating, muscle spasms, back hollowing, panting, chewing
or yawning more than usual. Further reactions can be moving away from the
pressure or into the pressure, stretching or a change in breathing pattern, or
scratching themselves at a point on their body. You will also notice subtle
facial expressions such as softening of the eyes, relaxing of the mouth, chin
or ears. If you hear any abdominal sounds it is the energy being released
along the meridian.
Acupressure treatment has four phases known as: Opening, Point Work,
Closing, Stretching. Opening prepares your dog for the bodywork and gets
them relaxed. This also allows them to become at ease with controlled
touch. The Point Work stimulates certain points along various meridians to
balance the dogs energy and to promote their healing. The Closing phase
reinforces the energy flow between the points on the meridian which was
stimulated and replaces the cells negative response with a positive
response. Stretches are the final phase of the acupressure treatment. This
improves your dogs flexibility and elasticity of the soft tissues.
There are three types of Point Work techniques suggested for canine
patients and you will have to experiment as to which one is best suited for
your dog. The following are the types recommended:

Direct thumb pressure technique

Pulsing thumb technique

Circular thumb technique

In Point Work the thumb is most commonly used because it is neutral in

polarity and prevents emphasizing an imbalance with the addition of a
positive or negative energy charge. Breathe out while easing into the point
and breathe in while releasing the point. Both you and your dogs breathing
will end up becoming synchronized.
When doing Point Work on your dog always work from front to rear and top
to bottom. Allow both hands to remain on the dog while giving a treatment
because one does the work and the other feels the reactions. The passive
hand also acts as a conduit to soothe your dog and to connect energetically.
Use partial body weight so your motions are smooth and apply the pressure
at a 90-degree angle to the meridian line you are working upon.

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After an acupressure treatment on your dog their Chi energy flow will have
changed. The blockages will have been released and they will be rebalancing
their energy. This rebalancing can take up to 24 hours and they may
want to rest for a while. They may actually feel worse before they start to
get better.

There is a direct relationship between the spinal column and the nervous
system. The use of this method involves adjusting joint misalignments that
cause pain and disturbances to normal behavioral and physical functioning.
There can be dramatic success after just one treatment; however, normal
functioning is usually attained within three or four sessions.
The following could indicate if your dog possibly needs an adjustment:

If the head is cocked over to one side

The dog cries when moving the head
Dealing with seizures if medication is not helping
The mouth is sore when you try to open it
The dog walks on its tiptoes or walks like a camel (hunched over)
The dog sits off to one side
Muscle spasms on the back
Hip pain with no sign of canine arthritis
Yelping from pain with no apparent reason

The dogs total physical, mental and emotional well-being will benefit from
an adjustment if it is needed. The dogs joints will move freely again and
their muscles will be released from any spasms, pain, discomfort or
weaknesses. The amount of pressure used on the dog is minimal and safe.
With all applications, always have your vet check out all the possibilities
before assuming any kind of treatments.

Homeopathy is based on the principle that like cures like. Homeopathy
attempts to strengthen the life force for the body to fight off any disease.

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These remedies are diluted so much that there is not even a trace of the
original substance. They are a nontoxic energy medicine whereby the
healing power of the substance comes from matching the energy vibration of
a specific remedy. It then can match the energy force of the patient, and
that is how the healing begins. Pharmaceutical drugs always suppress the
symptoms and lower the level of health within the body. The disease is then
caught even deeper in the tissues and the body and symptoms are
suppressed. Most holistic vets emphasize the role nutrition plays in a dogs
health. If your dog is not getting the best nutrition to support its body,
processes will start to break down. The dog will always be challenged to
some extent. True healing can never take place.
Homeopathic remedies come in liquid form, pellets, or soft tablets. These
minute dilutions of substances produce symptoms similar to the ones
manifested by the dog. The potency of these remedies is enhanced by
succession, potentiating or violently shaking, which adds power or potency
to the dose.
These homeopathic remedies are used to treat just about everything that
conventional medicine treats, without all the side effects. Always check the
advice of your holistic vet first.

Chinese Herbs, Western Herbs, Ayurvedic Herbs

Medicinal herbs have been used for centuries for healing health conditions.
The natural compounds in herbs phytochemicals offer healing properties
for many of the diseases that are proliferating in todays society.
Herbs are provided in tablet, liquid, tincture, and capsule form. The best way
to take them is always away from any food if possible. The frequency of
which an herb is given is what matters, not the quantity of the herbal
preparation. Always have a vet experienced in herbal formulas provide the
correct remedy and dosage for your dog. These can be used side by side
with conventional medicine.
Small amounts of fresh herbs can be added to your dogs food; herbs like
parsley, thyme and rosemary.

~ 17 ~
Infusions are made like teas. Boiling water is poured over a small amount
of the fresh or dried herb and it is covered and stirred for about 15 minutes.
It is strained through a coffee filter afterwards.
Decoctions are made from the roots, woods and barks. One teaspoon is
placed in a vessel with one cup of cold water and then brought to a boil for
10 minutes. It is cooled and strained and then refrigerated. This has to be
made fresh every day.
Capsules or tablets can be added to a bit of food to make it easier for your
pet to take.
Tinctures are formulated by using alcohol to draw out the active essence of
the herbs. They are easily administered to your pet by adding it to their
Topical formulas such as creams and gels are also available, but be sure it
is safe for your dog if they should happen to lick it off.
Some very beneficial herbs that you can grow yourself are:


Aloe Vera gel is very effective when applied fresh to a burn or fungal
infection. It speeds the healing up very quickly. Apply this topically once or
twice a day.
Ashwagandha is used in Ayurvedic medicine for improving the well-being.
It is very useful for treating arthritis and possesses anticancer properties. It
is available in either a tea or tincture.
Astragalus is a very important traditional Chinese tonic much like
Echinacea. This supports and strengthens the heart, the kidneys and the
immune system. It is used in a tincture form.

~ 18 ~
Calendula is great for treating skin disorders. It contains anti-inflammatory
and wound healing properties. It is excellent for treating hot spots in dogs.
Pour one cup of boiling water over two teaspoons of flowers, infuse 15
minutes and then cool and apply.
Chamomile is excellent for a number of ailments. It is a great sedative, and
nervine for pets that stay awake and are restless at night. It also is good for
upset stomachs and inflamed gums and eyes. Make an infusion by pouring
one cup of hot water over two teaspoons of leaves and infuse for five
minutes. Let cool and pour over food.
Dandelion is a very good diuretic. It is a liver tonic as well as a digestive
aid. It is also good for dogs undergoing cancer treatments. The dosage
recommended is .25 ml of tincture per 5 kg of body weight up to three times
a day.
Nettle is an anti-inflammatory and is useful in bladder and urinary tract
infections, eye washes and for chronic skin eruptions. It is especially useful
in treating skin disorders. This should not be used fresh as it will cause
blistering and stinging of the skin. A tincture or tea is safe to use.
Peppermint is wonderful for cooling and relieving itchy, hot skin. It also
helps with travel sickness and digestive problems. Use as a tincture or tea.
Red Raspberry is great for strengthening and toning the uterus during the
last trimester of pregnancy. It also helps reduce the risk of hemorrhage. Do
not use fresh leaves as they are toxic when they wilt. Use as a tea.

Bach Flowers
These flower essences help healing through the connection of the emotional
and physical being. These essences have been used as remedies for animals
for over 50 years. Bach flower remedies are very safe, gentle and nontoxic
to use. There are no side effects and your dog can not be overdosed.
Rescue Remedy is one of the most popular and useful remedies. It is a
great first aid treatment in emergency, trauma or stress. It can be given by
mouth, in the side of the cheek, every 5 or 10 minutes if necessary.

~ 19 ~
Elm is an essence used for a dog that is feeling overwhelmed. This could be
when a dog is attending an obedience trial, conformation show or grooming
Gentian is useful for any dog that may be feeling depressed, grieving or has
a setback in health.
Heather is used for dogs that get separation anxiety and constantly vocalize
to get your attention. These animals are usually very friendly.
Oak is a useful remedy for dogs that compete in endurance trials or long
competitions. It is for stress associated with struggling, or much physical
Rock Rose is excellent for dogs that tremble and shake when they are
frightened. It is for terror, panic or shock. It is very useful in thunderstorms
and with the loud noise that comes from fireworks.
Walnut is the flower essence for change in the dogs life. A new home,
travel, surgery, a new family member; it helps them to accept change.
There are many more flower essences available for use. You have to read
your pet and what it is they may be struggling with. Your holistic vet should
be able to assist you with this.

Essential oils work by breathing them in or absorbing them through the skin.
They are antiviral and immune-stimulating. These oils can influence the
endocrine, reproductive, digestive and respiratory systems, and should be
used with caution. Animals can be poisoned if they are not used correctly.
The safest way to use these oils is by diffusing them in the air. The aroma
can be diffused twice a day for 30 minutes. Pay attention to your dog in how
they are responding to that. Dogs have super sensitive noses and by
watching them you will know when it is enough.

~ 20 ~
Nutrition plays the most vital role in your dogs health. There are more
serious illnesses in dogs of all ages, than ever before. There are more
chronic diseases, allergies, skin disorders, cancers and dysfunctional
immune systems. If we look at what they have been fed for years, it isnt
hard to see that it does not support a vibrant state of health. Low quality,
highly processed, unnatural commercial food that was designed for them,
has created deficiencies and imbalances and a complete collapse in
resistance. Over vaccination, environmental pollution and stress have all
contributed our dogs ill health. You are what you eat. The diet is the
foundation for health and when treating any condition.
The optimum diet is what the dogs used to eat in the wild. This food was rich
in nutrients, and enzymes. Raw meat and ground vegetables are suitable for
most pets, although some very sick or old dogs have difficulty making the
transition from highly processed to raw. These dogs will possibly develop
loose stools or vomit. Cooking the foods for them helps to increase the
digestibility of the meat and vegetables by breaking down the cell walls.
Useful guidelines to follow are:
65% raw meat (chicken, turkey, beef, lamb)
30% raw grated vegetables (green leafy, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, beans)
5% - 10% grains if you choose to feed this (oatmeal, couscous, millet)
Fats (cold-pressed flax or olive oil)
Raw marrow bones or knuckle bones
Supplement their diet with Vitamin C, E, glucosamine, fish oil rich in Omega
3, and digestive enzymes.
Check with your vet as to the correct dosage for your particular size of dog.

Food Preservatives and Additives

There has been heightened awareness regarding the increased use of
chemical preservatives and additives in pet foods. Numerous prescription
diets, designed for our pets by veterinarians, are making people question

~ 21 ~
the cause of this. Many diseases are affecting our dogs' immune systems
and thyroid metabolism. Autoimmune and immune-mediated diseases are a
very real threat to the welfare of our pets today.
Preservatives and additives put into pet foods include antioxidants,
antimicrobials and preventatives of food discoloration, humectants; color,
flavor and palatability enhancers; emulsifying agents and stabilizers or
thickeners; and other miscellaneous additives. The reason for adding these
is to preserve color, flavor, texture, stability and resistance to spoilage.
Antimicrobial preservatives are included to prevent bacterial putrefaction
or mold formation. The following would be examples of these: citric,
hydrochloric, sorbic, fumaric, pyroligneous, propionic and phosphoric acids.
In addition to these are sodium nitrite, sodium and calcium propionate and
potassium sorbate.
Humectants prevent water loss from foods after processing. They help to
retain the soft, supple texture of various foods. These additives would
include sorbitol, corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose and cane molasses.
Coloring and emulsifying agents are added purely to boost consumer
appeal. Nitrites, bisulfites and ascorbates are specifically used to prevent
discoloration. Emulsifying agents behave as thickeners and stabilizers of pet
foods. Gums such as glycerin, glycerides and modified starch basically
prevent the separation of the ingredients in the food. They also create the
gravy or sauce in canned dog foods. Dry dog food usually has been sprayed
with modified cellulose and vegetable gums.
Natural and synthetic flavor and palatability enhancers are added to most
commercial pet foods. Animal digests made from animal tissues are used to
promote the flavor of dry dog foods. These digests are usually made from
poultry, fish, liver and beef lungs. Some additional additives would be
spices, onion, garlic and flavor extracts.
There is ongoing debate over the prolonged use of synthetic antioxidants in
pet foods. The only long-term feeding trials and studies done on dogs was
over 40 years ago. Basing it on todays standards they would be seriously
flawed both medically and scientifically.
Synthetic antioxidants disturb the bodys natural antioxidant system,
resulting in imbalances of essential vitamins and minerals. Dog foods that

~ 22 ~
have not had chemical antioxidants added at the time of processing usually
contain ingredients such as tallow or other fats and oils. These fats and oils
are usually preserved with these antioxidants. So if the claim is all-natural
ingredients, then the antioxidant preservatives in their raw state should not
have been altered by the addition of synthetic antioxidants, prior to them
being added to the dog food.
Two of the most common synthetic antioxidants used in dog food today is
BHA and BHT. These increase the toxicity of other chemicals and their
mutagenicity. It has also been proven that they increase the amount of
tumors from chemical carcinogens and increase the sensitivity to radioactive
exposure from X-rays.
With the rise in pet leukemias, lymphomas, hemangiosarcomas and
immunosuppressive disorders, it begs the question why the manufacturers
of these foods continue to produce these products. Consumers need to
challenge the industry and request documentation on the safety and benefits
for both long term and short term use of these additives in our pets foods. I
have yet to run across a dog that is concerned about the color or texture of
their food.

Therapeutic Nutrition
This enhances healing in the animal by giving the cells a better
environment for regeneration and for overcoming the stress caused from
injury or disease. Nutrients work more slowly than drugs, but at the end of
the day they are far superior in restoring function and balance to the body.
Drugs treat symptoms and nutrients correct the health problem and assist
the body to rebuild healthy tissue.
Vitamin C is required for the production of collagen, carnitine, epinephrine,
cortisone and hormones. It also strengthens the vascular walls, helps
transport electrolytes, reduces free-radicals, enhances the immune system
and helps as an antiviral. Increased supplementation of vitamin C has shown
to be successful in the treatment of the following:



~ 23 ~




Bacterial and viral infections

Periodontal disease


Wound healing

Physical trauma

An important study that was done on German Shepherd Dogs over a five
year timeframe clearly showed the valuable importance of vitamin C. Eight
litters of German Shepherd puppies were studied from parents that had hip
dysplasia. The pregnant bitch was supplemented before whelping with 2 to 4
grams of vitamin C daily. From the puppies' birth and into their second year,
they were given between 100 mg and 2000 mg vitamin C daily. Every one of
those dogs had no evidence of hip dysplasia.
Another study was performed in Norway regarding the use of Vitamin C
(Ester-C) on dogs that had chronic joint, muscle and skeletal inflammation.
There were over 100 dogs in the study group. After administering vitamin C
at 90 mg per kilogram of body weight, in divided doses daily over 6 months,
improvements were already seen in six weeks. The dogs that had
significant improvement in six weeks had ailments like hip dysplasia,
arthropathies, spondylosis and intervertebral disc disease.
Another vitamin utilized widely in therapeutic nutrition is Vitamin E. This is
a potent antioxidant and has many applications in dog health and therapy. It
is a preventative in cardiovascular disease, cataracts, myopathies, skin
diseases and inflammatory conditions. It is also essential to the immune
system and has been proven to strengthen resistance to disease.
Vitamin A and beta-carotene, its precursor, are great for skin diseases and
for the immune system. This antioxidant prevents cancer, slows down aging
and protects the body from pollutants and chemicals. It has been proven
beneficial for eye cataracts, glaucoma and conjunctivitis. It also helps with
immune dysfunctions and dermatitis.

~ 24 ~
The B complex vitamins are also used extensively in therapeutic nutrition.
They help with acute stress, allergies, infections, energy production and
growth. This vitamin also assists with acquiring a healthy immune system.
Essential and trace minerals are lacking in our dogs' modern day diets.
Many dogs develop pica from a lack of these trace elements. Supplementing
with selenium helps with their deficiency. Trace minerals help with the

Darker, thicker coats

Reducing inflammation and scratching

Reducing flakey skin

Enhancing appetite

Enhancing physical activity in older dogs

Amino acids and their derivatives are constituents of proteins. These

perform many biologic functions in the body from the production of
enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and immunoglobulins to the
structural proteins found in hair, skin, tendons and muscles.
If a dog is deficient in protein or amino acids in the diet they will exhibit a
loss of muscle mass, poor appearance and a loss of activity. Extreme stress
on the dog or an injury or illness can lead to muscle wasting and a negative
nitrogen balance.
Other amino acids or derivatives that are also favorable for the dogs health
are L-carnitine, glutamine, dimethylglycine and taurine. Supplementing with
these improves the myocardial function, appetite and exercise. Glutamine is
also useful as a supplement when a dog is experiencing times of injury,
stress or high endurance activities, to reduce the loss of muscle mass.
Dimethylglycine is beneficial in enhancing oxygen usage and in preventing
lactic acid build-up and improving muscle metabolism. Stamina and
endurance in dogs is improved, as is the cardiovascular system. It reduces
the recovery time from vigorous physical activity and also aids in seizures,
respiratory problems, allergic reactions and inflammation.
Another effective addition to your dogs diet is Coenzyme Q10. This
reduces the impact of ischemia to the heart by controlling the flow of oxygen

~ 25 ~
within individual cells. Coenzyme Q10 plays the role of an antioxidant for
cellular metabolism. The work it performs is to reduce the free-radical
damage brought about by the peroxidation of fatty acids. The main reason it
is used is for cardiovascular disorders like cardiomyopathy and myocardial
ischema. Congestive heart failure responds very well to supplementation
with coenzyme Q10.
Bovine cartilage has been found beneficial in treating osteoarthritis,
rheumatoid arthritis, and degenerative disk and spinal disorders. Bovine
cartilage has also been effective in treating glaucoma, various tumors and
certain types of cancer.
Shark cartilage has shown an even better advantage for treating certain
cancers. It has been discovered that the therapeutic effect of shark cartilage
was 1000 times more potent than bovine cartilage in inhibiting
angiogenesis. In various controlled studies it was shown that shark cartilage
was efficient at shrinking tumor masses and preventing the growth of new
blood vessels around tumor sites.
Both bovine and shark cartilage contain anti-inflammatory properties which
assist the body in regenerating connective tissue and repairing damaged
joints. Cartilage products work well with other modalities in the treatment of
connective tissue and joint problems.
Probiotics help the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, which is
vital to good health. Any kind of illness or injury, stress or poor diet can alter
the normal miocroflora, pH value and digestive processes in the gut. These
changes can delay healing and contribute to further ill health and disease.
Key bacteria you supply can feed nutrients to the host, promote better
digestion and turn out better food conversion.
By bringing probiotics into a preventative therapeutic program for your dog,
you will counter any negative influences from stress, illness or antibiotics
they have been on. Many kinds of stress have a negative impact on your
dogs microflora populations. This can arise from poor diet, diet changes,
birthing, weaning, close housing, shipping, exposure to pathogenic
organisms or viruses, weakened immune system, or a widespread work or
exercise schedule.
Probiotics will help to restore and maintain your dogs health under a
number of influences. This will help to establish a healthy gut environment

~ 26 ~
that can take on a number of stressors. They will neutralize the toxins and
produce a number of B vitamins and helpful enzymes.
Digestive enzymes are valuable in maintaining the health and proper
functioning of the dogs body. There are two main types of enzymes in the
body. The metabolic enzymes are catalysts to all cellular reactions. The
digestive enzymes break down the fats, proteins, carbohydrates and
cellulose, so that the nutrients from the foods are absorbed. The digestive
enzymes are created by the salivary glands, stomach, liver, and then are
secreted into the digestive tract.
In stressful times a full-spectrum digestive enzyme can aid in the normal
enzymatic activity of the body. This will help in the uptake of the nutrients
and help in adequate enzyme production of the body. Enzymes also have
immune-modulating properties and have been effective in the use of cancer
Therapeutic nutrition is based on the concept that if we provide the body
with the best environment we can, healing will happen on a higher level of
efficiency. There are no official guidelines for carrying out a protocol.

Nutraceuticals and Chondroprotectants

These have become a very popular alternative treatment for dogs suffering
from osteoarthritis. Chondroprotectants and nutraceuticals have been used
for degenerative joint disease with much success. Chondroprotectants are
available as an oral and injectable pharmaceutical.
These chondroprotective agents support and improve the normal structure
and functioning of the joint. They influence cartilage metabolism by
providing substrate and upregulating chondrocytes to help produce cartilage
substance. Another important role they play is inhibiting the degradative
Glucosamine supplements are usually found as glucosamine
hydrochloride or glucosamine sulfate. The tendency is to combine
glucosamine with other products such as chondroitin sulfate and
manganese ascorbate. Chondroitin sulfate decreases histamine mediated
inflammation and stimulates collagen synthesis.

~ 27 ~
New Zealand green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) is alleged to have
anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective actions. Dogs fed this did have an
improvement in joint swelling and in joint pain.
Bioflavonols also have strong antioxidant properties. Grapeseed meal is a
rich source of this and claims to alleviate inflammation from oxidative action,
as well as inhibit degradative enzymes that are released by cells.
Omega-3 fatty acids are available as a neutraceutical supplement. They
reduce inflammation in dogs suffering from osteoarthritis. Other areas of
benefit are skin disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer therapy and renal
Chondroprotectants are helpful in reducing the harmful effects of limb
immobilization after surgery. By immobilizing the joint the synovial fluid
production is depleted. Chondroprotectants reduce the amount of damage to
the joint and improve the chances for proper joint recovery.

Glandular Therapy
Glandular therapy came into the limelight back in the 1920s and 1930s.
The theory and findings were that large, tissue-specific molecules could be
taken into circulation and exert a biologic effect. In Europe researchers have
shown many studies to illustrate the specific effects of injected cells on
targeted tissues and organs.
An example of this research: thyroid cells were given to animals pretreated
with thyroid-damaging chemicals and they ended up with thyroids being
regenerated at an incredible rate. In addition to this, liver extracts were
infused into animals, stimulating liver growth in the test animals.
Cell therapy or glandular therapy is the injection of healthy cellular material
into a body that needs to have physical regeneration promoted. It stimulates
healing, counteracts aging and treats diseases such as arthritis and cancer.
There are a number of U.S. veterinarians using glandular therapy in their
practices. Using oral freeze-dried concentrated formulas of kidney, liver,
heart, thyroid, collagen, bone, spleen, adrenal, and pituitary tissues have
shown to get success when treating degenerative conditions. Cell therapy is
not a recommended choice of treatment for dogs with severe kidney disease,

~ 28 ~
liver failure or acute infectious or inflammatory processes. This is another
type of treatment that may be beneficial for some dogs.

Applied Kinesiology
This is a form of muscle testing which is very useful in checking various
muscle groups for strengths and weaknesses, to help determine what the
proper therapy is for a dog. Essentially, this is a muscle to organ to gland
connection, to determine what the cause of illness is. By checking the
resistance of the muscle when tested against various substances, we can see
if this is empowering to the body or disempowering.
To test an animal, a surrogate holds the substance in his/her hand and
places this hand on top of the dogs body while being tested. With the
surrogate's other arm extended parallel to the ground, the therapist presses
down on the arm to determine the strength of the muscle. The surrogates
ability to hold that arm upward against the pressure determines the energy
field. The energy flows from the dog through the surrogate and the
weakness or strength will be visible in the surrogates body. There will be
either a strong, normal or weak response and the therapist can then
determine structural, chemical, emotional or energetic imbalances. Applied
kinesiology can help the following:

Ongoing back pain

Confused animals

Depressed animals

Dogs with digestive problems

Allergies in dogs

Dogs with chronic and acute fatigue

Neck pain

Nervous system disorders

~ 29 ~

Nutritional imbalances

Trauma from injuries

Pain relief

Mental, physical and emotional stress




Muscle testing is a system of obtaining feedback to determine the current

functioning of the body. By applying a degree of pressure on the muscle of
the arm, it is possible to obtain information on energy blockages and
nutritional deficiencies, the health of the organs and possible allergies. If the
food substance is not available, by writing the name down on a piece of
paper and holding it you will get the same results. Science has yet to explain
that one!

Physical and Rehabilitation Therapy

Physical therapy, massage and the use of rehabilitation are all beneficial in
relieving pain, aiding healing, and in helping recover from musculoskeletal
injuries and surgeries. They range from the use of:

specific exercises and stretching

hydrotherapy pools and treadmills
electrical currents and laser therapy
heat and cold as well as ultrasound
Tellington Touch also known as TTouch uses rhythmic breathing and
circular touch to promote relaxation and address many other
problems. This involves the connection between you and your dog.
This is a type of hands on bodywork where the hands move the skin
and muscle in a clockwise circle
Massage- this releases toxins that is stored in the tissues. When heat
and cold are applied it helps speed up and brings healing to an area
by increasing the blood flow

~ 30 ~
I will touch more on each of these. Each has its value in assisting a dogs
recovery from surgery or illness.
Exercises and stretching produces certain changes in the tissues. These
changes can either strengthen, increase endurance for continuous activity
or increase extensibility under stretching stress. The soft tissues should
always be warmed up before performing exercises for flexibility. Stretching
exercises provide the dog with relief from trigger-point pain.
When stretching an animal, you should never go past their pain-free range.
If the joint is overstretched or stretched when cold, the protective muscle
will contract and the elongation effects are reduced. Overstretching can also
damage the collagen fibers and blood vessels causing considerable
If a muscle is repeatedly contracted and never stretched back to the
elongated position, the muscle will tend to stay in the shortened place. This
can lead to problems with the muscle and the tendon.
When a muscle is shortened it can cause tightness around the joints. This
tightness can produce uneven pressures through the articular cartilage,
which lines the surface of the joint. This irregular pressure can lead to
unbalanced wear on the cartilage that can, over time, lead to degenerative
joint changes, predisposing it to arthritis.
To safely and effectively stretch your dog there are five basic guidelines to
adhere to:

The muscles should be warm. By increasing the blood flow to the

muscles, the tissues get heated up. This in turn lubricates the joints
and prevents injuries. It also provides the best stretch and increased
range of motion. Warming up the muscle can be done by exercising for
a short period first. Over time the joint integrity decreases and so this
is very important for older dogs. An excellent exercise for this is
swimming, but if that is not possible a short ten minute walk outside
or on a treadmill will do.

The muscles should be completely relaxed. The muscle will not stretch
properly unless it is completely relaxed. Make sure you are relaxed
and calm when you begin, because if you are stressed or pressed for
time the dog will feel it. Place your hands on the dog and stroke

~ 31 ~
her/him while taking some deep breaths. The only way to get an
effective stretch is to have the dog lying down. Also recognize that
some of the body positions can be intimidating or threatening to
certain dogs. If your dog is rigid, excessively panting, shaking, pawing,
kicking, yawning, showing the whites of their eyes, licking their nose
or squirming, your dog is telling you that they are either stressed, in
pain or scared. Stop and give it a break. If your dog growls at you it is
advised to see a veterinarian to make sure everything is medically

The joint needs to be stabilized. If the bones are held properly, it

sends a message to the brain that the joint is secure and the muscles
can now relax. To achieve this you have to hold the bones above and
below the joint confidently and steadily.

Stretch the limbs using a straight plain movement. This is achieved by

holding the long bones of the limbs in alignment with the joint. By
stretching in this fashion we prevent injuring the dog by stretching
something we never intended to, like the medial ligaments of the
stifle. This is very important for the stifle joint and the hip joint. With
the frequency of hip dysplasia, patellar luxation and cruciate ligament
tears, it places both of these joints at a risk for injury. If your dog has
underlying conditions do not stretch them until you have gained
clearance from your veterinarian.

The stretch of the muscle needs to be held for at least 30 seconds. By

holding it this long it reaches both the elastic and non-elastic fibers of
the muscle. After the 30 seconds of stretching, the fibers will return to
their natural state and the integrity of the joint and the muscles
surrounding it will be improved.

The following are maintenance stretching routines for a healthy dog. If the
dog is very active then stretching them can be done more often. If the dog
is fairly inactive, it can be reduced. Performing these stretches two or three
times a week will be adequate for maintenance. Always follow the advice of
your veterinarian according to your dogs state of health and get an
allowance for performing any stretching exercises, especially for the stifle.

~ 32 ~

Figure 1 - Carpal Flexion

Support the radius and ulna in one hand and the canines foot in the other
hand. Keep the limb in a straight plane and gently flex holding for 30

Figure 2 - Carpal Extension

Support the radius and ulna in one hand and the foot in the other, and
gently extend the carpus, remembering to keep the limb in a straight
plane. Hold for 30 seconds.

~ 33 ~

Figure 3 - Shoulder Flexion

While maintaining a straight plane, reach the elbow forward and let it
straighten as the leg reaches forward. The scapula will rotate in the direction
of the stretch. Continue to reach forward until a little resistance is felt and
hold for 30 seconds.

Figure 4 - Shoulder Extension

Reach the dogs elbow backwards allowing it to straighten as the leg also
moves back. Keep the straight plane throughout the stretch. Allow the
scapula to rotate while you continue to press downwards towards the ribs.
Keep reaching the leg backwards until a slight resistance is felt and hold for
30 seconds.

~ 34 ~

Figure 5 - Stifle Flexion

In a straight plane position, have one hand on the femur to stabilize it and
bend the knee bringing the hock up towards the hip. When a little
resistance is felt, hold there for 30 seconds. Always monitor your dog for
any sign of discomfort.

Figure 6 - Stifle Extension

From a straight plane position, with one hand stabilizing the femur, gently
straighten the stifle downwards. When you notice some resistance, hold for
30 seconds.

~ 35 ~

Figure 7 - Hip Extension

Align the hind limb with the hip joint so to keep a straight plane. With the
stabilizing hand, extend the leg backwards. Stretch only until you feel a little
resistance and then hold for 30 seconds.

Figure 8 - Hip Straight Leg Stretch

Keeping the leg position in a straight plane, press down towards the table
with your stabilizing hand as you guide the leg forward for the leg to
straighten. When you notice a little resistance, hold for 30 seconds.

~ 36 ~

Figure 9 - Hip Bent Leg Stretch

Pressing down towards the table with the stabilizing hand, bring the stifle
forward against the side of the stomach. When you feel a slight resistance,
hold for 30 seconds.

Figure 10 - Digit Flexion

Wiggle the dogs bones on their feet back and forth a few times. Hold for 30
seconds. Do both front feet as well as both back feet. This stretching
ensures that the muscles and nerves in their feet remain healthy.

~ 37 ~

Figure 11 - Hock Flexion

With the stabilizing hand hold the tibia firmly and hold the metatarsals with
the other hand. Being in a straight plane, flex the hock until you notice a
slight resistance. At this point, hold for 30 seconds.

Figure 12 - Hock Extension

Extend the hock as far as it will go. The hock never goes completely
straight because it cant. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

~ 38 ~

Figure 13 - Neck Flexion

Place your hand high on the dogs nose and position the other hand gently
but firmly at the base of the skull. With the stabilizing hand guide the upper
neck into a flexed position. While you are drawing the chin towards the
chest with the other hand, hold for 30 seconds.

Figure 14 - Neck Extension

Take your stabilizing hand and cup the base of the skull firmly. Have the
other hand hold the mandible from below. Guide the neck into an extended
position as you lift the chin with the other hand. Lift the neck until you
notice some resistance and then hold for 30 seconds.

~ 39 ~

Figure 15 - Neck Rotation

With the stabilizing hand carefully guide the upper neck into a rotated
position. Turn the dogs chin upwards to the ceiling until you notice some
resistance and hold for 30 seconds.

Figure 16 - Back Flexion

Place one hand in the middle of the rib cage and the other on the pelvis.
Slowly pull your hands towards each other and hold for 30 seconds. Dogs
have floating ribs so it is important to place the hand in the middle of the rib
cage where the joints are stable. With large dogs the right hand can be
positioned at the base of the neck. Do not stretch any dog that has back
pain without first consulting with your veterinarian.

~ 40 ~

Figure 17 - Back Extension

By placing one hand on the thoracic spine and the other on the ribs just
below the forearms, you can maintain stable and firm pressure. Gently pull
the ribs towards your body. For very small dogs this is performed differently
by placing one hand on the low back and pelvis while the other hand is on
the ribs. Degenerative disc disease and arthritis can be made worse by this
stretch. Always check with your veterinarian prior to any stretching
program for your dog.

Stretching techniques are usually carried out together with ROM (Range
of Motion) exercises. By working them in conjunction with each other you
will improve the flexibility of the joints and the extensibility of periarticular
tissues, muscles and tendons. The difference between ROM exercises and
stretching is that passive ROM exercises only take structures through the
available range. Stretching takes the tissues beyond the normal ROM.
Static stretching is performed by placing the joint in a position so that the
muscles and connective tissues are stretched, while being held in an
immobile position with the tissues at their greatest length. These stretches
are held for 15 to 30 seconds. With this form of stretching there is less force
applied, and therefore lessening the chance of damage to the tissues. When
performing this type of stretching, the dog needs to be as relaxed as
possible to allow the greatest extension of the muscles and tissues with as
little resistance as possible.
Prolonged mechanical stretching is a low-intensity stretch similar to the
static stretch. The difference with the prolonged stretch is that its

~ 41 ~
lengthened. With this type of stretch, splints or other adaptive tools are
used to help provide the prolonged stretch to tissues.
Stretching and ROM exercises are crucial to a complete rehabilitation
program for your dog. They increase the tissue mobility and ROM for the
joint. The functional use of the limb will be greatly enhanced by them.
Ballistic stretching uses high-intensity, short duration bouncing stretches.
The quick movements are used to stretch the connective tissues and
muscles. This type of stretching is not suitable for patients in the early
postoperative period. It also should not be used on traumatized tissues,
tissues that are inflamed or edematous. There is a risk of tissue injury with
this form of stretching if not used correctly. This is best suited for dogs
which perform agility, jump and turn sharply or play frisbee.
When stretching, joints should never be forced into an uncomfortable
position past the ROM. Pain should not be part of the equation during or
after stretching. The main goal is to stretch and realign the connective
tissues and not injure them. If tendons or ligaments have been injured no
stretching should be done until the tissues can withstand the stress. If
surgery has been done to repair a fracture, care needs to be taken in the
delicate site.
Stretching and ROM exercises are crucial to a complete rehabilitation
program for your dog. They increase the tissue mobility and ROM for the
joint. The functional use of the limb will be greatly enhanced by them.
Range of Motion (ROM) exercises are highly beneficial for dogs after
surgery or for dogs with chronic conditions. The full motion that a joint can
be moved through is called the ROM. The following are some of the benefits
from a ROM regime:

Increased flexibility

Prevention of adhesions between soft tissues and bones

Creates the altering of periarticular fibrosis

Improves the muscle and soft tissue extensibility

Increases function ability of the joints to prevent injury

~ 42 ~
When a dog has been immobilized the ROM exercises are valuable to reduce
the effects of disuse. For a canine patient to maintain their ROM, the joints
and muscles need to be moved periodically through their available ranges.
These movements can be active, active assisted or passive. Whichever
method is utilized, there is always a load placed on the soft tissues. This
load helps to maintain the articular cartilage, muscles, ligaments and
tendons in good physical shape.
Passive ROM is when the joint movement is performed with the aid of an
external force, without the muscle contractions. The pressure at the end of
the ROM is the stretching. It is important that the dog is relaxed and
comfortable and to be gentle and not create pain. To avoid any stress on
the joint, the proximal and distal bones to the joint need to be supported.
The motion should be smooth, slow and steady. The dog needs to be
monitored for any discomfort and the procedure altered if need be.
To begin passive ROM exercises very gently massage the dog to relax them
completely. Place one hand to the portion of the limb above the joint and
the other to a portion of the limb below the affected joint. Make sure the
entire limb is supported and then slowly and gently flex the treated joint.
Attempt to not move the other joints while working on the injured one
because some may be restricted by the position above or below the target
joint. With the hands in the same positions slowly extend the joint. Extend it
until the first sign of initial discomfort from the patient. These signs could be
tensing of the limb, moving, vocalizing, pulling away, or turning their head
towards you.
The number of treatments and ROM exercises performed depend on the
condition being treated. For most postoperative routine conditions, 15 to 20
repetitions performed 2 to 4 times a day are adequate. As the ROM returns
to normal, the frequency can be lessened. Flexing and extending the joints
of a limb in a pattern that resembles a normal gait can be helpful for
neuromuscular re-education.
Active assisted ROM is when the patient uses some degree of their own
muscle strength, as well as the therapists guidance, for the joints mobility
to take place. These types of assisted ROM exercises are most beneficial for
the patient that is weak and/or recovering from lower motor neuron

~ 43 ~
Another method of active assisted ROM exercise can be achieved while
swimming. Dogs which are not capable of walking on the ground will
benefit from controlled swimming. This is where the therapist moves the
canines limbs and joints while they are in the water with them. The
buoyancy of the water supports the weight of the dog, while the therapist
focuses on aiding the limb through a normal cycle of movement.
The negative effects of immobilization can be combated with active assisted
ROM. This is the next step in the process of joint mobilization during a
rehabilitation program. Active assisted ROM can be carried out whether a
patient is walking on a ground treadmill or during a swimming session,
where the therapist assists to move the limb at the correct phase of the gait
Active ROM is when the joint achieves the motion by active muscle
contraction. This increases the strength and the coordination between the
muscle groups. Activities to achieve this are:

Walking in water


Walking in tall grass

Walking in snow

Walking in sand

Climbing stairs

Crawling through a tunnel

Negotiating cavaletti rails

As the dogs flexion and extension of the joint improves it is useful to

continue providing passive ROM exercises and stretching. By doing this you
will be working through the complete ROM possible and then can further aid
by providing active ROM through the increased motion to accentuate more
inclusive use of the limb. To perform the active ROM greater muscle
strength is required and some of the special conditions require more
strength than normal walking or trotting.

~ 44 ~
Active ROM exercises are implemented when the patient is able to ambulate
and move the affected limb. Joints do not go through a complete ROM when
walking or trotting. Swimming or walking in water delivers a greater flexion
of the joints. Dogs with condylar fractures of the distal humerus must start
active ROM to prevent permanent joint stiffness.
In a study of dogs following cranial cruciate ligament rupture, commonly
known as ACL injury, dogs not getting early passive and active ROM
exercises ended up with reduced stifle extension. In some dogs this loss of
extension was permanent if not achieved within two weeks. Dogs which
received the correct rehabilitation had the return of near normal stifle
In another study on the structural consequences to a shoulder joint after 12
weeks of immobilization, it was discovered that the passive ROM was
markedly impaired. The functional and structural changes were unchanged
after 4 weeks of remobilization. Interestingly, at 8 weeks they began to
reverse and by 12 weeks they had returned to normal. This shows that an
uninjured but immobilized joint has the capacity to return to normal
functioning again.
Therapeutic exercises are one of the most important modalities in any
rehabilitation program. These exercises can provide some or all of the

Active and pain-free range of motion

Muscle strength is improved

Muscle mass is increased

Balance with movement is better

Aerobic capacity is improved

Further injuries are prevented

Weight is reduced

Recovery from lameness

~ 45 ~
There are a number of activities that achieve this. Below is a list of some of
the choices:

Controlled leash exercises

Various standing exercises

Climbing up stairs

Walking on a treadmill

Wheelbarrow exercise (for forelimb activity)

Dancing exercise (for rear limb activity)

Jogging (when suitable)

Sit-to-stand exercise

Pulling weights or carrying weights

Cavaletti rail walking or trotting

Ball playing

Balance balls or rolls

When any kind of rehabilitation program is being tailored to a specific dog,

there are a number of factors to consider. The type of injury and exercise
will vary with each stage that the tissue repair is in. As the dog improves
physically and healing is clearly taking hold, the exercise regime should be
altered and matched to the dogs progress.
Exercises can be either increased or reduced by changing the duration of
the time that the dog performs the regime. The frequency of the specific
exercise and the rate of speed it is performed can also can be adjusted, and
this reduces the intensity of the exercise. All programs should be monitored
at regular intervals to avoid unsuitable stresses, further injuries or
exacerbation of an existing condition.
Assisted standing exercises are helpful for dogs with severe injuries or
incapacitating conditions, where they cant stand and support their own
body weight. By having the canine stand on their own or with assistance,
this will:

~ 46 ~

strengthen them

improve circulation and respiration

allow them to be able to eliminate

enhance their psychological well-being

These standing exercises, which are aided by a therapist or owner,

encourage neuromuscular functioning, reeducate the muscles while
increasing the strength and stamina of the supporting muscles, and
increase the nerve impulses to the muscles.
A dog with neurological problems or orthopedic injuries is a great
candidate for this type of exercise. This type of exercise is one of the
first recommended for dogs that are unable to completely bear weight and
are on pain medication. If a dog is in pain, it will resist standing and injure
itself further, or possibly the therapist, while attempting to perform the
Body slings or harnesses are beneficial supports for standing and
walking. If a dog spends prolonged time lying down due to the inability to
stand on their own, it can lead to excessive congestion of the lungs. It is
important that the sling or harness is adjusted to fit properly or their
breathing will be compromised. Make sure that there is adequate padding
for the dog.
Maximal assisted standing is a method for canines that are unable to
support their own weight due to paralysis, pain, trauma, postoperative
precautions or debilitation. With this procedure 75% to 100% of the dogs
weight is supported by the handler to gain a standing position. Dogs that
cannot get up on their own from a lateral position and dogs which cannot
support their own body weight are candidates for maximal assisted lifts.
To do standing exercises with a dog that needs a sling, a towel can be
placed underneath the cranial thorax and/or abdomen, or both, for any
condition affecting the forelimbs, rear limbs or both. Once the dog is in a
standing position supported by the handler(s) the dog is positioned squarely
on the ground in a normal stance.
When this assisted procedure is done, the handler slowly releases the
tension on the sling to help the dog to use its own strength to support itself.

~ 47 ~
By doing so, the canines strength, balance and coordination is
challenged. The repetitions for this are two to three times a day, 10 to 15
repetitions, up to a period of 5 minutes per session. Track the dogs
progress and tolerance. Every dog is different and some may require a rest
in between.
Active assisted standing is performed when the dog can hold most of its
own weight and only less than 75% of its weight is needing support by the
handler. The stronger the dog becomes and the more endurance it has, the
session durations are increased, rest periods decreased and assistance
decreased. The handler provides only the necessary assistance required.
Active assisted standing with carts and slings allow the dog to have a
degree of independence. This also reduces the support needed by the owner
or caregiver. There are two-wheeled carts for dogs which can use their
forelimbs. Four-wheeled carts are for those dogs that have all four limbs
affected. These carts need to be adjusted so that the dog can place their
feet on the ground in a normal position. If a cart is not adjusted properly it
can compromise circulation and place undue pressure on the tissues.
Active assisted standing with exercise rolls (physio-roll) is useful for
helping the dog with weight-bearing and weight-shifting. With larger dogs
this generally requires two handlers to assist with the rolls. The dog is
placed over the roll allowing them to touch the ground with all four feet. The
roll gives better lateral support and stability than the exercise ball.
Rolls that are deflated slightly are easier to work with and they conform to
the dogs body better. Usually one handler stabilizes the front of the dog
and the other stabilizes the rear. As the roll is shifted forward and
backwards, the animal becomes stronger and the neuromuscular functions
and balance is challenged.
Standby assisted standing is performed when the dog has the necessary
strength and coordination to support itself in a standing position. A dog may
still get a loss of coordination of the muscles and a loss of balance. The
therapist should be ready to assist the dog if it is needed to prevent a fall.
Weight shifting can be accomplished very easily by using a treat or a ball
when the dog is standing. With the dog interested in the treat or toy, the
movement of the head will cause the dogs center of gravity to shift. While

~ 48 ~
shifting their weight to be balanced, it requires coordination, balance and

Figure 18 - Weight Shift Exercise

Weight shifting can also be performed by using a towel as a sling

underneath the abdomen. Gently shift the dogs weight from side to side by
moving the towel back and forth under the abdomen.
Another technique with weight shifting is to gently push on the dog at the
healthy hip or shoulder. This will cause the dog to recover its balance
without losing position and falling. This can also be done while walking the
dog. Be cautious not to push too hard to cause the dog to fall over.

~ 49 ~

Manual unloading of one limb during a stance will cause a shift in the
dogs center of gravity (COG). The dog will shift its bodyweight to maintain
a standing position. The therapist can lift each leg separately to see where
the dog is weakest and then focus on working that leg.

Figure 19 - Manual Uploading Exercise

By shifting the dogs center of gravity it forces them to redistribute their own
Balance board exercises are similar to the human version of the
Biomechanical Ankle Platform System. The dog rocks forwards and
backwards, side to side, diagonally and 360 degrees on a small platform.
One person helps support the dog while another gently rocks the platform
with the dogs hind limbs or forelimbs on the board.
Exercise balls are used for general stretching, coordination and balance.
The dogs forelimbs are placed over the ball and supported by the handler.
The ball is slowly guided forward and backward, side to side, challenging the
rear legs to maintain balance.
Walking slings need to be flexible and should conform to the body. There
are slings for the forelimbs or for the hind limbs available. Rear slings need
a recessed area so bowel and bladder function is not impeded. You can
actually get these with adjustable handles so that in the process of assisting
your dog you are not straining your back.

~ 50 ~
Towels can be used to help a dog that needs assistance with standing or
walking. You can use this like a body sling being careful not to put pressure
on the dogs urinary bladder.
Canine Carts help dogs be ambulatory if they cannot get around on their
own without some assistance. A dog that has paralysis, severe arthritis, and
trauma in more than one limb or overall general weakness, can benefit
enormously from two-wheel or four-wheel carts. Carts can help a dog
temporarily or permanently to become mobile. The positive effect it has on
the animals psychological well-being is enormous.

Figure 20 - Canine Carts

When getting a cart for your dog it is important that it is fitted correctly. It
needs to have enough padding for comfort and to prevent sore spots on the
skin. The cart should not interfere with the use of the functional limbs. The
dogs exercise area needs to be free of obstacles and stairs should be
Leash walking is another important exercise in the early stages of
rehabilitation. This encourages the use of all legs in a slow methodical
fashion. The dog has to be walked very slowly to encourage the even use of
all limbs. If the dog is walked too quickly, the affected limbs will not bear
weight correctly. These slow leash walks can usually begin very quickly after
Eventually the dog may regain even use of all limbs and faster walks will be
permitted. Walking faster will challenge the dogs balance, coordination,
cardiorespiratory endurance, muscle strength and endurance. Eventually
running may be part of the regime.

~ 51 ~
Inclines and declines challenge the dog while working the quadriceps and
gluteal muscles in a low impact form of exercise. For a dog to walk up an
incline, muscle strength in the hips and stifles is needed. The walking needs
to be done slowly otherwise the dog could wind up toe-touching and not
bearing weight.
When the dog is walking on an incline, if the head is held up slightly the
weight is shifted to the rear of the dog and they will use their rear muscles
more to drive up the hill. Extension at the knee and the hip is promoted
when weight-bearing while climbing.
If a dog is experiencing pain or discomfort in the limb, the dogs stance time
will be shortened and an altered gait could result. Inclines and declines need
to be introduced slowly to the dog. Walking downhill is more difficult,
because the dog will have to reach under their body with the hind limbs,
requiring them to flex the hock, stifle and hip.
Standing or walking on foam, rubber, mattresses or air mattresses
provides a real challenge on the animals walking ability. These all allow the
dog to deal with various surfaces that have some degree of resiliency.
Stair climbing is introduced when the dog is walking with decreased
lameness and can walk uphill with minimal difficulty. Stair climbing
increases power in the rear limb extensors, range of motion, coordination
and balance. If the dog is consistently using the limb with decreasing
lameness, and the repair to the leg has stabilized, the dog can begin to do
stair climbing. Start with five to seven steps at a time and gradually
increase to two to four flights of stairs once or twice daily.
Walking on a land treadmill is also very beneficial in canine
rehabilitation. These appliances are very useful in patterning the gait and
for initial weight-bearing after surgery. Most dogs will begin to use the leg
on a treadmill if they are holding the foot near the surface of the ground.
The treadmill should not face a wall, so it will not discourage forward
motion. If someone stands in front of the dog encouraging her/him and
someone stands behind the dog, it helps to keep the dog walking straight.
For dogs suffering from neurological problems, the therapist can stand
beside the dog and assist the foot manually to go forward to encourage
normal gait movement and encourage gait reeducation. Treadmills are also

~ 52 ~
helpful for canines with hip dysplasia or for recovery from cranial cruciate
For some dogs treadmill walking is less painful because the belt helps pull
the rear limb back. Contraction of the gluteal and quadriceps muscles is
lessened for joint extension when walking on a treadmill versus walking on
land. The treadmill can also be angled up or down which will have an impact
on the forces placed on the forelimbs or hind limbs.
Dancing and Wheelbarrowing are exercises to increase the use of the
forelimbs or the hind limbs. Dancing increases weight on the rear limbs but
also challenges nerve impulses to the muscles, coordination and balance.
While dancing, when the front legs are lifted off the ground, the weight
shifts to the hind limbs promoting stifle, hock and hip extension. The higher
the dog is elevated, the more extension is necessary.

Figure 21 - Dog Dance Exercise

A dog needs to be physically able to perform these exercises and it is best

to ensure your veterinarian gives the clearance for that.
Wheelbarrowing is similar to dancing with a dog except that the forelimbs
are targeted. The dogs forelimbs are challenged with this exercise, as well
as coordination and balance. Only orthopedically stable dogs can handle this
To perform this exercise the handler places the hands under the caudal
abdomen and lifts the rear legs of the dog off of the ground, moving in a
forward position. The higher the dog is raised, the more force that is placed
on the dogs forelimbs.

~ 53 ~
Jogging can only be done when the dog shows no visible signs of lameness
or pain after the surgical repairs. This practice should start slowly at .5 to 3
minutes, one to three times daily. Monitor the dog for any lameness after
Sit-to-stand exercises are beneficial for strengthening the hip and stifle
extensor muscles and improving the range of motion. Going from sitting to
standing requires muscle strength of the quadriceps, hamstring, and
gastrocnemius muscle groups.
Attention needs to be paid to sitting and standing straight with no leaning to
one side and the dog should be sitting squarely on its haunches. The sit-tostands can be repeated a number of times before the dog needs to take a
break. Starting with 5 to 10 repetitions, once or twice daily, working up to
15 repetitions, three to four times daily, will be a healthy program to adhere
to. Dogs that have osteoarthritis in the hips are helped by this exercise.
Down-to-stand exercises are also highly valuable for the dog. Rising from
a horizontal position to a vertical one and then to a stand is good for the
dog to push off on all four limbs. It is important to have the dog rise
Cavaletti Rails are low, level poles on the ground, spaced apart. This
exercise encourages greater range of motion and lengthened strides in all
limbs. For animals recovering from a neurological impairment they help with
balance and coordination. If you dont have access to cavaletti rails use a
step ladder laid on the ground. Unfortunately you cant change the height or
the distance between the rungs of the ladder. Either way, this exercise
helps with accuracy of placement of the limbs.
Walking in tall grass, sand or snow enhances muscle strength and
endurance and coordination. Dogs will flex their joints more when walking in
tall grass. Walking in deep snow or in sand provides resistance to the limbs
and strengthens the flexor muscles. Standing in sand can help dogs with
neurological disorders.
Pole weaving is good for the side bending of the dogs trunk and
challenges the nerve impulses for the dog. This also strengthens the
abductor and adductor muscles. The distance between the poles should be a
little less than the body of the dog. The handler must lead the dog through

~ 54 ~
the poles so that the head, neck and body actually flex as they negotiate
the poles.
Tunnels for dogs are common in agility. The size of the tunnel opening
should be appropriate for the size of the dog. The dog is coaxed to crouch
down and crawl through the tunnel, which requires more limb flexion and
strength than walking.
Pulling or carrying weight usually involves the use of a harness. A
harness needs to be padded and comfortable. The positions of the head and
neck are important in determining whether a dog pulls the weight with the
forelimbs or with the hind limbs. If the head and neck are carried low to the
ground the dog is probably pulling the weight with its forelimbs. If the head
and neck are held high, the dog is using the rear limbs to drive the body
Another method used for rehabilitation is weights strapped to the dogs rear
legs. They can be lead strips or the kind of weights that people use and
strap on. A guideline to use for weights is:

Dogs 10 to 20 lbs use lb leg weights

Dogs 20 to 40lbs use 1 lb weights

Dogs 40 to 60lbs use 1 lb weights

Dogs 60 lbs plus use 2 lb weights

Introduce the weights on a cautious basis, as some dogs will shake their
legs and could cause injury to themselves. Dogs can also utilize weights by
carrying them in a backpack. Weights need to be loaded equally on both
sides. Much greater muscle force is required to go from a sitting to a stand
position with weights.
Controlled ball playing is one of the most fun and therapeutic exercises
that is available for dogs. Care needs to be taken when playing after
surgery because this can do potential damage to a joint that was operated
on. The degree of activity is based upon the surgery that was performed.
The degree that the tissue has healed also plays a factor, as well as the
condition of the tissue. Ball playing should never be done in an explosive
fashion with the dog. This exercise increases the speed of the dog, the
power and the muscle strength.

~ 55 ~
Variables need to be considered in any rehabilitation program: the severity
of the condition, the type of surgery that was done, the number of involved
limbs and joints, size of the animal, condition of the animal, any preexisting physical conditions. There is no one protocol for any one condition.
Each dog is different.
A consistent level of exercise should be done every day. For most animals
several short sessions are more effective than a single long session. The
routine needs to be varied to avoid boredom and weight control needs to be
monitored. A rehabilitation program does not need to be costly. These
therapeutic exercises are critical to your pet's end result. Hydrotherapy is
one of the most successful rehabilitation exercises. Check out all of your
For information regarding a hydrotherapy program to rehabilitate your dog
from surgery or illness, or to maintain their vitality and health, refer to
Chapter One, where I offer great detail. Hydrotherapy is one of the best
forms of therapeutic exercise you can do for your dog. Dogs of all physical
states can participate in hydrotherapy and benefit from it.

Electric Currents and Laser therapy is becoming mainstream in

veterinary care. Electrical stimulation is effective in the following:

Increasing range of motion

Improving muscle strength

Muscle re-education

Correcting structural abnormalities

Boosting muscle tone

Enhancing functioning

Managing pain

Speeding up wound healing

Reducing edema

Decreasing muscle spasms

~ 56 ~

Enhancing transdermal administration of medication

There are three different types of currents that are used: continuous direct;
continuous alternating; pulsed current. Patients that have just had surgery
and are unable or unwilling to produce a maximum voluntary muscle
contraction, these units are beneficial for creating that stronger muscle
Electrical stimulation is also beneficial in treating dogs that have had
surgery for chronic hip luxations and any other surgery where muscle mass
needs to be quickly restored. For a conservative approach it can also be
implemented in shoulder instability and iliopsoas muscle trauma. The
application varies slightly with each patient, but the usual frequency of
treatment is 15 to 20 minutes, three to seven times a week.
Laser therapy is given a number of terms from low-energy laser therapy
(LELT), low-level laser therapy (LLLT), low-intensity laser therapy (LILT)
and more inclusive is low-energy photon therapy (LEPT).
These laser therapies, whether soft or cold, are being applied in the
treatment for soft tissue trauma, wounds, ulcers, and tendonitis. They have
become important modalities in preoperative or post operative care,
biological transformations and pain relief.
Not every laser is the same and different types are used for different health
issues. Each has its own characteristics and each provides different biological
effects. Lasers that are best suited for wound and ulcer treatment are the
HeNe. This type of laser is one of the oldest types with a biostimulating
effect. It emits a red, visible light in either a continuous or pulsed emission.
The GaAs laser is most suitable for pain relief in the deeper tissues. The
emission from this type is invisible in the infrared range and is always
pulsed. Certain conditions benefit from the use of both types of laser
For the best possible results in acute soft tissue injuries, LEPT treatment
should be administered as soon as possible after injury. This type does not
enter into the deeper tissues and results are better with superficial injuries.
This kind of laser can accelerate the healing and bring relief from pain. It is
important to note that despite no indication of pain, the healing process may
be ongoing. Resuming too strenuous of exercise too soon afterwards can
result in re-injury.

~ 57 ~
The energy to the cells is increased from the photons of light penetrating the
tissues. This speeds up the process of absorbing nutrients, accelerating
growth and healing while flushing out the toxins and waste. In addition to
this, the laser stimulates the development of fibroblasts. These are the
building blocks of collagen which is necessary for repairing ligaments,
tendons and muscles.
Laser light therapy increases blood flow and the formation of new capillaries
in damaged tissues. It also accelerates the lymphatic flow, reducing edema
and inflammation. It has been found to be beneficial for treating peripheral
nerve and spinal cord injuries in dogs.
Dogs with cancer should not receive laser therapy if a recurrence or
metastases are possible. If the dog is at the palliative care stage, laser can
be used for pain control. There have not been enough studies performed to
determine how tumors will respond to laser therapy.

Heat and Cold has been used for centuries to help with relieving pain, soft
tissue injuries, joint injuries, and tissue healing. Affecting the plasticity of
connective tissues from muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint capsules, heat
and cold can be delivered through hot or cold packs, hot or cold whirlpools,
luminous or non-luminous infrared, ice massage, contrast baths or

Cryokinetics is cryotherapy with motion combined. This facilitates normal

pain-free movement early in the rehabilitation process, and also reduces the
edema. Ice packs will cool tissues for a longer time than gel packs.
Rewarming of the animal will take several hours after removing the cold
pack. Whether using ice or a commercial gel pack, the body temperature
drops immediately and reaches its peak 30 minutes later.
There are a variety of cryotherapy methods available and they are
influenced by the following factors:

Phase of tissue repair

Physiologic goals (analgesia, reduce edema, pump the lymphatics)
How deep to penetrate

~ 58 ~

Area being treated

Activities pursued or exercise goals

Acute inflammation (bursitis, tenosynovitis, and tendinitis) is greatly assisted

by cryotherapy. Always be aware of the condition of the skin to prevent
frostbite or cold-induced injuries. Most sessions are 20 minutes in duration,
but animals cant tell us when they feel burning, stinging, aching or
numbness, so monitoring them the whole time is critical. Check for white or
pale skin which could be an indication that cold-induced tissue damage is
The easiest method to use an ice pack is to wrap a freezer bag containing ice
in a thin cloth and apply it to the area. Prevent direct contact of the ice with
the dogs skin. After the first 5 or 10 minutes check for frostbite and
continue for 20 minutes if all is fine.
Cold Compression packs are available in the stores and utilize
compression with cryotherapy. A sleeve containing cold water applies
compression to the treated area. This is very effective in the acute phase of
tissue inflammation and healing.
Cold Contrast Immersion and Baths are another way to provide relief
and immediate first aid following injury. Cold immersion exposes the largest
area of the body to cold which results in the greatest decrease in tissue
temperature. Following injury, the animal is emerged in a slush ice bath. The
analgesic effect permits the animal to perform cryokinetics without difficulty.
The contrast baths where the injured body part is immersed in cold water
and then immersed in hot water has been used for flushing debris and
inflammation from the area.
Ice Massage provides effective and fast relief to the area when the muscle
is in a gentle stretch. Ice massage is done parallel to the muscle fibers. This
technique is handy for small and irregular areas. The time for treatment is
usually 5 to 10 minutes until the area is numb.
Vapocoolant Sprays are not as effective because of the dogs hair. You
would spray these on the trigger points being careful not to get it in the
eyes. This product should also not be ingested.

~ 59 ~
The treatment of cryotherapy depends on the seriousness of the injury, the
area and the desired outcome. Cryotherapy is for the support of pain-free
exercise and for reactive swelling and pain following exercise.
Heat is used for its rehabilitative effects on the neuromuscular and
connective-tissue components. It is best used after the acute inflammatory
phase of tissue healing has passed. If heat is used too soon it can
exacerbate the swelling, pain, heat and operational loss.
Using heat for therapy will accelerate the biochemical enzymatic and
metabolic reactions. Heat will increase the oxygen uptake, and accelerate
tissue healing. Depending on the severity of the injury and the phase that
the patient is in recovery, usually a 30 to 45 minute treatment is applied.
Thermal heat therapy and cryotherapy are two modalities used in the
treatment for rehabilitation in musculoskeletal injuries in dogs. An accurate
assessment must be made initially, followed by treatment sessions. These
therapeutic measures are invaluable for preparation to the ultimate
rehabilitative modality, which is regular exercise. Of course it would be
controlled and then free.

Ultrasound is an effective treatment modality for rehabilitation with

musculoskeletal conditions which involve restricted range of motion from
pain, muscle spasms and wound healing. Absorption comes from the
transmitting of energy from the sound beam into the tissues. These sound
waves transfer their energy into the molecules they pass. Tissues with high
protein contents receive a higher rate of absorption than fatty tissues.
There are three methods for ultrasound use on dogs; direct coupling,
immersion and the use of coupling cushions. Direct coupling involves a
surface that is flat and usually larger than the applicator surface. With
immersion the temperature achieved was less than direct coupling. The
coupling cushion method is done by placing a water filled balloon between
the transducer head and the skin. The most effective is the direct coupling
If the dogs hair has been clipped, the temperatures in the tissues reached
better warming than if the dog was not clipped. Tissue burns can occur if the
intensity is too high or the transducer is held stationary. Avoid using direct

~ 60 ~
ultrasound on dogs with heart issues, tumors or injured areas immediately
after exercise. Be cautious of the following when using ultrasound:

Ultrasound on testes temporary sterility could occur

Infected wounds ultrasound could drive bacteria into the tissues
Recent incision sites wait for 14 days to avoid the wound re-opening
Bone fractures concern over retarding callus formation although it
also has been shown to improve recent fractures
Bony prominences treat around these to avoid pathologic fractures
Cold packs and ice cooling prior to US alters pain and temperature
perception if the intensity is too high
Decreased blood circulation normal blood flow dispels the heat that
is generated
Reduced pain and temperature sensation need adequate pain
response to stimuli
Sedated animals can cause incorrect readings and responses
Acute stage injuries should not receive heat therapy
Acute inflammatory joint disease intracapsular heating could
increase the rate of destruction of the articular cartilage

An ultrasound wave through the tissue creates a cellular reaction that could
assist in tissue repair. Three days after injury, a granulation stage of repair
begins. Fibroblasts can be stimulated to produce more collagen and using
ultrasound has shown to promote synthesis of this by permitting the calcium
ions' entry into the cells.
The healing strength of tendons has been improved by low intensity
ultrasound. In the remodeling stage, ultrasound applied for 5 minutes every
day resulted in a tremendous increase in tensile strength.
TTouch therapy creates profound changes in an animal's behavior and
mental awareness. This is a method developed by Linda Tellington-Jones,
and involves bodywork that is based on circular movements of the hands all
over the body. Veterinarians who have utilized this in their practice have
found the animals are more relaxed and receptive to being handled.
TTouch activates the cells in the body and turns on their intellectual lights.
Each circular TTouch is complete within itself. This is not like massage
because TTouch manipulates only the skin and nervous system and not the

~ 61 ~
deeper tissues and muscles. If TTouch is performed on a limb opposite the
injured one, the injured one will improve. This marvel is found to occur in
acupuncture as well.
This method of care and training for our animal companions is based on
respect and cooperation and can improve the dogs performance and health.
TTouch helps to release tension, creates body awareness and aids in the
recovery from illness or injury. It establishes a deeper rapport between
humans and animals.
In TTouch the correct amount of pressure is determined by using a scale of 1
to 10. By moving in a circle over a closed eyelid with the lightest possible
contact, this would be level 1. Level 3 is performing the same circle on the
forearm with as much pressure as is comfortable, but with a slight
indentation being left. Level 6 is twice this pressure and level 9 or 10 is
three times the pressure. For each animal the pressure is adjusted to what is
most comfortable.
Each different technique in TTouch is assigned an animal name to enhance
the learning process. An example is the Racoon TTouch which is quick and
gentle, or the Bear TTouch which is deep and slow.
Working on the dogs ears is a foundation for this bodywork. From the base
of the dogs ears to the tips stimulate all the acupuncture points in the ear.
The ears have acupuncture points that affect the whole body.
Ground training is great for training or retraining the dogs body and mind.
These exercises teach focus, eye-foot coordination and balance. One type is
the laying of a labyrinth maze with small poles on the ground for the dog to
navigate through. The dog is led through very slowly and is made to think
about what they are doing.
All animals that have serious injuries or are in shock will gain from ear work.
If there are any abdominal disorders Belly Lifts can be used and this will help
to normalize intestinal functioning.
TTouch encourages people to involve themselves in the healing process,
which is what holistic healing is about. It promotes the special connection
between people and animals, facilitating a partnership instead of dominance.

~ 62 ~
Massage has a positive influence on a dogs physical and psychological wellbeing. In fact, it has a profound effect on relieving the animals stress and
soothing the entire nervous system, no matter what the age of the dog.
Some of the benefits they will receive from therapeutic massage are:

An increase in blood circulation

Loosening tight muscles, knots, spasms, trigger points

Increasing the input of nutrients and oxygen

Assist in the removal of toxins

Calming the nervous system

Increasing blood flow through the blood vascular system

Improving the oxygen and gas exchange in the respiratory system

Amplifying the metabolic rate of the digestive system

Enhancing the fluid circulation of the urinary system

Increasing the nutrients that reach the bone and joint structure

When beginning a massage treatment it is important to be in a calm state of

mind. You need to be able to communicate with the animal in an empathetic
fashion. Your touch should be soothing and comforting with sensitive hands.
The subtle changes on the parts youre working on should be felt by your
hands. You can develop this perception by massaging with your eyes closed.
The temperature of a dog is 38 degrees Celsius. If a part of the dog is
unusually cool to the touch it could indicate lack of blood circulation to that
area. If the area is hotter than normal it could mean the presence of
inflammation or an underlying problem of some kind.
The texture of the tissues should be resilient and firm in elasticity. When
you massage a healthy dog you will know what normal tissues feel like. If
the tissues are too soft or puffy, it indicates edema or fluid buildup. There
could be an underlying inflammatory condition or congestion.

~ 63 ~
How the muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints respond to your touch will
indicate if there is sensitivity in the area. When you touch the dog in
those areas, pay close attention to their reactions for any issues. There
could be damaged or irritated nerves or the dog could have some other
underlying issue.
Muscle tension in a dog can arise from too much exercise. When the
muscles are tight the blood circulation is not at its optimum, the nutrient
uptake is compromised and there is less oxygen delivered to the tissues. If
the tension is not dealt with it can create a toxic build-up which will result in
an underlying inflammation. This evolves into lactic acid build-up (trigger
points) and spasms (stress points).
When giving a massage be aware of how much pressure you use. Using too
much pressure can bruise the muscle fibers and the dog will have
tenderness in the tissues afterwards. You can determine levels of pressure
by placing your hands on a weight scale and evaluating what 1 or 3 pounds
of pressure feels like. Always start with a lighter pressure and graduate into
a heavier pressure.
Acupressure massage is using a finger or an elbow on sensitive
acupressure points. This is similar to trigger-point massage in technique but
different in theory. Acupressure massage is based on the Chinese meridian
theory that all organs of the body are connected by a network and energy
flows through these channels. By applying organized pressure on these
points it frees up blocked energy and keeps the flow in the channels moving.
Craniosacral Therapy or Energy Work is done by the therapist identifying
the movement of the cerebrospinal fluid in the spinal canal. By identifying
this rhythm, restrictions in the body can be located. Very little force is used
to release these areas and the aim is to obtain a state of deep relaxation.
There are seven classes of massage moves ranging from stroking,
effleurage, petrissage, shaking, vibration, friction and tapotements. Many of
these movements are done in combination or alone.

Stroking is the main movement used in any relaxation massage. It

soothes, calms and directly affects the central nervous system.

~ 64 ~
Stroking movements are performed very lightly with either the tips
of the fingers or the palms of the hands.

Effleurage is a movement done as every second move during a

massage. This move starts, joins or ends any routine and assists with
the natural venous blood circulation. This movement is performed by
gliding the whole hand, the palm and the fingers over the body. The
pressure is even throughout the whole stroke except when travelling
over a bony process. Always carry out effleurage towards the heart. In
effleurage the goal is relaxation and increasing venous and lymphatic

Petrissage is used to free adhesions and increase the blood flow. This
combines pressure and relaxation alternatively by using kneading,
compression, muscle-squeezing, wringing-up and skin rolling. You
would perform this the same way that you would knead bread dough.
This is usually done with two hands and your pressure needs to be

Compression movements are carried out from the palm of the hand
or a tightly clenched fist. This is performed on large dogs only and
usually over the well muscled areas such as the hind legs. The method
is similar to kneading, but without the gliding portion. Gauge you
pressure between 10 and 20 pounds at the most.

Muscle squeezing is performed to relax and decongest the muscles.

This action is done between extended fingers and the entire palm of
the hand while in full contact with the body. Grasp the muscle and
gently pull and squeeze it. Use 5 to 10 pounds of pressure, but be
gentler if there is any tenderness in the area.

Wringing up is great for enhancing the circulation, boosting the

oxygenation and for removing the toxins. This is a wonderful move to
use on the back, hind quarters and shoulders of the dog. Both hands
are placed flat on the body area and then wring the muscles from side
to side using a motion similar to wringing out wet clothes. Lift the
muscle carefully and then wring side-to-side.

~ 65 ~

Skin rolling is beneficial for maintaining a shiny coat, breaking down

fat deposits, preventing the formation of adhesions and improving the
elasticity of the skin. This technique also augments nerve and blood
circulation. To perform these movements have the thumbs on one side
and the fingers on the other side. Now grasp and lift the tissues,
pushing the thumbs forward and rolling the skin towards the fingers.
Only apply up to 2 or 3 pounds pressure with this technique.

Vibrations are a quivering type of movement done with the hands.

The amount of pressure used with this is only a half a pound gradually
increasing it to 2 pounds. The vibration movements start at the elbow
and transfer down to the wrist and into your hand. This is termed a
flat hand vibration. Do not do this over the skull. Vibrations are
wonderful for soothing inflamed arthritic joints, where regular massage
is contra-indicated. It is also beneficial for acute trauma and chronic

Shaking is mostly used for sports massage to stimulate the

circulation, relieve muscle tension and remove lactic acid. The shaking
is executed by the fingertips or by the whole palm of the hand. The
skin is shaken over the muscles with about 3 to 5 pounds of pressure.
Always pay attention to the animals feedback and adjust your rhythm
and pressure accordingly. This should not exceed 3 to 5 minutes.

Friction is another technique mostly used in sports therapy. Before

friction is performed on the dog, always warm up with effleurages,
wringing-up and kneading. Friction is a series of small deep
movements performed across the length of the muscle or up and down
over a patch of muscle fiber. The tips of the thumbs or the first three
fingers are used to apply friction to small areas. This can be done
gently or firmly depending on the desired outcome and if there is
inflammation present. Only perform this for 2 to 3 minutes at the most
in any one area. If this method is used to break down new or old
adhesions, it is best to ice before and after treatment.

~ 66 ~

Tapotements is a technique where soft rhythmic blows are applied to

the body. It involves clapping, cupping, hacking and beating. These
methods increase the circulation, stimulate the release of histamine
and energize the body. They last for up to 2 minutes and are always
finished off with effleurage and stroking.

Clapping is done with the palm of the hand with the hand being flat.
Use 2 to 3 pounds pressure at the start increasing up to 5 or 10
pounds pressure on the muscle groups. Always keep the pressure
lighter over thinner muscles.

Cupping is done with the palm of the hand and uses up to 5 pounds
of pressure. The hand is cupped like holding water.

Hacking is performed in a karate chop position with the hands but

with the fingers spread out in a non-rigid fashion. Up to 5 or 10
pounds of pressure is utilized with this movement.

Beating is carried out with a relaxed clenched fist, hitting the muscle
groups with the medial side of the hand. The pressure is up to 15
pounds on the bigger muscles. This method gets the circulation going
really efficiently.

The Laying on of Hands is of huge value in calming acute wounds,

inflammation, nerve irritation, emotional frustration and for inducing
relaxation on a physiological and nervous level. By placing your hands
over the affected area and feeling the energy and vibrations radiating
from there, you then will feel a heat coming from that spot. You only
use about 1 pound of pressure and a great feeling of relief will follow.

After any massage routine it is strongly recommended that you wash your
hands with fresh water. This will help to rid of any undesired residual energy
picked up during the massage and prevents you from passing it on to other
people or animals. It also creates a centering and balances your energy
again. By performing massage on your dog regularly you will know which
approach is best for your dog. Your fingertips will gain an enhanced
perception and a whole new world will awaken.

~ 67 ~
Magnetic Therapy
The magnets can actually accelerate the healing. Never use a straight South
Pole magnet, only North Pole negative polarity. These help against pain and
inflammation and reduce healing time.
A dogs circulation is much faster than a human's and the magnetic field will
be absorbed very quickly. The magnetic field travels around the dogs body
and increases the blood flow to the tissues and organs. This reduces
inflammation and encourages new cell growth. By placing a magnetic collar
around the dogs neck its magnetic field is absorbed into the carotid artery.
This is one of the main arteries that supplies oxygen from the heart to the
head and neck region.
Each dog is different as to what size of a collar they would require, and to
the strength and number of magnets. The rule of thumb is that the more
severe the condition, the higher gauss/tesla rating is required.
In many instances the collar is not enough to make it work. The
inflammatory phase is too acute or the condition is too severe. In this
situation you would use the collar and a magnetic pet bed, magnetic water
bowl or a magnetic leg wrap.
Dr. Strazza, an expert in magnetic therapy, found a huge reduction - 40 to
50% - in healing time by placing magnets in the bandages. Also not one
non-union case developed in any of the fracture sites. He also found
numerous cases of spinal arthritis, paralysis, chronic disk disease, hip
dysplasia and arthritis all responding exceptionally well to magnetic therapy.
Dogs cant fake it if a type of treatment works on them. There is no influence
of the placebo effect. Numerous animals have shown to have an increase in
mobility and an increase in energy and activity.
Conventional Medicine
The focus of conventional medicine is to treat the disease and the symptoms
of the disease. While eventually some potent drugs may be necessary, as
well as surgical intervention, the holistic vet will combine conventional
methods with alternative if deemed necessary.

~ 68 ~
Ozone Therapy
Cancer cells cannot survive in a high-oxygen environment. Ozone therapy
has been used successfully in treating various cancers. Ozone therapy can
also attack viruses, bacteria, mycoplasma, fungi, parasites and yeasts. It is
given intravenously to kill damaging organisms in the bloodstream. It is
given rectally for dogs that are badly constipated. The other two ways it can
be given is orally and topically. The ozone generator is extremely costly, so
the poor mans version is food-grade hydrogen peroxide. Ozone therapy is
only legal in certain areas so you will have to check for availability.
Remember that it is important not to diagnose your dogs condition yourself.
There could be a number of related factors and it is important to treat the
whole dog not just the condition. Always seek the guidance of your
holistic vet.

~ 69 ~

In the past I have without a doubt, discovered the benefits of holistic

treatments for dogs. In fact, I just simply could not imagine looking after my
dogs today without all of the knowledge Ive attained and all of the benefits
my best friends have reaped. I would be doing them a disservice to do
anything different.
I started out much like most of us do, going to the regular vet doing all the
normal procedural things. I would vaccinate consistently, with usually a
cocktail of drugs, and booster them to no end, never questioning as to why
their health was deteriorating. I would change foods, one kibble to the next,
making it a better one and a more expensive one, packaged with promises. I
eventually started cooking for them. Still nothing really changed. My vet
appointments became more frequent and there were just so many little
unexplained health issues popping up out of nowhere. This dog was once a
young (barely five years old) robust, energetic dog that could walk up to 12
miles with me, and run around afterwards chasing bunnies and still not be
lame! This was when we had the first greatest turning point in our lives.
I finally visited a holistic vet when one of my girls was in such terrible pain,
and it was progressively getting so bad she could barely walk! I have never
turned back. This saved her life and gave her years beyond measure. What
transpired over the next few weeks amazed me. My precious girl went from
agonizing pain and immobility to a complete recovery and able to resume
our walking ritual of 6 miles a day!! All of this with one simple homeopathic
tincture, a few drops orally, given once a day! Now being a nutritionist and
chartered herbalist myself, I knew that mother earth has granted us the
power through her natural resources to heal unbalanced bodies. We just
need to learn from her and actually utilize them. How could I not have
realized this works with people and pets alike?
Both of my girls who are now across the rainbow, lived much longer and
better quality lives than they ever would have, from going to a holistic vet.
Over the course of time, both dogs had been on various healing
homeopathics, Chinese and Western herbs, tinctures, and supplements.
They had acupuncture and titer tests from that point on. In fact, they never
needed another vaccination in their life again. The titer tests proved that
their antibody level was very high on all accounts.

~ 70 ~
My dogs were purebred Rottweilers. One of them, I rescued at 6 - 8 months
of age. To truly understand what a good diet, proper holistic vet care,
exercise and love can do, this rescue girl beat all the odds. She
unfortunately was stricken with immune mediated poly-arthritis from over
vaccination on my part. She also contracted kennel cough on another
occasion when I got her vaccinated for Bordetella. This was before I
understood about vaccinating. She developed Cushings disease and
cataracts, suffered from headaches, and then succumbed to
hemangiosarcoma after a lengthy battle. She lived longer than ever
expected with those odds and that type of vicious cancer. I owe it to my
incredible team of holistic vets that I had her for as long as I did. She never
would have gotten there without them. She continued to walk every day
with me, although the distance became only 4 miles a day. I miss her to this
minute. I think we will always miss their paw prints on our hearts.
Whatever you do, dont waste any more time and money on useless drugs
that suppress symptoms and never heal the whole body. Time is precious,
especially when our dogs start to age. You will never regret it. Connect with
your dog, have peaceful moments together, give them massages, and listen
to what they are telling you. You may have them around for much longer,
and they may be living a more fulfilled life.

~ 71 ~
Chapter Three

Signs, symptoms and treatments as well as what to expect from
dogs with cancer, tumors or hemangiosarcoma
Cancer is the uncontrollable abnormal growth of cells that take the place of
healthy ones and interfere with the normal bodily functions. Normally the
immune system can identify and eliminate abnormal cells, but a weakness or
breakdown in the system can permit tumors to grow in an isolated spot
(benign), or proliferate throughout the body (malignant). The most common
types of cancer that dogs tend to have are skin, breast and lymphomas. The
next most common are oral, bone and testicular cancer. Holistic
veterinarians attribute the rise in cancers to genetic weaknesses which cause
the immune system to be compromised. These inherent weaknesses are
from modern breeding practices, poor diets, medications, toxic chemicals,
vaccines and stress. Dogs as young as one year old are seen afflicted with
cancer, when this used to be the disease of the aging dog.
The most critical factor is early detection and knowing what signs to watch
out for. Below are ten of the most common signs of cancer:

Abnormal swellings that continue to grow

Sores that will not heal
A distinct offensive odor
Weight loss
Fussy eating habits and loss of appetite
Bleeding or discharges from any bodily opening
Difficulty eating or swallowing
Difficulty breathing
Difficulty urinating or defecating
Loss of enthusiasm for activity and loss of stamina

An x ray, ultrasound or other imaging technique may be used to locate the

tumor. A newer technique called a lymphosyntigraphy, actually injects
radioactive material into the body. Because the cancer cells tend to absorb
these compounds, it is easier to locate them. Never rely entirely on
collecting cells in a needle. Always do a biopsy before any mass is ever

~ 72 ~
removed. By doing a biopsy it allows the doctor to determine the kind of
cancer as well as to how advanced it is.
Your vet may recommend that you see a veterinary oncologist. These
cancer specialists will generally recommend a standard approach to
treatment involving the use of chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. The
treatments they implement are designed to remove, shrink or stop the
cancer from growing and at the same time protect the surrounding tissue.
Some good questions to ask your vet and the oncologist are whether or not
another opinion would be useful. Sometimes that can open a wide door for
more possibilities. You need to know what the life expectancy is with and
without the treatment of choice. What will the costs be for the treatment?
Are there any side effects and can something be done to alleviate them? You
want to know what all of your available choices are to improve your dogs
life from conventional medicine to alternative medicine. Usually combining
conventional with complementary provides the best of both worlds. Many of
the side effects from treatments can be minimized from alternative
Natural healing methods are non invasive. Their emphasis is on
strengthening the bodys own healing resources to bring back a state of
balance. There are two ways alternative methods can be used:

In combination with standard treatments such as chemo or radiation.

The natural treatments reduce side effects and help speed healing. A
dog that is undergoing any type of chemotherapy or surgery should be
on some type of supportive therapy. They will manage much better
and have less adverse side effects.
The other option is to use natural treatments as the major method of
care. By using this as the major modality, a holistic veterinarian should
be guiding you as to the proper treatment. Alternative treatments are
highly varied and there are all sorts of mixed approaches.

Surgery is usually the first treatment of choice by conventional standards.

Some tumors can be removed with lasers and non invasive arthroscopic
technology. In most cases where surgery is performed, it is generally
followed with chemotherapy, radiation or other therapies. This is because if
one single cancer cell has been left behind, it is highly likely the cancer will

~ 73 ~
Bone cancer is a very painful cancerous tumor that grows near the joint in a
dogs leg. This osteosarcoma has generally been treated by removal of the
limb. While the dog may be free of pain after, their quality of life is
compromised. The latest treatment of choice is bone grafting. This is an
option where the diseased bone is removed and the dog receives a bone
graft instead. This allows the dog to remain on all four legs and enjoy the
same quality of life after it has healed. These grafts can run between
$3500.00 or more.
Another type of very promising treatment is the use of bloodroot
salves or black salves (Sanguinaria Canadensis). They must be
administered by a veterinarian, as they can be extremely effective and
visibly unappealing. Traditional black salves are made with zinc chloride and
this can burn the skin. One company however, has manufactured a product
that is not caustic to the pet and it works wonders. This company is called
Buck Mountain Botanicals.
Buck Mountain Botanicals in Montana U.S.A. produces a product called
Neoplasene. They use zinc chloride to make an ionic solvent, which extracts
the bloodroot alkaloids. The end product has been modified in such a way
that it causes the diseased tissue to self-destruct, leaving the healthy tissue
There are four types of products: a salve for topical applications, one for oral
use and two types for intravenous or injection use. The results have been
very promising and there are clinically documented cases of the following
being cured:





Mammary tumors

Malignant liposarcoma

Mixed cell chest tumors


~ 74 ~

Papilliferous cystadenocinoma

Nerve sheath tumors

Spindle cell carcinoma

All of these clinical documentations can be found in the Neoplasene guide.

Some dogs will get an immediate result, while others need to switch to a
different type of treatment from the oral to the topical or intravenous. It all
depends on the type of cancer, its rate of growth, how far it has advanced
and how healthy the pet is.
The most common side effect with this is nausea. The worst side effect is
anaphylactic reaction. This is why you want to work closely with your
veterinarian on administering these products and monitoring the results.
Many tumors being treated with this have all healed and regressed
to nothing. It is an affordable and effective way to deal with treating
cancers. Numerous veterinarians use this product and it has been FDA
approved. It is sold only to them and if your dog has a cancer of some kind
it is worth looking into. There have been miraculous results!
Another cancer vaccine has been approved for veterinary use and is
designed to treat an active disease. This particular vaccine is used to treat
canine melanoma. The vaccine is therapeutic, rather than preventative and
contains human DNA. By injecting DNA from a different species into an
animal it stimulates an immune response that attacks cancer cells. This
vaccine is a group effort between human and veterinary oncologists from the
Animal Medical Center in New York City, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Institute, and the drug manufacturer Merial.
A dog whose cancer is discovered early enough, before it metastasizes, has
the best chance of treating it locally. This technology is being researched for
the use in treating human melanoma too.
Palladia is a new cancer treatment option approved by the FDA for mast
cell tumors in dogs. Palladia contains a drug known as toceranib phosphate.
This kills the tumor cells and cuts off the blood supply to the mast cell
tumor. It can be used in conjunction with other treatment modalities such as
surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

~ 75 ~
The side effects of Palladia treatments are:

Bruising or bleeding



Lack of appetite

Black feces

Blood present in feces

Notify your veterinarian if you are noticing any of these side effects and stop
all Palladia treatments.
Being an anti-cancer medication this product should be handled with the
utmost care. Pregnant women and children should not handle Palladia. Dog
owners should follow this:

Wash hands thoroughly after handling the tablets

Do not break or split tablets

Wear gloves if necessary

Administer the medication to the pet as soon as removing from the


If the dog spits tablets out only handle with gloves on

Make sure the dog has eaten all of the food if hiding tablets in the food

Gloves should be worn when cleaning up vomit, urine or stool from dogs
being treated with this product. The substance that was cleaned up should
be placed in a sealed plastic bag and disposed of in the regular trash. If
towels or blankets have had vomit or urine or stool on them, they should be
washed separately from the regular laundry.

Radiation is a method of treatment given when the tumor is in an

inaccessible area such as by vital organs or nerves that could be damaged.
Cancers on the face provide little tissue with which to work with so radiation

~ 76 ~
therapy is the best choice for them. Some dogs may lose their appetite and
shed their whiskers, but radiation has shown to cure up to 80 percent of
these cancers. There are new linear accelerators (radiation machines) that
target the cancer better and spare the surrounding tissues. The down side to
radiation treatment is that it requires anesthetic to hold the pet still.
Repeated treatments require repeated anesthetic. This is not good for an
older dog, and so they have designed a stereotactic radio surgery using a
specially designed machine along with a three-dimensional ultrasound
guidance system. This enables the dog to receive only one radiation
treatment at an extremely high dose rather than repeated treatments with
anesthesia over several sessions. The cost of this treatment is approximately
the same as traditional radiation therapy. This is approximately from
$2500.00 or more.
Chemotherapy is another method where cytotoxic drugs cause cellpoisoning to kill cancers that have spread throughout the body. Chemo is
usually prescribed after cancer surgery to round up any stray cells. These
drugs can be in the form of pills, injections and intravenous infusions. Cost
factors can influence the method of choice. The chemo drugs are so variable
that if one does not work there is another one to try. A dogs age can
complicate the treatment because older dogs lose capacity in the liver and
the kidneys. The drugs to treat the cancer need to be metabolized in there.
With any aging dog it is important that their overall health system is good
despite the cancer. It provides much greater chances of being successful and
allowing the dog to not become hypersensitive. Chemotherapy can range in
price from being reasonable to being extremely expensive.
Four other innovative therapies are being used to treat various forms of
cancer. These have been successful and are other options to consider. The
first one is cryosurgery, which is the use of liquid nitrogen for freezing and
destroying the tumor. This is helpful for skin cancers of the face. Another
unique method is photodynamic therapy (PDT), where sensitizing agents are
injected into the dogs body. These agents are similar to chlorophyll, which
the cancer then absorbs and then it is treated with a laser light. The energy
that is released within these cells ends up killing the tumor. The normal
tissues remain untouched making this a good choice for skin cancer, oral
tumors and bladder tumors. The third option is heat therapy. Hyperthermia
uses sound waves that penetrate the body at different depths, literally
cooking the cancer to kill it. The fourth innovative technique is genetic. This

~ 77 ~
does remain in large part experimental. Genetically engineered tumor
vaccines to target oral cancers are being experimented with.
A holistic style to dealing with cancer would integrate nine different
supportive approaches:

Herbal medicines
Homeopathic remedies
Pain relief
Elimination of environmental stress
Meditation, healing touch, prayer and visualization

Anticancer diets will not consist of commercial pet food. They need a
homemade diet rich in fresh food and reduced carbohydrates. Cancer cells
feed off of carbohydrates and therefore it is advisable to increase proteins
and fats. The best choice of fats would be fish oils and flaxseed oils. The
protein will increase the muscle mass and help maintain weight. An optimum
diet will help strengthen the immune system giving them a fighting chance.
The guideline for this is 60 percent meat and 40 percent vegetables. For a
source of meat in their diet, use chicken, lamb or fish. Anticancer foods that
are hugely beneficial for your dog are; beets, broccoli, parsley, yams,
cauliflower, green and orange vegetables, cabbage, carrots, green beans
and shitake mushrooms. The vegetables can be fed raw and grated or
slightly steamed. Boiled barley is allowed and is totally optional.
Supplements are of great importance especially those that support the
immune system. The following are readily available and play a huge role:

Inositolhexaphosphoric acid or phytate is plentiful in grains like barley.

If the choice is to not feed grains, the extract is called IP6 and is
available in health food stores. This helps as an antioxidant in addition
to controlling the spread of tumors.
Antioxidant vitamins C, E, and A, are highly recommended.
Green tea or Essiac tea can be added to the food and acts as a blood

~ 78 ~

Selenium prevents tumors from developing and spreading. It enhances

the effectiveness of chemotherapy, radiation, and hyperthermia while
minimizing the damage caused to the surrounding cells.
Probiotics assist the dog with friendly bacteria that help reduce the
threat of cancer causing agents in the body. This has the ability to
metabolize procarcinogens and convert them back into
noncarcinogenic substances.
Bovine cartilage halts the growth of tumors.
Digestive enzymes help to break down the protein coating around the
cancer cells, which prevent the bodys own normal defenses from
getting to the cancer cell and destroying it.
Flaxseed oil prevents the development of tumors and the spread of
Fiber is important in regulating the bowel movements by sweeping
potentially toxic waste from the system more quickly.
Turmeric inhibits tumor growth and metastasis and reduces the side
effects of chemotherapy. This powder is easy to sprinkle over the dogs
Fish Oil is rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9 which are all cancer fighting
Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant in treating mammary and
lung tumors.

Herbal medicine is a potent alternative for fighting cancer. So many herbs

have anticancer fighting properties, enhance the well-being of the dog, and
stabilize body weight. They are also supportive of the immune system.
Herbal remedies lengthen the remission time. It is important to see a holistic
veterinarian regarding as to what formula of herbs would be best suited for
your dogs particular case. You want to maximize the effects they will have
on the cancer. Some very beneficial herbs are the following:

Red Clover is one of the best. It has tumor inhibiting properties and
strengthens the lymphatic system. This is crucial for cleaning out the
cell tissues.
Dandelion is a diuretic stimulating the kidneys and urinary tract. It
also stimulates the liver.
Burdock root is a liver stimulant and therefore helps in the waste and
toxin removal. It is one of the herbs in the Essiac tea formula and safe
when taken over prolonged periods of time.

~ 79 ~

Milk thistle is highly effective in protecting the liver from the harmful
effects of chemotherapy.
Echinacea is another herb useful in offsetting the effects of
chemotherapy as well as for strengthening the immune system.
Chinese astragalus is another fantastic immune stimulant. This can be
used indefinitely.
Pau darco is an anti-cancer herb with anti-inflammatory actions and
immune-stimulating properties. This comes from Brazil where it is
widely used in the treatment of cancer.
Curcuma from Seven Forests is an herbal formula from China. It is
used extensively in China to treat cancer. The Chinese name for this is
Xiao Zhong Liu Pian.
Una de gato (cats claw), is an herb from South America that is an
antioxidant and an adaptogen. This is great for helping against stress
and tumors have disappeared when this is used.

It is strongly advised that a holistic vet helps with the anti-cancer protocol
with regards to herbal formulas and combinations. Combining traditional
herbal blends along with Chinese formulas has profound results.
Homeopathic remedies are by far in a class of all their own. They uplift
the animals life force, have them feeling much better along the way and are
by far the best for pain control. Homeopathy can extend the dogs life far
beyond what conventional treatment can offer, and the dog is feeling good
in the last while of their life. The same results can be obtained with
homeopathy as with radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. The devastating
side effects are removed when a more natural approach is used. The
homeopathic principle is like cures like and the body constantly tries to
maintain Homeostasis. This works from an energetic level within the body.
Quantum physics have led scientists to the conclusion that electromagnetic
energy is stored in the remedy and then it interacts with the dogs own
electromagnetic energy field. Nosodes are used as alternatives to vaccines
for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, rabies and kennel cough. These nosodes
are made from infected tissue, disease discharges, vaccines or the actual
organism that caused the disease. They are highly effective and worth
checking out. Below are some remedies that work with various cancers:

Thuja is for warty tumors or skin tags

~ 80 ~

Conium is used for lymphoma and mammary gland tumors. It has also
been beneficial in brain tumors.
Symphytum is used for bone cancer. It is used for a huge array of
conditions and is known for its anti-inflammatory and tissue
regenerating properties.
Hydrastis or hepar is used for liver cancer and uterine cancer.
Bellis perenis is useful in treating neuromas

Acupuncture is not a drug however it is another highly effective modality

for the relief of pain. It is non-invasive and totally safe. This has been
practiced in China for thousands of years and in North America for about 200
years. It increases the immune systems response and plays a primary role in
the treatment of cancer. The blood cell count is increased, therefore
enhancing the lymphocyte and natural killer cell activity. The purpose of
acupuncture therapy is to re-open the normal energy flow. The effects of
acupuncture can be augmented with manual or electrical stimulation or heat.
It increases the circulation, reduces swelling and accelerates healing. Nausea
and vomiting are controlled by this method of treatment.
Exercise is important throughout the dogs life but even more now. Gentle
exercises can be done to help the cells receive oxygen which is a powerful
nutrient. Exercise helps with elimination, rejuvenation and mental stimulus.
The physiological and psychological benefits for the dog are enormous. This
all helps in the recovery process and in the connection between you and
your dog. Should the day arrive when they are too weak to participate in any
form of gentle physiotherapy, then their quality of life will have to be
evaluated. Most dogs can participate in pool hydrotherapy which is very easy
on the body and joints and unleashes a profound sense of wellness within
them. Even if they just float around with you and get relief from the pain, it
will physically tire them and keep their fragile systems moving. The warm
water is very comforting on their bodies.
Pain relief can be obtained through homeopathic remedies, herbal
remedies, acupuncture and various supplements. Prescription drugs are not
a treatment of choice and generally are utilized as a last resort in part due to
their side effects. Light massage is always beneficial as is healing
therapeutic touch. Comfortable bedding and quality time together is very
comforting for your dog. It is amazing how well the cuddle factor works.

~ 81 ~
Animal Aromatics have also been used to treat tumors. There are some
wonderful studies that have been done and it is worth checking out Carol
Ingrahams workbook on Animal Aromatics. I suggest consulting with a
practitioner on what would be useful with this specialized treatment.
Environmental stresses need to be kept at a minimum. Stress interferes
with digestion and the nervous system. It depletes the body of important
cancer fighting vitamins and weakens the immune system and the defense
cells that kill cancer. Stress can be from vaccinations, diet, allergens,
pollutants, emotions, drug side effects, low level radiation, and lifestyle. All
of this can lead to immune suppression increasing the risk for cancer,
infections and degenerative diseases. Chronic stress impacts the adrenal
glands which can become so exhausted that the dog simply cannot deal with
any more stress. This seriously erodes the immune systems function. How is
the dogs relationship with other members of the household? Are there any
new additions or major changes affecting them? Has your time with them
diminished? Dogs that have to be kept at a hospital or need home care are
very stressed. This causes an enormous amount of anxiety in them. If they
are not getting their energy spent every day it compounds the problem. For
any dog that is dealing with cancer, all this is vital to their recovery. For
dogs that are not battling a cancer, this is all preventative.
Meditation, Healing Touch Therapy and Prayer all are valuable tools.
The attentive moment spent with your dog in perfect relaxation is calming,
and the unconditional love that is exchanged is spiritually fulfilling. The
anxiety will fall away from them and they will be peaceful. You can always
return to work but you cant always share golden moments with your dog.
Give thanks to them for sharing your life, blessing you with their love and
joy, and in talking to them and listening to them, you will be amazed at
what they will tell you. If you can come from a place of love rather than
neediness, your dog will pick up on your energies and feel better, maybe
even heal, and be okay with letting go if they need to.
Healing touch is based on heart-centered care and compassionate healing
intentions. The bodys energy levels become balanced and calm. The dog
receiving the therapy will at times fall peacefully asleep. Healing touch
therapy promotes relaxation, reduces pain, enhances the immune function
and provides a greater sense of well-being. The main purpose of this type of
healing is to promote self-healing by restoring balance.

~ 82 ~
Prayer and visualization is amazingly potent. Pray for your dog to be well
and happy, visualize them running around joyfully. The power of prayer is
magical and harmonious.

~ 83 ~

I have experienced losing two dogs to Hemangiosarcoma. This is an

extremely aggressive form of cancer that arises from the blood vessels and
is associated with serious internal bleeding and rapid internal spread. At the
present time it is not understood how dogs develop this type of cancer. It is
very difficult to detect without x rays or an ultrasound because this vigorous
tumor mimics the red blood cells.
These internal cancers can be detected by palpation of a large mass in the
abdomen, if it is a splenic tumor. There would be sudden blood loss into the
abdomen, pale mucus membranes and collapse or noticeable weakness. X
rays are generally done to determine the extent that the tumor has spread
in the abdomen, and ultrasounds are done for the heart.
Hemangiosarcoma is a diagnosis you dont want to hear. The treatment for it
is surgery and chemotherapy with a survival time of between 2 to 6 months.
If the metastasis is already severe when first diagnosed, the time left can be
translated into days. Every day becomes invaluable.
I first started noticing significant changes in one of my dogs that was 10
years of age. She started losing weight quite rapidly, and developed a strong
almost pungent odor. The weight loss was welcomed because she was
extremely arthritic, so losing 10 lbs or 8 lbs would do no harm. She was in
decent shape from walking 4 miles every day. The odor however, was a red
flag to me, as she never had it before. It was emitted from her whole being,
and I would recognize that same smell to this very day. Because it was
summer time the heat exasperated the scent even more.
I had her checked by my holistic vet, Dr. Marlene Smith, owner of The Tree
of Life Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Marlene Smith is world renowned in holistic
treatments and Chinese remedies, as well as her vast knowledge in
acupuncture and chiropractic, including Western treatments. I am privileged
to have this doctor, her associates and her team at this clinic.
Upon her advice, we decided to run a Geriatric Panel, thyroid panel, and did
some acupuncture. The acupuncture has always done wonders for her. When
the blood work returned, it was determined that she had developed
Cushings disease because all the signs and symptoms were pointing to that.
So we placed her on various Chinese herbs and formulas, and also a thyroid
supplement. Her adrenal gland was working overtime and her immune
system was much compromised. About 20% of Cushings disease is from
tumors developing on the adrenal glands themselves. Neurologic signs can
be pacing, circling, seizures, drunken walk and head pressing. Still, the

~ 84 ~
underlying factor was that a tumor was brewing somewhere. Her cognitive
abilities were failing and I could see abnormal signs.
This was a difficult time for my girl, who was already challenged by other
health issues. I knew she was in the best hands for her care, and that
provided some comfort. We continued with her treatment and did more
blood tests along with acupuncture. My companion was now dealing with
depression and day to day events were a little different. We were now 6
months past the first diagnosis and she was hanging in with great vigor. I
did not like seeing her so sad and it bothered me, because she was the light
in my life for so many years.
So the day arrived. It was January 27, 2006, when X rays confirmed the
diagnosis. My special girl had Hemangiosarcoma. There was a large mass on
her spleen, lungs, and it had possibly spread all through her fragile little
body. This is a delivery no vet wishes to make to anyone. It is painstakingly
hard and there are basketballs in your throat to force back the tears. This
was it, so we managed to keep her at ease and pain free while she dealt
with this terrible cancer ravaging through her body. We ended up finally
putting her on Prednisone for the last 4 weeks to help her to the final end.
She walked each day until the last two weeks, where she just did not want
to go anymore; I understood. She started having seizures and strokes, so I
gave her anything she wanted to eat, and did whatever I could to make her
last days totally special for her. This was her time.
My girl was doing so well from all of the natural treatments she received;
she lived far longer than was ever imagined. In her final days I had to
get her some more remedies from the vet because she was holding on with
such tenacity, no one could believe it. The irony of it all is that she died the
next day after I went to get her more treatment. I noticed a look in her soft
eyes as we drove back home, and she was telling me that the time had
come to go. She passed away in my arms, beside my bed. It wasnt easy for
both of us, nor for her companion dog, who was 3 1/2 years younger.
My other younger dog, started to have similar behavior patterns. I thought
that it is impossible to have a recurrence in only a couple of months. This
one was healthy, robust, 3 1/2 years younger, and it just could not be
happening again. We ran test after test and found nothing to indicate the
same cancer. She started having strokes and collapsing to the floor. The
rescue remedy helped in this instance but it was not the answer to the
underlying problem. She could not walk after these episodes and it was
getting more and more serious. She started losing weight and becoming
disoriented. We immediately got a blood test and it pointed to the same

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condition. So we scheduled an ultrasound and that would determine if
indeed it was true and if I could do anything about it. There was a 5%
chance that if it was not on the heart I could operate and save her life.
The ultrasound test was conclusive. This time even though she was a
candidate to operate on, it was fruitless, as the tumor engulfed her heart.
Afflicted with the same cancer, unfortunately, she only made it to 8 years of
age. Then one night, while in my arms, her heart just stopped beating and
she joined her best friend. I feel a part myself did too.
This was only three months after my other girl passed away. I will admit,
this was the hardest thing I have ever had to face in my life. My home was
very quiet and very empty. Like a huge vacuum came in and sucked the life
out of everything. Nothing in the world can prepare you for this.
Had I not gone to my holistic vet, my girls would never have beaten the
odds and lived far longer than they did. The older dog apparently had the
cancer for approximately 1 years and the other one had it for 3 months. I
do feel in my heart, my second dog died from the pain and heartbreak of
losing her companion, given that the cancer engulfed her heart. These dogs
lived such a quality life for so many years, due in part to the fact that I went
to the Tree of Life Vet Clinic, and saw Dr. Marlene Smith. She truly
resonates with the animals as well as her associate Dr. Heather Matheson.
Their holistic treatment has provided years beyond measure to my dogs. I
could never even imagine doing anything differently, that did not support
the longevity of my pets. We utilized every healing modality that was
available to us, and it worked. I got way more time with my precious pets
than ever imagined. How could I even think of looking at it differently? I
cannot emphasize enough, for someone to seek holistic treatments. Your
dogs cancer might be beaten if it is diagnosed early enough. You have
nothing to lose and everything to gain.

~ 86 ~

Chapter Four

Torn Cruciate Ligament

Possible indications of ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear, injury
or rupture and what YOU NEED to know and do about it
There are two cruciate ligaments which cross inside the dogs knee joint; the
anterior and the posterior. The anterior cruciate ligament prevents the tibia
from slipping out front from under the femur. The one towards the front of
the knee is the anterior and the one crossing in the back is the posterior.
They keep the knee stable and functioning correctly.
The anterior cruciate ligament is commonly torn or ruptured completely
when a dog twists on its hind legs. This places too much tension on the
ligament and it ends up tearing. Certain situations like slipping on ice or
making a sudden turn while running can tear the ligament. A larger dog that
is overweight can have weakened ligaments and end up gradually stretching
them until they tear. Even a small jump can do this to an overweight dog. A
young athletic dog can damage a cruciate ligament in one knee and then
potentially damage the other knee a year later. Quite often there is partial
tearing which leads to low-level lameness for a few weeks, improving with
time. Eventually though, the tearing sets up inflammation in the joint and
the weakened ligament is damaged even further. A complete rupture is
inevitable, especially in the larger, heavier dog breeds. The breeds more
susceptible to ACL tears or ruptures are: Rottweiler, Cocker Spaniel,
Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Mastiff, Golden Retriever, Miniature
and Toy Poodle, Lhasa Apso, and Bichon Frise.
There is some belief that there is a genetic component to the inheritance of
weakened ligaments. The possibility exists that some underlying genetic,
conformational or inflammatory disorder predisposes the ligaments to
rupture. Dogs of all sizes and breeds can develop this. The cause of a
ruptured ACL can be from some trauma in the joint. This can be from
chronic inflammation, medial patellar luxation (a disease where the kneecap
pops in and out of the joint), rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, immune mediated
polyarthritis, septic arthritis, infection in the joint, osteochondrosis, cartilage
development problem, or conformation).
It has been shown that dogs over four years of age which have been spayed
or neutered are far more likely to suffer a cruciate tear or total cruciate
rupture than dogs which remain sexually intact. Dogs that suffer from

~ 87 ~
Cushings disease also produce an over-abundance of corticosteroid, which
could impact the ligamental strength causing tears in cruciates.
Signs of a possible ACL injury are sudden lameness on one side with the
foot being held off of the ground. The knee can be swollen with the affected
leg held out to the side when standing and sitting. The knee could sound
crunchy in range of motion movement, and lameness is worse with exercise.
You may find the dog is licking the knee constantly to alleviate the
discomfort. Sometimes a dog will pace instead of trot, if there is pain in the
knees. This is a very noticeable swinging of the hind legs out to the side
while walking at a faster gait. Some dogs are very good at hiding any
discomfort and it is only by extremely keen observation that you may notice
something is wrong. In these cases, it is advised to have an orthopedic
specialist examine your dog and perform the necessary tests to determine if
an injury exists.
Diagnosis is made by the vet or orthopedic specialist using a Drawer Sign
test. This is done by the vet stabilizing the femur with one hand and
manipulating the tibia with the other. The dogs knee is bent slightly and
pressure is applied to the bones comprising it. If the tibia moves forward the
cruciate ligament is ruptured.
Another test is the Tibial Compression test. Here the vet stabilizes the
femur with one hand and flexes the ankle with the other hand. If the
ligament is ruptured the tibia moves forward again. This procedure may be
more challenging in detecting any looseness in heavily muscled dogs. These
dogs may have to be sedated. If the condition is chronic, it may be more
difficult to evaluate because the body will have built up scar tissue in the
joint capsule in an attempt to limit the abnormal motion.
There is a newer device that has been developed by the University Of
Wisconsin School Of Veterinary Medicine to detect stretched or partially torn
ACLs. When there is not enough joint laxity to use the other procedures, the
DGY2000 is used. This method consists of a platform with two moving
pieces. The dogs leg is strapped onto the platform and the femur is held
into place. A small amount of force is applied to the front and to the back of
the tibia while radiographs are taken. An exact measurement of the degree
of laxity in the joint can then be determined. The earlier the diagnosis
with a chance to stabilize the joint before a total rupture occurs, the
better the prognosis for the dog.
If the dogs meniscus is damaged the vet will hear a clicking in the joint.
Thirty to 50 percent of dogs with damaged cruciate ligaments will end up
having damage done to their cartilage. If the cartilage has been damaged,

~ 88 ~
the damaged portion must be surgically removed and/or repaired. This is
usually done at the same time as the cruciate ligament surgery. This can
result in arthritis. X rays can rule out rheumatoid arthritis and fractures
which display similar symptoms. If there is a suspicion that there is an
underlying disease causing the ruptured cruciate ligament, the vet will take
some joint fluid to rule out that possibility.
The prognosis of an ACL injury depends on a host of variables. Firstly, the
longer the injury has been there, the more guarded the prognosis. If the
joint is really arthritic or the meniscus was damaged, the more guarded the
outcome as well. Dogs that have a cruciate injury to both sides will recover
more slowly than dogs with only one side injured. If a dog has any
underlying health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or immune
mediated polyarthritis, the chance for a full recovery is slightly lower.
Any dog that has been treated with a surgical method will require 3 to 6
months of rehabilitation. The healing process continues on for an entire
year. After then, depending on how arthritic the joint was prior to surgery,
they should resume fairly normal levels of activity. It is dependent upon the
dogs health prior to surgery, as to whether they will regain 100% of their
pre-injury functioning. Sometimes the dog may be sore after heavy exercise
and may need some pain relief. Athletic dogs may not return to competition
and hunting breeds may not have the endurance they used to have. The
better condition a dog is in prior to surgery, the faster the rehabilitation and
the greater the chance of a full recovery.
To treat a dog with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, you have two
choices; surgical intervention or a conservative approach. A nonsurgical approach consists of exercise restriction, anti-inflammatory
medication, physical therapy and weight reduction. There are braces that
have been developed for this and they may work with some dogs. This
application is best used on dogs that weigh less than 40lbs. They may
develop some arthritis but could regain almost normal function.
In a study that was done on a group of dogs, after 6 months, 85% of dogs
weighing less than 30 lbs of body weight had regained near normal function.
Only 19% of dogs weighing over 30 lbs regained near normal function. Both
groups required a minimum of 4 months to show maximum improvement.
Without an intact cruciate ligament the knee is unstable. Bone spurs called
osteophytes will develop in the joint causing chronic pain and loss of motion.
This is from the wear between the bones and the cartilage which is now
abnormal. Surgery can slow down the process but not reverse it.

~ 89 ~
There are a number of variables when it comes to conservative management
with this type of injury. The size of the dog plays a role, the amount of
instability in the stifle joint, and the amount of lameness that is present.
Some dogs are simply not good surgical candidates due to their age, health
or state of fitness.
Conservative management has been done on dogs weighing 3 pounds to
dogs weighing 240 pounds. Regardless of the size of the dog, the protocol is
pretty much the same. Smaller breeds have a higher success rate only
because accidents can be controlled much easier and their weight being
much less reduces the chances for re-injury.
The exercise restriction and confinement is the same as if a dog has had
surgery. No off-leash running, no playing, no jumping up or down and strict
weight control. The diet should be supplemented with glucosamine, vitamin
E, vitamin C, Omega-3 oil, digestive enzymes and bran. Traumeel tablets
can be given to speed up the recovery and deal with the pain. Cartrophen
injections are advised and acupuncture to help speed up the healing as well.
Anti-inflammatory medication should be given in the beginning.
Some veterinarians will object to a conservative approach and may be
reluctant to utilize a brace for the dogs knee. Advice from more than one
veterinarian can be obtained if you feel opposed to surgical intervention. The
outcome for a dog without surgery or with surgery is arthritic change in the
joint. It is how we manage it that counts and what preventative measures
we take. Whichever approach we choose, the most important issue is that
our dog does not suffer in pain and regains functionality.
If a conservative approach has been taken and after 8 to 12 weeks the dog
still has persistent lameness, surgery might be the route you will have to go.
The torn ligament causes instability in the joint and this can lead to even
further damage if not watched carefully. The meniscus can be damaged or
the cruciate ligament can end up being totally ruptured.
In surgical intervention, there are a few procedures to choose from. These
procedures are; intracapsular stabilization, extra capsular stabilization, Tibial
Tuberosity Advancement, a Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) and a
Tightrope procedure.
The Intracapsular repair involves transplanting tissue from other parts of
the dogs body into the knee joint. It has fallen out of favor recently because
the results have not been as promising as the other methods. It is still
popular in the UK although not so much in North America. The tissues they
would use come from the dogs patellar ligament or fascia lata. The other

~ 90 ~
material used is Gore-Tex or tissue from a ligament bank. The goal here is to
place the ligament in an anatomically correct configuration. One would think
this method would do better since it uses living tissue rather than artificial
material. This method takes more time surgically. When the knee joint is
opened the fragments of the ligament are removed and the damaged
meniscus is repaired or removed. A strip of connective tissue is dissected
and passed through the middle of the joint, exactly where the cruciate
ligament used to be. The new ligament is attached to the opposite end by
way of an implant or just sewn into place.
The Extra capsular method is stabilizing the knee joint using materials
such as fascia lata (a strong fibrous tissue surrounding the muscles on the
outside of the leg), monofilament nylon or stainless steel wire. The knee
joint is opened and inspected and any bone spurs are removed with a
rongeur. Any damaged and torn cruciate ligament is also removed. A large
strong suture is passed around the fabella behind the knee and through a
hole that has been drilled in the front of the tibia. This tightens the joint and
prevents the drawer movement. Over time, scar tissue forms around the
suture which will help stabilize the joint. The suture effectively takes
over the job of the cruciate ligament. Typically the exercise regime is 18
weeks of exercise restriction with no running or jumping and on leash only.
Another technique being used to repair ACL injuries is the TTA. The Tibial
Tuberosity Advancement utilizes a different approach. The concept is that
when the cruciate ligament is torn, the top of the tibia and the patellar
ligament should be repositioned at 90 degrees to one another to deal with
the force generated when the dog walks. This method involves that the tibia
bone is cut and then stabilized with a special titanium plate. Bone grafts are
used to assist in the healing. This method was designed at the University of
Zurich in 2002 and has been used extensively since then. Some people
prefer it over the TPLO but both methods require specialized training,
equipment and expertise.
The TPLO method (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) is another
different technique. Rather than trying to oppose the forces of the ligament
in the normal knee joint, this eliminates the forces and thus the need for a
cruciate ligament. This procedure ultimately changes the anatomy of the
knee joint. This too requires that the bone in the tibia is cut and a special
plate used to stabilize the knee. This surgery is very complex and many
radiographs are required to calculate the correct cut in the tibia. This
procedure is not recommended for dogs weighing less than 40 lbs. The cost
of this procedure is twice the cost of the other less extensive methods,
however, for highly energetic dogs that weigh over 40 lbs, it is highly
recommended. The explanation the surgeons will give is that the dog cannot

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undo the treatment it just received. Here there is no fear of the dog getting
off the leash, running and ruining the surgery that was just performed.
It is a personal preference, and in the bottom line, costs twice as much and
changes the anatomy of the leg. Rehabilitation after a TPLO is gentler and
icing and rest are key factors. Place a padded ice pack on the leg for 10
minutes a few times daily. No running or jumping or explosive exercise is
permitted with any of the surgeries. Walking uphill is good for strengthening
the legs but no stairs. Passive range of motion exercise is also good but do
not force the leg. When there is resistance in movement you have pushed
far enough. A TPLO changes the biomechanics of the joint, and the body as
a whole. The gait could be affected. There are many factors to consider
regarding a TPLO.
The Tightrope procedure is a relatively new method introduced by Dr.
James Cook. This procedure is similar to the extra capsular technique by
way of placing a heavy piece of suture outside the joint to stabilize the stifle.
The difference being that the Tightrope procedure utilizes bone tunnels and
toggles to attach the ligament directly to the bone rather than around other
structures like the fabella.
By attaching directly to the bone there will not be loosening over time. The
material used in this procedure is also far more effective than the nylon rope
used in the other procedures. This Fibertape holds a far better load and
stiffness compared to the other materials used. In larger dogs this translates
into less chance of the suture material breaking or stretching.
One of the benefits of this procedure is a faster return to the use of the leg
post surgery. The surgery is quicker, there are less implants used and it is
overall less invasive.
Complications of this type of surgery involve loosening of the tape, infection
and subsequent meniscal injury post surgery. Meniscal injury is a risk with
any technique used to stabilize the stifle joint.
An interesting non surgical approach to ACL injuries, is one based on the fact
that instead of researchers focussing on altering bones by cutting and
repositioning them, they should direct their efforts at controlling
inflammation and immune deregulation, the latest culprits in ligament laxity.
Research on the mechanics is pointing towards the subtle degradation of the
ligamentous matrix and metalloproteinase and the inflammatory mediators
over a sudden traumatic event. When you look at all of these factors,
maintaining cruciate ligament integrity through diet, exercise,

~ 92 ~
weight loss and other preventative methods gains noticeable
Some dog food manufacturers are actually eliminating pro-inflammatory
substrates such as corn and corn by-products and they are adding
antioxidants and anti-inflammatory fatty acids. Some herbs that can help
with the inflammation are bromelain, turmeric and boswellia. Some of the
food suppliers are adding these to their formulas.
One of the most requested, compelling procedures which is a non-surgical
alternative is Prolotherapy. A Prolotherapist injects sclerosing or
proliferant solutions into or around the joints to strengthen lax ligaments.
This is also referred to as regenerative injection therapy or RIT. Prolotherapy
is expanding to include the injection of growth factors or growth factor
stimulants that will bring about regeneration or repair of normal cells or
tissues. Studies have proven that prolotherapy leads to ligament
proliferation, thickening and improved tensile strength.
By reducing the mechanical instability of the joint and the unusual extreme
force on the ligaments, tendons and joint capsules, prolotherapy also
reduces nociceptive stimuli and also reduces the pain. In studies that were
done it showed prolotherapy for ACL laxity had short and long term
improvement in pain during walking and flexing, and also in the swelling.
Further studies seemed warranted from the outcome of these high-quality
randomized controlled trials.
Even though there are improvements with joint function and stability,
osteoarthritis usually sets in. To protect and limit its progression the use of
chondroprotectants has been widely accepted. Polysulfated glycosaminoglycan stops the progression of Osteoarthritis in the stifles and maintains
the chondrocyte viability while protecting against extracellular matrix
Other integrative pain and rehabilitation methods are also taking hold.
Low level laser therapy for soft tissues around joints is also being utilized.
Massage, acupuncture and therapeutic exercise is gaining wide acceptance
for pain relief. Hydrotherapy and underwater treadmill are very popular and
beneficial under controlled measures.
Various Chinese herbal prescriptions have been effective in reducing
swelling, pain and joint immobility. Reports from using Chinese herbal
preparations, from external herbal plasters to ingested compounds, have
demonstrated the value to ligamentous tissues.

~ 93 ~
We need to understand that change truly comes from within, and if we
modify the internal milieu by giving reparative biochemical factors from
plants, foods, light, regenerative injections and mechanical stimuli, we may
actually provide an alternative to surgical intervention.
As with any surgery, there are risks and possible complications. The
following are a few:

Complications with the anesthesia

Possible infection occurring at the time of surgery or afterwards
The nylon band could come loose from the knee (generally happens if
the pet is too active within the first 4 - 6 weeks following surgery)

With TPLO surgery there are a few additional risks such as the following:

Difficulty restricting level of activity in the first 2 months which can

potentially cause poor healing due to straining of the patellar ligament.
Possible breakage of the plates or screws or loosening of the screws.
(there is no nylon band used with this procedure)
Poor healing of the bone from a dog that is on steroid use or if the dog
has diabetes.
Fracture of the tibial plateau or the bone shifting from position from
either a fall or too much activity.

Knee surgery on a dog requires good management of physical

therapy and rehabilitation to ensure the best outcome. It will require
dedication and time on the part of the owner along with some creativity to
entertain your normally once active dog.

~ 94 ~

I have dealt with 4 ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) surgeries with my dogs.
With each surgery I learned more about what works and what doesnt work.
I keep an accurate record of everything when it comes to my dogs. I know
exactly when they have defecated and when they ate and woke up. I watch
for every little sign of anything out of the ordinary and how well they are
doing with each treatment and therapy. I became better able to manage the
process and shape the outcome as well as reducing expenses. This condition
is becoming so common in dogs of all breeds and sizes that it is
proportionately epidemic. The following is the protocol that I followed with
my last dog.
My girl had her first surgery when she was 1 years of age. At 1 year old
we noticed a slight difference in her left rear leg. She showed no pain, no
outcry on the drawer test, and no audible clicking or crunching. She paced
instead of trotted, and so we put her on a conservative management
protocol. My holistic vet and I decided that the evidence just wasnt
conclusive enough and so we got on an exercise program to strengthen her
rear end and build up the supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons. I was
comfortable with that, since I had been through these surgeries before and
really did not want to go there again unless I had to.
We embarked on a swim program along with the walking regime I had
with her. We did 3 swims a week at the Vital K9 Leisure and Therapy Pool,
and walked on leash for 2 miles every morning. We were on leash from this
point forward to minimize any potential damage she could do from running
and jumping. She was extremely high energy and had a huge love for life
and adventure. She loved the pool and it expended an enormous amount of
her energy which was great. I was extremely careful with her and never let
her off leash and supplemented her diet with Bone and Sinew formula
(Chinese herbal), glucosamine sulfate, Vitamin E, and C, Omega -3 fish oil,
Prozyme, kelp, chlorella and flax seed. She was fed a raw diet of chicken and
vegetable mix, fruit and fresh green tripe. We also gave her a few other
herbals from my holistic vet, and did monthly Cartrophen injections along
with acupuncture.
Finally, 5 months into this physiotherapy program, we were still uncertain as
to whether or not she had a torn cruciate. Being extremely conservative and
careful, this should have changed by now. My holistic vet referred me to an
orthopedic specialist that had vast knowledge in this condition in addition to
experience with ACL surgeries of all types. When I saw him, the evidence
was there and we booked her for an extra capsular surgery one month later.

~ 95 ~
On the day I brought her home from the operation, I immediately gave her
Nux vomica, 4 pellets 3x a day for 3 days. This helped with the nausea she
would be experiencing from all of the anesthetic and antibiotics. I continued
with the Metacam for 3 weeks. She tolerated it well and had no darkened
stool. I used a towel sling under her belly for support during the first week to
assist her with squatting to urinate and defecate. Four days after surgery I
resumed the Bone and Sinew formula and massaged the muscles very gently
with Traumeel Gel on the thigh, except over the incision. This is an excellent
homeopathic product for both people and pets, and promotes the healing in
addition to reducing the pain. She was putting her full weight on her
operated leg by the fifth day, and was intermittent thereafter. I was feeding
her only c of food mixed with water in a day. This maintained a good
weight and did not place additional strain on the other knee. I performed
gentle, passive knee flexion and extension physiotherapy up to 20
repetitions 3x a day. One month later and after the Metacam was not being
used, I put her back on GLS and Zeel tabs. The Zeel prevented any arthritic
build-up and the GLS supports the building of healthy cartilage as well as
reducing any pain.
I made sure she was on non-slip flooring, was confined to a small area in the
center of the living room, and curtailed any licking she would try and do.
Unfortunately, the Elizabethan Cone had to be utilized when I could not
watch her. She received monthly Cartrophen injections for another 6
months. There was some edema around her stifle and hock, however that
was normal and to be expected.
Never use a Flexi leash! That is too risky for your dog to hurt themselves
and undo all the surgery that was just performed. She was on a very short 3
foot leash whenever she had to be taken outside. We walked at a deliberate
slow pace so as to use the leg properly. Stairs were avoided for 6 months,
no playing with any other dog at all, no jumping, no running, always under
strict supervision and control. The knee will not be healed to a safe
point until between 4 and 6 months. They plateau at 8 months and
healing takes place right up to a year.
During the first 6 weeks she was only permitted 4 ten minute walks a day
for bathroom breaks outside. Slow walks on leash. I gave her raw bones to
help keep her busy and also to keep her drinking adequate water, to flush
her system out. This is the most difficult time, because as she starts to feel
better, her activity is still so restricted.
During the start of the second 6 weeks, I had her back at the pool swimming
with a life jacket on for support. I would swim with her and it was always
under total control and with safety being of paramount importance. As soon

~ 96 ~
as she got out of the water, a leash went on and she was held and towel
dried. We would swim 3x a week and walk 20 minute walks each day. By ten
weeks we were walking 1 miles a day, and by 12 weeks we were walking
2 miles on leash, every day, in addition to the swimming.
By the third 6 week period, we just kept on doing our regime at the pool and
our daily walks, along with the knee flexion and extension physiotherapy.
Her food intake increased with the amount of exercise she was getting. Her
weight initially dropped from 93lbs to 85lbs, but returned to 90 soon after.
This dog was doing phenomenally well, with muscle and tone and
walking with hardly any noticeable sign of recently having had surgery. The
pool therapy was one of the best rehabilitative therapies I could ever have
done. Her recovery time was cut in half and so were ongoing vet bills.
The one thing that I strongly recommend is that a flat buckle collar be on
the dog not a snap-in plastic moulded locking buckle. If the collar has to be
secured like a belt buckle does, there is no chance of it coming undone. I
had the unfortunate incident of where my dog saw a rabbit and went to
jump and chase it. In my concern for her leg, I hastily grabbed her by the
collar, not realizing that I had grabbed the buckle and entirely set her free!
Of course she ran after the bunny, not on flat terrain, and came back 1
minute later, with me being in total shock and horror. I felt like my gut just
sank to the bottom of the sea. In that one incident, the entire operation
could have been for naught. Thankfully, she returned happy, wide eyed and
no worse for wear, than when she took off. This was only one month post
surgery! Belt buckle type collar while recovering! I do believe, this is
what cost me her other knee, which took the brunt of the weight while in hot
pursuit of the elusive rabbit.
Six months later we were back at the surgeon to determine if the other
cruciate had torn. Again it was confirmed, and given her fantastic muscle
tone and shape she was in, we could perform another surgery this soon. So
one month later we were leaving the clinic with another knee surgery behind
us. Thankful that this one was only was partially torn like the last one, and
not completely ruptured; I was on a mission to rehabilitate my dog to as
good as new. I truly felt bad for her, and will be more careful than ever to
have her back in tip top shape as fast as possible.
This time my whole life was about to unravel. The events that followed
the second surgery should never have happened, but there are risks
involved with surgery and unfortunately this was one of them.
Five days after surgery my dog got a reaction to the Metacam and had
bloody stools, vomiting and started refusing to eat. By day 8 she was taken

~ 97 ~
off the Metacam, but I noticed that there was a significant difference in her
operated leg in comparison to the last one that was operated on. The
swelling was getting worse and she was crying constantly at night from the
pain. She started refusing to urinate and the time between bathroom breaks
got to be a frightening 20+ hours! After 3 days of this, I called my vet. I
know that the body can get poisoned from retaining this in the kidneys and
that was the last thing she needed.
Upon examining her, we decided that it was from being in so much pain that
she was refusing to squat or use her leg at all. She was holding her leg tight
and not bending it or putting weight on it anymore. So we put her on
Corydalis which is a potent natural painkiller. After three days of this she
was not improving so I called the clinic and they suggested that I try it for a
few more days. By day 6 of this I gave up and we got her on another natural
pain killer. Three days later with no improvement in sight, we went back to
the Metacam along with two other medicines to allow the Metacam to be
utilized without upsetting her internal workings. She was depressed.
Four days after that we thought everything was better, until I noticed that
her knee was really hot to the touch. Three days later I discovered her
incision had opened and was weeping blood tinged ooze! Much to my
absolute horror, I immediately called the vets office and proclaimed to them
that this is impossible since it has been 5 weeks post surgery! I immediately
got her examined and they took a sample to send to the lab for what they
were suspect of; a serious staph infection.
So while waiting the 4 days for the results (over a weekend), we got her on
the antibiotic for fighting a staph infection. When the results came back, it
confirmed a Staphylococcal intermedius infection. The antibiotic she was
put on was the correct one for fighting the infection, and my holistic vet was
accurate in her diagnosis. So now we follow a program for 6 weeks of
Antirobe, to ensure the infection has not lodged into her bone. This was the
underlying problem all along. We knew something was not right because she
is a strong and resilient dog and nothing was fitting the picture.
Our swimming resumed at 7 weeks post surgery this time, and she was
holding on well. The antibiotics took their toll on her and I knew her
intestinal flora and fauna would be out of order. She ended up having so
much yeast in her body she developed it in her ears, and her fur was
thinning down the front of her chest with red blotches appearing on her skin.
She developed rashes, and itchiness. We put her on Chinese herbal
formulas, homeopathic remedies for her ears, and a potent probiotic. I also
put her on an additional probiotic and a super cleansing micro nutrient

~ 98 ~
formula by way of tincture, chlorophyll, and lots of raw green tripe. Now I
needed to build up her immune system and get her back on track.
It would all eventually clear up but it would be another month after the
antibiotics to determine if the infection was completely cleared or if it had
set in the bone. It would be devastating if it did go into the bone and the
surgeon prepared me with the outcome if it did. They would not be able to
do surgery until 6 months had lapsed and then they would have to go in and
remove everything and do it again. Meanwhile she would have to be on
strong and very costly antibiotics the whole time. That is not something
anyone wants for their beloved dog.
So time went by and we kept up with our rehabilitation and physiotherapy
regime. In the end my girl was safe and we got rid of the entire infection.
She is so vibrant and healthy to this day.
I would advise anyone who has their pet undergo surgery, to closely watch
for signs of a looming infection. It can be life or death for your dog. Pay
close attention to any warning signs like abnormal swelling, heat in the body
part, redness, foul smelling discharge, extreme pain, and total refusal to
move the limb. Watch your dog closely and question it if it seems odd. This
is your companion and friend and you are their guardian. Keep an accurate
record of everything from morning till night. You will so glad you spent the
few minutes to write information down should you ever need to refer to it.

~ 99 ~
Chapter Five

Signs and symptoms of Dog Arthritis and the Amazing treatments
that help
Arthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints. The cartilage that acts like a
cushion allows the bones to glide smoothly over one another. The joint
capsule that encases the entire joint has a membrane which produces a
lubricating fluid. This synovial fluid is pumped to where it is needed.
Injuries from trauma, broken bones, or damage to the cartilage can also
predispose the dog to getting arthritis. Damaged or misaligned bones can
cause wear and tear of the cartilage and eventually the breakdown and
inflammation within the joint. Once the cartilage has been injured it releases
inflammation-causing enzymes. This unfortunately, interferes with the
elasticity of the joint and its ability to nourish and repair itself. Less synovial
fluid will enter the joint and this causes even more damage. Tendons that
are loose or worn can also cause joint instability leading to arthritis. Other
factors contributing to arthritis are toxic damage, scar tissue, genetic
weaknesses, nutritional deficiencies, obesity, Cushings syndrome, diabetes,
and working dogs or athletic dogs that place constant strain on their joints.
When dogs have arthritis it will show up as pain, stiffness, lameness,
slowness of movement, and an apprehension to walk as far. Ten common
signs of possible arthritis or joint problems in your dog may include the

Reluctance to play, walk or exercise

Circling endlessly before laying down and a reluctance to get up
Reluctance to jump up onto the couch or bed or into the vehicle
Avoidance of using stairs
Limping or holding up a paw or leg
Gait is altered
Noticeable joint swelling
Decreased range of motion
Crunching when the joint is moved
Muscle atrophy in a limb

Larger breed dogs have a higher incidence of arthritis due to the stress
placed on their joints. Rottweilers, Labradors, Boxers, and German
Shepherds tend to be prone to getting arthritic knee problems. Even though

~ 100 ~
any dog can get arthritis, the older a dog gets, the more likely it will have
developed some form of it in their joints. The most common joints affected
are the hips, knees, and elbows. Hip and elbow arthritis is always from
dysplasia in the joint. This is a developmental disease they get from when
they are puppies. It sometimes does not show up until the dog is one or two
years of age and really catches up with them when they are around 6 or 7
years of age. Arthritis is generally based on symptoms and x rays.
Diet plays a major role in dealing with arthritis. An overweight dog has the
worst time dealing with arthritis. In a trim dog, you should be able to see
their ribs and their waistline. In puppies, limit the food to keep them lean so
while they are growing so rapidly, their bone develops at a slower rate.
Some dogs have leaky gut syndrome, which contributes to an
inflammatory response in the body. This is a condition where the gut is more
permeable or leaky, allowing undigested proteins and other substances
such as toxins and bacteria, to pass through the inflamed or damaged lining.
This leads to inflammation in other parts of the body, increasing the toxic
workload on the liver. The intestinal tract is the first organ to lose its blood
supply during stress. If the dog is stressed for a long time, the intestinal
tract is seriously underfed and starts to function poorly or become leaky.
Providing arthritic dogs a single source protein diet and a fresh food diet,
helps enormously with pain and inflammation. By feeding raw fruit and
vegetables along with a white fleshed meat, either chicken, cod, tuna,
salmon or mackerel, you will see a noticeable improvement in a short time.
Other food that can be fed is raw tripe, oats, and mussels. Avoid feeding
potatoes, eggplant, tomato, capsicum, dairy and red meat. These foods are
known to aggravate arthritis in people.
Keeping your dog active with some form of exercise is crucial to slowing
the progression of the disease. The best form of exercise for painful joints is
swimming. All the joints can do full range of motion without weight bearing.
It is highly beneficial for the cardiovascular system which is a benefit they
might otherwise not be able to get due to the joint pain. If swimming is not
an option, then slow easy walks are low impact. Small walks a few times a
day are better than a long endurance test. Massage before and after
exercise prevents the muscles from tightening up, making your dog less
reluctant to move afterwards. Gentle stretching exercises are great for
limbering them up and keeping things moving. To relieve any aches or
stiffness, hot water bottles or heating pads help. If there is any joint
swelling, use cold or ice packs for 3 minutes at a time.

~ 101 ~
There are quite a few nutritional supplements that have been proven highly
beneficial for arthritis. Dismutase is one that provides results sometimes
within days. This counteracts free radicals in the body and halts the
destruction of cartilage. The amount of energy and degree of flexibility the
dog will have after taking this is enormous. The dosage is 6 tablets daily for
a 40lb dog and giant breed up to 10 tablets a day. After one month reduce
this to a maintenance level and give tablets on an empty stomach.
Goats whey is also great for dealing with stiffness and lameness and pain
to do with osteoarthritis. The supplement can be obtained in a powder form
and dogs like the taste. Long-term use of this loosens the joints and
dissolves calcium deposits (osteophytes). Improvement with this can take up
to 3 months. Dosage is: dogs less than 20lbs give the full human dose on
label, dogs up to 50lbs give the label dose, dogs 50lbs+ give full dose on
label. This can be mixed right in with their food.
The following supplements and vitamins are all reputable and highly
recommended for their effectiveness:

Glucosamine sulphate aids in cartilage repair, is safe and decreases

pain while improving joint function
Chondroitin sulphate inhibits enzymes that destroy cartilage and
improves nutrient supply to the joint
Green-lipped sea mussel (Perna canniculus), contains
glycosaminoglycan which slows the degeneration of cartilage in the
joints and also aids in pain relief
Manganese and zinc
Vitamin C and E
Digestive enzymes
Omega 3 fish oils act as an anti-inflammatory

In the Herbal end of the spectrum, there are two well-known Ayurvedic
herbs that have worked fantastic on dogs with arthritic conditions. The first
is Boswellia, a potent anti-inflammatory that has proven to relieve stiffness
and pain. It shrinks any inflamed tissue, improves the blood supply to the
affected area and promotes the repair of the damaged blood vessels from
the onslaught of inflammation. Dosage: Dogs 20lbs give 10 drops of liquid
twice daily for each 10lbs of weight; dogs up to 30lbs a 500mg capsule twice
daily; dogs up to 60lbs give 500mg 3 times daily; larger dogs give 1000mg
twice a day. Give this remedy after meals.
The other Ayurvedic herb is Ashwaganda. This works on the
musculoskeletal and nervous system, and works similarly to ginseng. It is an

~ 102 ~
incredible adaptogen increasing energy and vitality, counteracting the effects
of stress. It is also a potent anti-inflammatory and contains a natural
chemical that has an anabolic effect in the body. Dosage: Dogs up to 20lbs
give 10 drops of liquid for each 10lbs of weight; dogs up to 30lbs give
500mg capsule twice daily; dogs up to 60lbs give 500mg three times daily;
larger dogs give 1000mg twice a day. Always give this after meals.
A Chinese herbal formula known as Du Huo Jisheng Wan is another
treatment you can try. It is available in Chinese groceries or pharmacies.
The formula tones the liver, kidneys and blood, dispelling wind and
dampness in the joints, particularly in the lower back and knees which
causes weakness pain and stiffness. There should be an improvement within
days. Dosage: Small dogs 2 pills twice daily; medium dogs 5 pills twice
daily; larger dogs 10 pills twice daily.
Some other Herbs that help with reducing the inflammation:

Devils claw is an anti-inflammatory and eases pain

Ginger is an anti-inflammatory and reduces pain
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties although it is not as
effective in chronic inflammation

For arthritis, there are some amazingly simple homeopathic remedies to

alleviate your dogs pain and stiffness and restore function. The
following are extremely useful and are worth trying:

Rhus tox 30C for joints that are worse in damp cold weather and stiff
upon arising
Ruta grav 30C for any sprains, cruciate injury, ligament damage
Bryonia 30C if the arthritis is worse with activity and warmer weather
Causticum 30C for an older pet where the pain of arthritis decreases
with heat

A unique healing system using flower essences was developed by an

English physician, Edward Bach, in the 1930s. This exerted therapeutic
effects on the emotions which promoted physical balance in the body. Some
Bach flower remedies that have proven successful in treating arthritic
conditions are agrimony, beech, gorse, impatiens, oak and willow. He
developed and identified applications for 38 individual flower essences plus
the popular combination of Rescue Remedy. Each remedy relates to a
certain mental and emotional state. Veterinarians have been using these for
years and have found them highly beneficial to heal emotional and physical
ailments in animals. Flower remedies are considered an energy medicine.

~ 103 ~
Some experts say that flower remedies enhance the effectiveness of
any form of medicine. There is no interference with these whether it is
conventional or alternative. Flower essences can be administered by mouth
with a dropper or applied topically to the head and ears. They can be added
to food or water or put into a spray bottle and sprayed into rooms or
carriers. When given orally, they are generally given 4 to 8 drops at a time 3
to 4 times a day for two to four weeks. Usually there should be a change
noticed within two weeks.
Aromatics, another method of treatment is through the use of giving back
to the animal the medicinal non-food remedies similar in their make-up, to
those that they would naturally seek out and use in the wild. It encourages
and allows the animal to guide its own treatment by using its innate
responses. This is not Aromatherapy, which operates on full massage with
sweet fragrances. That is dangerous to do on a dog. For more in depth
information on Aromatics and how they can potentially help, I suggest
consulting with and referring to The Animal Aromatics Workbook by Caroline
Ingraham. She is the longest practising Animal Aromatics Practitioner in the
Chiropractic adjustments can alleviate lots of pain and correct long time
existing problems. Chronic arthritis can lead to changes in gait and the way
the spine moves leading to wear and tear on the joints. Chiropractic
adjustments also relieve constipation and incontinence.
Acupuncture is the perfect treatment for arthritis of any kind. It opens the
meridians of energy and provides pain relief. This can change the whole
course of the disease. After a series of treatments all medications can be
stopped. Acupuncture can affect all of the internal organs. It releases
endorphins, and anti-inflammatory hormones into the bloodstream. It
improves the flow of electromagnetic energy throughout the body and
removes any blockages. Any hip dysplasia, osteochondritis (OCD), arthritis
in the knee, hock, wrist, shoulders or elbows as well as muscle and ligament
injuries, are all improved significantly by acupuncture.
Stem cell treatment is another form of regenerative medicine for treating
arthritis in dogs. There are no side effects and no issues with rejection
because the patient is also the cell donor. Stem cells are taken from the
dogs own body fat, isolated in a laboratory, and then re-injected back into
their own body at a higher concentrated level. There has been much success
with this procedure, although it still is not accepted by all veterinarians.
The procedure is fairly simple but comes with a price tag. Treatments can
cost around $2000.00 to $3000.00.

~ 104 ~
The procedure takes about two tablespoons of fat from either the abdomen
or shoulder blade area of a dog that has been anesthetized. Within 48 hours
the laboratory ships them back to the surgeon in ready-to-inject syringes.
The cells are not modified or engineered in any way. These cells block
inflammation and scar tissue from forming while recruiting other stem cells
from the body. While the AVMA (American Veterinarian Medical Association)
in Schaumburg Illinois fully supports this procedure, it is still a very new
technology for them.
Surgical treatments are a last resort. If your dogs quality of life needs to
be given back and this is the last resort, it is available. Some of the options
available are listed below.
Total Hip Replacement is 95% successful but is costly. Most dogs that get
this procedure are about 6 to 10 years of age, but some have been as old as
14. Most dogs walk on the operated hip on the day they go home, without
any lameness. Quite common, they will insert gold beads as they do this
surgery. That has been very successful over the years. As with all surgeries,
there is a recovery period and physiotherapy regime that needs to be
adhered to.
Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) is performed on dogs that have advanced
arthritis in their hips and the cartilage is worn right off the bone. The
surgeon ends up removing the ball and socket joint in the hip and closes the
joint capsule over the socket. This has a success rate of 85% and is less
costly than a total hip replacement.
Total Elbow Replacement is for dogs with severe elbow arthritis.
Generally the dogs operated on are 8 years old or older. The success rate is
around 85% but aggressive physical therapy is needed after surgery. There
is stem cell technology being done, however, the studies are continuing.
Joint Washout is arthroscopy that employs a flexible tube with fiber optics
that allows viewing into the joint with non-invasive incisions. The joint and
tissue are debrided, damaged material and loose tissue is removed, then its
washed clean. Almost 80% of dogs have a huge improvement for 2 to 5
Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) is another increasingly
common surgery. In large dogs, surgery is usually required. 50% of small
dogs do fine without surgery. In this procedure, the ends of the bone that
come together to form the knee are reconstructed and the joint no longer
needs a ligament for stability.

~ 105 ~
Joint Fusion is the process called arthodesis. The painful joint is eliminated
entirely by fusing the two bones together. It leaves the dog with a limp but
eliminates the pain in the joint. Eventually the condition will lead itself to
further pain and discomfort.
Arthroscopic Joint Capsule Shrinkage employs thermal techniques to
shrink the joint capsule. This procedure treats cruciate ligament injuries, hip
dysplasia and shoulder problems.
Medications that are often given to deal with the pain cause a whole host
of additional problems. The possible side effects of NSAIDs are gastric or
colonic ulceration, kidney damage, and liver changes. Corticosteroids can
cause increased thirst and urination, gastrointestinal ulceration, druginduced Cushings disease, immune suppression, liver changes and slow
wound healing. Some of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
commonly prescribed are Carprofen, trade name Rimadyl, Etodolac, brand
name Etogesic, Ketoprofen and Peroxicam. Most of the NSAIDs block both
the Cox-1 and Cox-2 pathways. These are the biochemical means the drugs
act upon to provide pain relief. Unfortunately, blocking the Cox-1 pathway
causes problems that affect kidney function, stomach erosions and ulcers.
The Cox-2 pathway is for inflammatory mediators which reduces swelling
and painful joints. The difficulty with this is that there is currently no drug
specific only to the Cox-2 which is what is needed for treating arthritis.
Some very simple things you can do to help your dog with day to day

Make a non-slip ramp for your dog to get up into bed or in and out of
automobiles. If stairs into the home are difficult to negotiate, a ramp
is useful. Commercial ramps are available in all sizes and weights and
it makes a huge difference to the quality of life your dog will lead.
Portable steps are handy if the dog is capable of utilizing stairs and
just cannot jump up and down from beds or couches.
The K-9 Cart Company produces carts designed by an orthopedic
specialist, to help with your challenged pet if they have lost the use of
their hind legs. This provides them with the mobility to get around
freely again.
Raise their food bowls up to minimize neck and/or back strain. This
also encourages your dog to drink plenty of water and remain
Heated beds help with the soreness at the end of the day.
Orthopedic beds help distribute their weight evenly and reduce
pressure on the joints. They are great support and help your dog get
up easier.

~ 106 ~

Fill socks with uncooked rice or dried peas and microwave. They make
for great bed warmers. This warms up the muscles and relieves
stiffness and pain.
Dog harnesses are an option for dogs that have arthritis in the neck or
back. This can ease strain and joint stress during exercising.
Support slings or carriers are great when you need to assist your dog
with walking to go potty as well as help them when they attempt to
squat. This saves your back from being injured.
Paw protectors (booties) for their feet to keep them warm and dry.
Rain coats and winter coats help keep their aching joints warm and
Magnetic pads are known to help heal arthritis and provide pain relief.
Life preservers or flotation devices so they can still enjoy swimming.

Magnetic therapy is another treatment for your dog that produces great
results. This is done through applying a magnetic field which is done by way
of a magnetic pad or mattress. How it works is by electrical signals sent to
the cells in the body, which influence their interaction with ions. This
stimulates biological reactions which promotes the healing process and
provides pain relief from arthritis or hip dysplasia.
Placement and strength of ceramic magnets that each have a Br rating
(intrinsic or internal magnetic field), of 3950 gauss with a surface gauss
rating of up to 900 provide the therapeutic results needed. The placement of
these magnets is crucial for them to work correctly together and provide the
circuitry needed within the body. The magnets should preferably be 1 in
diameter, 1/8 dense, 4 between each other and no more than to 1
from the top surface. This has been determined from calculations and
experience of usage.
For pain relief the North Pole (negative) is the key one to use. The bodys
reaction to pain, illness or an injury creates an acid state that is low in
oxygen, in the tissues where the illness is being manifested. A negative
magnetic energy creates a normal state in the cells and tissues by
alkalinizing, oxygenating and normalizing cellular metabolism. This promotes
healing and draws nutritional fluids into the area. Some of the benefits
your dog receives from this are:

Pain relief
An increase in tissue and cell oxygenation
Increased blood flow to the area
Reduced inflammation and swelling
Inducing a sound and peaceful sleep

~ 107 ~

Magnetic therapy is a simple and inexpensive treatment for helping your pet
with pain, healing and arthritis. Every manufacturer has their own theory on
what works best, however, it sometimes is a trial and error procedure to
determine which one works for your dog. Lots of people will use bipolar
magnets but the majority of vets recommend using the North Pole only
facing the skin. This is a great alternative treatment that can be used alone
or in conjunction with any other treatment whether it is traditional or
The different products available for helping with pain and arthritis range
from magnetic blankets, magnetic beds, or magnetic strips that can be
wrapped around with gauze to the affected area. This sometimes proves
challenging with a dog but can be done in a relaxed fashion where you have
a restful moment with your dog and hold the magnetic strip in place. They
will tell you when theyve had enough.

~ 108 ~

I have learned from my past mistakes, particularly with one of my dogs. I

rescued her between 6 and 8 months of age. She was very mistreated and
lacked in confidence as well as a stable upbringing with love and proper
nourishment. Despite all the odds, I took her in and gave her a life she
loved. My first mistake with her was rushing to any vet and giving her a
vaccination cocktail which I thought she needed because she had never
been given anything. So the first thing I did was good; rescue her, the
second thing I did was not so good; vaccinate the heck out of her. The
learning journey began.
I kept going back to a vet to get her shots regularly and boosters and never
questioned anything when things started to go wrong. In amongst all of this,
I had to repair two anterior cruciates on her when she was 1 years old
and 3 years old. Along came more medicine and hardship on her part. I
continued to rehabilitate her and she grew into the most loving and loyal
companion anyone could probably ever imagine. Every time there was
anything that went wrong and required attention we were at my
conventional vet, who was good, but could not solve all the health issues
that were now creeping in and altering her quality of life and happiness. So
by the time she reached 5 years of age, she had a serious problem. She was
in excruciating pain and suddenly was not able to walk with me anymore and
do anything that required any mobility. This was when we both made a
significant change in our lives.
We went to see a holistic veterinarian an hour away from where we lived.
It was the best trip her and I ever made. After examining her and doing the
necessary tests, checking her out completely from daily activities to diet and
exercise, she recommended no more vaccinations and gave her acupuncture
and put her on a homeopathic tincture called Homeodose 4. It was
determined that my dog had immune mediated poly-arthritis from over
vaccination. Her immune system was compromised and having repeated
shots and boosters would be detrimental to her. From this point forward I
would be performing titer tests.
Within less than one week of taking the drops, my dog was walking 6
miles a day with me again! Going from barely able to stand and walk for
three months, to being totally comfortable, having no pain, walking and
running everywhere! I cannot describe the joy that poured out of her and
me at that moment! After witnessing that, I made the decision to never just
do what someone thought was the best, without asking about the
consequences and what alternatives were available. I realized there is more
than one treatment for any condition and it is pertinent to check them out. I
still cannot believe something so simple and natural cured her while I had

~ 109 ~
tried desperately to fix the problem, and could not get any results with
conventional medicine. This would never happen again.
Over the ensuing years, she would remain on this homeopathic formula
receiving only a few drops a day. I had a walking regime with her of 4 to 6
miles every day and swimming occasionally. She ran around chasing rabbits
and playing with her best buddy, my other dog. The acreage she lived on
was very irregular ground with rocky bluff and steep terrain. She never had
any challenges with mobility again. It was during her last two years she
would sometimes become sore and my holistic vet would have me give her
Rhus tox at times and Sea Q. I also used Traumeel tabs periodically for pain
or inflammation she would get in her joints and soft tissues. Even though
this product is manufactured for people, the result it produces in a dog is
amazing. It also is a homeopathic medicine.
I also changed her diet to help with the overall treatment and
management of the arthritis. Her arthritis was throughout her whole body,
and her diet was very important. The following recipe helped profoundly with
her pain, energy level and kept her weight under control. In fact she lost
weight when I initially started feeding it to her. I used to make it up in
batches and freeze it for future use.

2 cups brown rice

2 cups barley (pearls)
1 cup lentils
2 cups finely chopped carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup chopped parsley
2 cups chopped raw spinach
2 cups raw beef heart or ground chicken (white meat is preferred)
12 cups of water

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil then simmer for
1 hours. Stir occasionally and keep the pot covered. Add more water if you
need to. This is very good for treating any arthritic condition. Sometimes
this diet on its own will help the state of an arthritic dog.
Another component I changed was living modifications. I had to get
her a very comfortable cushioned bed to sleep on. I already had a couch for
her but it was not as supportive as it could be and so I embarked on a quest
for a better bed. She slept more soundly afterwards and was very content in
it. The bed was low to the ground so she would not have to jump up or
down, potentially causing further joint pain. I also placed mats around to
reduce the slipperiness of the floor. This helped when she was coming in or

~ 110 ~
out of the house with wet feet. Her food and water bowls were raised and
there was water placed in more than one location.
This Rottweiler had many health issues from a very early age. She had a
difficult start in life but thankfully I was given the opportunity to give her the
life she deserved. She had to deal with two cruciate surgeries, cataracts,
lymphomas, tumors, vitiligo, Cushings disease, immune mediated
poly-arthritis and in the end hemangiosarcoma. The treatments she
received from my homeopathic vet increased her longevity to nearly the ripe
old age of 12 years. It was in combination of utilizing unharmful and
nontoxic remedies in an already fragile body, which kept her ticking. In
coming from a more natural place energetically and spiritually, we were able
to keep her pain free and in balance harmoniously. By employing the use of
homeopathic remedies, Chinese herbal formulas, Western Herbal formulas,
nutritional supplements, diet modifications, acupuncture, chiropractic and
exercise, I had a dog that lived a rich and fulfilled life that overflowed with
an abundance of love. Even though at times it has felt like I should have
known certain things when I didnt, knowing I did the absolute best I could
have done for my dog and always being open to new methods of treatment,
brought me to the second greatest turning point in my life; Learning to say

~ 111 ~
Love Your Pet Let Nature Be Your Vet Dr. Ruza Bogdanovich, N.D., Ph.D.
For The Love of a Dog Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D.
Complete Care For Your Aging Dog Amy D. Shojai
The Veterinarians Guide to Natural Remedies For Dogs Martin Zucker
Love, Miracles, and Animal Healing Allen M. Schoen, D.V.M. and Pam
Kindred Spirits Allen M. Schoen D.V.M.,M.S.
The Pet Lovers Guide To Natural Healing For Cats & Dogs Barbara
Fougere, BVSc
Protect Your Pet Ann N. Martin
The Animal Aromatics Workbook Caroline Ingraham
Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis in Dogs Richard E. Goldstein, D.V.M.
Diplomate ACVIM (American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine)
Canine Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis Barbara Kohn, Prof. Dr. Med. Vet.,
DECVIM, Berlin, Germany
The Ultimate Pet Food Guide Everything You Need To Know About Feeding
Your Dog or Cat- Liz Palika
Holistic Care Guide - Natural Remedies Dogs and Cats Wish You Knew Dr.
Viv Harris
Getting In TTouch With Your Dog Linda Tellington-Jones
Canine Massage A Complete Reference Manual Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt,
The Well-Connected Dog A Guide To Canine Acupressure Amy Snow and
Nancy Zidonis
The Healthy Way to Stretch Your Dog A Physical Therapy Approach
Sasha Foster MSPT and Ashley Foster CPDT
Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook Debra m. Eldredge D.V.M., Lisa
D. Carlson D.V.M., Delbert G. Carlson D.V.M., James M. Griffin M.D.
Magnetic Therapy and Integrative Holistic Animal Health Care Allen M.
Schoen D.V.M., M.S.
Splenic Hemangiosarcoma ,Veterinary Practice News May 2000 Thamm D.
Canine Hemangiosarcoma Department of Clinical Studies University of
Hemangiosarcoma Anita R. Weidinger, D.V.M.
Tumors and Surgical Conditions of the Spleen Dr. Daniel A. Degner DACVS
Canine Hemangiosarcoma. Clinical Update Josep Pastor D.V.M., PhD
Lymphosarcoma Cancer in Dogs Dr. Carol Osborne D.V.M.
Supplements, Nutrients, and Medications in Cancer Treatments Dr. Charles
Loops, D.V.M. Homeopathic Veterinarian
Ruptured Anterior (Cranial) Cruciate Ligament Wendy C. Brooks, D.V.M.,

~ 112 ~
Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture Dianne Dunning, D.V.M., MS Diplomate
Changing Views On CCL Repair Narda G. Robinson, DO, D.V.M., MS FAAMA
TPLO for Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture Michigan Veterinary Specialists
Surgical Management of the Cranial Cruciate Insufficient Dog Utilizing Tibial
Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) Paul M. Shealy M.S., D.V.M.,
Diplomate, ACVS
Orthopedics Hampden Family Pet Hospital, Englewood, CO
Cutting Edge K9 Rehab San Diego, CA
Canine Rehabilitation And Physical Therapy Darryl Millis, MS, D.V.M., David
Levine, PhD, PT, UC Foundation Associate Professor o Physical Therapy,
Robert Taylor, D.V.M., MS, Diplomate ACVS, Staff Surgeon, Alameda East
Veterinary Hospital
Aqua Dog Rehabilitation, LLC , Flanders, NJ
Vital K9 Pool , Errington, BC
Hydrotherapy for Dogs
Canine Hydrotherapy Association
Ramsey Canine Hydrotherapy Centre
Doncaster Canine Hydrotherapy Centre
Dogpools Inc.
Organic Pet Digest Walnut Creek, CA
Animal Physiotherapy; Assessment, Treatment and Rehabilitation of Animals
Catherine McGowan, Lesley Goff, Narelle Stubbs
Essential Facts of Physiotherapy in Dogs and Cats; Rehabilitation and Pain
Management A Reference Guide Barbara Bockstahler, David Levine,
Darryl Millis

~ 113 ~

It is with great appreciation and acknowledgement that I would like to thank
Christina and Jens Diron, for allowing me the use of their photo for the cover
of my book. On the cover are their two lovely and adoring companions,
Varazs Artemis Vizsandy (Shandy) and Szolnoki Pasztor (Pash). May you
have many more endearing years together.
In addition to this, Christina Diron has been my proof-reader for the entire
manuscript. I thank you enormously for your time, your talents and your
I also extend heartfelt gratitude to Annette and Scott Tanner for allowing me
to use the photograph of their beloved dog Bailey, in Figure 20. Bailey has
since passed on to where all the great dogs go. He had the best life ever!
The unending determination and love of his guardians gave him the best and
longest quality life he could have asked for. Godspeed Bailey, you touched
so many of our hearts!
Also, I would like to thank Paul Gagnon for all of the photography he took for
me. I am eternally grateful!
Most of all, I thank my companions, Chelsea and Amber, for showing me
how connecting and bonding to our dogs can be far deeper and stronger
than one might ever think imaginable; for you blessing me with some of the
most memorable years of my life; for you teaching me about health and
healing, unconditional love and loyalty, and for you lighting the way for
many other companions and furry friends; for showing me how energy and
love lives on!
I thank my companion Charme who has shown me that if we sit still long
enough, love will again light upon our shoulder. She who persevered through
all her surgeries and always kept a smile upon her face bringing me such
unending joy and laughter each day. Who very patiently waited for the
camera to get it just right. You are my world! I love you so much!
Lastly, I thank all of those dogs who have touched my heart and soul and
allowed me into their lives. For those who I have witnessed recover from
illness and injury, and have assisted in rehabilitation, you make it all so

~ 114 ~
worthwhile! You are my teachers about life in so many ways! God bless you
Also to every dog I have met and helped in our local adoption shelters. I
pray each and every one of you gets the home and love you deserve.

What some readers have to say:

Few people I have met demonstrate the dedication and honest love that
Helga does for her animal friends. Helga is very much a kindred spirit.She
continually amazes me with the broad scope of her interest in all things
holistic. Open-minded and very hands-on in her approach, she walks the
walk and talks the talk. In many ways Helga reminds me of a fascinating
encyclopedia - once you've opened the colourful cheery cover, you will find a
wealth of information inside. Helga is chapter after chapter of natural
goodness! Totally in keeping with her generous nature - sharing, educating,
inspiring and creative. I wish her the very best of luck and hope she gains
wide readership.
Chrissie Diron, B.C. Canada - Owner of the VITAL K9 POOL
Rehab, therapy and recreational swimming for all canines
When I need useful and accurate information around prevention of and/or
health issues my dogs are facing, I consult with and trust the alternative and
holistic information Helga provides.
J. Miller, B.C. Canada

Helga's book is a must have! The wealth of knowledge and hands on

experience it contains I have never found elsewhere. She truly is a kindred
spirit with all dogs and they are fortunate to have her help them. I highly
recommend her and her book to everyone!
Chuck Porter, El Salvador

~ 115 ~

Helgas information and guidance absolutely helped me with my dogs

cruciate surgery recovery in the whole process, from start to finish. Most of
what I ever learned about this injury and the best way to rehabilitate from it
is from what Helga told me to do. There is more information than you can
imagine in her books. I highly recommend her to help you with your best
friend and whatever ailment they may have. I cannot say enough about how
it has benefited me and my dog!
Pat S. ..B.C. Canada

~ 116 ~

About the Author

Helga Schmitt continually strives to educate and help dog owners that there
are healthier and more natural approaches to achieving and maintaining
optimum health for your pet.
She feels we need to understand that there are so many more options
available today for dealing with the illnesses our pets are getting. Many of
these conditions are identical to what humans experience and are in fact the
same diseases. So if the illnesses are the same and the options are available
to help people, it stands to reason that dogs could potentially reap the same
benefits. She thinks we need to be willing and open minded to approaches
that have been used for centuries on people, and how they are now being
integrated and applied worldwide to our pets in Holistic Clinics.
Dog cancers, dog cranial cruciate ligament injuries, dogs with arthritis to
hydrotherapy for dogs, all have penetrated her life. She has witnessed
first-hand what over-vaccination, repeated antibiotics and countless
prescribed drugs can do to our beloved pets. She now follows more natural
and effective ways of dealing with her dogs health and well-being.
Dogs and health has always been her passion. She is a Chartered Herbalist
and holds a degree in Holistic Nutrition as well as a Certificate in
Homeopathy. She is also a Registered Certified Canine Hydrotherapist. What
she learned from experience, research, her past studies and having the
benefit of Holistic Veterinarians has profoundly changed her pets lives as
well as her own!
Helgas amazing journey with her dogs has led her through multiple cruciate
surgeries, two devastating cancers, cysts, lymphomas, life-threatening staph
infections, Cushings disease, immune mediated poly-arthritis, seizures,
strokes, digestive disturbances, pica, cognitive impairment, depression,
vision loss, and grief. Her dogs have taught her amazing insights in the way
of healing, unconditional love, compassion, the bond between human and
animal and how being in the moment is irreplaceable.

~ 117 ~

I hope you will join me in this quest for knowledge and discover
complementary, safe, effective, and natural treatments for healthy
and happy dogs.
Lord help me be the person my dog thinks I am.

~ 118 ~