Arthritis and your PET


Life after diagnosis


One of the most common health problems in our dogs and cats today.  A recent google search of arthritis in pets produced nearly 13 million results, this is definitely something that owners are concerned about for their companions.  Dog estimates that the prevalence of arthritis on dogs is 20-25% and as high as 90% in cats.  So, what exactly is arthritis and how is it complicating my pets life?

Arthritis is a direct result of changes that have occurred within the joint that are painful for the pet.  In most cases the change is due to abnormal rubbing within the joint caused by joint instability, damage to the cartilage in development or damage related to a fracture.  Under the right circumstances young dogs and cats can suffer arthritic change.

Arthritis is defined as inflammation of the joint, it can lead to a more chronic condition called DJD (degenerative joint disease) or Osteoarthritis.  With chronicity of this disease the continued deterioration of the cartilage continues and the pain associated with this disease progressively gets worse and leads to a significant reduction in your pets’ abilities to maintain comfortable daily living.

Canine knee with DJD

Canine knee with DJD

Normal Canine Knee

Normal Canine Knee


Don’t kid yourself this a very painful condition and requires your attention.  Your pet may not vocalize pain to you or say “my leg hurts”, they will show you in other ways and it is up to you to watch for the signs and realize that your dog is telling you that they hurt.

What are some of the symptoms;

1)      Decreased level of activity

2)      Difficulty or hesitation with climbing the stairs or getting on the furniture

3)      Restlessness while sleeping

4)      Stiffness in normal walking gait

5)      Occasional lameness

6)      Thickening and swelling of the associated joints

7)      Extreme stiffness after long periods of inactivity

Felines don’t show their discomfort very well this is why its important to look for these tell-tale signs that something is going on with your cat.  According to a study done in 2011 by vetstreet 61% of cats over 6 osteoarthritis, cats older than 12 have an 82% likelihood that they have some degree of osteoarthritis.  So how are they telling you they are in pain?

1)      Inappropriate elimination (the most common sign of osteoarthritis in cats)

2)      No longer jumping onto furniture or window sills

3)      Changes in sleep behaviour and locations

4)      Less play behaviour

5)      Hiding more

6)      Not socializing

7)      Difficulty squatting to eat

8)      Abnormal walking

9)      Obesity is almost guaranteed to cause OA in CATS and DOGS



There are a number of ways to treat the pain of arthritis and degenerative joint disease and begin the process of attempting to heal the cartilage. The most common and the first line of defence is the use of Nutraceuticals.  Nutraceuticals are products that assist in decreasing the inflammation in the cartilage, improve the bodies ability to repair and strengthen tissue.  You have probably heard of these products and may already have your pet on them.  Glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, HA, and Omega Fatty Acids.   No amount of consumed nutrients can correct structural damage that is already present but you can still use these products to reduce inflammation at the nerve endings.  This will make your pet more comfortable even if their range of motion is compromised.

Glucosamine, Bone Broth and Omega Fatty Acids

Glucosamine, Bone Broth and Omega Fatty Acids


Steroids, although helpful in reducing inflammation in the joint tissue can sometime contribute to further damage if used long term.  Steroid treatment has its preferred place for certain disease processes and your veterinarian will discuss all of your options with you.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Meloxicam, Dermaxx, Rimadyl, Previcox, Onsior can have the most noticeable beneficial affect on the arthritic patient.  They can also have a down side and should be monitored carefully with frequent blood work to monitor kidneys and liver and gastrointestinal checkups.


Laser is a non-invasive modality used to manage the pain of arthritis, DJD, Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, spondylosis and many other conditions.  It can be safely used while administering other medications and with NO side affects.  Infrared light is administered to the affected point, it will start to heat internally.  Injured or damaged tissue will absorb the photons of the light and become stimulated.  This stimulation increases the metabolism of the cells and begins healing.  There is an almost immediate sense of pain relief during this therapy and because it is non-invasive it becomes a treatment of choice for most pet owners.

Laser therapy

Laser therapy

Physical therapy and arthritis

Physical therapy can be very beneficial for the arthritic patient.  The use hydrotherapy, electrical stimulation and therapeutic exercises can help manage your pets discomfort, maintain joint range of motion, stretch and exercise joint tissue and maintain important muscle mass that will support these affected joints.  Massage is also a very important modality used to alleviate the pain associated with arthritis and DJD.  I cannot express enough how important it is to manage muscle tissue in the arthritic (senior) patient to maintain strength and flexibly.  This can mean the difference in reducing slip and fall accidents and speed of recovery from injuries.



Therapeutic exercises

Therapeutic exercises


Environmental adjustments that can help

With our arthritic pets it is also imperative to make changes in the environment to increase their comfort.  These changes will make life easier for your pet in maneuvering around the house and not fear of falling.  Some of the changes owners make in their home are as follows;

1)      Introducing a raised feeding bowl to keep the body in a neutral position for the spine and        elbows

2)      Therapeutic beds can be helpful in resonating the pets body heat and providing comfort for the joints

3)      Regular activity-adjust to your pet’s current speed but maintain frequent activity to reduce times of inactivity and increased stiffness

4)      Placing area rugs or runners in the most common traffic areas for your pet

5)      Keeping their feeding area on the same level, avoiding stairs (important for cat owners to also keep the litter on the same level) (also you may have to adjust the litter boxes height as it may be difficult to get into)

6)      The use of ramps to get into the vehicle or on the furniture

7)      Keeping the fur on the bottom of the feet trimmed and the nails trimmed

These are just a few things that can easily be change in your home to accommodate your arthritic or aging pet.  It will make their life more comfortable and you will worry less.

Arthritis and DJD are progressive diseases but with the proper management using a multimodal approach of medication and physical therapy you can help you help your pet live a happy and healthy life.

If your pet has been diagnosed with arthritis talk to you veterinarian today about all of the things you can be doing to help.  Your pet will thank you.

This says it all.....zzzzz

This says it all.....zzzzz

Canine Enrichment

Many of you have been witness to an active dog having to have down time while recovering from injuries or just simply a board dog.  You all have also been a party to what can happen if your dog gets board.  This is a very important and potentially dangerous time for your canine.  When a dog is recommended rest for recovery it is often hard to get them to stay calm and rest and that is just when you are dealing with the physical side of things, what about there mental health during these times. 

As a rehab practitioner often one of my recommendation is rest and controlled exercise but for an previously active dog this can be the end of their world.    If they don’t get extremely aloof from their rest period they can become destructive to themselves and/or things around them.  When your dog is recommended a rest period from physical activity you as their owner are challenged with the task of finding them something to do to pass the time.  With exercises out of the equation or on a strict controlled plan that leaves mental stimulation to challenge them.  Challenging your pets mind can be extremely stimulating for them and can offer them and you the release they need from their human imposed prison time due to a healing injury.  Give your pet 20 minutes with a mentally challenging game and you will see that this will calm them.  Getting your pet “out of their head” can achieve calm in their mind and their body.  Now, with a pet on rest we will also have to be calorie wise as they will not be burning the calories they consume.  A great way to achieve both goals is to use their food as part of their challenge, they can focus their mind intensely on finding their breakfast and diner.

There are many ways to achieve canine enrichment if you use your imagination.  There are also a number of products and games that you can purchase for improved canine focus and creating mental exhaustion.  I will outline a few homemade games that I have created for my own dogs and I will post links for some store-bought ideas also.

First off, what about meal time?  We can change this event not only to slow down a super fast eater but we can also make mealtime a fun focus game of “how am I going to get my food”?  There are store bough bowls you can purchase that can present these challenges for your pet, for instance the slow feed bowls.  These come in a variety of colours and designs.  You could also use some at home genius and create your own slow feeder by using a cookie sheet, some small obstacles like toys, balls, etc. and sprinkle their meal around these obstacles.




What if we are looking to just have fun with our dogs?  Here are a few games you could play with your dog at home using things you find at home. 

Where’s the treat (or kibble) à  using a couple of muffin tins and tennis balls your dog could use their strongest sense (their nose) and find the treats that are strategically placed under a tennis ball or other objects.  Turn the muffin tin upside down and put the kibble/treats underneath.  You can place it on a rubber surface so it wont slide or leave it on the slippery surface so it moves around on them.  This will depend on your dogs’ immobilization and abilities.

You could also cut some holes in an old shoe box, slip some treats or kibble into the box and let them loose on it.  They will have to tip it over and get the lid off to get the reward.


A home-made snuffle matt is always fun!  Use a rubber mat you get at the hardware store, you can buy individual squares, get some fleece and tie the fleece to the rubber mat.  Sprinkle the treats/kibble on the mat and watch them search and sniff and scratch.

Some times its nice to have a few games that your can add into the mix that are perhaps a little more challenging, have a few more steps and can take them around the room working the treat loose.  There are a number of these games on the market and you can find most of them at your friendly pet store.   I personally like the Kong Wobbler, I have beagles and they chase this thing around the house.  There are also more intricate games that involve lifting and sliding of the device to reveal the reward.  Use only one or make your dog an obstacle course of search and reveal games, this will entertain them for upwards of 30 minutes and leave them mentally exhilarated and ready for some quiet time.

 The mind is an important part of total canine fitness and it shouldn’t be forgotten.    One must implement a total body approach to fitness for a complete outcome.  The five key components to total body fitness are cardiovascular, strength, balance, mental and flexibility.  Without all you will not be able to achieve a sound body and mind. 

I hope you enjoy this blog, canine enrichment has so many applications and it is so important for your dog.  The growing puppy, the mature adult, the aging senior and the convalescing, they can all benefit from some metal stimulation and FUN!


Below are some helpful links for canine enrichment.  Enjoy!



You get the idea.  Make your own, buy some along the way but make sure you and your dog are having fun.

How do I cut my pets' nails?

This question has been plaguing pet owners for years.  Many owners are unsure of how far to cut, and how often to cut their pets nails.. Let’s not forget the dreaded black nails, these black nails induce fear in even the most skilled nail cutter.   Nail trims can be scary for both pets and their owner, it is important that we always remember that our pets are very in tuned to our emotions, so be calm.  If you have never trimmed your pet’s nails before you have to start slow and small so that you and your pet become comfortable with all the variables involved in a smooth nail trimming experience. 

Get your self comfortable, find a quiet and comfy place for both you and your pet for the nail trim, ensure that your nail trimmers are the right size for your pet and that they are sharp.  Place the nail trimmers on the floor or couch in front of your pet and allow them to sniff them and explore them.  Once they have relaxed, start petting them making your way to their feet.  Begin playing with their feet, rubbing them, separating the toes, and holding individual toes.  Take note of how you feel and how your pet is feeling and reacting to this touching.  If they are nervous and are attempting to withdraw the leg than you will need to spend more time getting them used to touching and manipulation of their toes before you even attempt to trim their nails.  If you pet is seemingly uninterested in what you are doing then you can try trimming one toe nail and re-assess the situation.  Never push your pet past their comfortable zone, never make them sit for a nail trim if they are uncomfortable and never get angry at them for being frightened.  Conditioning your pet to nail trims can take some time but if your take the time to do it properly nail trims will be the easiest thing you have ever done and other pet parents will be very jealous. 

So, what’s the anatomy of a toe nail?  In the diagram below you see that there is a very sensitive area that supplies blood to the nail called the Quick.  Cutting through this will cause pain to the pet and will also result in bleeding.

If your pets nail has white nails then you will be able to see the quick, you can then proceed with taking the tip of the nail off at a 45-degree angle.  Should your pets’ nails be black this is slightly more difficult.  There are a few tips to trimming a black nail that may help you become more comfortable.  There is often a texture change on the outer surface of the nail as you move away from the quick.  Start well beyond this, taking small bits off the tip and looking for a small dark circle to appear in the cut area.  This indicates that you are getting close to the quick and you should stop.

If your pet has over grown quicks you will need to be patient but with frequent trims, every 2-3 weeks, you can regress the quick and get the nails shorter.

The proper length of your dogs’ nails is fairly easily determined.  When your dog is standing the nails should not touch the ground.  If they do they can change the angle of the actual digit as it is being used and could result in pain and damage to the toes over time.


Should you cut the nail too short, don’t panic and get your pet frightened.  Hold pressure on the nail, dab with a towel and apply a coagulation solution.  If you have kwik dip at home this works well, you can also use corn starch.  Keeping the pet calm will help keep the blood pressure reduced and make stopping the bleeding much easier. 

In the event that you are unable to stop the bleeding, place a bandage on the area and consult your veterinarian immediately.

Our friendly and gentle staff of groomers at Touch Animal Rehabilitation are always here to lend a helping hand and to trim your pets nails for you if you or your pet is nervous.

For more information about desensitizing your pet after a fearful event follow our blogs at www.touchanimalrehab/news/


Stay calm and clip on..

Rehab for Rosco

Rosco was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy, HOD March 29th of 2016. 

We are all aware of how fast dogs can grow, especially puppies.  Sometimes they seem to grow inches over night.  This sometimes predisposes them to conditions such as: Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy.

What is HOD, Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy is a bone disease that occurs in fast-growing large and giant breeds.   The disorder is sometimes referred to as metaphyseal osteopathy, and typically first presents between the ages of 2 and 7 months. 


HOD can be very painful, usually affecting multiple limbs and causing severe joint discomfort. Other symptoms include:


  • Swelling in the joints
  • Painful joints
  • Lameness
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

A full examination by your veterinarian and a complete work up including: blood work and x-rays will be necessary for diagnosis.  Once a diagnosis has been made treatment will often consist of anit-inflammatories and rest.  Some more sever cases may require additional interventions such as: steroid therapy.  Once the pain and swelling have been reduced than the dog can begin a rehabilitation program.  In some cases there can be enough damage to the growing bones that deformities can result making rehabilitation a necessary component in the healing process.

The rehabilitation program is a very important step in the over all healing process. Returning the damaged joints back to exercises should be precise and guided.  Routine visits and guided home exercises will help in developing muscles and protect the healing growth plates.  Using Hydrotherapy we can continue to exercise joints and muscles, this enables us to maintain healthy mobility in the joints while developing muscles.  Non-dynamic conditioning exercises are also used to engage stabilizing muscles as well as developing core strength.

The cause of HOD is not entirely known because of this prevention is pretty difficult.  However, we have developed an effective, multi-modal approach to treating this condition and we are seeing many puppies making full recoveries.

Follow Rosco's progress and cheer him on as he heals and develops into a big happy boy!

Rosco using his hamstrings and gluteal to lift his body into a stand.

Rosco using his hamstrings and gluteal to lift his body into a stand.

Rosco is using his abdominal muscles and stabilizing muscles to balance his body.

Rosco is using his abdominal muscles and stabilizing muscles to balance his body.


Maddy enjoyed her day with her stylist.

Maddy enjoyed her day with her stylist.

We are excited to be offering grooming at our new location.  Roxanne Charbonneau has joined our team and is providing our spa service.  She is a skilled groomer and has a sensitive TOUCH.  Big, small, cat, or dog she can groom them all.  Walk-In Face trims, nail trims, feet trims are all available at TOUCH.

Breed specific haircuts, shave downs, brush outs, we will give your pet the style they need.

Call or email to book your grooming appointment.