Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Long Road to Recovery ~ Audra Alley, DVM, CVA, DABVP Canine & Feline Practice

Physical therapy has always been a huge part of successful orthopedic surgery recovery in humans, and yet we struggle to provide that level of recovery care to our animals. One of my dogs, Mercury, was born with a bad hip (hip dysplasia). It affected one side more than the other, and despite all of the medical options we tried, he was still experiencing discomfort. I consulted with a local surgeon, Dr. Jack Gallagher, to review all of our options for providing Mercury with a pain free future.

The two options we discussed at some length were the total hip replacement and a procedure called FHO (femoral head ostectomy).  Given our lifestyle and home – 2 teenagers, 2 dogs, 2 cats, split level home with all hard wood floors – we decided that the FHO would be the best option for our family and our goal of him being pain free.

Surgery went well, but he was pretty painful after the procedure, and I have to admit that I hated doing physical therapy with him because it was uncomfortable, and he did not like it. We did some, but it was clearly not enough. Six weeks after surgery, his preference was to walk on three legs instead of four legs, and his “bad" leg was becoming more and more atrophied.

Finally, I decided that we needed professional help and went to see Dr. Lauren Whitley at Go! Vet Rehab. We came up with a plan of exercises, different medications, massage, swimming, laser and Assisi Loop therapies, and a diet change to incorporate more fish oils and glucosamine. Within the first week, Mercury started putting the foot on the ground when he was walking. We continue to visit Dr. Whitley weekly, and Mercury continues to make slow and steady improvements. We expect it to take four to six months to get him where we want him to be.

His first visit to the pool was quite amusing, as he was not so excited. For the first lap, he was a willing participant. The second lap was questionable, and the third lap was not going to happen. J  

After a few more visits, the pool got better and better (along with the treats), and he now enjoys going to the pool.


It is still very challenging to get all of his exercises done in a day, but we have made it a team effort with my children, my husband, and myself all taking turns getting it done throughout the day.

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Diminishing Dryness ~ Christa Riddle, DVM, CVA, CVCH

North Carolina is a wonderful place to live. It has a nice climate of four distinct seasons, but each can challenge a pet with skin problems. The winter season can be a fun time of year, especially for dogs that hate the heat, but it often contributes to dry skin. Itchy dogs and cats this time of the year often have seriously dry skin. Understanding why skin gets dry in the first place is a good place to start.

During cold weather, our pets drink less. It's not hot outside, so thirst is reduced. As a result of decreased fluid intake, blood volume is less. At the same time, cold conditions cause circulating blood to centralize around the internal organs and constrict at the periphery such as feet, ears, nose, etc. The combination of reduced blood volume and less peripheral circulation leads to dryness in the skin and reduced circulation to feet and pads, nose, ears, and skin. Those are internal causes of dryness to the skin. External causes of dryness in winter are low humidity (both inside and outside the house) and exposure to wind, cold water, and excessive soap use (from shampooing and bathing).

Now that we understand why our pets experience dryness to the skin in winter, let's look at a few solutions below.

  • Bathe less often and with a moisturizing shampoo such as oatmeal. Remember to use lukewarm water. If water is too hot, it can contribute to dryness. Bathing too frequently will remove natural oils from a pet's coat and skin.
  • Supplement the diet with Omega 3 fatty acids; Nordic Naturals is a fantastic option that we carry in-house at Shiloh.  
  • Brushing a pet will stimulate the hair follicles to release natural oils onto the skin.
  • Consider running a humidifier in your home. Adjust thermostat to be between 65-68 degrees. The warmest room should be the living room, bedrooms a few degrees cooler. Don't allow your pet to always sleep by the air registers, fireplaces, or gas heaters. These areas are too warm and too drying. Move the pet bed to an alternative location.

  • Dress your pet in a coat when outside to reduce exposure to wind and winter precipitation.
  • Apply Vitamin E oil (which can be purchased over-the-counter) to dry pads and nose cracks. For dogs spending a lot of time in the snow, use a specially designed wax to protect the pads and prevent snowballing between the pads and toes.

  • Exercise more! Exercise will increase blood flow to the skin and help with peripheral dryness.
  • Encourage adequate fluid intake by feeding a moist diet or by adding extra water to the diet. Remember the desire to drink water is reduced in the winter.
  • Feed sardines for their omega 3 fatty acid content as well as moisture especially for cats eating a dry diet.
  • Seek help if home remedies don't help or a rash is noticed. Your veterinarian can help you if your pet's dryness is not diminishing with the suggestions above. Lack of improvement or severe dryness could be a sign of thyroid imbalance, skin infection (pyoderma), or other internal medical concern. I often use Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture if the above therapies are ineffective but no serious medical conditions exist. 

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.