Actually, it's not really controversial because it's not my opinion; it's sharing science and facts.
But just in case... HERE'S A PICTURE OF A CUTE PUPPY!
Recently I came across a case study in a veterinary publication that described a treatment plan for an older, obese pet.
The main issues were the overweight status (Duh! & if you're not sure on the impact of this "disability", take a look around my Instagram account as well as this website), decreased muscle and decreased endurance - my summation from what I read.
Basically, he was fat and out of shape. This caused him to fatigue on his walks, which were only tolerated for less than 5 minutes.
The author went on to describe the recommended food intake, body conditioning scoring and several GREAT things.
Here's where it fell short and why I though it IMPORTANT to write a blog post:
In regards to the mentioned "limited mobility", in rehabilitation-speak this means a limitation in movement. And limitations in movements are addressed through PROM (= passive range of motion), which the author recommended be done at the clinic and taught to the owners to do for him at home.
Follow me so far?
Only...this pet didn't have a significant "limitation in mobility" from the notes that I read.
He had decreased endurance on his walks.
He was fat and hadn't been exercising much so he didn't have much muscle.
There wasn't any pain detected nor was there any abnormalities like lameness.
PROM is a passive activity done by a person to another being on an area of the body, usually a joint of an extremity or in some cases, moving the entire extremity (i.e., "bicycle" exercises). It is passive. Therefore, the muscles are not contracting. No work is being done by the client/patient/pet. Therefore, if there is no limitation in available motion/mobility/movement, I would not be doing PROM to a pet (or person) that has a muscle loss and is overweight.
They need to move more.
People are busy and in general, compliance (the "stick-to-it") for home programs is HARD, y'all!
Your time is valuable!
If someone has extra time and wants to do PROM? GREAT! Do it. You will not create or cause a problem.
But you will not be strengthening or causing weight loss either.
- Another recommendation was for the pet parents to walk the dog 5x a day for 2 minutes. But t doesn't say how often they were walking their pet before (when he was tiring for less than 5 minutes). Chances are it wasn't 5x a day. Maybe twice - a.m. and p.m.
Sometimes, shocking I know, pet parents don't have a chance to take their dogs on a walk every day.
You need to find out what the baseline is and adapt to that with realistic benchmarks.
The recommendation was to increase it by a minute the next week. That's a 50% increase in work from one week to the next. And that now makes the total time 15 minutes up from 10mins the week before. (Are you still with me?)
That's a lot.
- In addition to PROM, it was recommended that "balance exercises" be done the clinic. I love me some balance exercises! They're great because they engage the whole body (pets' and humans') but it didn't describe him having a balance problem. So let's just call it good ol' therapeutic exercise instead. (Balance exercises ARE therapeutic exercise but not all therapeutic exercises are balance exercises.)
PROM is a great activity but I see it recommended all the time for diagnoses and issues in which OTHER activities would be far more appropriate, efficient and effective.
Diet is key and the recommendations for food intake that the author described in detail are spot-on because you MUST address this.
If obesity and muscle atrophy/weakness/loss is an issue, the best activity at the clinic to do would be the underwater treadmill. Two sessions a week for a month (even ONE session) has been proved in the research to result in a significant weight loss with a combined nutritional plan and supplemental walks at home. The underwater treadmill is a serious physical activity (swimming is NOT the same---I'll save that for another post). In the absence of an underwater treadmill, easy therapeutic exercises and a controlled, progressive walking program are best.
Your time is valuable! And I appreciate you reading this post and would appreciate your thoughts as well.
Now, I think you know the answer!
Hydrotherapy, "hydro", swimming, underwater treadmill, UWTM, water walking...
By any other name it is NOT the same.
Several years ago when clinics started getting into (buying) underwater treadmills, there was a lot of internet marketing going on, which was understandable because not only would one want to promote the fact that they have the machine but these devices are HELLA expensive (more than a lot of cars).
So I was contacted by prospective clients on the daily, inquiring if I had an underwater treadmill for their pet's condition or illness. They'd read about *it* online and wanted it for their pet.
In general, aquatic therapy is great for the same principles (once again, as you'll read throughout my blog) as it is for humans; the principles of water therapy don't change with the species or being.
Water provides buoyancy which can be great to decrease weight in some needed circumstances - PLUS you have hydrostatic pressure, viscosity, warmth, resistance...all good things!
In a very tiny "nutshell", because I could write a report or guidebook alone on hydrotherapy, (traditional) swimming and the underwater treadmill are NOT the same; each have benefits for certain conditions.
I tend to choose "swimming" activities during the rehabilitative process for pets that have little to no active motion. They are, for all intents and purposes, paraplegic or paralyzed. (Think neurologic)
I will choose treadmill activities for weakness and for pets that need help with walking post-operatively or with arthritis...or even with athletic conditioning and obesity! (Think orthopedic)
That is NOT to say that I won't switch the modalities or activities depending on the client.
There really is no "cookbook".
With pets that need help walking or strengthening, the underwater treadmill is great because you get more "bang for your buck"; several minutes in the treadmill equal 1 minute on land. You can assist the pet with better walking habits in the treadmill and those habits tend to eventually carry over onto land treadmill or over ground walking. But...it has to be something, if you're using it for weight loss or conditioning, that you're going to continue with. You don't join a gym to use the treadmill for 2 months to learn to walk better and then just simply stop, do you?
But for this reason, plus whether or not it's appropriate for your pet's condition, and several other reasons it does NOT make the "UWTM" something that is the gold standard or necessary in all conditions.
Swimming tends to elicit a primitive behavior of moving the legs. It may not happen instantaneously and care needs to be taken to make sure that the cardiovascular system isn't overly taxed; it's a VERY fatiguing activity.
Here are some con’s:
All this to say...
Water therapy has its place but NOT to the exclusion of other types of activities and techniques.
MOST PETS (dogs, cats, bunnies, horses, goats...) can be rehabbed and improve their condition and function WITHOUT the use of any hydrotherapy!
And again, it may not be indicated for your particular pet.
Doing, say, 3 months solid of any physical activity, and then stopping, will most likely result in a loss of those small percentage gains that you, or your animal, may have achieved.
So be realistic. Pick something, after a thorough evaluation, that you can continue with longterm ...and makes sense.
Remember: Animal rehab & health means LIFE-long management.
There is a lot more I am happy to discuss about hydrotherapy.
What are YOUR questions?
This post is in tribute to m client, the beautiful "Blossy" (pictured) who recently passed over the rainbow bridge.
She is beautiful, isn't she?!
And very loved. And missed.
We've received an outPURRing of love and support this week.
And at the same time, a lot of questions, or comments rather, wondering about how blind cats manage.
ANSWER: They manage GREAT!
They are fearless and quite adaptable to their surroundings.
Yes, of course, they depend on you to make sure their area is relatively safe (i.e., they can't fall from a 2nd story or pull on something from a shelf that would drop on them, etc.)!
Yes, it's almost if their hearing is SUPER keyed in! But what this also means is that many types of regular noises may *seem* dangerous & therefore scare these kittens; once when they direct their attention to the sound, they can't tell (visually) that it's innocuous!
My own $0.02:
We know how grateful rescue pets are, right? It's almost as if they know. Well, pets with special needs? ESPECIALLY SO!
And furthermore, pets that are sight-impaired should have voice or clicker training! Not only will it increase the bond and provide physical activity and mental stimulation, but for safety reasons as well; if your dog or cat gets out and cannot see, it could be traumatic if they don't know what to do or how to come when called to.
Click down below to DOWNLOAD (for free!) a .pdf about blind cats from Milos Sanctuary! Or you can see it on their website.
Milos is a rescue group for cats & kittens with special needs and not only are they phenomenal but that's where our Greyson came from!
If you didn't read about him on Facebook or Instagram (and WHY NOT? jk) or even if you DID, here's the scoop:
Facebook TDoman.Thefitchick page: Greyson (Teddy Bear) was found hungry & blind in the streets of Mexico the week of Halloween.
He was less than 2mos old at the time. He was rescued ( <3 ) and brought to Milo's Sanctuary, Inc. where he received medical attention ( & LOVE ).
Enter in Oskar the Blind Cat & Klaus who together with the rescue, sponsored a naming contest on Instagram that together had over 15k "likes" and comments!
I have always been inspired by my clients with special needs (fur and non-fur) and in particular, have wanted a sight-impaired furchild.
I entered the contest and while I didn't win the naming, I threw my proverbial "hat" into the ring with the tons of other applicants for this cutey patootey, and "won" him.
Through my work and political advocacy, my motto has always been "be voice for those that have no voice". I hope that Greyson and I can further raise awareness about all beings with special needs and inspire ALL beings toward better health. And love.
He'll be making an appearance at Tuesday night's class (which...has come to be like a "kittens and Z" class theme) & otherwise, I would love to have you meet him. He's a SPAZ, loves to LOVE on you and just doesn't shut up or rest...kinda like mommy.
(Oh & YogiBear couldn't be more pissed off at the moment so... #goodtimes )
Instagram @animalrehabnews (also linked on the RIGHT ->) :
"I can see you with my heart. I don't need eyes."*
Greyson Silverpaws (aka "TeddyBear") has landed at his furever home!
We are HONORED!
*quote by me ;-)
You can find Greyson and his big sister over at @yogiandteddy