What can I do to help my pet? Photo courtesy of Dogs Trust

What can I do to help my pet?

It’s certainly true: prevention is better than cure. So while physiotherapy is a great way to help return a pet to health, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of problems developing.

  • The first thing is to really know your pet; get to know the normal posture, movement, mood and personality.
  • Once you know what is normal for your pet, you can be confident about observing and understanding any changes in activity or behaviour.
  • Watch for warning signs such as difficulties lying down or getting up, negotiating the stairs and getting in and out
    of the car.
  • Keep an eye open for changes in the way your pet walks, trots and runs: limping usually means one limb or paw hurts, and head bobbing while walking can also be a sign of pain.
  • Pets tend to be creatures of habit, so be alert to changes in this area: if your pet seems reluctant to get up or to play, for example, this could be a sign of pain.

What should I do if I think there’s a problem?

It’s absolutely vital to have your pet checked by your veterinary surgeon as soon as possible. Early diagnosis can prevent a problem developing and treatment is more likely to be successful. The more severe an injury or condition becomes the more treatment it’s likely to need.

Finally, encourage the whole family to get involved with your pet’s health and welfare. Your pet depends on you for good health, so the more people there are looking out for signs, the better!

Positive steps you can take

There are lots of ways in which dog owners can help their pets, whether or not the animal has mobility problems. Julia advises:

  • Watch your dog’s weight, as this is key to good health and fitness. Too much weight puts more strain on joints, muscles, heart and lungs, and can cause other health concerns such as diabetes and thyroid problems. Have your dog weighed regularly and seek veterinary advice on this very important topic.
  • Ensure your dog’s nails are kept trim. If they touch the ground when the dog is standing in normal pose, they are probably too long and should be clipped; overlong nails can cause discomfort and can affect gait and posture. Care is needed to avoid the quick at the centre of the nail, so please ask for advice at your veterinary practice.
  • Please consider the ground and surface conditions when taking your dog out on exercise, particularly if your pet has mobility problems. Julia will be happy to advise, if you would like to contact her.
  • If your dog pulls when walking on the lead, switch from a collar to a harness. A well-designed and correctly-fitting harness is very valuable in helping promote good posture, balance, gait and performance.
  • Ensure your dog has access to the most suitable type of bedding. Again, Julia will be happy to advise.
  • If you have a puppy, please consider the important topic of exercise. Incorrect exercising can lead to joint damage, so please seek veterinary advice.