Guest Post: Recovering from Cruciate Ligament and Other Orthopedic Surgeries in Dogs

Just to wrap up Orthopedic Month at Embrace, we another guest post from Dr St Clair talking about the importance of rehab in recovering from orthopedic surgeries.


Canine Rehabilitation has roots that extend greater than 20 years ago. Yet even after 20 years, the vast majority of veterinary hospitals in the USA are still falling short in terms of educating clients about the importance of post-surgical physical rehabilitation. In fact, most hospitals don’t even give their clients even the basics in their hospital discharge instructions, nor are they even educating their clients about the benefits and available resources. 

Ski at agility training The question is why? Do they not believe in it? Are they just not informed about it? Or is it simply impossible to teach an old dog new tricks and it is going to take more time as newer younger doctors arrive, who have been trained on the benefits of canine rehabilitation?

Whatever the case is, you as the pet owner, as the primary care giver, need to take your dog’s health into you own hands. Well, at least to some degree. With the power of the internet, more and more pet owners are going online to learn about their dog’s condition and what their options are to assist them in their recovery.  This is fantastic, because I truly believe that an educated/informed client is a much better client overall and a better caregiver.

Here is a shocking statistic for you. In 2003, it was estimated that dog owners spent over 1.3 billion dollars for surgical repair of ruptured cruciate ligaments, most commonly the ACL.  To make it even more shocking, in 2003 the total money spent in veterinary medicine was less than 10 billion dollars. Therefore, approximately 10% of all money spent on veterinary care was spent on this one injury. Shocking right?

Though it is incredible how many dogs suffer from this unfortunate injury, what I personally find even is more disturbing is how every veterinarian who diagnoses or performs this surgery will tell you that statistically your dog has anywhere from a 30-50% chance of rupturing the opposite legs ACL within a 1 year period of time. Seriously? This is not good?

I can tell you this. In the 7 years that we have been helping dogs recover from ACL surgery, we have only had 6 dogs that have ruptured the other leg and we have rehabilitated hundreds. Why have we been so successful? The simple reason is this. We educate our clients about how to evaluate their dogs throughout the recovery process, from range of motion to evaluating muscle size by comparing one leg to the other. In addition, we spend a tremendous amount of time educating them on how to perform strengthening exercises during the recovery process, to help their dogs get back to 100 % before they are ever allowed to run and play off leash. If you truly focus on full recovery than you will significantly decrease the incidence of future injury.

Now obviously this does not only apply to ACL injuries in dogs. The same holds true for all orthopedic injuries, from total hip replacements (THR), to femoral head osteotomies (FHO), to medial patellar luxation (MPL) surgery to back surgery for intervertebral disk disease (IVDD). No matter what the injury or surgery, you have to learn how you are going to help your dog recover, because at the end of the day the person who cares the most about your dog is you.


James st clair Dr. James St.Clair is one of the nations leading veterinarians and expert in the fields of dog arthritis and canine rehabilitation. He is also the founder of TopDog Rehabilitation and TopDog Animal Health. Dr. James is also the author of the Home Rehabilitation Guide series. These booklets provide step-by-step instruction to pet owners to help their pets heal after major orthopedic surgery.

 

Related Posts:
October is Orthopedic Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
The Embrace Orthopedic Waiting Period: what is it and how do I reduce it?
Guest Post: Cruciate Ligament Rupture in dogs - treatment options
Guest Post: Rebecca Rose on preventing arthritis in dogs

Guest Post: Dr James St Clair - Is Your Dog In Pain? Are you listening closely enough?
Guest Post: Recovering from Cruciate Ligament and Other Orthopedic Surgeries in Dogs



Guest Post: Dr James St Clair - Is Your Dog In Pain? Are you listening closely enough?

As we continue Orthopedic Issues Month at Embrace Pet Insurance, Dr James St Clair discusses signs of pain in dogs in relation to arthritis, a leading causes of pain in dogs and one that often goes unnoticed by pet owners.


Pet owners and even many veterinarians are still in the dark when it comes to recognizing signs of pain in pets.  For the sake of illustration let’s discuss this with relation to arthritis in dogs.

Lula with her bum lifter Canine Osteoarthritis is by far the most common orthopedic disease in dogs. It is said that 1 in every 5 dogs suffers from some degree of Osteoarthritis. Yet most pet owners never recognize the early warning signs. On top of that most veterinarians do not take a strong enough, pro-active approach in educating their clients and catching this disease process in its early stages; therefore, millions of dogs continue to suffer in chronic pain every day without anyone even knowing.

Becoming aware of the signs of arthritis in your dog is only half of the battle. The other half is becoming cognizant and understanding that most likely your dog is in some degree of pain.

As a veterinarian who prides himself in being in-tune with this, when I know a dog is in pain due to Osteoarthritis, I always ask the owner the question, “Do you think your dog is in pain?” 95% of the time the response is NO. And when I ask why do they think that? The most common responses are, well he/she does not cry, whimper, or “seem” to be in pain. Mind you, when I list the 12 signs of arthritis they will always answer yes to one or more the signs.

Wake up everyone!

The lack of pain in a dog is by far the biggest misconception by pet owners about their pets and it is about time that we change this.

Ask yourself this.

Are people who have Osteoarthritis suffering or in pain?

Obviously, the answer is yes. Though there are many different degrees of pain depending on the severity of the arthritis, the sum and substance is that they are experiencing pain.

Well, the same holds true for our pets.

We first need to understand and acknowledge that both dogs and cats do not show the same signs of pain as people do. People who are in pain either cry or verbally express that they are in pain, often times looking for sympathy or comfort recognition.

Dogs and cats on the other hand show their pain in much more subtle and humble ways. 99.9% of the time dogs and cats are SILENT when it comes to pain. But if you learn to recognize the signs and listen closely you will distinctly hear them telling you that they are in pain and need your help. 

Lets quickly review the 12 Subtle Signs of Arthritis in Dogs. Note: It is common for dogs to show more than one clinical sign.

1. Slowing Down:
Don't Mistake "Just Getting Older" with signs of Dog Arthritis.  Many times people mistake that their dog slowing down is just a sign of getting older.  This is not true. Most likely if you dog is slowing down they are suffering with some degree of chronic pain. 

2. Sleeping More & Sleeping Longer:
Many times people will notice that their dog seems to be sleeping more, especially in the morning. Often they will often be reluctant to get out of bed to start their day.

3. Closed Hind Leg Stance:
If your dogs hips or knees are arthritic and therefore painful, often times you will appreciate that while standing at rest their back legs will be closer together. This can be very subtle in the early stages. They do this in order to take weight off of their hind legs and shift some of their weight to their more comfortable front end.

4. Wide Front Legs Stance:
What you will see is that the elbows are pushed out and not kept under the dogs body giving the dog a wide stance in the front. Again this can be very subtle and also sometimes only seen on one side.

5. Bunny Hopping:
Many times pet owners will notice that when their dog runs they use their hind legs together as one. This is commonly referred to as “bunny hopping” because the dog looks like a rabbit in its hind end.  This is often a tell tale sign in a young dogs that they have hip dysplasia.

6. Joint Licking:
Sometimes if one particular joint is bothering your dog, they may begin to lick at it, to pacify the discomfort. You may notice a color change in the fur around this joint, from saliva staining.

7. Slow to get up:
This is pretty self-explanatory and probably the most common clinical sign noted by pet owners.
       
8. Reluctance to go on walks & walk less than normal:
Often pet owners will notice that their dog is reluctant to go the usual distance. Of course most pet owners notice a trend and not just a one-day, one time episode.

9. Avoiding Stairs or slow to go up stairs. Avoiding jumping in car, or on beds, couches.

10. Stiffness:
Sometimes you can see that your dogs gait may be a little more stiff than usual.

11. Limping:
Of course this is an obviously one.  If you notice that your dog is limping on just one limb, before you decide yourself that it is arthritis, it would be definitely be a good idea to contact you veterinarian for an evaluation.

12. Muscle loss (Muscle Atrophy):
It is always a good idea to every once in a while feel your dog’s muscles. Make sure that you always compare one side to the other while feeling overall muscle size and tone.

Just today, I had a new client come into my facility with their 11.5yr old golden retriever for an evaluation. The dog had severe Hip Dysplasia and severe Spondylosis (i.e. Arthritis involving the spine.)  He also had a history of a torn ACL a few years back. The only medication he was receiving on a daily basis was Previcox, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. He was grossly obese and almost to the point that he was unable to get up and walk on is own. When I asked why he was not on any other pain medications, they replied that he was not in pain. What? Are you Serious?

The moral of the story is this, ask yourself the question, “If I where to have the same medical problems that my dog currently has, would I be in pain?”

If the answer is YES, then discuss this with your veterinarian. In veterinary medicine today there are a ton of very safe and effective pain medications that are available, especially medications beyond the scope of the commonly prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs).

Many times if there is any question whether or not a pet is in pain, I run what I commonly refer to as a “Pain Trial”. I prescribe comprehensive pain management for the pet for a total of 1 week and then I ask the owner to pay close attention to the dogs disposition, as well as physical function, during that 7-day period of time. If it seems that the pet is happier or moves better, then it is safe to say that they were in pain all along. We then make a comprehensive plan with a more holistic approach addressing weight management, nutritional supplementation, strengthening exercises and long term pain management.


James st clair Dr. James St.Clair is one of the nations leading veterinarians and expert in the fields of dog arthritis and canine rehabilitation. He is also the founder of TopDog Rehabilitation and TopDog Animal Health. Dr. James is also the author of the Home Rehabilitation Guide series. These booklets provide step-by-step instruction to pet owners to help their pets heal after major orthopedic surgery.

 

Related Posts:
October is Orthopedic Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
The Embrace Orthopedic Waiting Period: what is it and how do I reduce it?
Guest Post: Cruciate Ligament Rupture in dogs - treatment options
Guest Post: Rebecca Rose on preventing arthritis in dogs

Guest Post: Dr James St Clair - Is Your Dog In Pain? Are you listening closely enough?
Guest Post: Recovering from Cruciate Ligament and Other Orthopedic Surgeries in Dogs



Guest Post: Rebecca Rose on preventing arthritis in dogs

If you haven't noticed yet, we are running a competition to win a year's supply of In Clover's Connectin this month. All you have to do is post your dog's orthopedic story on our Facebook page and you are in for a chance to win. It's a pretty sweat deal - make sure to get your entry in.

But what is Connectin?

Anything that can reverse joint damage in dogs is gold in my eyes and the fact that it's all-natural (really! not just fake all-natural) is a wonderful bonus.

So I asked Rebecca Rose, founder and  President of In Clover, to write up a bit about Connectin and how it came about. Here's what she had to say...


Chances are that you have or are close to a pet who suffers with the discomfort of arthritis.  Arthritis affects 1 in 4 dogs and 1in 5 cats.  It is characterized by progressive, degenerative changes in cartilage structure.

  • The proteoglycans or fillers between cells break down, losing their ability to form tight clusters.
  • The water content of cartilage increases.
  • Chondroitin sulfate shortens in length.
  • Cartilage loses the ability to repair itself and develops clefts and crevices that eventually extend down to the underlying bone.

The end results are weak, stiff, deformed joints and uncomfortable pets. 

Because there are no nerve endings in the joint, the damage will be significant before pets will communicate the signs of discomfort such as difficulty jumping into the car, stiffness getting up or inability to complete a walk. 

I started researching what is now Connectin joint supplement 15 years ago in an effort to develop a safe and effective option for joint health.  My focus was to replace what the body would produce if it were healthy.  I discovered that in addition to the components of the joint, glucosamine and muccopolysaccharides (hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate), I needed to develop a delivery system for getting these joint lubricants to the damaged joint site. 

The results of my research showed that a combination of gentle but potent herbs provided the necessary delivery system.  One of the herbs, turmeric, contains compounds called phenolics that have been shown in laboratory and clinical research to have unique anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  The anti-inflammatory strength of turmeric is comparable to steroidal drugs1

Another key herbal ingredient in Connectin is yucca root, according to the Journal of Inflammation, the saponins in the yucca root herb contain polyphenolics that have potent anti-inflammatory properties. 

Because we and our vets do not want our pets to suffer or develop significant joint damage, many vets recommend starting Connectin early.  “I will typically recommend a glucosamine based product like Connectin as a life long preventative supplement in animals predisposed to joint problems” says Dr. Donald Dodge of Jasper Vet Hospital.   

1 Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Dugall M, et al. Panminerva Medica. 2010.52(2):55-62.

Rebecca rose Author: Rebecca Rose, president of In Clover, Inc. Ms. Rose is a biochemist and the developer of animal health products.  She is the author of three patents on the composition and method for treating joint disorder in vertebrates. 


So there you have the technical background on how Connectin works. You can find more details about Connectin and In Clover over the InClover website. 

Related Posts:
October is Orthopedic Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
The Embrace Orthopedic Waiting Period: what is it and how do I reduce it?
Guest Post: Cruciate Ligament Rupture in dogs - treatment options
Guest Post: Rebecca Rose on preventing arthritis in dogs

Guest Post: Dr James St Clair - Is Your Dog In Pain? Are you listening closely enough?
Guest Post: Recovering from Cruciate Ligament and Other Orthopedic Surgeries in Dogs

[note that I get no financial benefit from talking about Connectin and neither does Embrace Pet Insurance; we just like the product that much, we want to talk shout about it!]



Embrace moves 12 more states to RLI

RLI logo

Continued progress in the move to RLI! 

If you recall, Embrace Pet Insurance is in the process of moving underwriters from Lloyd's of London to RLI Corp, an A+ AM Best rated company based in Peoria IL.

Previously, we moved 23 states over to RLI but, as of today, we have added 12 more states to the list:

CA, CT, DE, MO, NV, NM, NC, OK, RI, TN, VA and WY

We're still waiting on the relevent departments of insurance for the remaining states but we'll get there as quickly as we can when they are approved.

Related Posts - move to RLI
Embrace pet insurance policies finally move over to RLI!
Embrace moves 12 more states to RLI
Embrace has a new insurance partner - A+ rated RLI Corp
What the new Embrace / RLI partnership means for you - new terms and conditions
PennHIP Pet Insurance Discount now available at Embrace Pet Insurance
The new and improved Embrace Wellness Rewards program

Anyone interested in some Embrace Dental Rewards? Pick me, pick me!
Embrace Continuing Care Sublimits are gone!
Other interesting changes in the Embrace Pet Insurance policies



Press Release: Embrace Pet Insurance Celebrates 3 Years Offering Direct Claim Deposits

DSC_2126 Northeast Ohio –Embrace celebrates is third anniversary offering direct claim deposits to pet parents this month. Embrace was the first pet insurance company to offer claim reimbursements via direct deposit. Since launching direct deposit for claims in October 2007, Embrace has seen the percentage of claim payments using it more than double from just 12% in 2007 to over 27% in 2010.

Direct deposit is fast, easy, and efficient compared to waiting for a paper check in the mail. All Embrace customers can receive their claim refund directly into their bank accounts, usually the next business day after the claim is completed, if not the same day. Policyholders may continue to pay their premiums by credit card even when claims are direct deposited.

“Pet parents love the flexibility and speed of direct deposit for their claim payments” says Laura Bennett, CEO of Embrace Pet Insurance. “It’s incredibly simple to set up and everybody benefits from having claims paid more quickly. We’ve had our share of lost checks in the mail and direct deposit completely avoids that uncertainty.”

If you are an Embrace customer, email hello@embracepetinsurance.com or call in to 1-800-511-9172 to learn how you can benefit from direct deposit claims payments.

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About Embrace

Embrace is a specialist insurance company focused on changing the pet insurance business. Embrace provides flexible cat and dog health insurance products, removing the need to choose between necessary, but costly, medical care versus the life of a much-loved pet. Embrace is a privately owned, Ohio-based company and is one of the most highly rated pet insurance companies in the industry. To learn more, visit www.embracepetinsurance.com.

About the North American Pet Health Insurance Association

Embrace is a member of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA). Founded in 2007, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association is committed to educating and promoting the values and benefits of quality pet health insurance to North American pet owners, the general public, and the veterinary community. As an association, it is committed to high standards and transparency in all of our actions and products. To learn more, visit www.naphia.org