Looking beyond the diagnosis

During the years of working with dogs, we’ve encountered many different names. As well as the Sams, Alfies and Billys we have Lord Nelson, Mr Darcy, Luther, Hector, Muppet and Auntie Pearl. And the other weekend Chris went to treat the adorable and adorably named Pudding.

Pudding was referred from the vets with severe osteoarthritis affecting mainly the hind quarters and hip. But her Dad told me on the phone that she is currently displaying a stiff back which seems to be the main issue at present.

We don’t get tunnel-vision when treating dogs for the first time. With a diagnosis of hind end arthritis, we would certainly help that region – there are muscle groups around the hip, which we can target with soft tissue massage, and would then support the rear end to offer increased support, stability and management.

But stopping there might mean missing areas of current concern. The arthritis is a chronic issue, what else might be going on? Looking at the whole body is all part of our treatment plan. With Pudding, her issues presently were with her stiff back. Imagine if your hips ache and now your back aches. You’re not going to walk properly so your hips will get stiffer and you’ll be generally more miserable. Add to that tight shoulder muscles which she is having to use to compensate for the stiff back and arthritic hips and you’ve suddenly got a whole dog to treat and not just the diagnosis.

Her Dad described her current state as “Her back seems worse than her arthritis and is quite stiff and sore”. Chris is the ‘back expert’ in the AchyPaw team and went over to offer help a few days after the initial contact as Pudding was clearly uncomfortable and in need of support.

He received a friendly welcome from Pudding who allowed him to work on her whole body for the session before she decided she had enough and walked away. But came back to give him a thank you kiss!

During the session, Pudding became visibly longer as her back became more comfy and relaxed. On standing, she didn’t struggle quite so much and the rigid part of her back now moved – so much so that her carer remarked ‘she can’t normally do that’. Her Dad was even able to touch her back and rear end which he hadn’t been able to do in a while.

Pudding’s Dad wrote back later “Pudding seems looser since she saw you….and is also enjoying the homework! Thankfully there was no limping which we were concerned about so it does seem to be a help for her so very grateful and hopefully we can get her fit to try hydrotherapy”. Adding another, complementing, therapy to the mix is a positive long-term aim.

Pudding is going on our maintenance programme to keep everything in shape and healthy. As well as looking at the diagnosis, it is beneficial to look beyond – at the whole dog.

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