121 Animal Therapy

The Ridings,
Level Mare Lane
West Sussex,
PO20 3SA
Tel: 01243 543121

Jane’s Boredom Busters (BB) - episode 5

Hello everyone.

I hope you are all keeping well.

I can hardly believe another week has gone by.I took my eye off the garden 'til today and could hardly believe that it has almost turned back into the jungle it was at the start of the lockdown!It is amazing how quickly the things grow that I want to get rid of.My seeds on the other hand, have hardly changed size at all!I may end up having to make a trip to the garden centre at some point.I decided to delay the blog when I saw the jungle, and spent time outside instead.Kenny said the time wouldn't go so quickly if I didn't do anything – I can't see how that could work to my advantage!

So we have had quite a change with the Covid-19 restrictions in England this week.I hope it isn't too much too soon.Certainly being able to take more exercise & to drive for exercise is beneficial as far as I am concerned.Casey had decided he was only prepared to do one local walk, where there is a good supply of rabbit poo.It is only a short walk, so Bonnie & I have been on reduced exercise as a result, as it has taken up our one daily exercise allowance.Now he will usually walk further if we go to the woods, but Bonnie & I can always go again if need be.I am otherwise trying to keep my outings down to the level it has been on lockdown.

I (we) must continue to applaud all those of you who are putting their lives on the line for the rest of us, from those in the NHS and throughout all the other jobs / professions who are keeping the country running, thank you.We must not forget the thousands of people who have already died – our thoughts are with their families and loved ones.Any of us could easily have been in their place. The rest of us, still have an important role to play by keeping up the social distancing, thank all of you, if we work together we will make the difference when it comes to beating Covid-19.

I thought I would cover something different today. 

We are now getting into the start of the grass seed season, many of you know how dangerous grass seeds can be if they get under your dog's skin, so you need to be aware if a foreign body has entered your dog.Some of the grass seeds have points like needles, and can easily penetrate right into your dog's skin.In one case, one of my clients said the seed had entered in through the dog's paw.When she realised there was a problem she had taken it to the vet.The vet said she would need to operate to remove it.Once she had the dog on the operating table, she was able to follow the trail, to find that it had tracked up through the dog's body, and was just starting to penetrate the pericardial sack round the heart, when she retrieved it.That was one very lucky dog!.The owner was paranoid about grass seeds after that, always making sure that the hair between the toes and the pads was kept short so it was easier to check them when she got home.I try to do the same with my dogs' feet, and suggest that you would be wise to do the same.There is a link at the end of the blog with a video by an Australian vet on grass seeds.

As dogs get older another of the things I find with feet, is that they gradually lose their ability to grip so well on slippery surfaces.Whilst there are a number of things you can do to reduce this, adding rugs and keeping the hair between the pads short both make a big difference. Also keeping their nails short (either by clipping them yourself, or by getting the groomer or veterinary practice to do them), can make a difference to both their slipping and to their ability to walk normally.Think how much harder it would be for us to walk if our nails were starting to curl under our toes – we would have to change the way we walked – so would the dog. There are a number of other products that can also be useful depending upon how much difficulty our dog is having when it comes to slipping.Feel free to contact me if you need further advice on other things that can help.Otherwise I will put a link at the end of this blog to Hannah Capon's CAM -Canine Arthritis Management website.She has a very useful website and facebook pages including Holly's Army.

Quite often when I have a new client, or if I meet someone when I am out dog walking (as I did yesterday), I find people say that their dog has just started limping, but it is not in pain.I have always found this to be a "curious comment".It is very rare that a dog will start to limp for no reason.It doesn't get up in the morning & say "I think I'll try limping today".If it limps, there is a reason.

Our dogs have lots of muscles in their bodies, and using them generates a series of movement patterns, enabling them to walk, trot, run, jump, roll and perform many other functional tasks.Every so often, it is likely that their muscles may become injured.Sometimes we are there at the point of injury, but often we don't see it as they are out of our line of sight, and when they re-appear lame, unless it's caused by a thorn or similar, we have absolutely no idea as to the cause.It could be a slip, a fall, slamming the brakes on too hard, a collision or any of a number of causes.The ones like this are the acute ones, but there are also chronic ones.The chronic ones gradually build over time, a bit like repetitive strain syndrome in humans, where the repetitive task causes tiny tears in the muscle (or tendon or ligament) each time the dog repeats that action, until it reaches the point that something has to give. 

Arthritis is one of the main causes of lameness in dogs over 4 years old!Usually the first we know of it, is when they become lame.As prey animals, dogs have learned over the years, that the weakest member of the pack is the most susceptible to predation, so the last thing they want to do is to show anyone there is a possible problem.This makes our job as carers much harder.There are a number of signs that we as owners, can sometimes spot which indicate that something might be brewing.

A change in behaviour is always a warning sign.If your dog has always been very laid back & loves everybody, and suddenly starts (without an obvious trigger) to become more grumpy, or to take itself off to its bed or to grumble when you try to groom them, it is generally far more likely that it is a pain / health issue than a behavioural one.The first port of call should always be the vet.Other signals include changes in gait – the way the dog moves – you don't need to be a specialist to know that something has changed for your dog.I always think that the specialist on what is normal for your dog, is you.You will often then need "outside help" to diagnose (the vet) and to treat the problem.Other signs of discomfort include changes in posture – the way they sit or stand or toilet, changes in the way the dog's coat lies, changes in its grooming habits for example, excessive licking or not cleaning itself at all (especially with cats), not wanting to eat as normal, not wanting to play, seeming to be depressed, not getting in and out of car, not wanting to exercise or only wanting to go for shorter walks, not wanting to go upstairs or get on the sofa, changes in toileting habits – this list is not exhaustive, but certainly gives an idea what to look out for.Any of these in isolation is unlikely to be a problem, but the more changes there are, you should really consider involving your vet.It is much easier to solve a problem if it has been caught early on, rather than when it has been going on for months and gradually getting worse.It helps the vet if you are able to give them as much concise information as possible on the problem or the changes, to enable them to come up with a solution.Especially with the current social distancing measures, if you are able to film the problem, the vet may want you to email it to them, to help with their diagnosis.Keeping a diary of what has changed and when it changed, can also help.Often when it is time to discuss it with your vet, your mind goes blank, and all you can remember are the more insignificant things – until the appointment is finished, and the important things return to your memory!

Obviously if you do have problems with them, once things start to get a bit closer to normality, then if appropriate we would be happy to treat them here.

To finish today, by way of a change, I thought you might like my favourite ice cream recipe, which is really easy to make.My favourite aunt used to make it specially whenever I went to see her!

Gelato di fragale all'aceto balsamio

(Strawberry ice cream)

300g strawberries

150g caster sugar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

100 ml whipping cream

Hull then halve the strawberries if large, put them in the food processor with the sugar & 4 tablespoons of water.Start the processing and then add the balsamic vinegar through the funnel.

Scoop the mixture into a bowl & put in fridge for at least 2 hours, (I always leave it in there overnight) to bring out the flavour of the fruit.

When the fruit mixture is "ready", whip the cream to soft peaks & fold into the mixture.Put it in a container, cover it & put it in the freezer.After 2 hours stir it using a fork & then return it to the freezer.

Remove the ice cream from the freezer ½ an hour before you want to serve it & leave it in the kitchen.It is best eaten when not too frozen.

Jane’s Boredom Busters (BB) - episode 6
Jane’s Boredom Busters (BB) - episode 4

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