signs of arthritis in dogs

Arthritis and Dogs

arthritis and dogs

A common issue yet one too often ignored by pet parents, it’s time to address arthritis and dogs.

I literally want to cry when I speak to people with dogs who are obviously in pain, yet they assume it’s a natural part of aging and don’t do anything to help. Of course I suggest they go to the vet immediately. Naturally I explain how many options there may be but I can only recommend, I can’t physically drag them, although I wish I could.

Does my dog have arthritis?

Dogs can be pretty good at hiding pain, so you may not realise the extent of your dog’s discomfort until his condition has become quite advanced.

Have you noticed any of the following?

  • Stiffness when your dog gets up in the morning, or after a nap
  • Difficulty lying down
  • signs of arthritis in dogsReluctance to move around as much as he used to
  • Stopped jumping onto the couch
  • Prefers shorter walks
  • Not running around with his mates at the dog park
  • Overweight dog having trouble walking – it may be more than just his weight
  • Trouble/avoiding climbing stairs
  • Limping
  • Uncomfortable in certain positions
  • Avoids being petted/touched

If you’ve answered yes to one, a few, or all, there’s a good chance your dog has arthritis.

Since these changes typically happen very gradually, you may not notice them at first, assuming it’s a natural part of aging. For that reason it’s important to pay close attention to your dog, as even subtle changes should signal a vet visit.

Catching the first signs of arthritis, or any condition, could mean a much better prognosis and a more comfortable life for your dog.

Are some breeds more likely to get arthritis?

While older and larger breeds are more susceptible to developing arthritis, any dog can develop it.

Causes 

Many joint diseases are actually the result of a trauma or minor injury sustained in the past, even at quite a young age.

Cervical trauma caused by a walker jerking the leash attached to a collar, in a bid to stop him from pulling.

Strain on tendons and ligaments caused by excess weight

Lack of exercise – dogs need exercise every day, not just on the weekends. Putting an out of shape dog through a lot of physical exertion two days of the week, and barely any the other five days, is an injury waiting to happen.

obesity can cause arthritis in dogsOverweight or obese pets

Dislocated joint

Inherited

Trauma

Joint infection

Bone fracture involving a joint

Aging and natural wear and tear

Autoimmune disorders

Can arthritis be prevented?

You’ve just read about the causes of arthritis, so let’s look at a few and see.

Because arthritis can develop as a result of an injury, treating that injury and making sure it heals properly is important.

All dogs need physical exercise every day, so make sure your dog is getting enough.

Keep your dog at a healthy weight, as obesity not only can cause arthritis and make the pain of existing arthritis worse, it can lead to many other health issues as well.  

Teach your dog to walk nicely on a leash, so there’s no pressure put on his neck.

How is arthritis diagnosed?

Your vet will have a chat with you, asking what changes you’ve noticed and what your concerns are. He will conduct a thorough examination, ask to see your dog walk, and order any tests he deems necessary to make his diagnosis. It would be very helpful for the vet if you made a video of your dog when you notice him having difficulties.  

Treatment

There are “traditional” options like medications, as well as those that are more natural or holistic.   

Natural arthritis relief

Many people prefer a more natural, holistic route to healthcare in their own lives, and that has quickly translated into wanting the same for their pets. As the desire for more natural products grows, many veterinary practices are introducing alternative protocols.  

What do these terms mean?

Before we begin let’s look at what these terms mean – alternative, natural, herbal medicine, holistic, supplement, nutraceutical. 

Dictionary definitions

Alternative – “…Medical products and practices that are not part of standard care.” For example: treating heart disease with chelation therapy

Herbal Medicine – “The practice of using medicinal herbs to promote health, prevent and/or treat disease”

Holistic – “Identifying with principles of holism in a system of therapeutics, especially one considered outside the mainstream of scientific medicine, as naturopathy or chiropractic, and often involving nutritional measures”

Homeopathy – “…or homeopathic medicine, is a medical philosophy and practice based on the idea that the body has the ability to heal itself”

Natural – “Anything that occurs in nature or is produced naturally; it is not artificial, synthetic, or manufactured”

Nutraceutical – “… a broad umbrella term that is used to describe any product derived from food sources with extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods.”

Supplement – “Something added to a food or a diet to increase its nutritional value” or “Nutritional supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, meal supplements, sports nutrition products, natural food supplements, and other related products used to boost the nutritional content of the diet.”

The holistic approach to treatment

In a more holistic approach to veterinary medicine, (and I should say human medicine as well!), drugs are viewed as merely treating symptoms, without much, if any, investigation into understanding why the problem developed in the first place.

There is a concern that when symptoms are masked for long periods of time (due to drugs), it not only makes it harder to treat the problem, other serious problems can develop that will go unseen.

Will it work for my dog?

Every dog responds differently, so a blanket yes or no cannot be given. Many dogs respond extremely well, while others show no improvement. In these cases, medication will likely be needed to keep him comfortable and pain free.

If you are interested in exploring this area of veterinary care, find a reputable holistic vet, and make an appointment for a consultation.

How long will it take for my dog to feel better?

Another question that should be asked of your vet, and the answer will be an estimate. No one can put an exact number to an arbitrary question.

I can tell you that dogs that take “drugs” will improve quite quickly, but there’s always the risk of side effects. Nutraceuticals take a long time to work, and dogs may not show improvement for weeks, or months, but there are no side effects.

Speak to your vet

Below you will find information about various therapies and supplements that have been successful in the treatment of arthritis in many dogs. Having said that, I strongly recommend you speak to your vet before implementing any changes.

Physical therapies

Massage

Daily massage helps increase circulation, and the good sensations block the bad ones.

Hydrotherapy

hydrotherapy can help with symptoms of arthritis in dogsSoaks in: warm water with Epsom salt – hot tub – whirlpool

Gentle swimming, starting with just a couple of minutes. A life jacket may help him feel more relaxed.

Exercise on an underwater treadmill

Acupuncture and chiropractic treatment

Many dogs respond well to both treatments, but do be careful to only deal with reputable and experienced practitioners.

Your dog’s bed

A heating pad added to your dog’s bed will help relax muscles and increase circulation. Alternatively, he may benefit from an orthopaedic bed. Some contain magnets, which evidence suggests reduces arthritis pain.

Supplements/Nutraceuticals

Supplements cannot fix/change calcium deposits, scar tissue, cartilage tears or other structural damage to a dog’s joints. They can, however, help decrease inflammation, and help the body to repair.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate

Mention the word arthritis (be it dogs or humans), and you’ll hear the words Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate. They are the most commonly used nutraceuticals in pet health care.

Glucosamine

Glucosamine is an amino sugar produced naturally in the body. It plays a key role in the production of joint lubricants and shock absorption, protects the cartilage in the joints against further degeneration, relieves pain, and improves mobility.

As a nutritional supplement it is extracted from crab, lobster, or shrimp shells. The fact that shells are usually discarded, allows for a constant and cost effective source. 

Choose Glucosamine Sulphate when shopping. 

It can take several weeks before seeing any noticeable improvements, several months for real results. Results can range from dogs who couldn’t walk, to being able to go for long walks, and even runs, to no improvement. Overall, people are very pleased with the results they’ve seen in their dogs.

Chondroitin Sulfate

Chondroitin is naturally found in animal cartilage, and the supplement is derived primarily from bovine cartilage, but also comes from sharks and whales. The source does not seem to influence its’ efficacy. Chondroitin sulfate addresses the disease process itself, doesn’t just mask the pain like drugs do.

It may:

  • Help the body repair damaged cartilage
  • Restore joint integrity
  • Prevent stress injuries to joints
  • Help repair damaged connective tissue
  • Protect existing cartilage from premature breakdown
  • Keep cartilage tissue hydrated

Because chondroitin production decreases with age, supplements may be particularly helpful for older dogs with arthritis.

Other anti-inflammatories

A complete run down of all the anti-inflammatories available is best left to a conversation with a professional. However, here is a brief list of a few that are well known.

New Zealand Green-lipped mussel

They contain a very high concentration of omega-3s, and are an excellent source of glucosamine and chondroitin.

Sea cucumber

Contains anti-inflammatory properties, helping to eliminate pain, and provide essential nutrients required by cartilage.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

MSM blocks the transfer of pain impulses through the nerve fibres, by enhancing cortisol production, a natural anti-inflammatory hormone produced by the body.

If you prefer to rely on food for MSM, the best sources are raw, organic meats and bones.

Organic apple cider vinegar

Added to food. 

Fish oil – omega 3 fatty acids

Fish oil reduces inflammation, but avoid liver oil. It is low in omega 3s, and could be dangerous in the high doses needed to be effective.

SAMe

Is a liver support, but can also reduce pain, stiffness, and inflammation caused by arthritis.

Herbs and vitamins

Certain herbs help reduce inflammation, and one of the best is turmeric (which is recommended daily for adults). Vitamin C and E may also help.

Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapples, and is said to have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

“Traditional” pain relief

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories)

Most drugs used for treating arthritis in dogs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Aspirin and ibuprofen, which most of us keep in our medicine cabinets, are just two examples. That was not a suggestion to pull them out and give them to your dog! I just wanted to present a relatable example.

How they work

They help reduce swelling, stiffness, and joint pain.

Side effects

Side effects are rare, side effects are common. Don’t you wish things were black and white? Yes or no?

Let’s put it this way. When you fill a prescription for yourself, there’s always a very long list of potential side effects included in the box. Usually nothing happens, but sometimes they do, so the companies just want you to be aware of potential problems.

Same goes for this!

These medications are very beneficial, with a good track record, but things happen. Monitor your dog for any changes in behaviour – eating, drinking, skin redness, vomiting, diarrhea. If yes, call your vet immediately.

When side effects do happen, they can come on quite suddenly, and by the time you notice them, the problem could be well advanced.

Side effect may include: gastric ulcers, problems with kidneys, liver, intestines, digestion, bleeding disorders.

Can I reduce the risks associated with NSAIDs?

Don’t combine them with steroids.

If you’re seeing a new vet who doesn’t know your dog’s history, be sure to tell him/her all medications your dog is taking, to avoid clashes.

Any changes in your dog, no matter how slight or insignificant you may think it is, call your vet immediately.

Give with food to help prevent gastric ulcers.

Have blood work done before beginning treatment. The results will be used as a reference against follow up blood tests, done to monitor liver and kidney function.

Steroids

Steroids may be prescribed if NSAIDs are not having any effect. Prednisone and other corticosteroids will reduce swelling and inflammation, but there are risks, particularly if they are used long term.

Some of the risks and side effects include:

  • Liver damage
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Kidney damage
  • Seizures
  • Pancreatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased peeing
  • Further damage to the joints

Unlike some drugs that you stop taking when the treatment is done, you must gradually wean your dog off steroids in order to get the adrenal glands used to not getting them.

Controlled medications (narcotics)

Another groups of medications are known as narcotics. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “narcotics” I think heroin, cocaine – maybe that comes from watching too many police dramas on television!

They are the most efficient pain relief, and although they’re addictive, they don’t have the same potential for organ damage as NSAIDs.

This category contains drugs like: Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Oxycodone to name just a few.

Because narcotics are listed as controlled substances, they aren’t available everywhere.

Tramadol

There seems to be many differences of opinion about whether or not Tramadol is a narcotic. Because it’s unclear, I have put it under its’ own heading.

I’m at the vet a lot these days, and it seems every time I’m there, someone is being prescribed Tramadol. It provides pain relief, but isn’t much help as an anti-inflammatory. 

Tramadol is less controversial than narcotics, and generally safer than NSAIDs.

It has been known to cause feelings of euphoria, which may reduce anxiety in pets.

It may be unsuitable for use in dogs suffering from liver or kidney disease, seizures etc… but of course your vet will advise you if it’s right for your dog.

Like steroids, your dog needs to be weaned off Tramadol. Your vet will advise you on the schedule.

Side Effects

Tramadol doesn’t typically cause harmful side effects, unless it’s misused, but they can happen:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Drop in heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Panting

Lifestyle changes to make your arthritic dog more comfortable

Our most important goal in caring for our arthritic dog, is to make sure he is as comfortable, and pain free as possible. Here are some quick lifestyle changes we can make.

Food and water bowls

I started elevating my dog’s food and water bowls about a year ago, and the added height seems more comfortable for her. I stand them on a nonslip surface, so they don’t move around. My elevating-bowls-for-arthritic-dogssenior dog is blind, so that’s particularly important.

Test different heights for comfort level, but your dog shouldn’t have to stretch up to reach. If you’d rather buy a set of raised bowls, there are lots of styles, sizes and heights to suit every need.  

Beds

If your dog seems to have trouble settling, perhaps it’s time to make some changes to his bed. You can try adding a heating pad to what he’s using now, or perhaps a blanket for extra padding.

If you are considering buying a new one, there are lots of wonderful options to choose from including orthopedic and self warming beds. One thing that is important to take note of. Some beds have very high sides which may make going in and out a bit of a struggle. I buy beds that have 3 raised sides because the dogs love having something to lean against, but are low in the front so there’s nothing to climb over.  

Play

Your dog still needs to play, but your vet will help you determine what type and duration is safe.  

Assisted Living Devices

There are several “assisted living” products available, depending on the needs of your dog. Things like wheelchairs, slings, harnesses, ramps

Ramps are handy for pets needing help getting in and out of the car, or having trouble using stairs. Be sure to make the slope as gradual as you can. Carpeted pet stairs means your dog still mobility aids for dogshas access to your bed, or living room furniture.

A pet stroller is another great help. I bought one quite some time ago for one of my dogs, and it was worth every penny. It’s lightweight with tons of amazing features. Now I take her on long walks, and I get some much needed exercise.

Nail care

Nails that are too long make walking uncomfortable. Because the quicks on older dogs nails tend to be quite long, very little of the nail can be trimmed at a time. That means more frequent visits to the groomer, unless of course you do it yourself.

Frequent peeing

Arthritis can make it harder for your dog to get up to go out as often as he needs, so beds with waterproof liners and waterproof removable covers are a good option.

In this house we use pee pads…and lots of them! At night I cover the floor around my dog’s bed so if she has to pee overnight – which she often does – she pees, then goes back to sleep.

Flooring

Slippery floors and arthritic dogs are not a good combination. I’m not suggesting you invest in wall to wall carpeting, but perhaps add some throw rugs with a nonslip padding underneath, carpet squares or other padded surfaces, to help your dog be more sure footed.

Make sure you also buy a good enzymatic cleaner and stain remover, for accidents.

Arthritis and dogs – conclusion

I find it encouraging, knowing how much can be done to help dogs suffering the effects of arthritis. Many of us don’t realise how much pain our pets may be in, and because they’re so good at hiding it, don’t find out until it’s severe.

I talk a lot about the importance of speaking to your vet if ever you notice a change in your dog’s behaviour, and I’m going to keep preaching that advice.

If you have any tips, advice or stories you’d like to share about arthritis and dogs, please do so in the comment section below, or on my Facebook page.

dog mobility aids

Mobility Aids For Dogs

dog mobility aids

In this post I would like to talk about dog mobility aids – what they are, how much they have helped us, and what they can do for you.  

What are dog mobility aids?

As the name suggests, they are items or products that help your dog get around. A pet stroller, dog ramp, pet stairs and slings are just some of what we will be talking about in this post. We’re also going to look at other options that may help including: hydrotherapy, acupuncture, supplements and medications. 

Who can mobility aids help?

Dogs…

  • suffering from arthritis, hip dysplasia or joint pain of any kind
  • recovering from surgery or injury and have to take it easy
  • finding it harder to climb/jump for any number of reasons

Humans…

  • who are having trouble or are simply unable to lift their dog  
  • who would like to involve their dogs in more of their family activities

Is your dog…

  • Staying in his bed longer?
  • Having trouble getting out of his bed?
  • Lying down really slowly?
  • Going for shorter walks, or doesn’t want to walk at all?
  • Not as interested in playing?
  • Unable to climb or jump onto the couch or bed like he used to


First things first

Many people assume changes in behaviour are a natural part of the aging process, and ignore them. If you have noticed any changes, no matter how slight or subtle they may be, I highly recommend you make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible. Catching a condition early increases the chances of a positive outcome.  

The pet stroller

Red touring Spain in her dog stroller

The pet stroller is the one item that has been the biggest help, in ways almost too numerous to mention. Let me say that they aren’t only perfect for senior dogs, there are so many situations where a dog stroller will come in handy for dogs of all ages. 

Read this ⇒ 21 Reasons to Buy a Pet Stroller

The reason I decided to buy a dog stroller is because of a favourite vet. We moved, and without a car getting to him had become quite an ordeal…or adventure if you want to put a positive spin on it!! Anyway, my dog weighs about 9 lbs, but 5 minutes of carrying her and she feels more like 50. She is able to walk but very slowly and not too far, so when I needed a break I would let her walk. The worst part was the overpass that took 20 minutes to cross, and was too hectic for Red to walk on, and that was the backbreaking part. Hence the stroller!

When I want to join my husband and other dog Jack for a walk to the beach on a beautiful day, I don’t have to leave Red behind, I pop her in the stroller and off we go. If it’s hot and Jack has worn himself out running, I put him in there so he can hitch a ride home until he re-charges! 

Jack was paralysed

One day in August 2016 Jack suddenly lost the use of his back legs. A very long story short – our dog stroller was a lifesaver when it came to bringing him to and from hospital and vet appointments. Confined to a cage for weeks with limited time allowed outside, the stroller became invaluable in fighting boredom and depression that was a real concern. After his 5 minute walk time was up, I would put him in the dog stroller and walk around the neighbourhood. This allowed him to see his 2 and 4 legged friends, and give him much needed breaks from the crate. As he improved and was able to walk with the support of a sling (I will talk about that next), I would bring the stroller with us and when his allotted walk time was up, back in the stroller he went.

Whether you have a senior dog who can’t walk as far as he used to, a dog recovering from illness or surgery, or you want to keep your dog safe in crowds, you can’t find anything better than a pet stroller. Many people use them for cats as well! 

Dog support sling


The sling is another mobility aid you will find useful if your dog is having trouble walking for whatever reason.

When Jack was recovering from spinal surgery a sling was essential to help him walk. At the beginning it was because he was unable to move his back legs, but even as he started to regain movement he needed the support it provided. 

You will see in the video our sling was homemade. Because Jack is a small dog weighing around 9 or 10 lbs, the neurologist didn’t feel we needed to buy a “proper” one. He thought a scarf or something similar would be worth trying to begin with, so we cut up an old t-shirt and used that. It worked wonders in our case, but I doubt our improvised version would work in most situations. For bigger dogs a real sling is recommended.    

Dog ramps

ramps are great mobility aids for dogs

Sadly lots of dogs get left back from family car trips because it’s too hard to lift the dog in and out of the car, and he’s unable to walk much once they arrive at their destination. No worries, that’s why we have dog ramps to help get in and out of cars and boats, and even onto the bed or couch.

Styles and sizes galore, some are telescoping so their reach is far, others fold, some turn into steps and I’ve even seen one that rolls. Pay attention to how much traction the ramp you’re considering has, you don’t want your dog slipping if it gets wet. Steepness of incline is also key. Too short and too steep, your dog may not be able to use it. A longer more gradual incline is best.

Doesn’t this sound perfect, teamed up with a pet stroller? They both fold for easy storage in the car, one helps your dog in and out, the other when you arrive.

By the way, there are also ramps that can be used alongside the bed or for joining you on the couch. If you are thinking of indoor use, be aware of the amount of floor space it will take up and how far out it will reach. You don’t want to create a tripping hazard.

Pet steps

pet steps are great mobility aids for dogs

Pet steps are another great tool to help your dog reach his favourite spot on your bed or couch. Taking up less floor space than a ramp, they are less of a tripping hazard, and can be easier to move around, especially because some even have a carry handle. Available in 2, 3 or 4 steps, they come in many different styles, designs and materials. They are also perfect for cats who are not great jumpers, or aren’t able to reach the heights they used to.

One added note – jumping can put a lot of pressure on puppy and kitten bones, so getting them used to pet steps may prevent joint problems later in life. 

Dog wheelchair

 

dog wheelchair is a great mobility aid for dogs

I would imagine the thought of a dog wheelchair raises a lot of emotions for you. When my husband and I were meeting with the neurologist to discuss Jack’s paralysis, I brought up the topic of a wheelchair. Although our amazing doctor Ed was quite confident Jack would regain the use of his legs (of course it was never a guarantee), I thought it was important to discuss how we felt about it in advance, just in case.

Seeing how resilient Jack has been during his recovery, and me having a hard time keeping up with him when only his front legs were working, I have no doubt he would have adapted to rolling around, and still have a great quality of life. I’m relieved he didn’t need the wheels, but delighted they exist as an option for other dogs who have had a different outcome. It means they can still have fun and happy lives with their families.    

Dog boots

non slip shoes are great mobility aids for dogs

Another fantastic, multi-functional product are dog boots.

Hopefully your dog is more agreeable then my little 16 year old Red. I was in Canada with her one winter – heavy snow, ice and of course lots of salt. Needless to say it was too painful for her to walk, so I bought her booties. I wish I had a video of that experience!! She weighs 10 lbs, but believe me when she doesn’t want to do something, she has the strength of a dog 10x her size. Long story short she was agreeable to paw wax so we settled on that.

The boots are a wonderful solution for dogs that drag their feet due to join pain, or are unsteady on certain surfaces.

In our case they are something Jack would have benefited from, especially if his recovery had taken longer. Even though we used a sling, his back legs would occasionally drag causing sores on the tops of his paws if on small stones or pavement. I wrapped his paws in gauze when we were out, then once we were home he would entertain himself by pulling it off. Boots would have been ideal, I wish I had thought of it from the beginning, although something tells me he would not have worn them. That’s just the way he is!! Having had no experience with a paralysed dog, and being from Canada where you think the only use for booties is protection from the salt… This was one of those “live and learn” situations.   

Splints and leg supports

front splint is a wonderful mobility aid for dogs

Designed to support front or back legs, these splints and leg supports are a tremendous help for dogs dealing with conditions such as osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease and soft tissue injuries to name just a few. Padded velcro straps are used for adjusting, padding on the inside ensures your dog is comfortable, and non-slip pads on the bottom keeps him stable and sure footed.

Joint supplements

Glucosamine/chondroitin

You may be familiar with glucosamine/chondroitin as a supplement for humans with joint issues, and have heard a lot of positive feedback. It is also used for dogs, and while it is not guaranteed to help in every case, there are so many success stories, it is worth looking into.

So what is it?

The body synthesizes most of its own glucosamine to form, repair and keep existing cartilage healthy. Production slows as dogs get older, which affects the body’s natural ability to repair itself. When you combine wear and tear on the joints (something that happens naturally as our dog’s walk, jump and play), with the slower repair time of the body, you start to see the development of arthritis. Chondroitin is another substance naturally found in cartilage, and when combined with glucosamine is an even more beneficial joint supplement.

Read this ⇔ “Glucosamine and Chondroitin For Dogs.”

New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels

Found only in the waters surrounding New Zealand, this is one of the largest in the mussel family, and are rich in omega fatty acids and minerals. They are known as “green lipped” because of the green tinge along the edge.

A natural anti-inflammatory because they are an excellent source of glucosamine and chondroitin, they are not only helpful for pets already suffering the effects of arthritis, but can be used as a preventative as well. They are considered to be particularly effective when combined with fish oil, glucosamine and chondroitin.

Before you give your dog any supplements, I recommend you speak with your vet. If you’re interested in exploring natural pain relief, speak to your vet or a holistic vet. 

Acupuncture

Red having acupuncture

There are an unlimited number of success stories told by people whose dogs have benefited greatly from acupuncture. While it is not guaranteed to help every pet, it is at least worth considering. It can be used in combination with other therapies, and treats a wide variety of conditions, including arthritis. If your veterinary practice does not offer it, find a holistic vet and make an appointment to learn more.

We recently returned from a four month stay in Spain, and I took Red to a holistic vet there. I had long been curious about how alternative treatments could benefit her, so in addition to a home cooked whole food diet, and supplements to replace 3 of her medications, he recommended acupuncture. Although Red does not suffer from joint pain it was part of my vet’s overall wellness plan for her. She had twice weekly treatments for 3 months. At the time I found it difficult to know whether or not it was making a difference because it wasn’t to help a “visible” issue. We’ve been back five weeks and now I see acupuncture helped with her immunity and yes, overall wellbeing. 

Read this ⇒Acupuncture For Senior Dogs: Is There a Point?” 

Mobility aids for dogs – conclusion

I hope you find this information as positive and encouraging as I do. I have personally used (I should say my dogs) almost every item on this list, and the benefits cannot be overstated. It has made life so much easier and more comfortable for all of us.

Please don’t let your dog feel pain or spend the rest of his life in bed, now that you are aware of all the amazing mobility aids for dogs.

Have you used any of these products? How much of a difference have they made in the life of your do? Sharing helps others so please leave your comments in the section below, or on my Facebook page.   

 

 

how I taught Saffy to use a dog ramp

How I Taught Saffy to Use a Dog Ramp

how I taught Saffy to use a dog ramp

This post is about how I taught Saffy to use a dog ramp.

Let me start by saying you’ll have to rely on my descriptive abilities, since I have no pictures of the process, and only a few of Saffy. Two reasons for that…I didn’t know I would be starting this website and need so many images in a wide range of situations, and I didn’t expect the vet to teach your dog how to use a dog ramppanic during dental surgery and cause her death, 9 months after we rescued her.

What I did

I immediately set the ramp up alongside the bed.

What I didn’t do

All the steps in between!

Why not

Saffy was subjected to horrific cruelty and was so petrified of everything, nothing would have been gained by going through the steps.

The process

Every morning right before I would get out of bed, I would hear Saffy’s footsteps as she ran in and out of the bedroom. She was so desperate to get up on that bed, she was too terrified to try. Hence the ramp.

She loved food so that made things easier. All I did was put a treat on the foot of the ramp, walk out of the room so she wouldn’t feel trapped, and replace it after she ate it. Then I would put 2 treats in a row, then 3 and so on, until there were treats all the way up the ramp.

She would grab them very quickly, then turn and run out of the room. Bless her, it was so sad to watch, but she kept doing it so I was proud. I would say it took about 1 ½ weeks until she put a paw on the bed, and another several days until she lay down on the edge of the bed.

What a triumph that was!

The steps in between

I’m assuming you don’t have a dog with such horrific issues, so it shouldn’t take much, if any time to help him get used to it. You’ll be starting with the ramp flat on the floor, and ending up teaching a scared dog how to use a dog rampwith it at a full incline, never advancing to the next step until your dog is confident with the training to that point.

Step one

Lay the ramp flat on the floor and let your dog check it out. If he seems fine give him a treat (toy or praise if he prefers). Do this a couple of times, or more if needed, until you know he’s not bothered being around it. Don’t reward him if he seems fearful, because you’ll be reinforcing that feeling – only when he’s relaxed.  

Step two

You’re at step two because he’s perfectly fine being around the ramp. If he’s still a bit hesitant, go back to step one. It’s better to take longer than rush and cause anxiety.

Set it at a very slight incline, then put a treat on the ramp itself, but close enough to the edge he doesn’t have to put a paw on it. If he’s fine take another treat and put it slightly further up, then another further up than that.

Don’t move it along until he’s comfortable with the previous distance.

You can take one treat and put it further and further back, or create a trail from bottom to top and let him eat his way up, it’s entirely up to you. Once he’s walking happily along the ramp, gradually increase the incline until it’s at the position he’ll be using it at.

Sounds like a lot of effort just to walk up a ramp doesn’t it?

Since the dogs I adopt tend to have difficult pasts, I write with that in mind. I would say that while a large percentage of dogs will have no issues walking up the ramp from the start, that won’t be true for every dog and that’s perfectly fine.

Each one is different, and it would be unrealistic to expect them all to react the same to something unfamiliar. At the end of the day, it will take as long as it takes. The important thing in any training is not to rush. Better to take longer and succeed, then rush and have your dog develop anxiety. It is a lot harder to deal with and will require more patience than you didn’t have for the ramp training.  

How I taught Saffy to use a dog ramp – conclusion

It’s wonderful you’ve decided to invest in a ramp, and you will see how much it will benefit all of you. I hope you found this post helpful in teaching your dog to use a dog ramp.

gen7pets dog ramps

The Single Most Important Thing You Need to Know About Dog Ramps

dog ramps

I must admit I’m always surprised by how few people know about dog ramps.

The thing is, that makes me concerned for three reasons

  1. People are lifting some very heavy dogs in and out of the car, potentially injuring themselves
  2. Dogs are missing out on quality family time
  3. Dogs of all ages are putting unnecessary wear and tear on their joints.

What is a dog ramp?

Very simply, it is a ramp for your dog to use to gain access to places he can no longer jump into or onto.

Who needs one?

Every household with a dog

Who benefits?

You

If you’ve been lifting your dog into and out of the car for quite some time now, I imagine you’re either feeling it physically or emotionally. If you have a big dog it’s likely taken two of you, and gen7pets dog rampseven lifting a small dog can become problematic, especially if you have some mobility issues of your own.

When I say emotionally I mean it can take a toll on us when we see our dogs aging, unable to do the things they used to.   

You and your dog

Everyone benefits by not having to leave the dog behind, keeping him as involved in your lives as ever.  

Trips to the vet with a dog of any age recovering from surgery or injury, are made easier with the use of a ramp. Even if they aren’t able to walk 100% unaided, supporting him as you guide him up the ramp is easier than carrying him.

Small dogs

Small young dogs can benefit by reaching places too high for them to jump onto.

Any aged dog

To protect the joints of any age dog.  

**ADDITIONAL NOTE** Another reason your dog may get left behind is, even if you can get him in and out of the car, if he isn’t able to walk much when you’re at your destination, he’ll have puppystairs two piece dog rampsto stay home. A pet stroller is a wonderful mobility aid that can work perfectly in conjunction with a dog ramp.   

Where can I use it?

Anywhere really – car, boat, indoors   

Styles of ramps

Ramps come in a wide variety of styles, to suit any need.

  • Folding
  • Rolling
  • Telescoping
  • One piece
  • Free standing
  • With a platform at the top

Features to consider before buying

Sturdiness

The ramp must be sturdy, no buckling in the middle as your dog walks on it.

How secure is it

Does it casually rest against the couch or open car? Is there a risk of it falling or moving? If it tips petstep folding dog rampsor wobbles, your dog may not only risk injury, it may scare him off using one for good.

Incline

Take into consideration the steepness of the incline before buying. Longer and gradual is easier to navigate than steep.   

Weight limit

I would underestimate when it comes to the weight limit of the ramp you buy. While a 90lb dog on a ramp suited for 100lbs should be no problem, I would look at the next one up, just to compare.

Additional safety features

Things like non-skid surfaces and elevated sides are important safety features to look for. Non-skid should mean exactly that, no matter the weather, and elevated sides prevents your dog from accidentally stepping off when using it.  

Weight

You may only be carrying the ramp from the car door to the trunk or back seat, but some can still have quite a bit of weight to them. Think about how much you’ll be moving it, and whether or not you can manage on your own before buying.

Indoor or outdoor use

Know its’ intended use, and buy the one that’s suitable. A ramp for indoor use will not need to be weather resistant for instance, and that could impact the price you’ll pay, meaning it might be cheaper!   

Ease of storage

When not in use, where will you store it, how much room will it take up and do you have the space?

Design

If you need a ramp for outdoor use, what it looks like will probably not be an important factor in your decision making process. If it will be permanently on display, you’re likely going to want gen7pets-natural-pet-rampsomething that at least is not an eyesore.  

Cleaning

Will a simple spray with a hose be enough to keep it clean, a quick vaccum, or will elbow grease be the only way.

Price

Your budget will ultimately determine your selection, so shop around to get the best deal. There are so many ramps available online, you should find the perfect one for your needs and budget.   

Dog ramps – conclusion

Almost forgot…the single most important thing you need to know about dog ramps? You really need one!

 

Stop by my Facebook page, and please like it, share tips, advice, stories and pictures of life with your senior dog.

 


wheelchairs are great mobility aids for dogs

Pain and Mobility Issues in Old Dogs

pain and mobility issues in old dogs

Managing pain and mobility issues can be one of the most challenging problems facing caretakers of senior dogs.

Don’t settle for having a pet in pain before exhausting every avenue available. Many pet owners are unaware their pets are suffering from pain; most pets don’t moan or whine, even though they are painful.

Signs your dog may be in pain

They may show pain in many ways, including increased sleeping, sitting or lying down while eating, decreased appetite, decreased playfulness or interaction with others, panting, shivering, dealing with pain and mobility issues in old dogsor inability to get outside quickly enough to eliminate appropriately.

Mobility issues

One of the biggest mobility issues facing seniors is the ability to walk on slippery surfaces like tile, laminate, or wood flooring. When the dogs walk on these surfaces they will automatically try to grip with their toes, resulting in grabbing with the nails, losing pad contact with the floor. Since the nails cannot penetrate the hard surface, the dogs slip. There is a great product called “Toe Grips”, which are a small hard rubber band, that can be slipped onto the nails. When the dogs grip the floor, the rubber comes into contact with the hard surface, reducing slippage. The grips are easy to apply and remain in place for 6 to 8 weeks.  Alternatively, boots can be applied, but boots must be taken off and cannot be left on permanently.

Senior pets may have more difficulty getting on and off furniture and beds. They should not be allowed to jump down from furnishings, as they are more prone to injury and falls. Use puppy stairs, ramps, or steps to help your pets reach higher surfaces.

Dogs that have difficulty getting up from a down position may be helped with the use of lift harnesses. Some harnesses are placed around the dog each time they need to be lifted, while others are meant to be worn at all times. For large dogs, the wearable harnesses make life easier solutions to pain and mobility issues in old dogsfor owners. There are many brands on the market and you should choose one that is comfortable for both you and the pet.

Two and four-wheeled carts are available for dogs with paralysis or paresis. Most pets enjoy the new-found freedom of the carts, but others will not enjoy the carts and prefer to drag themselves around. Each pet should be allowed to choose their own level of mobility.

Importance of exercise

Exercise is an extremely important, and sometimes overlooked, addition to the daily routine for senior pets. Strong muscles support joints; without muscle support, arthritic joints become more painful. Walking on softer surfaces, like grass, will cause less stress on the joints. Walking on tactile surfaces, rather than smooth surfaces, stimulates nerve function and sensation in the feet solving pain and mobility issues in old dogsand legs. These pets should not be exercised heavily once or twice a week; rather they should be exercised moderately every day.

How to manage pain, naturally

Pain can be managed in many ways for these pets. Cold laser therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, massage, and energy work are all beneficial. Because these therapies are becoming more commonplace, it has become easier to find veterinarians and practitioners offering these services. Any, or all, of these therapies can be used in combination. Sometimes severely painful animals will require multiple modes of treatment.

Herbal supplements including boswellia, yucca, licorice, and nettleleaf can provide relief. Turmeric is especially popular, but needs to be made into Golden Paste to provide maximum absorption.

Golden Paste is easy to make using:

1 cup water

½ cup organic turmeric

¼ cup coconut oil or bone broth

½ Tbsp black pepper

1 Tbsp Ceylon cinnamon

Simmer turmeric and water over low heat, stirring for 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add oil, pepper, and cinnamon. Feed 1 tsp/20# twice daily. I like to make a batch and put it into small silicon ice cube trays. I can pop out one cube per day to add to my dog’s meal.

Joint supplements containing glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and omega 3 fatty acids, are beneficial. Be aware that not all supplements are created equally and some may be no better than placebos. Look for products that have scientific research backing them.

One of my favorite new products is New Zealand Deer Antler Velvet combined with green lipped mussel. This product provides omega 3’s, glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin, collagen, and proteoglycans in one tablet.

Injections of PSGAG’s (polysulfatedglycosaminoglycans) provide the building blocks for joint cartilage and joint fluid, preserving and healing arthritic joints. The injections are available through veterinarians.

Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, is helping many senior pets with arthritis pain. The oil is available in the form of treats, capsules, pills, or drops. Again, not all products are created equally. While CBD oil is safe for dogs, cannabis is NOT safe and can cause severe side effects in relatively small doses.

Other methods of pain relief

While I prefer to use natural remedies to treat pain, I will not withhold drugs from senior pets in pain. NSAIDs can have dire side effects and should be used with caution, but if owners are aware of the possible side effects, they can be used safely. Any decrease in appetite, nausea, increased thirst, diarrhea, or bloody stools should signal a problem and the drugs should be discontinued. Never use over the counter human pain remedies, as many of these are toxic for dogs and cats.

Other drugs that can be used include tramadol, gabapentin, amantadine, and opiate derivatives.

Arthritis pain that is worse in winter will be helped with warming; apply warm compresses or provide warming beds for sleeping. Arthritis pain that is worse in summer will improve with cool compresses or cool water hosing.

Keep your seniors happy and pain free so they can enjoy their life!

This post was kindly written by Dr. Judy Morgan.  Dr. Morgan is a nationally renowned author and veterinarian certified in acupuncture, food therapy, and chiropractic care for dogs, cats, and horses. As a sought after speaker, Dr. Morgan shares her insight with weekly blogs, podcasts, and videos! Visit her website at drjudymorgan.com.

wp_20161009_11_46_59_pro_li2851

5 Exercises to Keep Your Old Dog Feeling Young

5 exercises to keep your old dog feeling young

Plain and simple, senior dogs are amazing.  We, often, have dogs in the “Project Golden Years” program that are, simply, some of the most wonderful dogs in the rescue.  Oddly enough, these dogs also seem to spend the most time in the rescue before they find their forever home.  My suspicion is 

old dogs can still be agilefolks have a misguided perception that these old dogs are just waiting to pass.  That couldn’t be further from the truth!  With a healthy diet and, the right, exercise, an old dog will be set up to bring joy to their adopters for years to come.  Covering both facets of health, diet, and exercise, is too much for a single blog post, so we are going to be focusing solely on the exercise aspect!

Step one

The first thing that we need to figure out is what the ideal weight is for our senior dog.  Unfortunately, mainstream body condition score has been shown to be way too subjective for us to recommend using it.  Fortunately, because of that fact, we hit the books, found a study that tested an objective, measurement-based, accurate method, and converted it into an easy-to-use calculator for establishing the “perfect” weight for our dog.  The calculator can be found *here.

What exercises are “right” for seniors?

The short answer is low-impact, low-impact, and low-impact.  To illustrate what we mean, I’ve compiled a list of my top five exercises for old dogs below.  Every dog is different, so before trying any of our suggestions, make sure you speak with a veterinary professional about your dog’s limitations and any exercises you should avoid or focus on.

Walking

An oldie, but a goody.  Good old-fashioned walking is one of the best activities for getting and keeping a dog at a healthy weight.  A leisurely 30 minute to an hour walk, every afternoon or morning, is enough for most breeds to maintain a healthy weight.  In addition to keeping your dog beach-1195424_1920healthy, scientists have repeatedly shown that the benefits of that walk for you are though the roof as well!

In a perfect world, I would suggest multiple short walks throughout the day, but if, for whatever reason, that isn’t possible, the suggestion above will be a great starting point.  One point of caution, pay attention to your dog.  If she starts to struggle or show signs of discomfort, cut your walk short and dial back the distance on the next one.

Sit, Stay, Up, Down

As counter-intuitive as it may be, teaching these commands, then having your dog perform each a set number of times is a phenomenal way to keep the range of motion in her joints, work muscles that walking doesn’t, and build a trust-filled, loving relationship at the speed of light!  Teaching these teaching commands is a great way to exercise an old dogcommands also has the side-effect of being able to control your pup’s behavior when needed, which is a wonderful thing.

Fetch

For an old dog, we recommend indoor fetch with his favorite toy.  A toss across the room, every now and again, keeps the blood flowing and our sweet pup’s metabolism guessing.  Both lead to a fit, healthy body composition.

Hide and Seek

This is just as entertaining as it is good for your senior dog.  The idea is simple.  You hide a few treats around the house when your dog is in a stay(in another room, where he can’t see you).  When you’re finished, tell him to come in and find the treats!  This is also really good for our pup’s mental health.  Keeping him from getting bored or lethargic in his golden years.

Interactive Toys

Keeping with the theme of exercising our senior’s brain, as well as her body, invest in an interactive toy for feeding time.  There are so many good ones on the market, pick your favorite and switch Red with the dog tornado interactive toyfrom her old bowl to the toy for feedings.  Having to figure out the toy and work for her food will provide a fun, low-impact exercise for both her body and brain

The Takeaway

Old dogs have so much life left and so much more to give their adoptive humans.  Sometimes we have a notion of older dogs being frail or “on death’s door”.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  A senior dog can provide so much love and affection that most puppies would be jealous!  Combined with some, or all, of the suggestions above, your senior dog will bring joy into your life for many, many seasons to come!

We’d love to hear from you. Do you do any, or all, of these 5 exercises to keep your old dog feeling young?

*Whenever you start a new exercise program for your dog, it is important to first discuss it with your veterinarian.

 

This post was kindly written by Paul Kirhagis, owner/operator at 4dogsandalittlelady.com, a website dedicated to educating and entertaining readers on life with foster dogs.  They focus on their own crew of four dogs, as well as, the constant stream of fosters that come through their doors. You can connect with Paul on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

6 tips to help you choose the perfect pet stroller

6 Tips For Buying the Right Pet Stroller

6 tips to help you choose the perfect pet stroller

Before you get that credit card out, these 6 tips for buying the right pet stroller will help you choose the best one.

Although I will be mentioning dogs specifically (because I use it for my dogs), a stroller can be used for cats as well, and of course the same tips apply.

[bctt tweet=”Looking for a #petstroller but aren’t sure which one to buy? These 6 tips will help” username=”petcrusader”]

Size matters

tips for picking the perfect pet stroller

Are you buying the stroller for a dog that is full grown or still growing? Full grown, no problem, you already know his weight. If your dog is still growing, at which stage of his life do you anticipate the need for one?

If it’s for immediate, short term use, again no problem. If you anticipate a need a few months down the road or you’d like it for long term use, buy one based on your dog’s full grown size.

Don’t know? Make a rough guess and err on the big side. One that is too small will be of no use, but one that is bigger can always be adjusted with a blanket or bed.

Know its’ purpose

Schwinn Rascal Pet Trailer

There are so many uses for a pet stroller, knowing what you need it for will help you choose the best match. Quiet walks around the neighbourhood? Taking your pets shopping? Car trips? Festivals and events? More than one pet? Jogging?

For example… if you’ll be taking your dog on car trips, you not only want a stroller that folds, you may also find it handy to have one that converts into a car seat. More than one pet at a time? How about an extra wide or double stroller? Love to cycle with the family on the weekend? A stroller that converts into a bike trailer means the four legged family members aren’t left behind.  

Terrain you’ll be travelling over

on what type of terrain will you be using your pet stroller

Jogging and walking over rough or uneven terrain, will require a different type of stroller than a walk on paved paths and sidewalks. For space and budgetary considerations, wouldn’t it be great if one
stroller could serve all your needs? A basic model with small wheels suitable for light strolls won’t stand up to jogging on uneven surfaces, but a jogger may be perfect for casual walks.

As you can see in the above picture, our stroller is best on paved surfaces so…hubby to the rescue!!

Quality and Budget

tips for finding the right pet stroller

These two tend to go hand in out, so I’m addressing them together to avoid being redundant.

For the occasional walk or trip to the vet, you may very well be fine with an inexpensive stroller, especially if you have a small dog or cat and weight isn’t an issue.

If you will be relying on it quite a bit in a variety of situations, you are going to want to look seriously at the quality. It may cost more initially, but you will save money in the long term by not having to buy a second one when the first one breaks, or outlives its’ usefulness.

Safety

rear locking wheels are an important safety feature

Once you get your stroller, you may be amazed at how many new places you take your dog. Keep in mind, even the calmest dog can get stressed in unfamiliar surroundings, so it’s important to do as much as you can to ensure his safety by considering the following…

Harness

Even if your dog never wears a harness, I recommend you put one on him when in the stroller. I also suggest attaching a leash to it and holding on to it, as you would when walking. Most strollers also come with a tether that attaches to the ring on a harness or collar, so use that as well for added safety.

Locking wheels

Another important safety feature are rear locking wheels. If you stop to chat to someone and let go of the stroller, or you’ve left it while you take him for a walk, a slight slope and it’s rolling down the hill. Engage the brakes with your foot, and prevent that scenario from happening.

Buses aren’t the smoothest ride, so if you have to take it on public transportation, the brake will keep it from rolling around. I recommend you still keep a hand on it just in case!

Bike trailer

What if you’re using a trailer attached to a bike? You may have a rear view mirror on your handlebars, but you can’t keep constant watch. Double and triple check the connection to your bike, and make sure they are securely fastened before you set off.

Let me add one other note to this…if your dog has never been in a stroller before, I don’t recommend this as his first experience. First get him used to it on quiet streets, then busier, and see that he’s comfortable before you have him whizzing around traffic filled roads.

READ THIS ⇒ Pet Stroller Training: Teach Your Dog to Ride in a Stroller

Create a den

If you’re at a festival or crowded area, and your pets seem nervous, a very important safety feature is the ability to create a den. The stroller you choose should have a zipper or other type of closing to secure the folding canopy to the body of the stroller. Also check for gaps in the fabric or other possible escape points, in the event your dog panics.

Read reviews

Pet Gear AT3 Gen 2 with dog

You don’t have to rely on someone else’s opinion to make your decision, but it can be helpful to read what owners of products have to say. I like to read several to see which themes are common. As with any product, there may be slight discrepancies between the manufacturer’s claims and real user experience.

6 tips for buying the right pet stroller – conclusion

As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the greatest products you can buy, and it has been of more help to me than you can imagine. These 6 tips for buying the right pet stroller will have you wheeling your pets around in no time.

Hip Dysplasia in German Shepherds

How to Help German Shepherds With Hip Problems

Hip Dysplasia in German Shepherds

Charley’s story

My Charley has Hip Dysplasia (HD). She’s turning 9 years old on the 10th of October this year.

I knew Charley had HD when I decided to invite her into my life. But it didn’t matter, I loved her from the moment I saw her.

The breeder said her hips fall into the borderline category and she might never present with HD symptoms. What he failed to mention is that she had a fracture in her left hip. I suspect he was the cause of it. I won’t go into reasons for my suspicions. Let’s just say he’s the kind of person who should not be allowed near animals.

Charley has always been an active dog. She was always lean, fast moving and agile and adored long rambling walks. I mean she helped me raise Zeze and Lexi from small pups to adults.

But over time, I noticed her movement become more restricted, with increased limping.

Despite her abusive past, Charley has always been a happy dog, but at one stage I noticed signs of depression…

  • No more interest or drive for the things she loved doing
    Refusing the long walks she loved so much
    She avoided playing outside with her young siblings
    She’d spend most of the day indoors even in summer
    Chasing birds off ‘her’ back yard disinterested her

I knew I had to help her!

So I set out on a mission to create an all natural treatment plan specific to Charley.

Today, I’ll share with you what I’ve found that works for Charley. And, how you can put together a similar treatment plan for your GSD.

But more about Charley and how to help German Shepherds with hip problems in a minute…

Notice the lack of firmness in the hock area. Like a worn shock absorber on a vehicle, there’s too much ‘bounce’

First I want to share some facts with you…

If you’re the lucky owner of a German Shepherd, or you’re just about to become a GSD mamma or pappa, you already know there is a chance yours might already have, or develop Hip Dysplasia.

What is Hip Dysplasia and why are GSDs prone to it?

Hip Dysplasia is a genetically inherited disease where the femur sits too shallow and doesn’t fit snug in the hip socket.

Depending on the grade it can be painful, and in most cases HD sets the stage for arthritis in later life. In severe cases, this can happen early on, even in puppy stages.

It’s believed that this disease stems from inbreeding during the breed’s early life. It was a case of catch 22 back then. Because the goal of inbreeding was to preserve other traits in the breed.

But I believe if the early breeders of the GSD knew then what we know now, they would have done things differently.

Also, unfortunately, show breeders often breed their German Shepherds with overly angulated hind quarters. The reason for this angulation is to achieve a desirable ‘stack’ or stance during showing.

How to Recognize Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

These are the main signs of HD, but it’s not to say that all of them will be present at the same time.

  • General pain and discomfort
    Keeping the hind legs close together to counter poor balance
    ‘Bunny hopping’ when running – instead of the signature ‘trot’ of the GSD
    Struggling to get up after lying down
    Loss of muscle tone (atrophy)
    Reluctance to use full range of motion in hind legs
    General lameness
    Whining or crying when getting up quickly
    Not as excited to enjoy regular physical activities
    Visible signs of depression

Often, dogs will nibble at their hind legs. I’m not 100% sure why, but my guess the nibbling helps with pain relief.

Charley puts more weight on the right side due to hip dysplasia

How Prone Are German Shepherds to Hip Dysplasia?

It’s interesting to note that research by The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals ranks the GSD 39th in their research on breed specific HD. And this is not from a small sample! The evaluations run from January 1974 to December 2015. With each breed having at least 100 evaluations during that time.

The GSD had 115933 evaluations in total. 

What’s also interesting is that the cases of HD have remained pretty much the same during this time. In my opinion, it’s the popularity of the breed that makes it seem like the GSD is right at the top of the list.

How bad does it get?

There are different grades of HD, but I won’t go into them here. If you want to know more and see examples, this is an excellent resource. 

Charley has Fast Normal hips – which is borderline. The grade always stays the same. But as they age, their hips will deteriorate. The fact that Charley also has an old hip injury contributes to the deterioration of her hips.

Okay, now let’s look at how we can help our beloved German Shepherds…

How to help German Shepherds with hip problems

Find an Ethical Breeder

An ethical breeder will breed from HD free adults. Of course, there’s no guarantee this will eliminate the risk of HD. But it can reduce the odds.

In Germany, dogs must certified HD free before they are used in a breeding pair.

This is not mandatory in the U.S. And as far as I know HD screening is not required in the U.K. either. But a reputable breeder should be able to provide you with this information.

Early Detection

Early detection gives you more opportunities to help slow down the degeneration.

Charley was 5 when she came into my life. So I didn’t have the privilege of having her as a pup. If I had, I could have started with a host of treatments to help her more.

The only way to be 100% sure of HD is through an x-ray. These are done anywhere from the age of 6 months. But in most cases, from 12 months.

Maintain Healthy Weight

This is the most important part of helping German Shepherds with hip problems.

Keeping your GSD’s weight at the lower end of the weight range will reduce stress on the hips.

Charley weighs in at 28kg – that’s about 64lbs. She’s a medium, compact German Shepherd, and a female. So her weight is perfect for her size.

Controlling weight is a two-fold plan – exercise and diet.

Healthy Diet

Keeping your GSD on a healthy diet will naturally help maintain a healthy weight.

The ideal diet should be high in protein and calcium. Low in fats and grains like starch, soy and wheat is ideal.

Because the muscles in their hind quarters will atrophy because they’re not used properly, protein is essential.

And grains like I mentioned, slow down digestion which contributes to weight gain.

I feed all my dogs a 100% raw diet. But you could feed a home cooked diet.

Or, if you prefer feeding kibble, there are some great alternatives with high protein, lower fat content and none of those bad grains I mentioned.

Older dogs like Charley are less active and need less energy. So, keep an eye on portions and watch their weight.

Natural Supplements

Supplements are one of the cornerstones of helping Charley stay mobile and provide long-term pain control.

If your German Shepherd suffers from HD, I definitely recommend using them.

Stay far away from Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) and steroids! 

In most cases this is the standard treatment recommended by vets. It might relieve your dog’s pain in the short term.

But these drugs can actually destroy joints and cartilage. Which is counter productive.

They also cause nausea and vomiting. Not to mention the long term toxic effects…

They destroy the kidneys, can cause liver failure. And bleeding of the stomach and intestines.

Think about it…

Why should your German Shepherd suffer with HD and endure the destruction of his or her internal organs too.

Natural supplements do take longer to begin their magical work. But once you’ve found the right one it’s well worth the wait.

What I Use

I’ve tried a bunch of different supplements. And for the last 20 weeks I’ve used Best Vets Glycan Plus Glucosamine and I’ve seen a marked improvement. I noticed it at around week 4, and at first I thought I was imagining it, until my husband commented on Charley’s improved range of motion, reduced limping and increased interest in playing.

Whoop, Whoop!!

I chose this supplement for a few reasons:

First, it’s shellfish free 

I don’t give my dogs any seafood products. Why? Because our oceans are filled with radioactive toxins. Think Fukushima here. So it’s important for me to not add more toxins to Charley’s body.

I like the fact that all the ingredients in this supplement are found naturally in a healthy body

Glucosamine HCL is found naturally in healthy cartilage and in the fluid around joints. It has anti inflammatory abilities and can also help rebuild cartilage.

Chondroitins are great for pain relief. In studies done on humans with various grades of arthritis, there was moderate pain relief and shorter periods of morning stiffness.

Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is found in the body’s synovial fluids, especially around the hips and shoulders. From studies it has been proposed that HD may occur because of a genetic deficiency of HA in these fluids.

Cetyl M is a fatty acid first found in albino mice, and in laboratory tests it was discovered that these mice are immune to arthritis. It also has anti inflammatory properties, and scientist believe it’s able to reprogram faulty cells that cause arthritis.

MSM also has anti inflammatory power. It helps decrease pain and aids in healing muscles. It also limits the deterioration of cartilage and helps to form connective tissue.

The EsterC found in Best Vets Glycan Plus Glucosamine is different to regular Vit C. It’s not ascorbic so it’s easy on the tummy and intestines. And it helps improves absorption.

And the high levels of bioflavinoids enhance white blood cells. Making them more effective at fighting toxins and abnormalities.

Using Best Vets Glycan Plus Glucosamine

In weeks 1 to 4 you give a ‘loading’ dose. Which is double the suggested maintenance dose.

This is to help build up the power of the natural supplement. It was by the end of this 4 week period that I saw real improvements in Charley.

After 4 weeks you give a long term ‘maintenance dose’ which is half of the loading dose.

In Charley’s case that means;

Loading dose: 4 chew tabs – 2 in the morning and 2 in the evening.

Maintenance dose: 2 chew tabs – 1 in the morning and 1 in the evening.

Always give on a full stomach. I just drop the chews in Charley’s food.

Light Exercise

Atrophy is the degeneration of the muscles around the hips. It happens because the hips are not used with their full range of motion.

Light exercise will help keep the muscles working and prevent them from seizing up.

Short, gentle walks are a great way to keep things moving. Remember, that walking is an impact exercise so be sure to keep the sessions short.

And stick to surfaces that have some ‘give’ like grass, soft soil paths or the natural mulch paths found in woody areas. Avoid sidewalks, concrete has no give under the paws. Tar has more give than concrete, but my advice is to avoid it too.

If the symptoms get worse, stop walking exercises and find other more light exercise.

Our large yard with trees and shrubs are a great place for Charley to take short walks and have the occasional short bunny hop/trot if she feels up to it. To keep things interesting I open up other areas for her when I get home from work. This keeps her interested and supports her canine desire to explore.

But when it comes to exercise, hydrotherapy takes the cake. Your GSD is weightless in the water which relieves the pressure off the hips. It helps to build the hip muscles without the impact of walking. Unfortunately, hydrotherapy is expensive and might not be available in your local area.

An alternative is to use a swimming pool. Of course your dog will need to like swimming for this to be effective. And it’s best if the water is warm. Cold water will stiffen the muscles.

Sadly, Charley is afraid of water. She won’t go near our swimming pool. So this is out of the question for us.

Accupressure Massage

Massage is another effective tool I use to help Charley. Daily massage moves the blood through the muscles and eases tension. This naturally manages pain too.

I learned about massage in a couple of weeks by watching a bunch of great videos on Expert Village. Go to YouTube and search for “Dog Acupressure for Hip Dysplasia.”

I allow Charley to decide what she needs massaged and for how long. She’ll offer her hind quarter for massage. But I’m careful to respect her pain tolerance on a day to day basis. On days when she’s more uncomfortable like when it’s cold or raining, she might want more.

muscle loss around thigh area due to hip dysplasia

Practical Steps You can Take

Making life easier for your German Shepherd with HD is as simple as asking yourself; “what will make it easier for my dog to move around?”

We have tiled and wooden floors. These floor surfaces can be slippery and prevent your GSD from getting a good grip for walking.

For Charley, I’ve laid down large rugs all over the house with non slip rug pads underneath. This makes her more confident to move around the house.

For more comfort and support you should consider buying your dog an orthopedic bed. Orthopedic beds are made from memory foam or gel, or both. And unlike regular dog beds the foam molds to the body.

There are 2 main benefits to this:

  • Firm support for your dogs weaker hind quarters
    Soft and warm place to rest or sleep

Cold surfaces will stiffen the muscles, aggravate the pain. Making it difficult for your dog to get up.

I wanted the Furhaven Pet Orthopedic Mattress from Amazon, but the shipping costs to South Africa are 9 times the selling price. The local options I had weren’t great quality. So I had one made.

Walking Wheelchairs

Many German Shepherd owners have changed the life of their dog living with HD by introducing them to a Walking Wheelchair.

These handy wheelchairs help dogs to play, run and explore and live a happy, healthy life. Good quality wheelchairs are bought already made and are height, length and width adjustable.

Walking Wheelchairs are more popular than one would imagine. I’ve even found a Facebook group that provides plans to build a Walking Wheelchair at home. 

I strongly considered a Walking Wheelchair for Charley. But she’s had an awful past which has made her timid of most things. I have learned to respect her boundaries and I know a Walking Wheelchair will cause her unhappiness. So it’s not an option for us.

Hip Surgery

A recent x-ray showed continued degeneration of Charley’s left hip, made worse by that old fracture. The strain this is putting on her right hip has brought me to the decision to go ahead with hip surgery.

There are several different hip surgeries available. But because Charley is older and her weight is controlled, our vet suggested a Femoral Head and Neck Excision.

In a nut shell, the head of the femur is sliced off. Then some fat is taken and worked into the hip socket. After this, the femur is placed at the correct depth and angle back into the socket. Over time and with proper healing this setup forms a new, artificial joint.

This surgery will improve Charley’s life and give us at least 3 to 4 more years together. So, the decision is really a no-brainer for me.

Charley is booked in for her surgery in early December, and Hindy has been kind enough to allow me to share an update post-op.

While we wait for the surgery, I’m educating myself on post-op recover treatments and I look forward to sharing her positive results and detail her post-op recovery.

 

This post was kindly written by Rosemary Dowell, the founder of German Shepherd Corner.  She lives in Sunny South Africa with her husband, 2 German Shepherds Charley & Zeze and her limited edition pup, Lexi. If she’s not inventing a new dish in her kitchen, pouring over the latest studies on dog behaviour or playing puzzle games with her dogs, you’ll find Rosemary at German Shepherd Corner, helping GSD owners train their dogs using force-free, science-based methods.  You can connect with Rosemary on Twitter @GSD_Corner.

why you need a pet stroller

Why You Need a Pet Stroller

why you need a pet stroller

By the end of this article I am convinced you’ll know why you need a pet stroller.

Why I would never be without one

When I first started seeing pet strollers, I admit I wasn’t crazy about the idea. To me it looked like nothing more than people wanting to show off their cute dogs, like a new accessory. Of course there are still those who treat them that way, but a pet stroller is so much more…indispensable in most cases I would say.

pet strollers are not just for senior dogs

Here are 3 examples of how important a stroller is to me

Red

Red is a 16 year old (approximately) blind Chihuahua/Min Pin cross we adopted 8 years ago. She’s able to walk, but not far and not for long. If we didn’t have a pet sitter we would take her with us on day trips, and my husband and I would take turns carrying her. She only weighs 9 lbs, but after a short while it soon felt like 50.

A few years ago I got it into my head that I needed a pet stroller for her, and I can only say I wish I had thought of it earlier. I can’t count the number of times we’ve used it, and how much easier and better it has made our lives. We’ve gone to the beach, I’ve used it when I wanted to do some power walking, and taken it on buses and trains to festivals and dog events.  

Jack

Jack is the first young dog we’ve ever had, and sometimes I join Jack and my husband when they go to the fields for a run around – yep sometimes they both run!! Anyway, after about an hour of that, especially if it’s a summer day, Jack is too hot and tired to walk all the way home, so he hops in the stroller until he re-charges, then walks the rest of the way…or not.

Unfortunately a few months ago he developed a different type of need for the pet stroller. On August 22, 2016 Jack went from walking to paralysed in a matter of hours. Emergency spinal surgery was followed by 8 days in the hospital, then strict instructions not to move. He was allowed out 5x a day, for 5 minutes and that was it.

Being such an active dog, I don’t want him to become depressed or frustrated, which is not fair to him, and I believe would hinder his recovery. With the neurologist’s permission I took him out in the stroller twice a day to see his two legged and four legged friends. I made sure it was low key so he would remain calm, and being out of the crate really perked him up. 

These are just 3 examples of how much I rely on my pet stroller, but keep reading for a host of other uses. 

21 reasons why you need a pet stroller

No more guilt

Of course you’re going to leave your dog alone sometimes, it’s not healthy to never leave their side. But…when he’s left behind on a family day out because it’s too hard to bring him along, a pet stroller will change all that.   

Senior dogs/arthritic dogs

Your dog may still be able to get around, just not as much as before – enter a pet stroller. Let your dog walk as long as he is able, then when he’s had enough, put him in the stroller. You both get exercise, a chance to enjoy fresh air and a change of scenery.

Festivals and large gatherings

If you’ll be at a large gathering such as a festival, keep him safe in crowds by putting him in a stroller. Little dogs can easily get stepped on, and even lash out when hurt, avoid confrontations with aggressive dogs, and keep him away from spilled drinks and dropped food that can make him sick.

Recovering from surgery, illness or injury

It can be very tough, and depressing being stuck in the house, and even more so for an active dog. He may not be allowed to walk, but he may be able to roll…smoothly. Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise, so ask your vet if it’s safe to take him out in a stroller. Left in the house to get depressed and frustrated will not help your dog (or cat) recover.  

Big city living

If you live in the heart of an extremely busy city with packed sidewalks, walking a dog can be challenging, especially if he’s small or nervous. Use a stroller to get to the park or quiet area, then again when you’re heading back into the chaos.  

Human with mobility issues

A dog’s human may have mobility issues, even temporarily, and find it difficult to take the dog out as often as they would like. Hopefully kind family, friends and neighbours are offering to walk the dog, but a stroller may help you get out with him at times as well.   

at the vets office in a pet stroller

Vet visits

If you live within walking distance of your vet, how easy is it to put your dog in the stroller, and take a walk? Exercise for you, no dealing with traffic, and environmentally friendly!

Even if you’re driving carriers are heavy, sometimes too heavy for some people to lift. Use the carrier for safe travels in the car, then transfer him to the stroller from the car to the office. Then when you can’t find a parking spot close to the entrance, it won’t matter.   

No more excuses not to exercise!

You have to walk your dog anyway, but if he can’t walk for long, or at the pace you’d like, bring the stroller with you. When he’s had enough, you can carry on. Why end your workout early?

To learn more about the importance of exercising our dogs (according to their abilities obviously!) this article written by Susan Nelson, Kansas State University veterinarian and assistant professor of clinical sciences, will be of interest. 

Multi dog households

One dog is going this way, the other that way; one is a speed demon, the other more sloth like. Another scenario that has “dog stroller” written all over it.

One quick point – if your dogs don’t walk nicely on a leash together, one on one leash training will help.

Jack getting off the train in a pet stroller

Traveling

If you’re off for a few days with the dog, a folding pet stroller is perfect. In and out of the car, unfamiliar sights and sounds, long days sightseeing, and some time spent people watching at an outdoor café. A stroller is perfect for any scenario!

More quality time for you and your pup

If your dog is in a stroller, it is more likely places that would not normally allow a dog, will be okay with this set up. Some shops are cool as long as you carry the dog, and don’t put them on the floor. Have you ever carried a dog while trying on shoes or clothes? I have, a 10 lb dog, and it was not easy. Another reason to get a pet stroller.

Transporting foster puppies or kittens

If you foster puppies or kittens and are constantly back and forth to the vet or shelter, you know how heavy a carrier can get. Imagine how much easier it would be to wheel them around?

Traveling on a boat or ferry

Some dogs don’t like the feel of the gangway surface (I know Jack doesn’t), and short of dragging them (which you should never do by the way!!), a stroller is the solution. If being on a boat is a new experience, a stroller can give him a feeling of security and make it a more pleasant voyage for everyone.   

Take your dog to work day

If your workplace has a “take your dog to work day” or you run your own business, a stroller will give your dog a den to rest in, and stop him from running riot. It’s also easier to wheel in what you need, than to carry a bed, blankets and supplies.

Visits to friends and family

If you’re visiting anyone with other pets or small children that may annoy your dog, the stroller will serve as a nice little escape.

happy they allow a pet stroller on the bus

Public transportation

I have seen many people on public transportation with crates, on their way to the vet. Imagine how much easier it would be if they had a stroller. We’ve been using public transport recently, back and forth the hospital and vet appointments with Jack. The taxi bills were mounting, as are the vet bills, so the bus and train are comfortable, cheaper options. 

Paw protection

We know what burning hot concrete feels like on our feet…that’s how it feels on your pets’ paws. Have you ever seen a dog react to salt on an icy pavement? Ever tried putting booties on them? Some dogs are happy wearing them, but of course mine are not!

Evacuation in case of emergency

Whatever the emergency, if you find yourself in a situation where you have to evacuate, a stroller may be the safest way to transport your pet. Your otherwise calm dog or cat can get pretty scared – attaching the safety clasp to the harness (found in most strollers), then zipping the stroller up completely, will keep him secured.

Taking an indoor cat…out

If you have an indoor cat, you’re probably always looking for ways to prevent boredom. Unless you’ve trained him to walk with a harness, a stroller is a great way to give him a change of scenery and some fresh air. Make sure the stroller you buy doesn’t have gaps he can escape through, and test how well he handles it indoors first. Put a harness on him, and clip it to the tether in the stroller for added safety.

Jack using the pet stroller for shade

Protection from the sun

Heatstroke is no laughing matter, and too much time spent outside in extreme temperatures, can be dangerous. A stroller will allow your dog to get some much needed exercise, and keep him safe from being out too long in the sun.

Meet new people

It’s true! Some people use a pet stroller as a way to meet new people, and I can say from experience it works. I can’t keep track of how many people stop us when we’re out, ask about the dog… Perfect if you’ve just moved to a new place and don’t know anyone, or you’re a bit shy approaching someone new. This is the perfect ice breaker.  

Styles and types of strollers

4 wheel – 3 wheel (basic and jogger strollers) – foldable (most fold but if it’s an important feature, be sure the model you’re looking at does) convertible (converts into a carrier, car seat and even a bike trailer) – double (side by side or double decker)

Features vary depending on type and style of stroller, but they can include:

  • Mesh panelling for air circulation and greater visibility
  • Padded handle for comfort
  • Fold down canopy that zips closed for security and protection from the elements
  • Cushioned pad for comfort
  • Cup holder(s) and tray for things like keys, phone, snacks…
  • Roomy storage basket underneath
  • Locking rear wheels
  • Safety clasp that hooks onto a collar or harness and acts as a tether
  • Front and rear entry
  • Foldable (with clip to prevent accidental opening)

How to choose the best pet stroller

Choosing the right stroller is not complicated, but it does require a bit of thought before making a purchase.

What size do you need?

Take some measurements of your pet. We never think it’s necessary because we’re sure we can eyeball them and know. Sometimes we can, sometimes we can’t!

Too small and your dog will be squashed, too big and he could be sliding around.

If you are buying a stroller for a puppy, unless you want to buy more than one to accommodate her growing size, buy the size appropriate for her as a full grown dog, and add a bed or some blankets so she’s not lost in there.

Weight of pet

Strollers have weight limits, so if you put a 30lb dog in a 20lb stroller, you risk damaging the stroller, and possibly injuring your dog if it collapses.

If your dog’s weight is at the maximum of the weight limitation, look for the next size up.

What will you use it for?

Jogging or hiking will require a different stroller than a walk around your neighbourhood of paved sidewalks.  

How many pets will use it at once?

If you have two pets using it at the same time, a single compartment stroller may be enough, depending on their size. Alternatively a side by side or dual compartment may be the solution.

Features and options

There are many handy features and options so think about their benefits to you.

  • Storage baskets
  • Bottle holder(s)
  • Trays for treats, snacks and cell phones
  • Wheel locks
  • Collapsible (with a clip to prevent it opening)
  • Safety tether that attaches to collar or harness
  • Mesh panels to keep out bugs and provide lots of air circulation
  • Adjustable/folding sun shade or canopy
  • Padded handle
  • Height of handle – is it adjustable
  • Zipper or zipperless
  • How many entry points

Versatility

Would you like to be able to walk on pavement, rough terrain and jog with your dog? One stroller may not be able to serve all purposes. The best thing to do is find the jogging stroller first, because a basic one for strolls in the park won’t do. Even if the jogger doesn’t suit all requirements, you can find a very inexpensive basic one for your neighbourhood walks.

Consider your budget

There is such a wide range of prices, you’re bound to find one that fits your budget. Nothing wrong with buying the least expensive option, but consider how often you’ll be using it and the quality of what you’re looking at. As we’ve all experienced, the cheapest can turn into quite an expense.

Your pet’s behaviour

You may know your pet well, but still have no idea how he’ll react to a stroller. Check for spaces he may be able to squeeze out of, put a harness and leash on when out, and attach the in stroller tether to the harness. Buy one that can be zipped up for extra security.

Try it out for the first time in your house, then backyard. If he’s okay, do a test run with a short walk around the neighbourhood before you go too far afield. As a precaution, I hold onto the leash when pushing the stroller, just in case. If something does happen you have a good hold on him.  

Why you need a pet stroller – conclusion

Whether or not pet strollers really started off as another way to turn your dog into an accessory is not something I have an answer for. What I do know is how much it can improve a senior dog’s quality of life, help those recovering from illness, injury or surgery, help keep you fit, protect paws and so much more.

I speak from personal experience, so believe me when I say what a lifesaver my pet stroller has been. From being able to include my senior dog Red in our outings, to taking Jack out while he recovers from spinal surgery, a pet stroller has been one of the best things I could have done for my dogs.

So was I right… do you now know why you need a pet stroller?

 

bedside dog ramp

OMG! The Best Dog Ramps Ever

CJ deluxe xl telescoping pet ramp

I am always surprised by the number of pet parents who have never heard of dog ramps.

Well, I’m on a mission to change all that!

It makes me very sad when I think of how many dogs have a lesser quality of life simply because they are older, when there is so much we can do to help.

A quick mention – they’re great for cats as well!!

Dog ramps – who will benefit?

In addition to the dog stroller I have, a ramp is another indispensable tool to help me care for my senior dog.  

If your dog is having some mobility issues, make it easier for him to access his favourite spots with a smooth walk up a ramp.

Perhaps you have some back troubles, and lifting even a small dog is physically challenging; a ramp is a great alternative. Even if you could pick him up, what happens when he’s ready to get down and you’re not around?

A ramp is also perfect for any dog recovering from surgery or injury. A ramp will help get them in and out of the car for their vet appointments, especially if they’re too big to lift on your own.  

Would you believe they’re also perfect for young and healthy dogs? If you have a dog that loves to take a flying leap off the couch, as I do, then you should be aware that over time, that can put a lot of stress and strain on their joints, which can lead to inflammation, injury and arthritis. Having them use the ramp, even if only sometimes, will go a long way to reducing some of that stress.   

Are you a groomer? Do you have dogs that you have trouble lifting onto your table? How about a ramp to help!

When/where can they be used?

  • Indoors and out…
  • Getting in and out of a boat, car, SUV
  • Up and down the steps to your front or back door
  • Use on a short flight of steps in your home
  • On and off the couch or bed
  • Help getting in and out of the pool
  • Assist dogs getting onto and off of a grooming table

Types of ramps to choose from

Ramps can roll, fold or slide, making them easy to store. Some are very lightweight, easy to assemble, and can hold up to 500 lbs (they have been used to load dirt bikes onto trucks!!).

Tips on choosing the right one

There is such a wide variety of dog ramps on the market, you will find one that meets your needs…but what are those needs?

Of course have a look around, but in order to make the best choice you’ll need to know what purpose it will serve.

Consider the following…

Are you looking for indoor or outdoor use, or both?

Do you want a ramp so your dog can get in and out of your bed easier? Your car?

What kind of car do you have? A van or SUV may require a different size/style than a small hatchback.

How big is your pet? The ramp you choose has to support his size and weight.

Incline – larger dogs can typically handle a steeper incline better than smaller dogs, but if you’re talking severe mobility issues, even a large dog may need a more gradual incline.

Training your dog to use it

Now that you’ve decided, you’re going to have to train your dog to use it. Some dogs will walk up the ramp right away without a single problem, while others will run and hide.

Best to introduce him to it slowly, because you want to set him up to succeed. 

Even though you know your dog really well, why not start off gradually just in case this is the one thing that freaks him out.

Start by laying it out flat on the floor, and let him walk around and check it out. If he’s food motivated (as mine always are thankfully!), put a treat near the ramp. After a few tries of that, put it on the ramp. You’re creating positive associations between himself and the ramp, so he’ll see that good things happen when he’s near it.

Try that a few times and see how he reacts. If he’s cool, you’re ready to set it up with a very, very gradual incline. Put a treat on it and see how it goes. You’ll be gradually increasing the incline until he’s happy to walk up it.

As it gets steeper, you can start putting a trail of treats all the way up, to encourage him to get to the top. That’s what I did when I was training an extremely fearful dog to use the ramp. She was petrified of a leaf moving, so it was challenging but it worked, so if it worked for her you shouldn’t have a problem if you take it in stages.

Now let’s check out the merchandise!!

Roll Up Pet Ramp


With a patented roll out, roll up design, it rolls up into its’ own washable nylon carry/storage bag, and is highly transportable.

Designed for dogs up to 160 lbs, the links are constructed of durable polypropylene, and strengthened with glass fibres, and the hinges are made of impact resistant polycarbonate.

It is available in two sizes – 10 links and 18 links. The 10 link is designed for vans with sliding side doors, two-door cars, and small sets of stairs, and the 18 link is designed for station wagons, most SUVs and small trucks.

Ribbed rubber footings on both ends provide stability, and textured strips provide added traction to each link.

Comes with a warranty, it is made in the USA.

Where to buy: Pet Street Mall

 

Wood Bedside Ramp

bedside dog ramp

I love this bedside ramp because our animals always sleep with us, so this is the perfect solution that allows them to get on and off whenever they need to.

I like that it’s long enough to provide a gentle incline, and fits nicely alongside a queen size bed, even with a night stand beside it.

It’s 25” so reaches a taller bed easily, with space at the top to allow your dog to move to and from the bed.

The ramp surface is carpeted, providing enough traction so there’s no worry about slipping. The wood and cherry finish should suit any décor, and it is easy to clean with carpet cleaner and wood polish.

It suits any pet up to 120 lbs, and assembles in about 15 minutes.

The dimensions are 70”L x 16”W x 25”H, and it is backed by a lifetime warranty.

Where to buy: Amazon

 

Deluxe XL Telescoping Pet Ramp

deluxe xl telescoping dog ramp

There are so many great features, but for me the best one is the extra length means a flatter angle for easier climbing. The extra width gives bigger dogs more room, and more confidence when using it.

This very stable ramp extends from 47”-87”. Open it fully for access into pickup trucks, SUV’s, even the grooming table!! Shorten for lower surfaces, or when space is an issue.

In spite of its’ size it only weighs 18 lbs, and supports over 300 lbs. 

No folding and unfolding, just slide it out to the desired length, and start using it. It comes with a carry handle and safety latch, so no accidental openings!

Where to buy: Amazon

 

Smart Ramp Jr.

Smart Ramp Jr dog ramp

Made with Shur-Foot™ (the same material OSHA requires for indoor/outdoor pedestrian safety), ensures a no slip surface, and the high rails in contrasting colour keeps pets securely on the ramp.

Non-slip feet at both ends keep the ramp in place, and weighing only 8 lbs, it’s lightweight enough for easy transport. The built-in handles make it easy to carry with dimensions of 39 1/2″L x 20″W.

Where to buy: Pet Street Mall

 

Doggy Boat Ladder

doggie boat ladder pet ramp

While the weather is still nice enough for boating, consider this doggy boat ladder for your next outing with the dog!!

The universal grip means it attaches to most boat ladders with three or more steps, and conveniently detaches and floats next to the watercraft when the boat ladder is needed by the 2 legged members of your party.

The doggy boat ladder is: rust and corrosion-proof; portable, lightweight and durable; UV resistant and easy to wash with soap and water.

It is 16” x 64”, folds in half and comes with a handle for easy carry and easy storage.

Although it floats, it should never be used as a flotation device, nor is it safe for human use.

Where to buy: Pet Street Mall

 

Collapsible Pet Ramp

collapsible dog ramp

This is not only convenient, but versatile as well! There are 3 adjustable heights, no assembly needed, and folds flat for easy storage under your bed, in a closet or even behind the couch.

Suitable for pets up to 125 lbs, it has a sturdy wooden frame with rubber soles for grip, and wheels for easy transport.

Where to buy: Amazon

 

Half Ramp II

half ramp II dog ramp

This ramp is one piece construction – no telescoping or folding so it’s nice and easy to use, not to mention less expensive. It weighs only 7 lbs, but can support weight up to 300 lbs. Rubber feet at each corner holds the ramp in place while your dog is walking up and down.

Covered in a non-slip carpet, it is comfortable and safe for your pet, not to mention easy to clean!

It is 17″ W x 39″ L and can help your dog reach heights up to 20″ such as a couch, or the side entrance of a minivan.

Where to buy: Amazon

 

UltraLite Bi-fold Pet Ramp

 

ultralite bifold pet ramp

You would expect something of this size to be heavy, but it is the lightest full size ramp on the market! Weighing in at only 10 lbs, this bi-fold ramp supports weight up to 200 lbs, and has a high traction surface.  

It comes with a safety release latch to prevent accidental opening, and four rubber feet for sure footing, not to mention a 1 year warranty.

Made in the USA, it is 62”L x 16”W x 4”D, and helps pets reach heights up to about 24”.

Where to buy: Pet Street Mall

Dog ramps – conclusion

Wow! I am really blown away by the incredible selection to accommodate all size pets, in a multitude of situations.

If you don’t have a ramp, I highly recommend you get one. Whether your dog is stiff from arthritis, recovering from surgery or an injury, has trouble reaching the grooming table, or is just one of those dogs that takes a flying leap off the couch (anyone named Jack around here!!), dog ramps are the answer.