CreakyPAWS

Oh, what we wouldn’t do for our animals. What they wouldn’t do for us! We go to great lengths to help each other, in good times and bad. Studies suggest that having a pet may help your arthritis; companionship of a pet can help relieve pain and reduce stress. But what about your pet’s health? Arthritis, which affects millions of people around the world, is a very common degenerative disorder among our four-legged friends, especially dogs and cats. How it pains us to seem our animals in pain! For that reason, we are expanding our discussion to include “CreakyPAWS”. At CreakyPAWS, we will focus on arthritis patients and their invaluable pets, and ways to care for arthritis animals including prevention, signs, and treatment options for arthritis and other related joint conditions. Stay tuned. We’re just getting started!

 

Meet Bob Hoak of Tampa, Florida and Jamaica, a Goldendor he’s training for people with  special needs through “Canine Companions for Independence” (www.cci.org) where “Help is a four-letter word!”

 
 CJ-CreakyPAWS IMG_4450  Bob Hoak of Tampa, Florida trains puppies for people with special needs

 


 

Matthew Kearns, DVM, is the top dog at the Countryside Animal Hospital in Port Jefferson  on his native Long Island, NY. Dr. Kearns has been practicing veterinary medicine for 17 years and has written about animals and arthritis as well as the positive health benefits of having a pet on his website, www.countysideportjeff.com. Dr. Kearns household includes a dog, Jasmine and a cat, The One-Eyed Guy.
 CJ-CreakyPAWS  Dr Kearns and dog  Dr. Matthew Kearns and veterinary care for your animals

 


 

Cara Zelas, shares her life with CreakyJoints Co-Founder Seth Ginsberg and Little Dude, their energizing bichon-shitzu mix. In part one of our interview with Cara, you’ll hear how Little Dude has changed their lives.
 CJ-CreakyPAWS Cara-Little Dude  Cara Zelas and Little Dude: Part 1

 
 CJ-CreakyPAWS Cara-Little Dude  Cara Zelas and Little Dude: Part 2


In part two of our interview, Cara Zelas talks about how she and little Dude have teamed up with the Good Dog Foundation (www.thegooddogfoundation.org)to reach out to special needs children in schools and hospitals.  Cara has a special place in her heart for children; she is a Montessori School Teacher in New York.

 

SEND US THE  PHOTOS OF THE ANIMALS IN YOUR LIFE!

Dogs, cat, birds, fish, turtles, horses, yes, even those entertaining squirrels! If they brighten your day, they will brighten ours!

 


 

 

Part 1: Dogs for Arthritis Patients

* What Can a Therapy or Service Dog Do for You?
* Why Are These Dogs Special?
* Making the Perfect Match
* How Much is That Doggie in the Service?
* Where to Go for Information
* Therapy with Your Own Pet

 

WHAT CAN A THERAPY OR SERVICE DOG DO FOR YOU?

It’s nothing new to see service dogs working with people who are visually impaired, helping them navigate on the street, keeping a protective watch on them at home. What you might not know is the number of other ways therapy and service dogs help people with all sorts of health conditions, including arthritis.

Therapy dogs provide companionship and therapeutic benefits at home. They receive obedience training and “positioning training” that helps them work with people who use walkers, canes, wheelchairs, and other assistance devices. They may be any breed and any size, including lap dogs.

Service dogs provide physical assistance, such as retrieving dropped objects; opening and closing doors, cabinets and the refrigerator; assisting with balance and aiding in physical therapy; even helping a person dress and undress. They typically are medium-sized dogs, such as golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and “Goldendor” crossbreeds.

 

WHY ARE THESE DOGS SPECIAL?

Dogs are chosen to become service dogs because of their intelligence and their temperament.

Generally speaking, when they are about 14 to 16 months old, the dogs enter a training program that lasts for six to nine months. Training varies depending on what the dogs will be asked to do. A dog trained to help a person with physical limitations will be able to respond to dozens of commands and to work in a variety of environments such as home, office, streets, parks and shopping malls. The dogs are housebroken, given obedience training, and taught proper household “manners.”

Even after they’ve been placed with a human partner, the dogs and their partners return for refresher courses and reviews from time to time.

Some organizations train dogs to meet an individual’s specific needs. This can include people with hearing impairment, those who are subject to seizures caused by diabetes or epilepsy, and/or those who have a combination of chronic conditions.

 

MAKING THE PERFECT MATCH

Like any life partner relationship, pairing a therapy or service dog with an arthritis patient takes time. From the completion of your application for a service dog to final approval can take six months or more. Most programs have waiting lists. Even when you’re at the top of the list expect to wait a few months more before your dog becomes available.

Once you’re paired with a dog, you’ll have to go through training to learn how to work with your dog. Every great partnership is based on teamwork, and that takes patience and practice.

 

HOW MUCH IS THAT DOGGIE IN THE SERVICE?

Some programs charge fees for service dogs; some don’t. Some charge non-refundable application fees; some don’t. Considering that it takes thousands of hours and thousands of dollars to train a service dog, modest fees seem like fair compensation.

In almost all cases, once you’ve been paired with a dog , you will be responsible for his or her food, upkeep, veterinary care, and the expenses that go along with pet ownership.

 

WHERE TO FIND INFORMATION

These websites can help you find an organization that trains and provides service dogs in your area:

Assistance Dogs International: www.assistancedogsinternational.org

Canine Companions for Independence: www.cci.org

Every program has different rules and requirements for people seeking therapy and service dogs.

Many service and therapy dog providers have programs designed specifically for veterans.

THERAPY WITH YOUR OWN PET

Simply spending time with a pet has therapeutic benefits. Even if your dog isn’t trained to do anything more than accept a good belly scratch, she’s helping you in all sorts of ways. Taking you out for walks, for instance.

“You have to make sure you walk a dog every day, twice a day,” says Cara Zelas, who’s married to CreakyJoints co-founder Seth Ginsberg. Their mixed-breed dog Little Dude keeps Seth moving every day,

as Cara explained in a recent CJ Wrap. “Seth is the one who takes Little Dude for a walk in the morning. It gives Seth an opportunity to get out and stretch his legs.”

As an arthritis patient, you might tend to avoid a daily walk around the block. That’s something a dog won’t let you do, no matter how creaky you’re feeling.

 

Part 2: Canine Arthritis

* Pay Attention to These Signs
* Is it Arthritis?
* Why Your Dog?
* What Your Vet Can Do
* What You Can Do

 

CANINE ARTHRITIS

You notice something’s unusual the first time your dog hesitates before jumping up alongside you on the couch or can’t manage more than a trot at her favorite off-leash park. Is she simply too mature to frolic or could her behavior be an indication of canine arthritis?

20% of adult dogs and 80% of geriatric dogs (over age 8) develop canine osteoarthritis.

 

PAY ATTENTION TO THESE SIGNS

* Walking stiffly, limping, or favoring certain limbs
* Showing stiffness or discomfort when getting up from a lying-down position
* Displaying lameness in certain limbs
* Showing discomfort in certain positions
* Appearance of stiffness, soreness or swelling in joints
* Seeming to experience pain when touched in certain areas
* Being hesitant to run, jump or climb stairs.

In a CJ Wrap, Matthew Kearns, DVM, of Countryside Animal Hospital in Port Washington, New York, said, “Is your pet having a difficult time getting comfortable in the evening, especially when it’s time to go to bed? If they sleep in or near your bed, are they constantly getting up or down? It could be a sign of chronic arthritic pain.”

 

IS IT ARTHRITIS?

If you suspect your dog is suffering, bring her to the vet for a checkup that will include a physical exam, diagnostic tests, and a radiograph to determine the cause of her pain. “There are many different

diseases that cause lameness and pain,” Jeff Kahler, DVM, wrote in the Modesto Bee “Your Pet” column (April 14, 2014). “It should never be assumed that because your companion is showing such symptoms that he has arthritis. I have seen patients that were ‘diagnosed’ with arthritis and ended up having a bone tumor. Make sure if your companion is showing lameness or pain in his body you seek your veterinarian’s care.”

 

WHY YOUR DOG?

According to the ASPCA, certain breeds of large dogs, such as mastiffs and Great Danes, are susceptible to arthritis. Beyond that, whether your pet develops arthritis could be the luck of the draw. Same as for people. Contributing factors include:

* A joint infection, dislocation, or trauma
* An injury to bones, ligaments, tendons, or muscles
* An inherited condition such as hip dysplasia
* Obesity
* Aging and natural erosion of cartilage

 

WHAT YOUR VET CAN DO

Your vet might prescribe antibiotics, painkillers, and/or anti-inflammatory medication for your dog. He also might recommend nutritional supplements that replenish cartilage. “There’s been a shift in veterinary medicine as in human medicine toward using holistic approaches, like supplements instead of medication,” Dr. Kearns told CreakyJoints. Physical therapy might also be recommended. Some veterinarians offer acupuncture for dogs to relieve arthritis pain.

Other things your vet will probably recommend: healthy diet and regular, low-impact exercise. Movement strengthens your dog’s muscles and—once the joints “warm up”—provides some relief from pain.

Never give your pet arthritis medication intended for humans!

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

* Walk with your dog regularly. (It’s good for her and for you.) Play with her gently to encourage movement. Swimming is also good, gentle exercise for dogs with arthritis. Avoid vigorous, high-impact activity such as running or playing fetch.
* If your dog is obese, ask your vet to suggest a healthy weight loss program for her.
* Place food and water bowls on a low table, crate or platform to reduce the strain on her neck and spine.
* Groom areas of her body that are hard for her to reach.
* Use a portable dog ramp to help her into the car, the bed, or other areas she can only access by jumping or climbing.