Sasha is a 15 year old chow mix who first pranced through our doors hoping to find relief for her arthritis which was starting to slow her down about 5 years ago. She was prescribed a treatment plan which consisted of twice weekly strengthening modalities such as resistance pool and exercise, as well as acupuncture, massage and laser therapy which were used for pain management. Sasha began to improve, so she was put on a once weekly program and underwater treadmill was added.
Her mom Beth gave us history on Sasha, as well as a glimpse into her daily life: “I went to the Anti-Cruelty Society on Grand Ave. in May 2003 because they had advertised some cute puppies on the news. I told myself I wouldn’t adopt unless a dog really made an impression on my heart. When I got there, all the puppies were gone so I took a lap around all the cages. None of them seemed right for me. As I was leaving I took a look in the waiting area and spotted a lady and her son playing with a little peach fuzzball. That lady had my dog! As fate would have it, they put her back. I swooped in and took her from her cage and sat with her. She was mine from the first moment and has been my precious best friend for 15 years.
Sasha starts pacing at 6:30am which is my alarm clock. I start my coffee and line up her many pills to shove down the chute (she doesn’t fall for the “pills wrapped in something yummy trick”). She’s loaded into the wagon for a ride to the park to see her neighborhood friends. (She can’t walk to the park and back anymore so we need a little help from the wagon everyday). Once we’re done socializing and I get ready for work, she’s off to daycare (Pooch hotel) where she gladly comes to hang out with her “school friends.” She hangs there while I work. I pick her up, get her daily report and head home in time for dinner. It’s a long day for her so she snoozes most of the evening, gets endless kisses and hugs from mom, a couple chews on her beloved bully sticks, with her ice packs on her back and the Assisi loop targeted at her poor joints. Last pills of the day and off to bed.
Sasha has had joint issues, elbows and rear legs since she was 6 yrs old. She had a TPLO surgery on back right leg, cruciate ligament on left rear leg, an elbow replacement on her front right elbow and two arthroscopic procedures in her left front elbow to remove bone fragments from osteoarthritis. Needless to say my girl has had a rough go on all four legs— mobility and limited pain relief options—brought our Vet to recommend IPC. And I’m so glad she did!
With Sasha’s all four limbs being affected with stiffness and pain and her limited options with pain medications, we had to explore other ways to manage her pain and assist her with mobility so she can live her best life. Sasha immediately fell in love with Emma and will do anything she asks Sasha to do and Dr. Zenoni has given Sasha such care. Sasha has done water treadmill, laser therapy, floor exercises, laser therapy, tens machine and acupuncture. Regardless of the therapy, Sasha is willing to try it all if Emma and her I ask her to. Liver treats don’t hurt either!
IPC has been a godsend and a necessary part of her life for the last 3 years.
Sasha has beaten the odds all her life. Within a month of adopting her at 10 weeks old, she contracted parvovirus and was given a 50/50 chance of survival. It was a rough beginning but she made it through and has withstood 10 surgeries for her many joint and other ailments throughout her life. Through it all, she has faced every hurdle with bravery, sweetness and some of that Chow stubbornness. I’ve learned so much about life and myself through her eyes and in a blink 15 years has passed by. I thank God everyday that she’s my girl—I just couldn’t have pictured my life without her.”
Sasha is a special lady who I look forward to seeing every week. She has been through so much and I’m proud to be part of her team! -Emma, Sasha’s therapist
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Since she is a sassy senior herself, Sasha has asked us to tell you about Young at Heart.
Young at Heart’s mission is to rescue and rehome senior dogs and cats, to educate the public on the benefits of adopting older pets and their care, and to reduce the euthanasia rate for adoptable senior pets.
There are a number of benefits that swimming in our resistance pool can provide whether for a dog on the mend or a canine athlete looking to maintain endurance.
“There are a lot of reasons I prescribe the resistance pool,” explains Dr. Zenoni. “There’s an overall increase in cardiovascular circulation as well as elbow flexion. Being in the pool allows the muscles more range of motion. Dogs with shoulder, elbow, or carpus issues tend to be good candidates for this type of modality.”
Swimming in the resistance pool is also good for amputees as gaiting can sometimes be difficult in the underwater treadmill. Dogs that are experiencing stiffness may find that sessions in the pool release some of that tension when they are able to float and relax their muscles. The therapist working with a patient like this may choose to guide the dog in gentle range of motion or massage while in the pool to ease muscle tightness.
The pool is also a great conditioning tool for active/athletic dogs.
“It’s a way to build muscle and work on stamina as well as overall body conditioning,” says Dr. Zenoni. Laura Krill, CCRA, likes the versatility the resistance pool can offer for patients. “For stronger patients, we might do a session without the life jacket on so that they are using more of their own body to keep them afloat. Weights or a resistance band can also be used to make it a little more challenging. On the other end, our more geriatric patients can benefit from the massage jets.”
It is important to have a rehabilitation veterinarian evaluate each patient to determine if their condition would be appropriately managed by therapeutic swimming. “There may be circumstances, health or orthopedic, that can hinder the resistance pool’s effectiveness,” states Dr. Zenoni.
“Reese was born June 1, 2013 and was part of a six-puppy litter. All his litter mates compete in, and totally love, the game of agility. Reese is no exception.
Earlier this year we noticed that Reese was not performing as well as he once had. A friend suggested taking Reese to Integrative Pet Care. We chose to bring him to the Homer Glen location.
After the initial analysis, it was determined that Reese had a complex shoulder issue/injury. Doctor Amber Ihrke and Valerie the therapist at the Homer Glen location devised a four-week plan that would strengthen and develop the shoulder. By the end of the four-week session, Reese had a lot more flexibility and mobility in that shoulder and was very comfortable putting more weight on the affected area.
He is now back to competing in agility and looks great. We are very happy with everything that was done for Reese by the Integrative Pet Care team.”
– Bill & Linda, Reese’s parents
“Reese came to us for continued soreness with his shoulder that was hindering his ability to participate in agility. His examination revealed decreased weight bearing on his right front leg and discomfort with his supraspinatus and biceps tendon. He was diagnosed with a right supraspinatus tendinopathy. Reese was treated with therapeutic ultrasound and therapeutic exercises. After four weeks, he had improved weight bearing on his right front leg and the client had not noticed any lameness. Today, Reese is back doing the activity he loves…. agility!”
“Reese worked very hard at IPC and did everything we asked as long as a treat was involved. His dad was very dedicated to him and his exercise program. Together they were an amazing team and fun to work with.”
– Tiffany Helphingstine, CCRA
“Reese is a very sweet and quite guy who was up for anything as long as his dad was around to cheer him on. He was active in agility but had to take break due to a front limb injury. Reese and his dad were both hard workers which made working with them a breeze! With ultrasound, therapeutic exercises, and manual therapy Reese was able to continue to compete in agility with improving function of the front limb.”
– Katie Fitzgerald PT, DPT, CCRP
“Reese was a great patient! He was a working dog that performed agility and he came to us because pain and lameness in his right shoulder. After performing therapeutic ultrasound to provide deep heat to his shoulder, I used manual therapy to decrease the trigger points and pain and improve his range of motion. Reese made great progress with his manual therapy and therapeutic exercise sessions. Through the commitment of his owner to his home exercise program and rehab at IPC, Reese could return to his agility trials without any problems or re occurrence of his symptoms. Reese now sees me monthly for manual therapy sessions to maintain his mobility and range of motion so he can continue to complete in agility without limitations.”
-Valerie Williams, PT, DPT, ATRIC, CCRP
Make a Difference
This month, Reese has asked you to check out Central Illinois Sheltie Rescue! You can learn more about them on their website at http://www.illinoissheltierescue.com/
To ensure the highest quality of care at IPC, our vets and therapists complete rehabilitation certification programs and take part in continuing education courses to keep up with the newest developments in animal rehabilitation.
Our doctors attend continuing education opportunities hosted by organizations such as the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians, the International Association for Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy, International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, American Veterinary Medical Association and others.
“With many of these conferences, you have the choice of focusing on one specific topic or attending a variety of lectures,” explains Dr. Zenoni. “These are excellent opportunities to see what’s new in the world of animal rehabilitation and to see if there are improved techniques we can learn and implement in our own practice.”
IPC doctors and therapists complete certification courses through the Canine Rehab Institute, Healing Oasis or University of Tennessee/Northeast Seminars. Each program combines lecture and hands-on learning to prepare the students for a certification exam. Courses focus on anatomy, therapeutic modalities, physical conditions/injuries, neurological issues and biomechanics. Certification students for CRI and UTenn also complete an externship and case studies. “Students should have a firm grasp on identifying muscles and their purpose as well as common neurological and orthopedic terms and how they would explain them to clients,” explains Lindsey, who recently completed coursework through CRI.
Therapists certified in canine massage complete intensive hands-on training through Chicago School of Canine Massage, along with case studies and an exam for certification.
“Continuing education is also required to maintain certification,” says Erin Kowalski, NCCMT, CCRA. “Course topics can be anything related to animal health, so it could be things like energy work or hospice education. There’s such a variety to choose from.”
As animal rehabilitation continues to grow and advancement continues in veterinary medicine, the staff at IPC strives to stay abreast of the latest information. Dr. Zenoni believes “staying up to date on the most recent developments in the field helps us provide the best quality of care to our patients.”
In addition to attending certification and CE courses, some IPC staff members teach for CRI & Healing Oasis along with providing one-on-one mentorship to veterinary students from across the country and rehab certification students through CRI and UTenn (Chicago and Hanover Park). Learn more about these opportunities.
The use of orthotic and prosthetic devices for animals is increasingly common in veterinary medicine as we see that mobility and quality of life for our pets go hand in hand. We are proud to partner with OrthoPets to provide our patients with quality, custom-made assistive devices.
There are a variety of conditions that may benefit from an assistive device including limb abnormalities, injury and post-operative support. No matter the condition of the patient, eligibility and prescription for an orthopedic device is determined by an IPC veterinarian.
Our initial comprehensive evaluation allows the veterinarian and therapist to have a thorough understanding of each patient’s condition, as well as the goals and limitations of the client.
Once a device is prescribed, a fiberglass impression of the affected limb is created. Photos, video and measurements are also taken to demonstrate how the animal moves and show all weight-bearing angles. The fiberglass impression and all information is then sent to OrthoPets for consultation. The device is fabricated by OrthoPets and shipped back to Integrative Pet Care.
The next step in the process is to fit the new device to the patient and help the family learn how to incorporate the device into day-to-day life.
“It’s important for owners to understand that these devices are often meant for the duration of the pet’s life and they will likely have to wear it all of the time,” says Dr. Zenoni.
Proper fitting of the device is assessed in the initial fitting appointment as well as subsequent appointments. If there are issues with the device in day-to-day wear, such as sores developing and skin irritation, or if the pet shows discomfort in wearing their device it is important to communicate this to the veterinarian right away.
“We need to be able to correct the problem as soon as possible so the brace isn’t causing any undue harm.”
Finally, a custom rehabilitation program is prescribed in conjunction with the orthotic or prosthetic device. “Rehab allows for the best chances of success with the brace, in that it helps the animal become acclimated to the device, helps with strengthening and facilitates healing,” Dr. Zenoni explains.
Contact us at Integrative Pet Care if you are interested in learning more about our options for custom assistive devices. We work in partnership with OrthoPets.
Taking on an animal with special needs is definitely a challenge, but it’s worth it to help improve the life of an animal! These pets usually need more attention at home, may require ongoing veterinary care and sometimes even need the help of assistive devices, such as carts, orthoses/prostheses or special harnesses. Pet owners often adjust their own lives to accommodate the needs of their companion. Erin Kowalski, one of IPC’s Animal Rehabilitation Therapists and founder of Bialy’s Wellness Foundation, has fostered many special-needs animals and has a special-needs dog of her own named Josh.
Josh was paralyzed as a puppy and has spent most of his life in a cart. By now, it’s just as much a part of him as any other part of his body and he moves in it with speed and ease! To accommodate Josh and his cart, Erin has made some changes to her home. Erin keeps carpeted tiles laid out over her hardwood floors in the main areas to provide traction and has Josh’s cart outfitted with bumpers so if he takes a tight turn, both the wall and the dog are protected. When not in his cart, Josh has his own room which is organized specifically for him.
“Organization is essential,” Erin explains. “His room is heavily padded so when he moves, the impact on his hind legs isn’t that intense. The drawers contain basic first aid, potty pads, diapers, extra blankets, and, most importantly, toys.”
While Erin doesn’t have to get up on cold winter mornings to take Josh out to potty, she is mindful of when she needs to express his bladder.
“Routine is very important when you have a specially-abled animal. Since Josh has trouble going on his own, I need to express him on a regular basis. If I don’t, he is at a higher risk for Urinary Tract Infection’s.” She keeps Josh on a diet made up primarily of raw food and supplements to help maintain a firm stool. “It’s just an easier clean-up!”
The extra work and accommodations are well worth it.
“Everything I do for Josh, is repaid tenfold in the love and companionship he provides me.”
The sports and conditioning program at Integrative Pet Care is for active dogs who are expected to perform at a competitive level. This includes dogs that participate in agility trials, flyball, dock diving, herding, rally obedience and athletic activities. The aim of this program is to achieve peak performance and reduce the risk of injury.
During a sports and conditioning evaluation, Dr. Deanne Zenoni looks for a number of different factors:
“It’s important to look for muscle imbalance, asymmetry, restrictions in movement and compensatory changes.”
Hydrotherapy can be a beneficial modality for treating a variety of conditions in dogs including mobility issues, recovery from surgery or injury, degenerative joint disease or arthritis and neurological conditions.
The buoyancy of the water reduces stress on the joints, so the patient can move more comfortably. Hydrotherapy sessions also help to build and maintain muscle mass, which is often compromised after surgery. Moving against the resistance of the water works the muscles efficiently and builds strength.
“The warm temperature helps warm up tissues thereby increasing range of motion,” explains Dr. Zenoni.
We are VERY excited to announce our 3rd Annual Pet Food Drive Competition benefiting the Friendship Pet Pantry!
We are in friendly competition with Animal Medical Center of Chicago and North Center Animal Hospital to see who can gather the most pet food by weight!
This drive is for an incredible cause, spearheaded by the wonderful people at Friendship Pet Pantry- whose mission it is to keep pets in their loving homes even when financial struggles hit. By providing much needed food to families in need, beloved cats and dogs can stay with their families where they belong.
This is such important work and we are very proud to be part of supporting the Friendship Pet Pantry. Will you help us?
You can make a monetary donation online and your donation will be used to purchase food for Friendship Pet Pantry:
You can also drop off unopened and unexpired cat and dog food- cans and bags of any size at any of the following locations:
Integrative Pet Care (Chicago) 2520 W Armitage Ave, Chicago
Integrative Pet Care (Hanover Park) 1920 Ontarioville Rd, Hanover Park
Premier Veterinary Group (Chicago) 3927 W Belmont Ave, Chicago
Premier Veterinary Group (Grayslake) 1810 E Belvidere Rd, Grayslake
Premier Veterinary Group (Crestwood) 13715 S Cicero Ave, Crestwood
(Please note: Friendship Pet Pantry has indicated that they have a particular need for canned cat food)
Thank you for your continued support!
Join Erin Kowalski, CCRA, NCCMT at our Chicago clinic to learn safe and simple massage techniques for your pet. Pet massage has many benefits including stress reduction, improved circulation, strengthened bond, observation of changes in your pet’s body which may lead to early detection of new problems and pain relief.
Cost for 1 pet and 1 parent is $80, all proceeds go to Bialy’s Wellness Foundation. A reservation is required for this class and space is limited so please contact us to guarantee a spot.
Providing families and rescue organizations with special needs animals the equipment, medical care, rehabilitative therapy, training, resources and support necessary to optimize the quality of life of their wonderful animals. Our mission is only possible from the generosity of our supporters. Bialy’s Wellness Foundation’s goal is to provide assistance to our sponsored animals for life. Please consider making a donation so that we can continue to provide sponsorship to special needs animals. www.bialyswellnessfoundation.org