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.”
In her first few months of life, Sookey was sick with puppy strangles, or juvenile cellulitis, and was nursed back to health by her loving foster mom. While in remission for puppy strangles, Sookey was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at 7 months of age. She recently completed an 8 week therapy program with Integrative Pet Care Hanover Park that primarily included underwater treadmill, exercise therapy, and laser therapy. She works hard for her peanut butter Kong! While we have seen improvement in her hips, Sookey will be continuing with another 8 week program.
“Sookey has been a wonderful patient and it has been a pleasure working with her and watching her improve. Sookey’s progress has shown that rehabilitation is an option and can be beneficial if surgery is not feasible. I am looking forward to working with her in the future.” -Dr. Jennifer Blake, DVM, CVA, CCRT
At home, Sookey loves to run and play with the squeakiest toys she can find and insists on greeting all the dogs in the neighborhood. She is currently in the 2nd level of training classes and recently became a proud big sister to baby Adeline! She is already a great protector and always keeps an eye on her new best friend.
“I started working with Sookey in February to help build up her hind limb muscles due to hip dysplasia. Sookey does an excellent job walking in the underwater treadmill. She learned quickly that a peanut butter kong helps make the time go by faster when she is getting her laser therapy! Sookey’s Mom and Dad are doing a great job with her at home!” -Anna, CVT, CCRA
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Sookey has asked us to tell you about Almost Home Foundation.
“We are an all volunteer, registered, not-for-profit 501c3 charitable organization dedicated to rescuing stray and abandoned cats and dogs. Our primary focus is to save those animals from our local area.”
Logan’s parents used to bring their elderly dog Cali for rehabilitation years ago, so they made an appointment right away when he was diagnosed with a partial tear of his cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). They were hoping to avoid surgery, so a program was started that included therapeutic exercise, underwater treadmill & laser. All was going well until he went a little too crazy in the snow and fully tore the ligament! Logan soon had surgery and came back to IPC for post-surgery rehabilitation.
“We adopted Logan from the Anti-Cruelty Society in July 2014 shortly after adopting our other dog Sinna. We don’t know much about his past, other than that he came from Mississippi and that he was afraid of EVERYTHING. He literally pooped his metaphorical pants the first time he heard our garage door and wouldn’t willingly leave our bathroom for the first week or so. But oh so slowly, he gained confidence and has turned into the biggest, most loving goofball. Don’t get me wrong—he is still afraid of random things like plastic bags and street signs, but we’ve come a long way.” Kris, Logan’s mom.
“If you were to look up ‘proud therapist’ in the dictionary, there would be a picture of me staring in amazement at Logan! He has overcome injuries, but most of all his confidence at IPC has soared. I look forward to giving Logan a new challenge in the gym or during his underwater treadmill sessions because he’s always ready to show me what he’s got!” -Laura Krill, CCRA
“Yes, we’ve seen great progress and no additional injuries, but also Logan LOVES his sessions at IPC. We have technically completed his post-operative rehab program, but I plan to take him to IPC as long as they’ll have us because it is truly his happy place. Nowhere else is he so elated, so confident, and so at ease, as working out in the gym with Coach Laura.” -Kris
You can follow Logan’s, and his sisters Riley and Sinna, latest shenanigans on Instagram under Land of Misfit Dogs!
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”.
Logan has asked us to tell you about a new project his parents started with ALIVE Rescue. Kris and Nate have gone above and beyond supporting local rescues and are building a shelter in Southern Wisconsin so ALIVE Rescue can further their mission!
Rocko is 12-year-old Weimaraner who participates in upland game hunting across the country. He has achieved the title of Master Hunter, which is the highest rank in hunt test events. Outside of his hunting adventures, Rocko was also a therapy dog who visited nursing homes, hospitals and libraries. Rocko’s mom Mary, who is a veterinary technician, noticed that he had a difficult time keeping his hind end up while standing and was reluctant to run. Being the self-proclaimed overly attentive owner, she consulted with the veterinarian she worked with who suggested rehabilitation therapy.
Rocko met with Dr. Amber Ihrke who prescribed a rehabilitation program which Rocko and his mom diligently followed. “Rocko is an active sporting dog who was showing progressive signs of rear limb weakness. The x-rays of his lumbar spine and pelvis were unremarkable, so his source of weakness was unknown. We started Rocko on a plan of manual therapy, hydrotherapy, therapeutic exercises and chiropractic adjustments and each week Rocko’s mobility, endurance and flexibility improved”, explains Dr. Amber Ihrke.
“Through rehab and the dedication of his owners with his home exercise program, Rocko returned to hunting without any problems or pain in his back. Rocko continues to see us at IPC through a maintenance program. Our goal is to keep an eye on him in order to decrease the likelihood of his back causing him problems in the future.” -Valerie Willaims, one of Rocko’s therapists.
“Rocko has graduated to a maintenance program and is doing well. He is running in the field much better and is playing with the other Weimaraners in the house. Our goal is to continue with therapy and home exercises so he can go on his fall hunt trip to South Dakota; I couldn’t be happier.” – Mary, Rocko’s mom
“Rocko knows that age is only a number; all he wanted to do was get back in the field and run. After completing his initial rehabilitation program, he is doing exactly that! He is a great example of what rehabilitation can give back to older guys. He may not be able to keep up with his baby brother, but he can run and play and do whatever he wants pain free”, gushes his biggest fan & therapist, Katie.
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Rocko has asked us to tell you about Cache Creek Animal Shelter.
Our mission is to rescue and adopt out as many dogs and cats as safely possible, regardless of their age, health (we still rescue if there are health issues) or breed. In an effort to help control the increasing pet population it is our policy that each animal we adopt out is spayed or neutered.
“We got MaeBelle from a local breeder when she was 9 weeks old. She is a very sweet and loving girl…all of our nieces, nephews and grandchildren tell her ‘no Mae – Mae stop’ because she can’t stop kissing them! Mae likes to take long walks, play with tennis balls, and swim when we go camping and boating. Because of her activity level, we were caught unaware with her diagnosis of hip dysplasia in January, as she never had a prolonged period of limping or lameness. We are still not sure what triggered her limping, but we are very grateful to her primary care veterinarian who believes she was most likely born with it.
We had worked with Integrative Pet Care in the past, so we did not hesitate to bring MaeBelle in to see Dr. Starr. The care she received has been extraordinary! Every treatment is broken down so we can understand it, but more importantly it’s tailor made so that Mae’s hips can tolerate it.
In the time she has been receiving treatment, we have noticed an improvement in her mobility that we didn’t even notice she was missing. She is now playing more with our other dog and is really enjoying our walks. A HUGE thank you to her team for being so patient with her and us, and for teaching us what we need to help keep MaeBelle healthy and happy…and slimmer!” -Laura, MaeBelle’s mom
“MaeBelle and her family have been such a pleasure to work with. She has shown tremendous improvement in her comfort in her hips, strength in her hind legs, overall fitness level, and her gait after just eight weeks of physical rehabilitation. These improvements have translated into a much happier and more active dog, and are a testament to the hard work of her owners as well as how much physical rehabilitation can improve the quality of life and function for dogs with hip dysplasia. We are thrilled that MaeBelle is able to start doing more normal activities like swimming, and are looking forward to being part of her continued success.” –Dr. Lisa Starr
“I have had the pleasure of working with MaeBelle since January of this year to help improve strength in her hind limbs due to hip dysplasia. MaeBelle has been a STAR patient throughout her therapy- she always comes to therapy ready to work!” –Anna, MaeBelle’s therapist
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. MaeBelle has asked us to tell you about as Good as Gold.
As Good as Gold – Golden Retriever Rescue of Illinois is dedicated to the rescue, care and adoption of Golden Retrievers and golden mixes who are in need. In addition, As Good as Gold educates Golden Retriever guardians and the general public about the importance of spaying/neutering, positive training methods, diet and exercise, appropriate medical treatment and humane care.
Symon was diagnosed with Intervertebral Disc Disease(IVDD) almost 4 years ago, so when his back pain started getting worse his mom wanted to do something more. “He still had his spirit and spunk, so I wanted to keep him strong and comfortable”, remembers Kristen. At the recommendation of Symon’s primary care veterinarian, Dr. Georgesen of Blum Animal Hospital, Kristen made an appointment with IPC. Symon met with Dr. Deanne Zenoni and Emma Widmark who created a treatment program that consisted twice weekly visits that focused on pain management and strengthening therapies.
Symon was suspicious of therapy at first, but soon learned that it meant lots of treats! His therapists taught his mom massage techniques and exercises she could do at home, which is something they still do to this day. After his initial 8 weeks of therapy, Dr. Zenoni thought he felt so good that he could go down to once weekly visits. Symon is now on a maintenance plan that consists of weekly underwater treadmill sessions and monthly acupuncture and therapeutic exercise & laser therapies.
“Symon is a super senior! I’m continually amazed by his abilities and efforts during his therapy sessions given his diagnosis. If I worked as hard as Sy does for a few lousy cheerios, I’d be in much better shape!” -Laura Krill
“As Sy is turning 14 this month, we are so incredibly grateful to have the support from our friends at IPC! I truly believe that Sy has the strength because of our therapy routine.” -Kristen, Symon’s mom
“Symon has done so well since starting therapy. He loves coming to see all of us, though he isn’t convinced the needles are necessary! He puts on a brave face and settles his head on his om’s lap while his acupuncture makes his back feel better.” -Dr. Zenoni
Kristen has had him since he was two months old and says he is the ultimate best buddy! “He is incredibly in tune with humans and his surroundings. I never have to worry about him wondering away because he always keeps tabs on me. He loves to be loved AND food treats!! He has managed to break into groceries and packaged food many times over the years…”
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Symon has asked us to tell you about CRISP.
CRISP is a new initiative that will pool the resources of eight local rescues to work in concert with Chicago Animal Care and Control to provide assistance and support for pet owners in need, divert owner surrendered animals to accredited rescues, and ultimately reduce the number of dogs surrendered at Chicago Animal Care and Control.
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!