When it comes to pain in cats, it’s sometimes difficult to know if your feline friend is experiencing discomfort. As they age, cats are susceptible to a variety of ailments, some of which can cause mobility issues while others can result in the need for surgery. Arthritis, for instance, is something that occurs commonly in cats, especially as they advance in years. Whether as a result of an injury or overall wear and tear, arthritis is the deterioration of cartilage within the joint, which causes the bones to rub together. This rubbing is often painful and can negatively affect a cat’s behavior.
“Doogie’s acupuncture/chiropractic treatments helped him gradually go from a low-key, sickly cat that mostly slept all day to a playful, curious little dude who had a swagger in his step and sparkle in his eye.”
– Jen, Doogie’s mom
When cats experience discomfort due to arthritis or other issues such as fractures or deformities, they may start to develop an avoidance to the litter box or lessen the frequency of their grooming as the movement required to do these activities causes them pain. They may find hiding spots or start to vocalize to indicate that something isn’t right.
“Eos, who suffers from a congenital malformation of the pelvic limb, has chiropractic and laser treatments to keep her functioning and pain free. We were given hope that she could adapt to her condition and live a quality life.”
– Denise, Eos’s mom
Maximizing your cat’s quality of life and offsetting the effects of arthritis, other degenerative ailments, or post-surgery aches and pains can be managed through physical rehabilitation. Modalities such as Acupuncture can increase circulation and help release chemicals known as neurotransmitters which decrease pain. Acupuncture can also help with the treatment of allergies, kidney disease and organ dysfunction. Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy (or “Chiropractic”) can help improve mobility and is often times used in conjunction with Therapeutic Massage to maximize these effects. Use of Therapeutic Laser helps reduce inflammation and is also key in managing pain.
“Our cat, Natasha, has osteoarthritis and after treatment (acupuncture, massage, and laser) her left, front paw limp is almost undetectable. She is able to jump up on a chair, something she was unable to do before treatment.”
– Penny, Natasha’s mom
At Integrative Pet Care, we want to equip cat owners with their own tools to help their beloved feline when they can’t be here. Our therapists can give Massage and Therapeutic Exercise demonstrations, where owners learn techniques to manage their pet’s comfort and continue their therapies at home. When it comes to overall wellness, IPC provides many options for therapies that can improve the quality of life for a cat that is suffering from illness, injury or the effects of old age.
“When Tommy developed Stomatitis, he went from 11.5 pounds to 8 in under three months. IPC developed a treatment regiment and schedule which included acupuncture/ chiropractic sessions. It took work and patience, but within a year, Tommy was healthy enough for surgical treatment to treat the Stomatitis.”
– Kitty, Tommy’s mom
Speaking of cats…
Did you see our December 2015 Chicago Patient of the Month, Puck? Check him out!
Nina is a sweet, 8 yr old German shepherd. Nina’s owners adopted her as a puppy from a
shelter in Indiana. She enjoys long walks, playing stick or catch, snuggling with her siblings, (Travis & Isabelle as pictured) mom and dad, and of course being spoiled by her papa. Nina herniated a lumbar disc that left her unable to walk or move without a lot of pain and crying. Amy & Alex took Nina to see a neurologist who wanted to do surgery right away, but after some research and consulting with Dr. Amber at IPC we decided to try therapy. At first she was only able to do E-Stim with the tens unit (and got an awesome haircut- see picture) because of the pain. With some time she was able to add to her plan; manual therapy, underwater treadmill, ROM stretching, acupuncture, and exercises. Dr. Amber and Valerie soon discovered she does anything for peanut butter! It was a long process to get her feeling better, but well worth it. She is now able to go on her walks again and continues to do her stretching and exercises at home to continue with her recovery.
“We are so thankful for Dr. Amber and Val and all the work they put into helping Nina get better! We have nothing but good things to say about IPC and what they did for our fur baby and are forever grateful.”
-Amy and Alex, Nina’s parents
“When Nina came to Integrative Pet Care she was in a lot of pain and facing surgery, with our treatment plan and the dedication of her owners, Nina is a happy, healthy dog today. I am so proud of her and her success. “
-Dr. Amber Ihrke, Nina’s IPC veterinarian
“Nina is a great example of how much rehab can help a dog in pain. Nina came to IPC in so much pain that she cried any time she moved and we could barely touch her during her evaluation without her crying or yelping. Initially, Nina’s owners were given a TENS unit to use every day on Nina at home to decrease her pain level. Within a few sessions, Nina’s pain had significantly improved to allow me to perform manual techniques to decrease her trigger points, muscle spasms and improve her overall range of motion. With the help of Nina’s diligent owners and her therapy at IPC, we were able to return Nina to her old self. She quickly progressed from a dog that couldn’t move without pain to one that would drag her owners into her therapy sessions. My most memorable moment working with Nina is when she came into therapy one day barking and jumping around, acting like she was a young pup. I couldn’t believe she was the same dog we saw at her initial evaluation. Working with great dogs like Nina while helping to improve their lives and happiness is one of the greatest rewards of
Valerie Williams, PT, DPT, ATRIC, CCRP
Make a Difference
Nina would like us to tell you about German Shepherd Rescue, Inc. If you are able to make a donation in her name to them, it would make her day!
German Shepherd Rescue, Inc. is a growing group of volunteers committed to creating a second chance for German Shepherd dogs that, for many reasons, are in need of new homes.
GSR, Inc. is a state licensed, NO KILL animal shelter based in the Chicagoland area.
We are a 501(c)3, non-profit organization. Our income is derived from adoption fees, private donations and fund raising activities, all of which go to care for the dogs.
At Integrative Pet Care we see pets with a diversity of conditions and all of our patients inspire us with their resilience, but our three-legged “tripods” consistently amaze us with their tenacity and joy for life! With some basic lifestyle modifications and a customized rehabilitation plan, tripods can live happy, comfortable lives.
Some three-legged pets are born with congenital abnormalities such as complete or partial lack of a limb. There are also several disorders that can necessitate amputation of a limb, such as traumatic injury or cancer. At IPC we see pets who are missing either front or back limbs and we even see a patient who is missing one of each!
Aala balances herself on the theraball with ease (and the help of a treat)
Tripods face unique challenges in mobility due to alterations in balance and increased load to their remaining limbs. At IPC we focus on therapies that improve balance, strengthen core muscles, maintain healthy joints and soft tissues and stay fit to avoid injury. Home care and proper assistive devices can also help tripods with their mobility. Non-slip floor coverings and harnesses can make a big difference in these pets’ lives (see links below for resources).
After her front limb amputation, Aala adjusted almost immediately, taking on stairs only 12 to 24 hours after surgery. Her parents on the other hand had a more difficult time adapting both to Aala’s new challenges as well as their own uncertainty.
“She had an odd stride in her back legs after the amputation and after ruling out anything medical, it was suggested we try rehabilitation. However, while she has become so much stronger and her stride is now seamless and strong, a lot of the rehab process seemed to help us the most. The whole amputation process was a complete unknown for us. We had no idea what was normal adaption, what changes we should expect or what was okay to do or not do, both for her physically and for us as her caregivers. We learned how to better care for her (at IPC) and also it helped us see all that she could do, despite the surgery. When you go through such a big surgery, seeing all these abilities keeps spirits high.”
-Stewart, Aala’s dad
Henry rests during his session in the resistance pool
Henry, a 13 year old pit mix, is a survivor. This guy has been through a lot, including a cruciate ligament tear and several cancer diagnoses. In 2012, Henry’s left hind limb was amputated due to bone cancer and 11 weeks later he came to IPC. His mom had already made a few modifications for Henry, adding recycled tire tread to the stairs in their home and a harness to assist him. We started working on strengthening Henry’s core and remaining 3 legs with targeted Therapeutic Exercises and walks in the Underwater Treadmill. Henry eventually transitioned to swims in the Resistance Pool and continues to receive Massage and Acupuncture treatments to keep him moving comfortably.
“He’s an incredibly strong dog to start with, so I knew once we began targeting his core muscles and working on his balance he’d respond well. I feel like he’s more confident on the stairs, which is huge since we live on the third floor of a walk-up! IPC gave me the great idea of covering my hardwood floors with yoga mats, and now he can zoom around the house without worrying about slipping.”
–Christine, Henry’s mom
IPC regular and dog-trainer, Emily Stoddard, recently added a new member to her pack- Belgian malinois, Falcor. At 6 months old Falcor had a partial front limb amputation due to trauma of an existing congenital abnormality. Falcor has adapted well to being 3-legged and his swims in the pool keep him strong. To manage the tension he gets from compensating for his amputation, Falcor has Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy (VSMT or “Chiropractic”) as well.
Fal sleeps off his hydro session
“Don’t know what to say other than my tri is awesome! Everyone that meets him feels bad for him, but what they don’t know is that he is the smartest problem solver of my crew with a personality to match.
He doesn’t miss his leg one bit! Falcor is busting stereotypes training to do agility, nose work, and protection sports, so you can see it also doesn’t prohibit him from doing the things he loves. Three legs and he still out runs most every dog he comes across! Out smarts them too! People gave up on Fal, thinking he wouldn’t amount to much due to his birth defect. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to prove them wrong!”
-Emily, Falcor’s mom
Bopper, a young English lab, sustained a traumatic injury while in his original household that required a left front limb amputation. A month after surgery, he found his forever home and his owners brought him to IPC for an evaluation and to learn what maintenance therapies he would need to stay strong. Some modifications to Bopper’s lifestyle helped him to increase his mobility, including a weight loss plan. Maintaining a slim physique is extremely important for all pets, but particularly for three-legged ones. A good harness, booties for traction, a ramp for getting on and off the bed and a therapy plan including Therapeutic Exercise, VSMT and Hydrotherapy were recommended. Bopper has since lost weight, goes for longer walks and has a smoother gait!
Rocky is awesome in the gym for his therapeutic exercises
In September of 2014, Rocky had his left hind leg amputated after a soft tissue injury. About 2 months later, he was evaluated at IPC. Rocky was a happy 1 year old poodle mix who loved to run and chase squirrels. However, he occasionally had trouble getting up, especially on slick surfaces.
“I knew that because he had his surgery at a young age he still had a lot of muscle mass to be developed and I wanted to make sure I could help him support his weight comfortably. Even though he gets around just fine, I wanted to take it to the professionals who could help him strengthen the right areas to prevent any other injury. Working on his core strength helps stabilize him and build muscles that he otherwise wouldn’t be training. I know he is a lot less wobbly because of the therapy he’s had. Not only have I learned so much about his physical needs, but he loves it! He won’t get off the obstacle courses!”
-Mia, Rocky’s mom
Therapists at IPC started Rocky on a program of focused Therapeutic Exercises to improve his strength, endurance and coordination. Currently Rocky continues maintenance therapy at IPC, working out in the gym as well as receiving much-deserved Therapeutic Massage.
“He was around 7 months old, and was extremely active and he wasn’t going to let anything slow him down. Not even major surgery. I have a distinct memory of the moment I took off his surgery cone, and he looked down at his incision and was kind of surprised, like “wait a minute…,” and then that was it. I realized animals don’t have an emotional attachment to their limbs like humans do. He knows he is a little unbalanced but he doesn’t mind. “
Dr. Ridley’s little guy, Lorenzo, had his left hind leg amputated due to a congenital abnormality. Needless to say, he has no problem getting around and into trouble.
Tips and Resources
Because balance is off, having slick floors presents a challenge to tripods. Getting around and getting up and down from a sit or lay can be very difficult without good footing. Yoga mats, carpet squares and area rugs with a good grip on the underside can be used strategically to help your pet navigate your floors and stairs. Also make sure their bed rests on a surface with good traction so that they can get on and off safely.
Yoga mats- if you have long hallways or large areas to cover consider purchasing a yoga mat roll. It is easily cut to size (or shape) and comes in a variety of colors- yogadirect.com carries a good variety.
Carpet tiles- these are also easily customizable and easy to replace. Flor and Home Depot reliably stock these in a variety of colors and textures.
A little help getting up and down stairs, in and out of the car or even at the end of a long walk goes a long way! A strong harness with a well placed handle helps your pet and your back.
(please check with your veterinarian before selecting a harness to make sure it is the proper fit)
Dr. Buzby’s Toe Grips
It’s pretty easy to cover slippery floors at home, but daily life may mean encountering surfaces that impede your pet’s confidence. Your pet may be a good candidate for toe grips, learn more at www.toegrips.com.
Support and Success Stories
For more support, resources and stories of happy tripods, visit tripawds.org!
Ever think a dog could pull a wheelie? Well, Hershey can & does! Hershey started rehab with us in April 2014. Although looking at him you would never know it, Hershey has the highest grade of hip dysplasia that a pet can have. He doesn’t let that slow him down though.
“When I first saw Hershey, he had one of the worst cases of hip dysplasia I have seen in 20 years. I cannot believe how stoic of a dog he is to not show any clinical signs before now. He is truly a great companion to his family and a great patient to work on.”
Tsubo was adopted from Baja Animal Rescue – a rare no-kill shelter in Northern Mexico that rescues street dogs, rehabilitates them and finds them happy homes.
“We knew he was going to be part of our family the moment we met him – his calm demeanor and the way he tucked his head into our laps when we said hello won us over. The rescue warned us that he had some issues with one of his hind legs – a consequence of abuse or being hit by a car – both sadly common with dogs in Mexico. His slight limp and awkward stance didn’t seem to slow him down one bit, and we decided that we would deal with it as needed in the future – this was our dog, nothing was changing that.”
Arthur’s parents were initially looking for a pal for their other old english sheepdog, Winston who, at the time, had recently lost his brother Duke. Well, it was love at first sight the second they saw him on Chicagoland Old English Sheepdog Rescue’s website! They opened their hearts and home to the 10 year old knowing that he would have a hard time finding a family and it seemed like the perfect fit for their 12 year old Sheepdog Winston. They became immediate pals, spending their days as gentlemen of leisure should.
Arthur was surrendered to the rescue because he was having “accidents” in the house. Well it turned out that he had a long term untreated urinary tract infection and had been about 50 lbs overweight at one point. He had led a largely sedentary life, which negatively impacted his health and fitness. Jim and Scott wanted him to be as healthy and happy for his new life with them so they decided to bring him in for an evaluation. They saw great results for Winston and knew that Integrative Pet Care’s approach to working with each pet on an individual basis to find out what works best would be the key to his success!
When Laura walked into Anti-Cruelty in 2011, she had her mind set on adopting a smaller dog. Well, all that changed when she saw a quiet dog staring at her with those ‘sad eyes’ that you just can’t resist. Kayla was 3 ½ at that time and had been relinquished due to a family member’s allergies and then returned by another family after she ate a couch. 4 years later Laura and Kayla are attached at the hip and she has yet to eat anything she shouldn’t. Kayla is the perfect mix of hiking companion and couch snuggler!