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.
“I first brought Frango to IPC in 2005 for a consult to rule out pain as a reason for his aggression. X-rays revealed that while his hips were not the best, they weren’t the worst either. Due to his young age, it was too soon to determine if he had Hip Dysplasia and after a few visits, anything orthopedic was ruled out as a reason for his aggression. We continued to work with a trainer and strengthened our bond through sports like agility and retrieving.
In 2010, Frango started to refuse stairs and diagnostics revealed that he did indeed have hip dysplasia. He also developed both Osteochondrosis Dissecans and Biceps Tenosynovitis in his right shoulder, which may have been due to overcompensating during his high impact activities. Frango took a break from sports and returned to Integrative Pet Care to start a 10 week treatment ‘pre-hab’ program that included twice weekly resistance pool and laser therapy sessions. Frango then had surgery on his right shoulder and bore weight the day after surgery, amazing everyone, even his surgeon!
Post surgery, he was prescribed an 8 week program which consisted of resistance pool, laser therapy, and therapeutic exercise. After completion, he continued coming every 2 weeks for resistance pool and monthly chiropractic adjustments.
Unfortunately Frango injured his left knee by slipping going up the stairs in January 2017. He no longer seemed to benefit from the resistance pool, so Dr. Megan Ridley created a new a new treatment program which consisted of weekly underwater treadmill, laser therapy sessions. He was also fitted for a Help ‘Em Up Harness which helped prevent further injury to his knee on the stairs or getting in and out of the car. I was concerned that Frango would miss the pool, but he excelled on the Underwater Treadmill, loving the massage jets on his hind end! Then in the Summer, Frango headed to the pool which was the first time he had done this in awhile, so we started alternating underwater treadmill and resistance pool sessions.
IPC has helped to maximize Frango’s strength and endurance for many years. It prepared him for a major surgery and promoted the positive outcomes & helped ease his transition into retirement by keeping him conditioned and allowed his ability to still participate in low impact sports. Frango’s visits to IPC are the highlight of his week! The treatment he receives gives him the chance to feel like Mr. Big Stuff.
Frango’s life has become pretty mellow. He goes for walks twice daily and sleeps the day away waiting for my husband and I to return home from work. He’s ready for a treat every time we come or go and anytime in between! Anytime I’m working in the kitchen he is at my side playing ‘sous chef’. And when my husband and I relax on the couch at night, he solicits his booty massages.
Now Frango is battling against Cancer. A tumor was discovered on his left anal sac and had spread to his lymph nodes. He will undergo removal of a lymph node as well as the tumor on his anal sac and then go through chemotherapy. I know we can count on our friends at IPC to help ease any pain and discomfort he may encounter during the treatment. I also know that all of the conditioning Frango has done at IPC through the years has helped make him a resilient, strong dog and has prepared him well for this, his final battle.”
Retrieving Freedom, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to training service dogs to help people. Our three primary focuses are training dogs to serve the needs of veterans, children with autism and individuals living with diabetes.
Live Like Roo, a 501C3 organization, provides support and financial assistance to families whose pet faces a cancer diagnosis. Our mission is that together, you and your pet will #LiveLikeRoo.
In May of 2017, the founder of Bialy’s Wellness Foundation, Erin, was contacted by Chicagoland Bully Breed Rescue about a 2 month old French Bulldog puppy who was unable to walk. They needed an experienced foster home and funding for rehabilitation to get her mobile as soon as possible. Erin agreed and Gertie came to Integrative Pet Care immediately.
After meeting with Dr. Megan Ridley and Emma, it was suspected that Swimmer Puppy Syndrome was the cause of her mobility issues. An intense rehabilitation program was prescribed which included daily exercise and swimming therapy sessions. Everyone on staff pitched in to work with Gertie whenever they could. Erin, who is also a canine rehabilitation and massage therapist at IPC, diligently worked with her at home as well.
Within in the first week, Gertie improved greatly; she was able to support herself and could even take a few steps independently! While swimming wasn’t her favorite activity, she did it without complaint all while looking adorable in her life jacket. After a few weeks she was walking on her own and doing advanced exercises in the gym.
Being part of her transformation was an amazing experience for everyone involved and lots of tears were shed in the process! -Dr. Megan Ridley
Gertie was officially adopted in June to a neighbor so Erin can still bring her for therapy everyday. Today she is 6 months old and is a happy & healthy puppy. Being part of Gertie’s transformation has been a wonderful experience for everyone on staff.
Gertie has since become a ‘spokesdog’ for Bialy’s Wellness Foundation as she is an incredible success story! You can follow her adventures on Instagram- @the_little_avocado.
Check out this progress video of our beloved Gertie (aka 🥑). Thank you to: Chicagoland Bully Breed Rescue for taking her into your adoption program; Integrative Pet Care for the amazing rehabilitation therapists and veterinarians that worked your magic to help Gertie become mobile; Boulevard Veterinary for your always generous, kind and attentive staff & veterinarians; Josh the Pitbull – Special Needs and Happy for fostering our Little Avocado. #GertieStrong
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Gertie has asked us to tell you about the organization that changed her life, Bialy’s Wellness Foundation.
“Bialy’s Wellness Foundation helps families and rescue organizations care for pets with special needs, particularly those with mobility issues from paralysis, amputation, neurological or birth defects, and other diagnosed ailments.”
Ski has become such an IPC staple on Thursday nights over the past 8 1/2 years, that it would feel empty without him! Who else could impress us by swimming 20 minutes against the resistance jets while playing volleyball with his dad or show us his fancy new tricks in the gym? Ski is a super star athlete who originally came to us back in 2007 for a CCL injury. He has not only trained in, but has earned titles in a number of activities including agility, treibball, tricks, nosework & herding. Rich and Ski aren’t in it for the titles, but just love training until they achieve proficiency.
Ski was always an active dog who was enrolled in a variety of activities, so it was devastating when he came up lame after a walk one night. When we first met Ski in July of 2007, his dad Rich was weighing the pros and cons of having surgery to repair a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). Ultimately Rich decided against surgery and opted to pursue physical rehabilitation instead. That was a decision that Rich said he would do over and over again. Ski started an intensive rehab program that included twice weekly visits for underwater treadmill and therapeutic exercise. Even though he wasn’t the biggest fan of the underwater treadmill, he diligently did it and it’s now his favorite therapy! Ski took to the exercises right away since it was similar to some of his agility training! Soon enough Ski was inventing his own exercises and impressing us all with his strength and drive.
Soon enough Ski graduated from a rehabilitation program and became a member of our maintenance club which keeps him in tip top form for the various activities that he does!
“Ski and Rich make a fabulous team. I enjoy a challenge and Ski always keeps me on my toes!”
–Emma, Ski’s current therapist
Ribbons from his 1st agility competition
Ski has participated in the following sport activities:
Ski also aided Rich in becoming a certified clicker trainer (KPA-CTP) from the Karen Prior Academy.
“Trainers, vets, & sports trainers all agree that his core strength has allowed Ski to embrace so many different activities without injury. I credit all our work at IPC with Ski’s amazing condition as he nears 11 years old.”
-Rich, Ski’s dad
Rich believes that the wide range of therapies Ski has received has helped him get through minor setbacks. A flair up of lameness resolved with a series of Laser treatments, while Acupuncture and Chiropractic services have seemed to help as well. Rich’s goal from day 1 was to make Ski’s legs individually strong enough to do the work of two if that was ever needed, which has been the case over the past several years. Whether it was the right (non-surgically repaired CCL knee) or left leg that had an issue, the other one was always strong enough to do the job of two.
“Ski is like the energizer bunny when any obstacle gets in his way- he just keeps going & going & going!”
–Dr. Ridley, Ski’s IPC vet
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Ski has asked us to tell you about Alive Rescue.
“We believe that our responsibility is first to the animals that are in local open-access shelters with a high probability of being euthanized. We primarily take in animals from shelters with high euthanasia rates in Chicago and the surrounding area. We follow through on our commitment that every animal deserves a full life by choosing to take in animals that other adoption organizations may overlook, including seniors, unpopular breeds, and pets with special needs”
IPC is raising awareness for Alive Rescue by jumping into Lake Michigan January 17th. Click here to donate to our team!
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!
Bailey’s mom first noticed something was off with her when she was about 6 months old. She stopped running around at the dog park and would often just sit down on walks. Bailey was diagnosed with severe elbow dysplasia and had surgery to remove floating cartilage and bone chips. Her mom wanted to go the extra mile with Bailey’s care and brought her to Integrative Pet Care when she was a little over a year old and that’s when we fell in love with this mushy lab!
“Bailey and her mom have been dedicated to her rehabilitation since the beginning. She is a gentle swimmer who enjoys fetching toys and treats in the pool. She even enjoys her pain relieving therapies like shockwave and laser so much that she often falls asleep”
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.”