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.
We first met Abbey in July 2016 when she originally came in for hind limb lameness. Her limp quickly worsened, so her parents found themselves not only seeing her primary care veterinarian, but a neurologist and IPC as well. After evaluating Abbey, Dr. Ridley sent her back to the neurologist where a hemilaminectomy (spinal surgery) was performed. Unfortunately she developed pneumonia which made her road to recovery much harder.
“Eleven years ago I was practicing in Oswego, Illinois and was well known for my affection for bulldogs. One day a lady from small local shelter showed up with a white bulldog puppy in her arms. Having heard of my affinity for bulldogs she asked if I was interested in adopting Molly. Molly was purchased from a pet shop by someone who discovered his significant other was allergic to dogs. Unable to return Molly to the pet store he surrendered her to the shelter.
Of course I agreed to adopt her immediately and then realized I needed to check with my significant other. We currently had an English bulldog, Rosie, and thought they might be good company for each other. Over the course of her time with us Molly has survived two English bulldogs, Rosie and Matilda. The loss of Matilda in October was devastating for us and Molly. She was already overweight and despondent over the loss of her companion. Molly is quite a character and as a puppy liked to collect twigs from our yard and deposit them by the back door. She also liked to follow me when I mowed the lawn and if I was wearing gym shorts she liked to sneak up behind me and tug at them. She has grown into a faithful and loving dog and vigilant watch dog. She loves everyone and hasn’t an aggressive bone in her body.
We became concerned after losing Matilda because Molly’s weight brought complications such as allergies, urinary infections and arthritis.
Her veterinarian Dr. Jeff Palmer from the Burr Ridge Veterinary Clinic referred us to Integrative Pet Care for her weight and to help with the arthritis and endurance. Her turnaround has been nothing short of miraculous.
Under the direction of Dr. Ihrke and her therapists Valerie Williams and Katie Neforos, Molly has lost 18 pounds thus far, has regained her mobility and now in the Fit Club is working on her endurance. The investment in her care with IPC has certainly paid dividends and we couldn’t be more pleased. She looks forward to her weekly visit with Katie and the time on the treadmill or agility course designed for her. Almost 12 years of age, we hope she will be with us for a long time.”
– Dr. Bob and Carol Baron
“Molly came to us from Burr Ridge Animal Hospital hoping that we could get some weight off of her.
At her first visit in February, she could hardly walk more than a few feet without resting and could only stand for a few minutes at a time.
We immediately made some diet changes and started her on an exercise program. Now, in June, she has lost 18 pounds and is running, playing and is more energetic. She has been a great patient and her owners have been fantastic partners in her weight loss.”
– Dr. Amber Ihrke, DVM, CCRT, CVA, CVSMT
“Molly is the sweetest Bulldog you’ll ever meet. She loves everyone she meets and has a bucket full of slobbery kisses to give to all. She has the best parents who are incredibly dedicated to her well-being and simply adore her out of great love. When Dr. Baron presented Molly to me this winter, she had been gaining more and more weight. She had reached a point where she could walk but a few feet without stopping to rest. She was losing her muscle strength while getting heavier and heavier. Previous diets helped for a short time, but nothing lasted. Her calories were restricted. Bloodwork looked normal. We needed to get her moving to build up her muscles and create a bigger engine to raise her metabolism and burn more calories. Yet, she could move but a few feet without tiring out.
She wasn’t going to lose the weight with conventional methods. She needed assistance. Integrative Pet Care of Homer Glen was her savior. With a regular program of assistive training on the underwater treadmill and further guidance on dietary management, she slowly started to melt the weight off. More importantly, she started to build muscle strength to do more and more exercises at home.
Today, her sweetness shines even more as she feels so much better. She’s going for walks around the neighborhood and seeing the bigger world again that she could only watch from the porch before. Big thanks to Mom and Dad for their hard work in helping Molly lose the weight. Also, big thanks to Integrative Pet Care for their guidance and help. They gave us back our Molly, slobbery kisses and all!”
– Dr. Jeff Palmer, DVM, Burr Ridge Veterinary Clinic
“When I first started working with Molly, she could only walk for 30 seconds at a time. Since then she is up to 5 minutes and has lost 18 pounds. She has so much energy now and seems to really enjoy our sessions now. She is a joy to work with and I look forward to seeing her every week.”
– Katie Neforos, CVT, CCRA
“I remember when Molly came for her initial evaluation. She had to take several breaks to walk from the waiting area
to the exam room (about 15-20 feet). She had trouble standing for more than a few minutes during our examination
and she was significantly overweight. Molly, her parents and the IPC rehab team worked diligently to get Molly back in shape. After just four weeks of therapy, Molly was able to walk from the waiting room to the underwater treadmill
(over 100 feet) without stopping to rest. She was standing to eat and completed her exercises on land without showing signs of fatigue.
At Molly’s re-check exam, I could not believe she was the same dog that I saw at her initial evaluation. She was spunky, full of energy and wanted to keep exercising during her sessions.
Molly is a great example of what a difference it makes when a dog loses weight and how having extra weight on your dog can affect their ability to live a full and happy life.”
– Valerie Williams, PT, DPT, ATRIC, CCRT
Make a Difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose a NFP organization to promote during their reign. This month, Molly has chosen the Chicago English Bulldog Rescue,
Chicago English Bulldog Rescue (CEBR for short) and our volunteers have been helping pure-bred bullies and their families for almost 10 years now. We are a licensed Illinois shelter and a 501c3 charitable organization. The care we provide our English Bully rescues exceeds any you will find from a breed rescue…heck, any rescue! This love includes a high quality diet, the best veterinary care around from a bulldog specialist, and behavioral evaluations of the highest quality.
Please check out their website for more info on how you can help CEBR!
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!
If you’ve ever been to IPC Chicago on a Thursday, chances are you’ve met our August Patient of the Month Sahara. She’s that little dog sitting behind the front desk wagging her tail and looking adorable! Or perhaps you’ve heard her ridiculous bark that sounds like a duck quacking. Sahara is a force of nature who always makes sure her presence is known; or as her mom puts it, “a diva!”
Belinda admits that in May 2011 she had no business adopting another dog when she first saw Sahara’s picture in an email from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, doing a courtesy posting for local rescue. Her other dog was 14 years old and having major physical issues, but the cheesy subject line “Can you be an oasis for Sahara?” really sucked her in.
After contacting the rescue, Belinda learned that Sahara’s foster was actually her third known home. She was originally rescued from a high kill shelter and adopted out, but returned several times (most likely due to her barking). Once Sahara met her other dog and they got along, she came home with Belinda. The constant barking doesn’t bother Belinda one bit, although her cats may feel differently.
“Belinda is a super dog mom who goes above and beyond for Sahara She adopted a dog who was returned multiple times for behavioral issues and turned her life around. To say that Sahara is one lucky dog is an understatement.”
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”
At IPC of Homer Glen, we understand how hard it can be to know exactly what to feed your pet and how much. That’s why before you start slim club we do a weight loss consult with our weight loss coach, Katie. Together, you will go over your pets’ weight and diet history. From there, Katie will come up with a personalized diet and weight loss program for your pet. Like the food your pet is on? No Problem! Katie works with you to keep your pet on their food of choice.
Weight loss isn’t just for Dogs! Our Coach will also work with your kitty to get them on the road to a skinnier and healthier life. ( Cat weight loss is solely diet change and exercise at home. No water for them!)