Monday, August 4, 2014

Adoption Monday: Mesa, Rottweiler, Downey, CA

In Mesa's perfect world, she'd keep you company while you read your favorite book. 

Of course, you'd have to occasionally pause to scratch her belly, but she will thank you with gentle kisses to your hand. She's a total love bug who is happiest laying down on a fluffy bed, surrounded by people who care for her.

Mesa isn't quite sure what to make of new dogs, but, once you're no longer 'the new kid,' she likes canine companionship. 

When it comes to people, Mesa has enough love for everyone who crosses her path!

Mesa is house trained, spayed and current on routine shots. To meet Mesa, please fill the Adoption Application.


Coastal German Shepherd Rescue of Southern California is a non-profit 501(c)3 public charity dedicated to finding loving homes for abandoned German Shepherds. Coastal was formed to serve communities in the counties of San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire.

Coastal is dedicated to providing new beginnings for homeless German Shepherds who have been abandoned, neglected, abused, relinquished by their owners or just left at local shelters to await an uncertain future.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Hip Dysplasia - What’s a Dawg Mama to Do?

by Penelope Davis (dog ghost writer for Susan E. Davis, PT)

It’s all about guiding and empowering you to help your pet avoid injury, provide practical solutions and achieve rapid restoration of health and function!   

Our champion blogger, “Dawg Mama Jana”, is experiencing hip dysplasia drama with her beloved JD, so she asked me to focus this month’s PT tip on that topic.

JD getting hydrotherapy with Cookie for moral support

I’ll break it down from a therapist’s point of view and offer practical advice on dealing with the challenges it presents.

So, what is it actually? Lots of people think hip dysplasia is a tight, sore, arthritic hip.  However, it is really a hip that is too loose and lacks stability.

The hip consists of a ball-and-socket joint formed by the head of the femur (ball) and acetabulum of the pelvis (socket). Being designed for movement, these 2 hip structures are formed so that their shapes perfectly match each other, with the socket surrounding the ball.

The dog walks on four limbs with the hip in a flexed starting position (as opposed to human beings who walk upright with the hip in a straight starting position), producing a large arc of movement during gait. It’s very important that the ball and socket make even contact to achieve the quality of movement the dog needs to walk comfortably.

Hip dysplasia is classified as a skeletal disease where the hip socket (acetabulum) is shallow and abnormally formed.  

The femoral head, or ball, becomes misshapen as a result of lack of contact and coverage by the socket not fully surrounding it. This gets worse as the dog develops, the hip becoming loose and lax usually by age 2.  If a   dog isn’t diagnosed and doesn’t receive care for dysplasia it is a high risk to develop secondary arthritis with bone spurs, due to continual wear and tear of the hip.

So to be clear, arthritis doesn’t cause hip dysplasia, but hip dysplasia can definitely cause arthritis!

What causes hip dysplasia to occur? It is a genetic disease having traits which are inherited, being passed to offspring through reproductive cells.  Commonly affected dogs are the large breeds that have rapid growth and weight gain early in their development: German Shepherds, Labs, Rottweilers, and St Bernards.

How do you know it’s there?  

Dogs will show rear limb lameness during running, jumping, climbing, with a bunny-hopping gait. You might also hear a popping or clicking sound. The gait strides will be short and choppy, with the rear end waddling from side to side.  Dogs may pace instead of the normal left-right gait, and have trouble negotiating turns and stairs.

Diagnosis is by vet exam and radiographs. 

Testing methods exist from OFA and PennHip with documentation and registry of the disease, especially within the breeding industry.

What can be done?  

The first step is to learn about the various surgical options, including triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO), the total hip replacement (THR), dorsal acetabular rim arthroplasty (Darthroplasty) and the femoral head osteotomy (FHO).

Next, have a good discussion with your vet, asking their recommendation on which method is best.

Always get a second opinion if you feel the need and consider seeing a board-certified veterinary orthopedic surgeon. 

Surgery, followed by a recovery period and then physical therapy and rehabilitation, can yield wonderful results for your dog.

But what if surgery is not an option? 

There may be reasons against surgery such as financial constraints, medical issues which make anesthesia risky, immunosuppressive diseases that could invite sepsis or widespread infection, etc.

In these cases it is essential to use conservative measures to help your dog such as:
  • Cold Laser treatment provided by your PT or Vet, delivers bundles of light which decrease pain and reduce inflammation.  

  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) obtained through your vet or therapist and applied by you (after instructions are given and waveform parameters are preset) at home.  Adhesive surface electrodes are placed around and on the hip, and gentle current is applied, to reduce pain.  A dog’s coat may need to be shaved to ensure good skin contact for the electrodes.

  • Targeted Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy through a pad or loop, delivers a soothing wave frequency which reduces inflammation.  An example of this is Assisi Loop, prescribed and ordered for you through your vet or therapist, and treatments given to the dog at home, in 15-minute doses.

  • Moist Heat: commercial hot packs, wraps and sacks filled with gel, silicon and sand are typically heated by hot water immersion or microwave ovens. These can be applied over the hip, first placing padding (such as a towel) to prevent burns, depending on the length and thickness of the dog’s coat. Moist heat, as opposed to dry forms of heat, penetrates deeper to relieve the pain typical of hip dysplasia and arthritis. Consult vet or PT for specifics and precautions.  

  • Massage: increases blood flow to relax tight sore musculature around the hip.  Position the dog on its side (dysplasia side up), with a rolled towel or pillow placed between the thighs.  Stroking and kneading techniques will work best, gently, for 5-10 minute durations.

  • Range of Motion of the hip with manual joint compressions can be very effective but must be applied by an animal-trained physical therapist or rehab-trained vet.

  • Therapeutic exercise such as standing weight shifting and rocking front to back and side to side, using wobble or balance boards, weaving around cones, supported standing over a physio-roll, are  used by therapists for dogs with hip dysplasia. Some of these can be taught to the dog owner.

  • Regular, controlled leash walks, using a chest harness remains the gold standard. For dogs having greater difficulty walking, consider using a belly sling, 2-handled chest and pelvic harnesses (such as the “Help Em Up” and ‘Walkabout”) harness, gait assists such as “Biko brace”, or Wheeled Carts.

  • Aquatics:  Swimming, standing in water and Underwater Treadmills offer a unique exercise medium, taking pressure off sore painful hips affected by dysplasia.


Susan E. Davis (Sue) is a licensed Physical Therapist with over 30 years of practice in the human field, who transitioned into the animal world after taking courses at the UT Canine Rehabilitation program.  She is located in Red Bank, New Jersey.

She has been providing PT services to dogs and other animals through her entity Joycare Onsite, LLC in pet’s homes and in vet clinics since 2008.

She also provides pro bono services at the Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown, NJ.  Sue is the proud “dog mommy” to Penelope, a miniature Dachshund with “attitude”.  For more information see her website , or follow on Twitter @animalPTsue.

Sue is also the author of a fantastic book on physical therapy, Physical Therapy And Rehabilitation For Animals: A Guide For The Consumer.  

Physical therapy can do so many great things for your dog. Understanding all the possibilities physical therapy can offer will change your dog's life. This book definitely belongs on the shelf of every dog lover.

Articles by Susan E. Davis:
Functional Strengthening Exercises: the What, Why and How
One Thing Leads To Another: Why The Second ACL Often Goes Too
Compensation: An Attempt To Restore Harmony
Paring Down to the Canine Core
Canine Massage: Every Dog ‘Kneads’ It”
Photon Power: Can Laser Therapy Help Your Dog?  
Physical Therapy in the Veterinary World  
Reiki: Is it real? 
Dog Lessons: Cooper  
The Essentials Of Canine Injury Prevention: 7 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safer 
It's Not Just Walking, It's Therapy! 
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part I)
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part II Physical Therapy)
Range Of Motion: It’s A Matter Of Degree…
The Weight Of Water And How It Helps Dogs 
By Land or By Sea? A Comparison of Canine Treadmills 
Unraveling The Mystery Of Fascia And Myofascial Trigger Points (Part I)
Unraveling The Mystery Of Fascia And Myofascial Trigger Points (Part II) 
Scar Tissue: Is it Too Much of a Good Thing? 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Ramps! 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Indoor Duo Dog Exercises!
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Best Practices After Your Dog’s Surgery 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Ideas to Chew on - Can Physical Therapy Help with my Dog’s Digestive Problems?
Wrap It Up: Using Soft Supports For Your Dog
When Do I Use Heat versus Cold? : A Tale (or Tail) Of Two Temps! (Part I) 
When Do I Use Heat versus Cold? : A Tale (or Tail) Of Two Temps! (Part II) 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Safe Summer Boating Tips for your Dog

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

We Have Picked A Vet At Our New Location

We have concluded our search and decided which of the vets at our new location is most likely worthy of taking care of our dogs!

Of course, while everything looks good on paper, you don't really know what you got until things get tough. 

But, hopefully, things will never get as tough as they did with Jasmine. And if they do, our new vet will step up to the plate.

Having to look for a new vet has caused me quite a bit of anguish but I feel good about our final choice.

The hospital is one of the very few around here which are AAHA accredited, so that should guarantee certain level of standards.

More importantly, they lived through my list of 35 questions!

They were happy to answer all of them and all the answers were perfect, except two which were satisfactory.

They generally don't have a body in the hospital during the night to watch overnight patients but they are willing to have somebody in there on request. Yes, it would cost a bit more but depending on the situation it might or might not be a good thing to do.

They don't use web-based records but are perfectly happy to provide copy of everything.

They don't offer health plans but they are thinking about it.

I also asked whether I could have a little preliminary phone call with the specific vet we wanted to work with.

We wanted her in particular because she practices integrative veterinary medicine. It almost looked like that was not going to happen as she was very busy. But eventually I got to talk to her and she made a very good impression.

So that is it. We have made our choice.

It's a major load of my back. Here is hoping that my first impressions are correct.

Related articles:
Looking For A New Veterinarian: Our List Of Questions 
Finding Dr. Wonderful And Your Mutt's Mayo Clinic: Getting Started
Reasonable Expectations: The Ability to Discuss Your Internet Research With Your Vet
Veterinarians Are People First
Emailing With Your Vet And The Miracle Of Web-based Medical Records

Monday, July 28, 2014

Adoption Monday: Joe Joe, Shepherd Mix, Deerfield, NH

Check out this awesome boy at Mary's Dogs Rescue and Adoption!

Gronk is ready to play on your Team! 

Of course, if you don't love football he's happy to just hang out with you too!

Gronk is a very sweet boy who loves kids and other dogs.

He also leaves the kitties alone so far in his foster home and he loves to cuddle.  Bringing Gronk home would be like scoring a TOUCHDOWN!!!

Gronk is neutered, house trained and current on routine shots. Want more info on Joe Joe? Call Mary's Dogs: or send along an email:

Ready to bring Gronk home? Tell us about yourself and your interest in Gronk in the adoption questionnaire. Check out all the wonderful dogs on Mary's Dogs Facebook Fan Page.


Mary’s Dogs rescues and re-homes dogs and puppies from Aiken County Animal Shelter, a high-kill shelter in South Carolina, USA. They also serve as a resource to communities in Southern New Hampshire and pet owners nationwide by providing education and information on responsible pet ownership, including the importance of spay/neuter, positive behavior training, and good nutrition.

Don't forget to check out Mary's Dogs Shop where you can shop dog and support their work!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Most Important Dog Training Strategy


Donna Hill, Donna Hill B.Sc. B.Ed., has a degree in zoology and a teaching degree. She has 20 years experience in adult and child education and enjoyed teaching people how to observe animals in nature as a nature interpreter, field biologist and train-the-trainer for presentation skills and now applies her knowledge and skills to help people and their dogs. She helps people with disabilities to train their own service dogs and has experience working with autistic and developmentally delayed teens. She uses plain English to explain what you are doing and why and also provides analogies you can relate to. She was also a Girl Guide and earned the highest honor as well as worked in the Tourism industry as a information counselor. She loves to share key information with people!

Visit her blog at Online Clicker Training Tutorials & Coaching.

Check out her two Youtube channels supernaturalbc2009 and supernatural 2008 for more awesome videos. Her motto is "Yard by Yard, Life is hard. Inch by Inch, It's a Cinch!" Break everything down into it's simplest parts and it's achievable!

Don't forget to visit Donna's FB group Observation Skills for Training Dogs or connect with Donna on Twitter.
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