When Lily was rescued from a shallow grave at a Cape Town school late last year the little dog’s rear legs were paralysed and her back was broken in two places; it seemed unlikely she would ever walk again. Today Lily, (who was called Warrior at the time of her rescue) is happy, healthy and highly mobile, not only chasing squirrels but even climbing trees. What has been the secret to her successful recovery and how can her story help other dogs and cats get moving again?
In Lily’s case the mobility issues were initiated by trauma. For most well-loved pets joint issues will stem from arthritis, the most common cause of chronic pain in dogs. “Arthritis is often the result of normal wear and tear of the joint over time,” says Dr Guy Fyvie, veterinary advisor for Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
“But it is not only senior pets that are affected – hip and elbow dysplasia can show from a very early age, and any trauma, such as car accidents or the injuries that Lily suffered, can cause it. Symptoms are usually obvious, and include stiffness, limping or difficulty getting up from rest.”
So how can you keep your pet on the move?
Veterinary care: First of all get a proper veterinary diagnosis and treatment plan for your pet. Lily had initial treatment at Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha and has been under the expert care of Dr Barry Hindmarch since then. Although he doubted whether she would walk again when he first saw Lily Hindmarch took up the challenge, “She had been through a horrific experience and I wanted to do what I could to help.”
Exercise and physical therapy: Lily has been having regular hydrotherapy and exercise sessions at a specialist animal fitness centre. “Toned muscles better support the joints, and moving improves joint suppleness and the health of the cartilage,” says Dr Fyvie. He recommends short walks and swimming as well as physiotherapy or hydrotherapy for arthritic pets. “Massage and applying gentle warmth can also be soothing and improve flexibility and muscle tone.”
Weight management: Although in Lily’s case excess weight wasn’t the problem, for many pets it is a huge factor: “Being overweight puts extra stress on the joints, increases inflammation and reduces the effects of medication – so the first step to improving the quality of life for pets with joint problems is shedding any excess kilos,” says Dr Fyvie.
Food: Lily eats a revolutionary pet food – Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d – high in essential fatty acids that has been clinically proven to reduce stiffness and other symptoms of arthritis in as little as 21 days. “My old Labrador Bella was already on Hill’s j/d and it had made a huge difference to her joints,” said Lily’s owner Helen Walne. Before feeding j/d Walne used to give Bella various nutritional supplements – omega oils, chia seeds and glucosamine. “Hill’s j/d has everything in one food so it’s much more convenient and works out around the same cost as feeding a cheaper food plus the extras.”
Home sweet home: Lily has gone from scavenging for food in a township to living a life of comfort. “A soft bed, a warm place to sleep and putting food bowls and litter trays within easy reach help make life easier for pets with mobility issues,” says Dr Fyvie.
Medical intervention: Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication are still a mainstay of arthritis management. “Although drugs have become much safer, there is still concern around potential side effects with long-term use, which is why a combined, integrated approach is now considered the best way to manage joint problems,” says Fyvie.
Dr Hindmarch says Lily’s recovery has surpassed his expectations. “There wasn’t one ‘magic’ ingredient but multiple therapies and an overflowing bucket of love.”
For more information and advice on how to help your best friend get its bounce back, speak to your vet or viswww.hopskipjump.co.za.
Additional Info – Free Hill’s j/d this winter
Winter doesn’t have to be a pain for arthritic pets. A revolutionary pet food – Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d – has been clinically proven to reduce stiffness and other symptoms of arthritis in as little as 21 days. Sceptical? Try it yourself. Hill’s is so confident that you will see an improvement in your pet, they are giving a free bag to dogs and cats that have been diagnosed with arthritis and have not tried Hill’s j/d before. This offer is available exclusively from veterinary practices during June and July, while stocks last.
Eight out of ten South African pet owners who used it for the first time last year, said their pet was more mobile after being fed Hill’s j/d - walking, running, playing and rising from rest more easily.
For more information about Hill’s j/d or osteoarthritis, speak to your vet, visit www.hopskipjump.co.za or call the toll-free Hill’s Careline on (0800) 228 783.