Products and techniques to support your older dog

At Guardian Veterinary Specialists in Brewster, New York, surgeon Jeffrey Runge recommends soft bedding and a harness with a handle on the shoulders and sometimes the hips to help owners relieve their pets’ joints as they walk. He recommends using a harness as part of a dog’s postoperative care regimen.

“A lot of pet owners use these things for an extra boost,” says Runge, so they don’t hurt themselves while helping their aging companions.

These adjustable gears have come a long way since Cary Zimmerman, 66, first used a canine walking harness, attached to a climbing belt with duct tape, to help his pit bull / lab mix. 10 years old at their Denver dog park. after being diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome. As the degenerative disease progressed, the dog lost energy and strength. “People kept asking, ‘Where did you get this? “Zimmerman said.” It got us down a road. “

Zimmerman ultimately created the Help them put on the harness (which went beyond duct tape) to help dog rehabilitation specialists and owners hoist large, disabled and senior dogs. (Back injuries are common among veterinary technicians and older pet owners.) The device has evolved to include various attachments for a range of tasks, including a hip lifter, shoulder strap, and attachments. which can be attached to a wheeled cart. While harnesses certainly help dogs move around, they still require human muscle, which can be problematic for pet owners who may be older themselves.

Mobility products make the difference

Non-slip slippers and clips, like the ones that helped Lathem’s senior dog stand, allow pets to roam independently.

“People put hardwood, tile, and all the beautiful floors that dogs weren’t designed to live on,” says Julie Buzby, a veterinarian who has developed a product called ToeGrips to avoid slippage. “The natural traction of dogs is to engage the nails like spikes. “

This movement is crucial in the fight against osteoarthritis. “When a dog slips on a floor, he is probably less likely to walk on that floor again,” says Alvarez. “Improving traction can improve mobility. “

For more severe weakness in the hind limbs (quite common in geriatric canine patients), severe arthritis, or neurological disease, there is a range of rubberized slippers to improve traction and protect the paws from injury. Yoga mats, while not the most cutting edge, can even do the trick when placed strategically throughout the house. Some owners buy strollers to transport their dogs, although vets often prefer devices that keep dogs on the move.

Brands like Walking wheels and Eddie’s wheels make adjustable carts to help disabled animals move around. Essentially the four-legged equivalent of a walker, these devices are a common rehabilitation tool, used regularly after spinal surgery to help support an animal’s weight while promoting mobility.

Although Lathem didn’t have to use carts for any of her own pets, she prescribed them for her four-legged patients, who often seem happy with their new set of wheels. “They are incredibly adaptable,” Lathem says. “They get on that wagon and run and run and run.”

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