The Happy Beast - Blog - Dog Health

Restricted Exercise? The Five Things That Helped Us Survive My Dog’s Injury Recovery

Restricting exercise is often a first line of healing for dogs with soft tissue injuries, but is also prescribed for dogs recovering from surgeries (including spay, neuter, and ACL repair) and broken bones. Your vet may recommend keeping your dog kenneled when you aren’t home, short leashed walks lasting 5-30 minutes, no running in the yard and no jumping on furniture.

For my super active Aussie-mix, restricted exercise sounds like torture, but we’ve made it four weeks and only have two to go!

These are the five things I brought home from The Happy Beast that are helping her heal faster and bust through the boredom.

FYDO Bagel Bed

I’m a total sucker when it comes to dogs on the furniture. The FYDO Bagel Bed is so plush and snuggly that my dog thinks it’s an appropriate substitute for sleeping on my bed.

Tip: I turned all the furniture to face the wall so there’s no temptation for her to jump up. If you don’t want to lose access to your sofa and chairs, put heavy books on the cushions or block them with baby gates.

InClover’s Connectin

Connectin was developed as a joint support with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, so it’s amazing for dogs with joint pain and arthritis. My dog has a soft tissue injury, so I chose Connectin for its anti-inflammatory and circulatory-stimulating properties. InClover’s clinical studies were done on volunteered animals who already showed joint problems (which I find to be more ethical than studies done by other companies where healthy animals were inflicted with joint pain as part of the study- yikes!) InClover’s studies “show significant relief in weight bearing discomfort and increase in mobility”.

Tip: Connectin is available in three different forms. My dog is taking a crunchy tablet dipped in peanut butter every morning. I saw noticeable improvement after 14 days.

CBDRX Hemp Oil

CBD is quickly gaining popularity for treating pain and inflammation and decreasing anxiety in animals. (Read our blog on how it works.) CBDRX grows their own organic hemp plants in southern Colorado and extracts the CBDs in their facility in Boulder.

Tip: You want to use the lowest effective dose- which their representative described to me as one drop less than what makes my dog sleepy. I started with four drops, and worked up to half of a dropper. When I went over that dose, she slept really hard. (CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive properties, so you don’t have to worry about your animal getting “high.”)

Clicker and Training Treats

Since my dog is getting limited physical exercise, I’m increasing her mental exercise! Check out these stationary games we’re playing this month. My dog loves clicker training, so I chose a few tricks that can be done without her standing up and moving around. She almost has “lick your lips” figured out and it’s so funny!

West Paw Brain Toys

West Paw’s Zogoflex are stuffable and more challenging than a traditional Kong. Load them up with canned dog food, peanut butter or treats and freeze for a longer lasting “puzzle.”

Tip: It’s extra important to watch calories since your dog is getting limited exercise. On days when your dog is getting a lot of treats, feed less food at meal times. You can also use a Zogoflex toy in place of a dog bowl, and make mealtime into playtime!

Brain Games for a Dog on “Crate Rest”

My dog, Pi, has been prescribed 4-6 weeks of restricted exercise, meaning she has to be kenneled when I’m not home, no running in the yard and walks no longer than 10 minutes. Restricting exercise is often a first line of healing for dogs with soft tissue injuries, but is also prescribed for dogs recovering from surgeries (including spay, neuter, and ACL repair) and broken bones.

For my very active, Aussie-mix, who is accustomed to at least two hours of walking, running and agility practice each day, restricted exercise feels like torture. It’s hard to explain to your animal why you’ve taken their fun and routine away for the sake of healing. So, I’m pulling out old and new resources and looking at this as an opportunity to practice calming exercises and brain games.

Teach and Practice Tricks: Eye Contact, “Ears Up”, “Lick Lips”, and “Leave It”

Pi loves clicker training. If you’ve never tried it, check out this video for the how-to. Clicker training essentially allows you to “capture” a behavior and eventually put it to a command. Eye contact is an easy place to start. Sit in front of your dog and simply click (or say yes!) and treat anytime she makes eye contact with you. For dogs who know how the game works, increase the difficulty by choosing a new behavior to capture. You can click and treat to reward any behavior. We’re working on licking her lips and sneezing.

Practice “Settle”

“Settle” is one of my dog’s favorite games. When she’s healthy the game is actually quite active, beginning in a standing position and running across the room to end lying flat on a mat, repeated over and over. She also gets rewarded for any calm signals when she’s on the mat: shifting her weight to one side, licking her lips, dropping her ears back, resting her chin on the ground. I adapted this game by removing the run and just rewarding the calm signals. Get detailed instructions here.

Beginner’s Scent Work

Canine Nose Work is a sport where dogs learn to identify scents (birch, anise and clove) and search them out in different settings. This problem-solving activity is toted for building confidence and burning mental and physical energy. I adapted this tutorial to teach Pi the basics without requiring her to move around the room.

You’ll need four small boxes, a plastic tub with holes poked in the lid, and smelly, tasty treats.

In the tutorial, your dog waits in another room while you hide the plastic tub in a box. In our adapted version, I’m using only four boxes, because I will be the one moving from the other room to where my dog is.

In a separate room, where your dog can’t see what you’re doing, put a few treats in the plastic tub. Place the tub in one of the boxes, then bring the boxes into your dog’s room and place them on the floor in front of her. Let her smell each one and once she indicates that she’s found the box with treats (for Pi, this was a nose poke to the side of the box) open the tub and let her have her loot! Repeat the game 3-4 times each session and play a few times a day for an excellent brain workout!

Simple Diet Solutions for Anti-Inflammation

Inflammation is a healthy and normal response the immune system uses for healing, but if not kept in check, can cause pain and more damage. For animals suffering from chronic inflammation and inflammatory diseases, we look for diets that are anti-inflammatory instead of pro-inflammatory.

When is inflammation a good thing?
Inflammation is a useful response of the immune system to attack foreign debris, objects, viruses and bacteria. When the body is attacked, white blood cells surge to the affected area to combat possible infection and to repair or destroy affected cells. The increase of blood flow and the release of healing chemicals cause the affected tissue to warm and swell, which creates pressure or pain. In acute cases, inflammation is a great response, it lets us know we are hurt, and it helps us to recover.

Inflammatory Disorders
Chronic inflammation results in conditions like ear infections, allergies, arthritis, colitis, IBD and IBS, dermatitis and pancreatitis, and can cause cancer and chronic pain. Most inflammatory disorders begin as a healthy immune response. Inflammatory disorders develop for a few different reasons. 1) The cause of initial inflammation is not eliminated, 2) the immune system responds to the pain resulting from the initial inflammation and more inflammation occurs to treat the existing inflammation, or 3) the body suffers from an autoimmune condition where the immune system mistakes healthy tissue for a pathogen, and the body attacks itself.

Anti-inflammatory Diet
Unfortunately, we can’t control everything that contributes to inflammation, but we can control what our animals eat. Because the body’s natural response is inflammation, we choose foods that keep that response in check. This is especially important for animals suffering from disease, but healthy animals benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet as well.

  • Feed raw, species appropriate foods
    Remember, inflammation occurs when something foreign enters the body, so we want to feed our animals foods that the body recognizes and accepts as natural nutrition. Our animals evolved eating fresh meat, and we can mimic that with species appropriate raw diets that are either frozen, freeze-dried or dehydrated.
  • Dogs may benefit from added fruits and vegetables
    Fruits and veggies with anti-inflammatory properties like berries, cruciferous vegetables (like brussels sprouts, kale and spinach), and dark leafy greens. Some commercially available raw foods, like SmallBatch and Bravo include these ingredients in their dog food formulas. For cats, we always want to avoid plant-based proteins and carbohydrates.
  • Avoid kibble and other highly processed foods
    High cooking temperatures actually increase the pro-inflammatory property of the food. Processed, dry dog food (we call “kibble”) are heated to temperatures of 400°, resulting in denatured proteins and high levels of AGEs, both of which can trigger an inflammatory response.

Inflammation Fighting Supplements

Understanding CBD Cannabis for Pets

As the cannabis industry expands, interest in hemp and marijuana’s health benefits for pets has grown. The cannabis plant is cultivated for both hemp and marijuana harvests and hemp is already a popular material in dog toys, beds and collars. Now even more people are using CBD supplements to improve their pets’ health and well being.

Good to know: CBD vs. THC

CBD (cannabidiol) is derived from marijuana or hemp plants and is touted for its therapeutic effects.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) comes solely from marijuana plants and is known for its psychoactive properties.

The CBD used in the supplements and treats we carry at The Happy Beast is extracted from cannabis plants grown to produce hemp and contains less than .3% THC (the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana.) This means: 1) You and your pets will not get “high” from ingesting CBD, and 2) CBD is legal to purchase and possess in all 50 states.

How it works:

All mammals, including dogs, cats, and people have a endocannabinoid system composed of receptors in the brain called CB1s and other receptors in the body called CB2s. Our bodies produce endocannabinoids that bind to these receptors to maintain homeostasis, which means the body stays in balance regardless of environmental changes. A good example of this is how our body temperature stays around 98 degrees even when it’s very hot or very cold in our environment.

Homeostasis becomes more interesting when the body experiences a disruption or injury. We know that pain and inflammation are important in healing, pain lets us know that something is wrong and inflammation initially occurs to protect the body. CBD goes to work on immune and nerve cells to regulate pain and inflammation.

Why supplement with a CBD oil when our bodies already produce endocannabinoids?

First, endocannabinoids are produced by our bodies (“endo” meaning “within”) whereas phytocannabinoids come from the cannabis plant (“phyto” meaning “plant).

New studies show that supplementing with a small daily dose of phytocannabinoids increases the number of CB1 and CB2 receptors which augments the function of the entire system. Some scientists propose that deficiencies in our modern diets decrease the body’s ability to produce a sufficient supply to the point that supplementation becomes necessary.

How to try it:

If you have a healthy dog, PetReleaf treats are perfect for a small daily dose to create balance in the endocannabinoid system.

If your dog or cat is suffering from anxiety, pain, cancer, arthritis, or an otherwise compromised immune system, PetReleaf oil and CannaCompanion capsules provide a concentrated, higher dose of CBD. While CBD has shown no contraindications with other medications or serious side effects, if your animal is under vet care make sure your vet knows you are using it.

And finally, if you’d like more information, just stop by The Happy Beast in Lafayette and we’ll walk you through the various options and benefits.

P.S. Marijuana is STILL not safe for our pets. THC is not the same as CBD, and animals can have adverse reactions to THC, so keep it out of paws reach!

Got H2O? Keeping Your Dog Hydrated this Summer

Hot summer days paired with Colorado’s dry climate means more dogs are susceptible to dehydration in the next few months. Read our tips for keeping your dog hydrated this summer.

Dehydration can cause lethargy, loss of appetite, dry mouth and if not timely addressed, may deteriorate digestive, urinary and kidney health.

If you suspect your dog is dehydrated:

  • Perform a “skin-test”: Gently pinch the skin on the back of your dog’s neck and release. If the skin doesn’t snap into place, your dog may be dehydrated and you should seek veterinary care.
  • Lift your dog’s lip and apply pressure with your index finger on the gums. The gums should turn white with pressure and back to pink once pressure is removed. If gums stay white, your dog may be dehydrated.

Never ever leave dry food dry.

Canines’ natural diet of meat and scavenged foods is at least 70% water, but kibble (dry dog food) contains less than 10% moisture. Proper hydration is critical for proper digestion and organ function and without enough moisture in the diet, your dog is likely to be chronically dehydrated.

Dogs will drink a ton of water to compensate for this loss of hydration. However, most water consumed outside of meal time will move too quickly through the digestive tract for it to be properly absorbed into the body. (Maybe you’ve experienced this when trying to increase your own fluid intake. I remember someone telling me, “If you’re new practice is drinking 80oz of water a day, your new hobby will be urinating.”

My favorite way to approach this problem is to feed a species-appropriate diet of fresh foods. This can be as convenient and cost-effective as feeding a high-quality dry food.

If you choose to feed your dog dry food (kibble), add something to his bowl to help him stay hydrated.

Carry water everywhere you go.

  • Keep a portable water bowl hooked to your dog’s leash. At The Happy Beast, we carry styles that snap or clip to your leash, backpack or belt. We also love Gulpy’s- a water bottle with an attached fold-out water dish.

Make flavored ice-cube treats.

  • Pour raw goat milk or broth into ice cube trays and freeze. Pop out a cube for a fun cool treat!
  • To keep your dog busy longer: Fill a plastic tub (yogurt and margarine containers work well) with water or broth, add treats, apple slices and carrots and freeze. Once frozen, remove from plastic tub and let your dog enjoy on your patio or yard. Perfect way to keep your dog entertained and hydrated!