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Stretches for Neck Flexibility

Why stretch your dog’s neck? Because they routinely get tight from looking up and down.  Stretching helps to release restrictions that can occur as your dog goes about his day. The neck moves in four directions so your stretching should be in those four directions.  Here how it’s done.canine neck flexion

Use flexion and extension to stretch your dog’s neck up and down and use lateral flexion and extension to stretch side to side. A great way to encourage your dog to help you stretch is neck is to use an incentive, such as his favorite treat. 

When your dog is sitting, neck flexion is best done extension stretch for your dog's neckusing a treat to lower your dog’s head as much as possible without lowering his whole body. With a treat in one hand, put your other hand on top of his head and gently guide his head toward his chest. You don’t want to push his neck down because it can cause potential injury. Another option when your dog is lying down on his side is to put one hand on the top of his head and the other hand on his nose and guide his nose toward his chest. Again, use a treat if necessary.

Neck extension can also be helped with the use of a treat, but it’s not necessary. Place one hand on his back by the shoulder blades and the other hand under his chin. Stretch his chin upward, hold and release. canine lateral neck stretch

Lateral neck stretches are also better done with at treat. Hold the treat in one hand and move it so his nose moves toward one hip. Place the other hand on the opposite shoulder to stabilize your dog. Do the same thing on the other side.

It’s good to build regular neck stretching into your dog’s exercise regimen. Keeping his neck flexible will go a long way toward maintaining your dog’s health, plus it only takes a few minutes to do. I know my dog feels better when I stretch him, and yours will too!

Diabetes in Dogs

Diabetes in humans is relatively common, but what about in our dogs? Actually, it’s quite common in dogs as well. While certain breeds such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, Miniature Schnauzers, and Poodles are predisposed to diabetes, dogs who are obese are at a much greater risk for developing the disease. With 54% of all dogs being overweight or obese, it’s no wonder it’s common.

What are some of the symptoms of diabetes in dogs?

  • Increased thirst and the resulting increased need to urinate
  • Changes in appetite
  • Unusually sweet smelling breath
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Chronic skin infections
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Vomiting

What can you do if you suspect diabetes or if your dog is exhibiting any of the above symptoms? Visit your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. Treatment should be tailored to each dog, and will likely change during the course of his life. You’ll also need to make exercise a priority in your dog’s life. If your dog is overweight, it’s imperative to get the weight off. With proper management and changes in diet and lifestyle, diabetes can be controlled, and your dog can live a healthy and happy life.

Running With Your Dog

Dogs love to run – you can see the excitement during play – they’re ready for the chase if the right incentives are there. Most times that incentive is me and my dog and I look forward to our run together. 

Running is a great way to maintain my dog’s weight, improve muscle tone, maintain good cardiovascular systems, build endurance and support mental health (did you ever notice that when a dog runs, he/she is smiling).  We both reap the same benefits from running.  We’re both spending quality time with our best friend and both enjoy all the sights, sounds and smells of our surroundings – our senses are heightened and our stress levels are reduced. Both physically and mentally, we become happier, healthier and calmer beings.

I started running with my dog Maxie when she was two and one-half years old.  At that age, I was confident that her bones were completely developed.  We started slow – even though she would have liked to run for miles, I knew the activity had to be limited – moderation was key in order to ensure her safety. As her strength and stamina increased, so did our runs.  Being tethered to me, forced her to run at a steady pace – the luxury of stopping and smelling and restarting, as she would if she was running or playing off-leash, was not an option.   I also needed to be aware of her position and pace – was she ahead of me, next to me, or behind me, and if so how far was she behind me; was she breathing normally or was she breathing fast and hard with excessive panting. If she was running behind me by a lead length and panting heavily, we’d STOP! This is no longer enjoyable for her or me – if she is overheating, the repercussions could be serious. Watching for signs of stress or discomfort when running with your dog should be a priority.

If running with your dog is something you’d like to consider, just remember to start slow, watch the time of day you’re running, and be aware of your dog’s condition. Make sure your dog’s joints and bones are fully formed, which generally happens by age two. I love running with my dog, it’s great for both of us. It will be for you too!

How Can Hydrotherapy Help Your Dog?

Canine hydrotherapy combines high quality, non-weight bearing, low impact swimming and movement in water with therapeutic massage and/or other bodywork. In each session, the degree to which water movement and bodywork is combined is tailored to the individual needs of the dog. A healthy dog for example, may spend most of the session power swimming, while a geriatric dog may spend less time swimming and more of the time in the water enjoying a massage or floating through the relaxing warm water.

Warm water swim therapy rejuvenates, strengthens, improves stamina, and promotes longevity in your dog. It is a proven therapy to help build muscle tone, increase cardiac fitness, flexibility and range of motion, and reduce stress, pain, anxiety. Hydrotherapy is routinely recommended by veterinarians for dogs who are geriatric, handicapped, overweight, have conditions such as arthritis, hip or elbow dysplasia, bone or joint diseases, those who are recovering from surgery or injury, and more. 

While hydrotherapy is traditionally recommended for conditions such as the ones above, in reality, any dog can benefit from regular swim sessions. Warm water therapy helps to maintain peak fitness, relieves boredom and stress, and provides an excellent means of physical and mental exercise without suffering the potentially damaging effects of high impact exercises such as running. Even puppies can benefit from swim therapy! Here’s a quick video. Why not give it a try today!