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Posts Tagged ‘Vale Park Animal Hospital’

DSCN0001aIt’s been four months since Brownie, now almost 14 years old, started laser therapy for torn ligaments in her back right knee and pain from arthritis. The results have been excellent.

When we started, she could barely touch that paw to the ground, much less put any weight on it. Now she’s running around the yard, chasing the cats through the house (don’t worry, they all enjoy it), jumping up on the couch and bed and clambering up and down stairs unless I can head her off first.

It took longer than surgery would have and cost even more. It also required a demanding regimen of three visits a week for the first month, then two a week for the second month, then once a week. We’re now down to one visit about every three weeks. She’s also able to skip the twice-weekly injections of pain medicine prescribed initially, and needs a Rimadyl only occasionally.

Her first sessions were difficult. She was lifted onto a waist-high table and made to lay down while the technician moved the laser wand over her spine, knees, hips and shoulders. Being up on the table terrified her; she trembled the whole time and had to be held down. It was not fun for anybody.

Another technician discovered Brownie would cooperate happily if allowed to stretch out on a comforter laid on the floor (and bribed with lots of liver treats). After that, she was relaxed and content during each 40- to 50-minute session.

It’s not easy to find a vet who offers laser therapy. Brownie gets hers at Vale Park Animal Hospital in Valparaiso, Ind. They’ve also used it a couple of times on some slow-healing wounds acquired by one of my cats during a nighttime encounter with something hostile. The wounds shrank drastically and healed quickly after that.

If your pet is too old or not healthy enough for surgery, or if you simply prefer a gentler, non-invasive treatment, I highly recommend it. I started as a doubter, worrying that it was just some New-Agey alternative that had been marketed before its effectiveness was known. Watching Brownie trotting along on her walks, even pulling on the leash in her enthusiasm, has settled those doubts.

 

 

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This is the fourth week of Brownie’s three-times-a-week laser therapy treatments for arthritis and a torn ligament. Just last week, unable to see improvement, I began to wonder if the expense and inconvenience were worth it.

This week, she started to put weight on her injured back leg, which had been dangling uselessly since she tore the ligaments in her back-right knee. We’ve started going for short walks, and she’s felt good enough to repeatedly initiate play sessions with a 90-pound doberman who was boarding with us for a few days. I hated to have to put a stop to that, but couldn’t risk letting her chase or be chased on a bum leg.

The picture above, taken off the Internet, shows what a session is like with a dog about Brownie’s size. The vet tech puts a comforter on the floor for Brownie, who gets very anxious and antsy if lifted onto a table. Brownie can stand, sit or lie down, as she likes, while the vet tech gets down on the floor with her and maneuvers herself around to reach whatever spot is being treated. My mother and I sit right there in a couple of chairs, petting Brownie and gently holding her in place if she gets restless. The vet tech simply moves the head of the laser back and forth and around whatever area is being targeted for five minutes, close enough to ruffle Brownie’s fur but without any pressure. In Brownie’s case, the tech treats her back knees, hips, one shoulder and part of her spine.

It’s likely that a combination of laser treatments, bi-weekly pain shots and special joint-boosting treats have led to this improvement as their effects accumulated over the past month. The techs say most dogs grow to enjoy and look forward to their laser treatments, but Brownie isn’t one of them. She cooperates, but remains very anxious about car travel and vet visits. We’ve added a Busy Bone treat to her car trips, in addition to a tranquilizer and a personal transportation aide (Mom) to hold her steady and pet her while I drive.

Laser treatments aren’t easy to find around here, as not many vets want to invest $40,000 in one machine. We go to Vale Park Animal Hospital in Valparaiso, Indiana, and patients come from all over Northwest Indiana for laser treatments there. At our next session, we’ll meet with the vet to map out what’s next for Brownie.

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When Brownie tore ligaments in her back left knee two years ago, the vet warned me that there was a 50 percent chance the same thing would happen in her back right knee.

It happened a month ago as she was going up the front steps after a walk.

At 13 (that’s 91 in people years), Brownie isn’t a good candidate for surgery, as we did the last time. She has arthritis and a heart murmur. Surgery, however, was the only option my vet offered, although he didn’t want to do it himself this time. He recommended I take her to Purdue University’s Small Animal Hospital – 98 miles away! The cost would be about $3,500, instead of the $1,000 it had cost at the local vet.

It looked like Brownie’s only options were a dangerous operation or being euthanized. She wouldn’t even touch her back right paw to the floor, much less put any weight on that leg. It simply dangled, probably causing her constant pain. Yet she gave no other sign of distress, remaining cheerful, eating well and even trying to continue chasing my two cats. (Don’t worry, it’s just a game; they pretend to be scared while they all enjoy the chase.)

An Internet search for alternatives turned up Vale Park Animal Hospital in Valparaiso, Ind. One of its vets specializes in nontraditional treatments. She recommended laser therapy, joint boosters, twice weekly pain shots and a session with a rehabilitation specialist who would show me how to massage and exercise Brownie’s bum knee. It would cost more than the first surgery, but possibly less than the second recommended one, depending on how well it worked and how fast.

So three times a week, we make the half-hour drive to Valpo for a laser treatment. In my next post, I’ll let you know how that’s going.

 

 

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