Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Just to let everyone know, I saw the osteopath yesterday and he is now spending some time putting a course together for us. (Us being people interested in learning how to keep our agility dogs in good physical balance, learning how to feel that our dogs muscles and joints are aligned and in perfect working order, and using joint manipulation and massage as part of a regular routine). He is keen that we understand exactly what we are doing and why, and was also keen to stress that it is not just rubbing/massaging the muscles as part of the warm up/cool down but a much more in depth understanding that he wants to put across. Of course this is not a course in canine osteopathy, but should put us in a good position to keep our dogs in good working order, and to feel any problems that may start developing and prevent them from developing into anything more serious.
Until he has worked out the details, I do not know how long the course will be or the cost, but he was talking about running it after the agility season and over a couple of Saturdays.
I have been really impressed with the strength and depth of his knowledge and abilites while witnessing how fantastic his work on Kaydee has been.
For all those nice people that have asked about her, she was very unfit after such a long period off, but I have taken a month to bring her slowly back into agility training and she is looking good now..... I will try and get a bit of video up if I can work out how so that you can see for yourselves!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Diet and magnesium

When Kaydees behavior began to worry me (see earlier blog), I noticed a product called 'stress less' on the market. The website claims: 'All animals need to have the correct balance of calcium and magnesium. When a dog is highly strung or becomes stressed, anxious, nervous or excited, they burn off magnesium. This allows calcium to overload muscle and nerve cells and replicates the rise of adrenaline. This can cause erratic behaviour, aggressiveness and/or tightening of muscles.' (Muscle cramps in humans have been successfully treated with magnesium compounds). The vet added a magnesium assay to Kaydees blood tests, and this indicated that she was a little low in magnesium. So I gave her the stress less product at the recommended level. A month later the test was repeated, and the magnesium levels were only slightly higher. My vet did not seem terribly convinced by any magnesium level theory. I stopped supplementing Kaydee, and this happened to coincide with the time she went lame again. Her behavior also deteriorated. Possibly coincidendal, and possibly her behavior is associated with pain and nothing to do with magnesium. My vet has suggested putting K on a veterinary diet to exclude anything that might cause digestive aggrevation, which in turn might cause reduced absorbtion, which might lead to low magnesium levels. It is likely to be much more complicated, as all the electrolytes need to be balanced for the biochemistry to work properly, however I remember from A level biology that a balance of calcium and magnesium ions is required for muscle contraction and relaxation. I have tried to find a canine nutritionist for some knowledgable insight into this. I did get the following useful information: 'Unsuitable diets can cause a build-up of waste toxins which accumulate in the body and build-up over a period of time, eventually beginning to interfere with the proper function of the body’s system. As the body tries to maintain a balance the toxins are eliminated in many forms, including muscle cramps.' Also: 'Muscle glycogen stores supply approximately 70% of the energy required for exercise with fats providing the rest. High carbohydrate levels in a diet maximum muscle glycogen reserves which may reduce the occurrence of the muscle cramps as well.' And finally: 'We do recommend cutting out all treats and tit-bits however adding cooked green vegetables, potatoes and boiled eggs will increase the magnesium intake.' The path I have decided on is to change her diet, to try and learn enough to make informed choices to make her diet as nutritionally balanced as I can, and one that contains as few other added chemicals as possible (and one that I can keep her on long term, including affording it, so the prescription diet is out!) I have started investigating barf, have started adding raw and home prepared foods to her diet, and will probably do half raw food and half a premium quality organic pre-prepared dog food. At the moment she is still getting the extra magnesium supplements. My other dogs have been fine on a premium kibble for years, but can I do better?
All comments welcome!

To swim or not to swim?

That is the question!

All comments welcome please!

Here is the background: Kaydee (4 year old collie bitch) has not competed in any KC agility shows since Ribble (Jan 2008), because although her agility runs looked really good (she recently won into grade 7, won five of her last nine classes and qualified for an Olympia semi), she hasn't been 'right'. She didn't look lame, but was she looking hunched? Were her strides shorter and choppier than usual? Her movement is not that classy, she paces a lot, rolls her hips and has a short choppy stride. Her behaviour changed over the winter, now she was ranging from extremely anxious and worried (suddenly breaking off in the middle of playing, or running back to the van) to completely hyper, over the top, grabbing at toys (often getting me in the process), barking hysterically. Three of her litter mates have developed epilepsy and I was beginning to fear that this behavior was on the edge of that too. I had her physically checked (by a chiropractor) but there didn't seem to be much wrong. Then one day she got up and limped for a couple of strides on her rear right. The next morning I got her to the vet, and she was referred to many specialists, x-rayed etc, and lead walked for weeks. I found a great osteopath, and after the first visit her back was no longer roached but flat, and she was also able to give full extension of her right back leg for the first time. HOwever, after months of lead walking and swimming, and frequent visits to the vet, physio and osteopath, we put her on a water treadmill for five minutes, and that evening she went lame again. Hugely worrying for me, what on earth could be wrong? Would she ever run again? The osteopaths' opinion is that a muscle connecting her right hip flexor to her ribs is shortened, and when overloaded this spasms, causing the roached back and pain down her back and right hind leg. I stopped swimming her at that point (no expert advised this, but my personel observation was that swimming forced her to move in a certain way, whereas if this problem is due to her conformation, she has been compensating well for it for the last 4 years, so I thought lets just let see what happens if I let her move in the way she is happy moving) (I have kept up with the stretches the osteopath showed me though). Two weeks later, she looks and behaves more like the dog I used to know. She is getting back to normal exercise and fitness and looks great. All her problems started in the winter..... and for the first time I have been taking her swimming regularly through the winter.... pure coincidence? Swimming can't possibly hurt a dog though can it? I have talked to a couple of people who have told me that swimming had not been any good for their dog. Does anyone else have similar experiences? Comments welcome.

Part 2 will be about the role of diet and particularly of magnesium....

Monday, June 2, 2008

Of course I left out the important details of how to contact me in my last blog! If you are interested in the canine stretching and joint mobilisation course, contact me either by leaving a comment on the blog or by emailing hannah.banks0 [remove the spaces and put in an at sign]

About Me

My photo
For a bit about what I do for a living, see: