A VITAL VET Publication: "Options" - that's what pet parents need. What are the options for my pet? How do I know what to choose? Here at Vital Vet, that's what we provide - OPTIONS. Need a sling or harness? How do I keep my dog safe at home? What are my options for providing him with traction or protection? Is there a rehab professional that can help me at home? Finding the right product or solution for a pet in need can be a daunting task. Vital Vet brings it all together so that you can find what you're looking for all in one place.
Here is one of our favorite case studies. I mean, look at that face!
Sometimes, dogs find their way to the exact right family who will be able to help them thrive through any challenges. Benny found his perfect family when he and his brother, Bartie, were adopted by Donna and Peter Holden 13 years ago.
The Holdens, who have been married for 42 years, have always been the family with pets that have major medical issues and have been navigating serious pet health issues for at least 30 years. When they were contacted by a trusted Samoyed breeder about two pups who needed a special home, Donna said they weren’t sure they wanted to go down that path again.
Benny had been born with legs that bowed out, and his brother Bartie had been born with an extra-large umbilical cord that caused multiple health issues. The two pups were inseparable, and the breeder said they needed to stay together.
“The breeder knew these two dogs would have long-term medical issues and that we had experience in that area. We weren’t sure, but she knew better than we did!” Donna said. “They were the perfect dogs for us and were so in love with each other that they could never have been separated.”
Benny’s Journey through Rehab and Braces
When Benny was born, the breeder told Donna that he came out in a “funny position”. His legs bowed out at the knees, and he had his first hip replacement at 1 year old. He has had surgery on both of his hips and both knees and has had a total of 16 orthopedic surgeries. He loses muscle strength quickly, particularly in his hips, and has been in some form of rehabilitation since his first hip surgery.
For much of his life, Benny has enjoyed and benefitted from hydrotherapy exercises and canine physical therapy, from the rehab teams at Good Dog Aquatic in North Andover, MA, and MSPCA-Angell West in Waltham, MA. It helps him maintain muscle strength so he can get around and stay mobile.
But since his first surgery, he has also had to wear some form of brace. Initially, he started wearing a brace to help support his hip; the brace went from hip to paw and he also had some that covered his paws. He had other braces too that went from his paw to elbow. The weight of the braces was a lot for Benny to bear, and led him to not want to move as much and to muscle wasting; his paws started rolling out as his legs lost strength.
It was then that Donna first learned about Thera-Paw (started by Ilaria Borghese; Ilaria Borghese and Maria Denzer also launched the site, Vital Vet) through their veterinarian, Dr Amy Straut. Benny needed a brace protected his paw and helped him walk but that came to below his knee. But because he also has issues with his feet (they swelled up every now and then) regular braces wouldn’t fit. The Thera-Paw team went to work and got different measurements of Benny’s feet to ensure he would always have a brace that fit, regardless of whether his feet were swollen or not.
“One of the things that is important to me about Thera-Paw is that their products are affordable, compared to many other places, but they also really work with you to find the best solution for your pet”, said Donna.
For example, Benny has several braces he uses to help him get around. He has a hard sandal with an open toe that he walks the best in, and it helps him get up and down, but he can’t wear it all day. He also has a slipper for when he is inside and mainly lounging around, as it is soft and doesn’t rub and cause abrasions.
He was curling his paws so much that his toenails would get all bloody, and he recently had his paw pad reconstructed to help him prevent it from rolling and curling as much.
“The Thera-Paw sandal gives him the best support to help him get around easily and he can walk around more”, said Donna. “When he goes outside, he wears a closed boot brace but that is too heavy for him to wear for long periods. So, we rotate between the different braces (the slipper, the sandal, and the closed brace) to help keep him from scuffing up his paws.”
“It’s been a combination of things that has kept Benny active and happy over the years. Benny has to be with us all the time, he loves car rides, he demands to be petted and get love”, Donna continued. “The hydrotherapy helps him move and helps him build muscle mass, but without the orthotics that he wears, he wouldn’t still be around today.”
Donna discovered Thera-Paw through one of Benny’s doctors at Angell-Animal Medical Center in Boston, and she was immediately impressed with how the Thera-Paw brace helped Benny keep his paw flat.
“Thera-Paw means all the difference in the world from a dog mobility standpoint. And to other pet parents, don’t wait or delay if you think your pet needs extra support. Their condition can get worse quickly, making it more difficult to correct”, said Donna. “If you haven’t yet tried physical therapy or orthotics for your pet, I would say you can never consider it soon enough. Benny is such a happy boy, and the three different braces from Thera-Paw all do different things for him.”
As pet parents, it is important to know what questions to ask. Remember, your veterinary professional is your partner in the well-being of your four-legged companions. Along with Vital Vet, your veterinary professional will show you what options are available and what treatment therapies are best.