Barbara Bockstahler DVM Project Group Motion Analysis, Clinic of Surgery and Ophthalmology,
The treatment of overweight dogs with orthopaedic disorders is particularly challenging. Overweight can predispose to the development of musculoskeletal diseases or aggravate existing problems, caused by the immense exertion put on joints, tendons and ligaments. In addition to the orthopaedic consequences, adipositas may cause damage to the cardiovascular system and can lead to the development of diabetes mellitus. It further constitutes a higher anaesthetic risk and generally a lower life expectancy. A reduction in weight can lead to an improvement in existing lameness1. It is clear that overweight patients with orthopaedic illnesses require special treatment. In our experience a combination of weight loss and physiotherapy has give the best results. This combination may now allows the cessation of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory therapy in many patients. The special exercise programmes also lead to weight loss in the patient. The close participation of the owner in the course of the therapy also aids owner-compliance.
1. WEIGHT REDUCTION
In order to achieve optimum weight reduction we have to take into account the various influencing factors regarding the energy consumption of the dog. These include e.g. age,
Dietary plan management
In order to achieve a weight reduction of around 1% of the original body weight per week, we recommend a 40% reduction of the maintenance requirements. The optimum intake will therefore depend on the ideal target weight.
For practical reasons the feeding of commercially available reduction diets has proven good results. These diets support weight loss and offer an ideal balance of nutrients until the animal has reached its normal weight.
The owner may hand out a limited amount of treats, which can be seen as rewards as well as a useful tool in dental care and also play an important role in the owner-compliance. However, it has to be noted that every additional treat has to be deducted from the total original calculated energy consumption amount. Some companies offer treats with reduced calories in combination with their reduction diets. It is recommended to draw up a time schedule for the weight loss and to hand a written copy of this schedule over to the owner.
2. PHYSIOTHERAPY AND EXERCISE PROGRAMME
The physiotherapy treatment should be started at the same time as the weight loss programme. The chosen therapies will depend on the current condition of the animal.
The following methods have proven successful:
The use of hot and cold packs is very easy, constitutes no great financial burden and is also a very simple for the owner.
Heat improves circulation, releases muscular tensions and has analgesic effects.
Cold decreases acute inflammation and has analgesic effects.
Depending on the symptoms, heat treatments can be used to assist warm-up before a training session or in case of limited joint mobility, while cold treatments can be applied after the training session or with joints with higher temperature.
Hot/cold packs are readily available. These packs should be folded in some fa
Depending on the massage technique applied, a massage can increase or decrease the muscle tone, releasing tension and improving circulation. Some simple traditional massage techniques could also be explained to the owner who will then continue them at home.
Good results in pain management have been achieved by the use of low frequency impulse streams and here in particular by the use of transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation (TENS). Nowadays there are a number of different machines available, which can be used at home. Machines with needle electrodes (PT 20,
A large number of patients show a distinct lack of motivation to move, partly due to orthopaedic problems and partly to being overweight. The therapist faces the task of
1. Impellizeri, J. A., Tetrick, M. A., & Muir, P. (2000) Effect of weight reduction on clinical signs of lameness in dogs with hip osteoarthritis. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 216: 1089-1091. SMALL ANIMAL