My husband and I are the happy guardians of Mila Luna, an 8-year-old female Labrador. We have recently noticed a weakness in her hip area, especially when she jumps on our bed in the morning. She also has had two episodes of incontinence. Her recent urinalysis detected no abnormalities, and she is scheduled for X-rays next month. She has been extremely healthy, in part owing to years of a raw-food diet, along with supplements such as cod-liver oil, vitamin E, acidophilus, fresh sardines and occasional raw marrowbones. She has also been given glucosamine (750 mg) and chondroitin (525 mg) since she was 8 weeks old.
I would like to get your advice on ways in which we can strengthen her hind area and perhaps show the progression of muscle loss and weakness. Should we increase her joint supplements? We are trying to keep Mila's weight in the normal range (she now weighs 65 pounds), but it may prove beneficial for her to lose a few more pounds.
P.Z., Washington, DC Jan 09, 2011
Mila is lucky to have such good caregivers. It is good to keep her weight in check. If there is any place she can regularly swim, that would be excellent physical therapy -- along with a daily back and leg massage (as per my book on dog massage therapy). Acupuncture may help if her condition worsens.
As for supplements, try a human daily dose, after feeding, of Zyflamend from New Chapter; and get her used to a teaspoon daily of powdered turmeric and ginger in her food, beginning with a pinch of each so she gets used to the taste.
Avoid having her jump up and down any heights greater than a couple of feet without support under her abdomen.