My energetic, ball-chasing, beach-digging, vivacious little jumping bean of a Staffy has a very sore leg. He can’t bear to walk further than 200 metres and mostly only wants to spend his time sleeping in front of the heater. He is obviously in pain and uncomfortable. That he took chase after a cat skulking across our front lawn just as I was bending to put his lead on in the pre-dawn dark of Friday morning, has only worsened a situation which was already painful.
The vet is treating possible arthritis and a potential injury of his front elbow with painkillers and anti-inflammatories before we head down the x-ray investigation route. Patty from Healthy Pets Naturally has also prescribed Rosehip joint support which we’ve now started. While I try to remain positive about an eventual recovery and frankly want to cry (and have) to see him in such pain, I’ve had to find new ways to keep him entertained without any leg action involved.
Here’s my plan for brain and body games that we can do for enrichment and burning off energy while he’s lying down on his bed in front of the heater to keep the leg warm and still. These can also work equally well for rainy days, for entertaining older dogs with limited mobility or when you are sick and can’t go outside with your dog during this time of winter colds and flu bugs.
- Zac has become a self-appointed squeaky toy tester. I’ve stocked up on new toys to put in the toy box. He gets to choose a toy during every play session and afterwards the toy and box are put away so that the toys remain interesting. I hold the toy and he gets to chew on it and make it squeak. This can go on for quite some time before he tires of the toy and also creates an interesting background soundtrack as I make my way through watching the Breaking Bad series on DVD. Will be sharing more about our testing results soon.
- I hide chew treats on and in his bed. Either use little dry treats or break up bigger ones into tiny pieces and hide them under the blanket on his bed to find. Zac doesn’t need to move his body, just his head and neck. One hand distracts while the other hides the treat. Shezam, it works every time!
- Practice the ‘watch me’ focus exercise. I bring a treat up to my nose, he has to “watch me” and keep eye contact with me for longer and longer periods – working his way up from a second or two, to about half a minute or longer, then he gets the treat. If he looks away, the clock starts again and I ask for a shorter attention span before he gets to eat the treat.
I’ve found that even though he’s not active, he’s still hungry. So remember to take the calories being fed through treats out of the next meal, as weight gain won’t help with joint support and healing.