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Thursday, 14 April 2011

How can I keep the spring in their step?

We have two working Springers who are fit and healthy, Ben is six and Ella is two, and my husband regularly works them. They are, obviously, very active dogs, enjoying long country walks too, and I’m wondering what I should do to keep them in prime condition. Our last dog became quite arthritic, and although she had regular hydrotherapy and massage sessions she did need to be prescribed pain relief towards the end of her life; also the costs of the treatment did mount up. I really want to do all I can to ensure that Ben and Ella enjoy an active and pain-free old age. Any tips?

Jane Foster, Andover, Hants

Christine Bailey, Dogs Today, said...

I’m sure you’ll get a lot of advice here. Some people (normally the manufacturers!) recommend using supplements such as glucosamine as a preventative, but when I’ve discussed this with my own vets their opinion is that while these can be effective at treating stiffness, there is no evidence that they work to prevent it. You’ll need to make up your own mind on that.
I was lucky enough recently to be offered a trial of a product called the Springs Things Massage Rug. It’s actually a coat that incorporates two “massage modules” that work on rechargeable batteries to give your dog an all-over body massage! Sounds a bit odd but it’s very effective, it’s simple to use and would enable you to give each of your dogs a massage a couple of times a week or as required. Some people are good at massage, but I’m afraid I’m not one of them, so this worked for me – well, for my dog, anyway! The rug has two settings, gentle for older or more sensitive dogs, and slightly stronger for heavily muscled, fitter dogs. I used the gentle setting on my 12-year-old Airedale, and although at first he seemed a little puzzled, he soon relaxed into it and enjoyed the sensation.
The massage lasts for ten minutes; there is an automatic cut-off so you don’t need to set a timer. Then you simply pop the batteries onto charge for the next time. The rug costs £199, which is pretty good value when you think of the cost of a professional massage! It’s available from

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jane

    It's the same as for people really. You can do what you can, and the rest is up to the genes.
    I would just continue with the exercise, tailing it off slightly as they get older, do a few games that keep their minds occupied, and give them a happy life with lots of play and cuddles. Enough sleep is important too!
    The other thing is diet and this is where there is a divide in opinion, ie, dog food or the BARF or Raw Meaty Bones diet.
    I feed my dog the BARF diet (which includes raw bones) but I don't bother about supplements, reasoning that if I don't need them then I'm sure my dogs don't.
    Normally spaniels don't suffer badly from arthritis, like Labs do, so you must have been unlucky with your other dog.
    I honestly wouldn't spent loads of money on special treatments, just keep them fit and happy.
    Julia Lewis