Veterinary Articles and Case Examples

Benefits of staying lean: How overweight dogs and cats feel more pain

Posted on in Nutrition, Prevention, weight control Comments Off on Benefits of staying lean: How overweight dogs and cats feel more pain

White Trash, 6 hours after his cruciate surgery. Because of his morphine epidural, he’s feeling no pain (regardless of his weight).

Benefits of staying lean:

How overweight dogs and cats feel more pain


It has long been known in people that losing excess weight reduces the amount of ache in the joints.  The phenomenon has been observed in overweight dogs and cats as well.

Initially it had been thought that this was entirely due to mechanical benefits, that the more a patient weighs, the greater the strain on the weight bearing joints and therefore the greater the rate of arthritic degeneration.

But we now realize that there is another reason at play.  Doctors have recently reclassified fat as the largest endocrine organ in the body.  Fat cells don’t just store fat; fat cells secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines that sensitize the body to pain.  This means that for two dogs with identical injuries and identical pain tolerances, whoever has the most body fat will feel the most pain.

The treatment remains the same, overweight dogs and cats need to lose weight, but we now realize that there is more than one reason for this.

Obesity can be a self perpetuating cycle in pets – overweight cats and dogs feel more pain because of chemical sensitization to pain from the excess fat, which makes them reluctant to exercise which makes it harder (if not impossible) to lose weight.  Because they don’t lose weight, they feel more pain which makes them reluctant to exercise, etc., etc.

Of course the reverse cycle is true as well – get the patient feeling better and they will exercise more, which helps them lose weight so they feel better so they become more active which helps them lose weight.

Once the owner-veterinarian team can break through that initial cycle of pain and reduced mobility and get their pet more active again, they see continued improvement happen on its own.  Walking in the park becomes a treatment unto itself.  As far as treatments go, that one isn’t so bad.

If you want to learn more about how to determine if your dog is overweight, visit

Glucosamine in Dogs and Cats

Posted on in Nutrition, Prevention Leave a comment
Geriatric dog on glucosamine

Epic is 13 years old and still enjoying an active life

Glucosamine in Dogs and Cats

(Dr Lane’s Opinion)


There are hundreds of articles about the benefits of glucosamine in dogs and cats, and about as many conflicting opinions.  I had originally intended to weigh into that topic by attempting to sort through and summarize the data, but frankly I’m a little intimidated (ie: scared) by how much effort that would take.

Instead, I thought I would simply offer my opinion.  It is based on years of reading research papers, combined with observations of patient response.  Some of my beliefs are based on established fact, some on theory that has yet to be validated by scientific research, and some on personal bias.  Here we go:

  • I support the use of glucosamine in dogs and cats.  It is nutrition.  Any time I can, I like to use nutrition as a part of therapy, especially if can help reduce the need for prescription medication.
  • Glucosamine is safe.  The only side effect that I have ever observed or seen reported, is soft stools or diarrhea in a small percentage of dogs (usually after they have broken into and eaten the whole bottle).
  • Not all sources of glucosamine appear to be equal.  I prefer a seafood (eg: pernicious mussel) source of glucosamine, as apposed to a bovine tracheal origin.
  • I prefer a whole food source of glucosamine vs the isolated and purified molecule.  I see no reason to assume that glucosamine works the same on its own as it acts when ingested with other molecules it is normally found with. We know this is not the case for other nutrients (I’m looking at you, vitamin E)
  • Glucosamine HCl (hydrochloride) is superior to glucosamine sulfate.  You can use glucosamine sulfate, but I recommend doubling the dose in order to compensate.
  • Don’t assume that all glucosamine products are equal quality.  Until a short while ago, there were no regulations demanding quality control on supplements like glucosamine; it was the honour system and many companies failed miserably by selling products that had so little active ingredient that they were effectively placebo.  The government recently added regulations legislating quality control, but with typical bureaucratic brilliance did not allocate any funding to make sure the regulations are being enforced, so effectively nothing has changed.  One study that looked at this issue found that price was the best indicator of quality.  Once again, you get what you pay for.
  • Do not use a liquid suspension.  There is some question about whether or not the glucosamine salt quickly precipitates out of suspended products, rendering them less effective long before the posted expirely date.  Until this issue is resolved, I prefer to avoid liquid suspensions.
  • Use glucosamine combined with chondroitin.  Their symbiosis hasn’t been conclusively proven, but makes sense.  Glucosamine stimulates the repair of joint cartilage, and chondroitin is the building blocks of that repair
  • Dosage recommendations vary, but I typically recommend the following for glucosamine hydrochloride products (remember to double the dose if you are using glucosamine sulfate):


Cats and small dogs prevention: 250mg/day

Cats and small dogs treatment: 500mg/day

Medium to large dogs prevention: 500mg/day

Medium to large dogs treatment: 1500mg/day

  • There are several injectable products that are similar to glucosamine.  I consider them to be more nutrition than a drug.  Cartrophen and Adequan are two popular examples.  I use either/or with equal confidence.  For dogs and especially cats that are hard to medicate, or if they have a sensitive stomach, then the injectable products are my first choice.  For badly debilitated patients, I recommend both oral and injectable products concurrently.







How To Exercise a Puppy

Posted on in Prevention, Puppy Care Comments Off on How To Exercise a Puppy
how to exercise a puppy

Fiver is one of Dr. Lane’s dogs.

How to exercise a puppy

A frequent question owners ask is “How to exercise a puppy”.  Most owners are aware that too much exercise can damage a puppy’s bones and joints, but they aren’t sure how much exercise for a puppy is too much.  It’s a complicated question because the answer isn’t the same for all dogs – what might be a good amount of exercise for a border collie might be too much for a Bernese mountain dog.

Research has shown that over exercising puppies leads to a number of disorders including hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, fractured coronoid processes, osteochondrosis dessicans (cartilage flaps), etc. etc.

Many breeders responded to this information by severely restricting their puppies’ exercise levels for the first year of life.  As a result, we saw a generation of puppies with inadequate bone density that developed a number of secondary disorders including hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, fractured coronoid processes, osteochondrosis dessicans (cartilage flaps), etc. etc.

The body responds to the work demanded of it – puppies need to exercise in order to develop adequate muscling, bone density, and motor skills.  At the same time, puppies have looser joints and fragile growth plates that are prone to injury.  Too much as well as too little exercise is bad; somewhere in the middle is the golden amount and it varies from breed to breed.

Here are some basic guidelines for how to exercise a puppy:

  • Keep exercise sessions short – do not exercise a tired puppy
  • Keep exercise sessions regular – several times a day – don’t be a weekend warrior
  • Grass or forest floor (firm ground with some give) is better than pavement, rock, deep sand or mud
  • Level ground is best, downhill running is the worst
  • Always touch base with how your puppy is doing – stop at the first sign of fatigue
  • If your puppy is still hyper at the end of an exercise session, then slightly increase the length of that session
  • Vary the exercise – different activities on different terrain
  • Let the puppy lead the pace – they are at greater risk for over extending themselves when trying to catch up
  • Vary the gait – avoid repetitive stress injuries
  • Swimming is a great non-impact sport and can be virtually unrestricted
  • No air time – no jumping down more than one body length.  This usually means one stair height for an 8-10 week old puppy, or a chair height for a 16 week old larger breed puppy.  Repeated jumping down is especially hard on the elbows.
  • No prolonged running.  Dogs don’t sustain a single gait (eg trot or canter) for long periods of time – they mix it up, stop to sniff, run, then trot etc.  Forcing them to pick one gait in order to match your biking or XC skiing pace predisposes to repetitive stress injury.  This applies to adult dogs as well.  Pick a pace where they can run ahead and wait, vs one where they are struggling to keep up.
  • Don’t exercise a tired puppy.  With whatever activity you are doing, frequently stop and check for feedback.  Ideally when you are done your outing, you want a puppy that sniffs around a bit, and then lies down.  If you stop and the puppy just flops, then you overdid it.  If you stop and the puppy immediately starts running circles and attacking your feet, it is fine to continue.
  • Young puppies (less than e.g. 4-5 months) are easy to figure out – as soon as they get tired, they collapse.  Older dogs will push themselves harder rather than miss out on something fun.  They’re the ones that really need to be watched.
  • Once you hit a year of age (except for giant breeds – 15 months for them), you can begin training like a adult, slowly pushing that fatigue point to build endurance.


Addendum: Research update December 31, 2013


The following findings comes from the PhD work of Randi I Kronveit from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. Dr. Krontveit studied hip dysplasia in dogs (nearly 500 dogs from birth to 10 years – should they have survived that long). The breeds studies were Newfoundlands, Labrador Retrievers, Leonbergers, and Irish Wolfhounds:

  • For dogs with an x-ray diagnosis of hip dysplasia, access to off-leash exercise at 12-months of age decreased the need for hip-related veterinary care.
  • Puppies born in spring or summer-time, either on farms or with other ample opportunity to exercise during the first 3-months of their life, had a lower risk of developing hip dysplasia. Recommendations could be made to allow daily outdoor exercise on soft ground in moderately rough terrain to decrease the risk of developing radiographically detectable hip dysplasia (in these 4 breeds).
  • Puppies allowed to walk on stairs from birth to 3 months of age (this was the time-frame studied) had an increased risk of developing hip dysplasia.