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Rehabilitating My Dog’s Injury with the Gingerlead Harness


Sydney has been living with an injury that started more than two years ago with a partial cruciate tear.  Although the veterinarian said surgery is an option, she didn't feel that it was necessary in Sydney's case.  With light exercise, Sydney began to recover slowly.  The veterinarian thought it would be a few weeks; it was more like a few months before Sydney could go for walks without being in pain afterwards.

I learned a valuable lesson from that experience – go slowly when a dog is recovering from an injury.

Sydney did recover thanks mainly to quality joint supplements and light exercise.

What is a Partial Cruciate Tear?

As I understand it, a partial cruciate tear is when a ligament is stretched so much that it's damaged and cannot bounce back, however, it hasn't torn completely.  In Sydney's case, she injured her ligament as a result of being overweight and too many zoomies; I think her body kept going left and her leg was going right and – BOOM – an injury happened.

A dog can recover from the tear; however, they may not recover full use of the injured leg.  Scar tissue healed over the area to support the knee – in Sydney's case.  Fortunately, Sydney is a couch potato and prefers light walks and roaming around our property to games of fetch, so with the exception of pain and discomfort, she's doing fine with the change in her mobility.

Kimberly Gauthier and Sydney

Life After a Partial Cruciate Tear

What sucks about the partial tear is how often it can be reinjured if you're not careful.  Sydney didn't lose the weight, she still did zoomies when she was feeling better (and we didn't keep watch) and then she'd be walking on three legs.

It was frustrating, but we found a solution through holistic medicine.

I take Sydney to Dr. Rennert for chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture.   Because Sydney is carrying her weight primarily on her right rear leg, her hips are out of alignment.   A quick spinal and hip adjustment does the trick, although Sydney hates the procedure.  Thankfully it's over in a few minutes.

Her appointment ends with an acupuncture treatment that puts Sydney to sleep and helps to stimulate her muscles and ligaments.  By the time we're ready to go, she's forgiven her doctor and she's walking better.

Sydney at Acupuncture with Dr. Rennert of Helping Hands Holistic Veterinary Care

Sydney at Acupuncture with Dr. Rennert of Helping Hands Holistic Veterinary Care

Treating Sydney's Partial Cruciate Tear at Home

Sydney's veterinarian was plain with me and said that Sydney had to lose weight.  It's been a tough road because I kept overfeeding her.  It turns out that the reason she wasn't losing weight as fast as she should have been was because when I started adding Olewo carrots and beets to their meals, I wasn't including them when I weighed her meals.

I'm now including the Olewo carrots and beets (fed for digestive support and healthy metabolism), I can see a big difference.   Sydney is losing weight and we're watching her waistline slim down.  She has more energy and she's walking better; on all four legs.

Our vet also prescribed muscle massages, leg stretches, and light exercise.

Muscle Massages for My Dog

When Sydney is laying down, I pet her firmly along her spine and down her hip and thigh while I watch television. My goal is to stimulate her muscles and get the energy moving (my woo woo coming through).  She loves it, licking her lips the entire time, and I find it relaxing too.  I only do this for about 5-10 minutes and I try to do it every evening.

Leg Stretches for My Dog

When Sydney is laying on her right side or standing up, I hold on to her knee to support her leg with my left hand, while my right hand holds her up beneath her belly so that she's not putting all of her weight on her right rear leg; instead, I'm supporting some of her weight too.  I then pull her left leg back gently, stretch it out fully (as full is it will go), hold for one beat, then gently return it.  I do this 5 times and then I let her go.

I practice this once or twice a day.

Light Exercises for My Dog

Sydney's a home body (like me) and prefers not to go for walks without her pack.  So we exercise at home.  I go outside in the evening and do a lap around the house.  We live on 5 acres making this a perfect distance for Sydney.  Our property isn't level – there are light hills up and down and on her good days, we walk the perimeter of the property instead of around the house, which is a longer walk.

Sydney will let me know when she's had enough by sitting down and I'll sit with her until she's ready to head back to the house.  Each week, she's able to go a little further, for a little longer.

Rehabilitating My Dog with the Gingerlead

I was introduced to the Gingerlead eons ago and I connected with the owners of the company at BlogPaws in June 2016.  I planned to buy a rehabilitation harness for Sydney before I left BlogPaws, however, I missed my opportunity.

No worries.  I knew I'd see them at SuperZoo and when I did, I grabbed my wallet and was ready to pick up a harness for Sydney.   And because I had the Luck of the Irish on this trip – it was truly an amazing trip – the owners of Gingerlead gave me a harness as a gift.  GAVE ME A HARNESS FOR FREE!!!

Gingerlead Rehabilitation Harness

Source: Gingerlead.com

What is a Gingerlead Rehabilitation Harness?

The Gingerlead was developed for a couple's dog, Ginger, that was recovering from a surgery to correct severe hip dysplasia.  They were instructed to use a towel to support Ginger's hips through recovery, but this wasn't easy.  They came up with the idea of the Gingerlead and are now helping dogs everywhere.

I knew that Sydney wouldn't be interested in walking with the Gingerlead.  She's not a fan of new things and when I first put the Gingerlead around her waist and tried to get her to walk, she froze and had that look she gets when I dress her in a costume.

Well, dammit.

I know my Sydney and while I could coax her into walking, I knew that it would take forever for her to get used to her rehabilitation harness.  Because the Gingerlead was developed to support a dog through recovery, then I knew that there were many ways to use a rehabilitation harness to help Sydney.

How the Gingerlead is Helping Sydney

Today, I use the Gingerlead to help with Sydney's stretches and walking.  Since Sydney freezes whenever I put on her Gingerlead, I can work through her stretches without her deciding “we're done” and walking away 30 seconds into our routine.  And on our walks, I take the Gingerlead along, using it to help her towards the end if she's having trouble.

It's been an amazing tool and I hope that as Sydney becomes more used to it; I can bring it with us on walks too.

Sydney has an appointment with her vet on Friday; I'll bring the Gingerlead along to help her in and out of the car, onto the scale (and keep her there), and into our vet's office.  It'll also be great for after the vet, to slow her down because she always feels better and there's a risk of her over doing it if we're not careful.

Image from Instagram Showing Sydney's Trimmer Waistline

Changes to Sydney's Diet and Supplements

Besides including the Olewo carrots and beets when I weigh Sydney's meals, I haven't made any changes to her raw meals.  She still eats what her siblings eat, just less food at 12.5 ounces per meal.  The last time she was weighed, which was over 6 weeks ago, the scale read 77 pounds.  We would like to see Sydney at 70 pounds.  Having seen the difference in her gait and energy level, I know we can get the weight off of her quickly.

There has only been one change to Sydney's supplements.  She's currently getting:

Together, these are making a HUGE different in Sydney's recovery and it's wonderful to see my happy, energetic dog again.  Even when her energy drives her to be naughty.  I've been saying “Sydney Australia Gauthier!” a lot lately.

I will continue to update you on how Sydney is doing with her weight loss, her Gingerlead, and the supplements I add to her food.

In the meantime, if you have a dog with an injury – I highly recommend the Gingerlead.  It comes in several sizes and you can order one for a male dog or female dog.  Our harness will become a part of our home First Aid Kit once Sydney recovers and I plan to invest in one for our boys as well.

You can order your Gingerlead on Amazon.com.

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