Almost a year ago Dr. Peter Eeg, DVM, noticed his dog, a 10-year-old Irish Setter named Chili, had developed a limp. He took her for a checkup where they found a lesion on her right radius. They did a biopsy and received some distressing news: Chili had bone cancer.
Eeg, a veterinarian with 30 years of experience at Poolesville Veterinary Clinic in Poolesville, Md., opted to amputate Chili’s limb. Working with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Peter Lotsikas, DVM, of of Skylos Sports Medicine, Eeg learned about Derrick Campana, CO, and the work he’s done dramatically improving the prosthetics available for animals.
“Having done this for 30 years I’ve seen a number attempts at prosthetics and they’d been woefully ineffective,” he said. “What’s really different and more effective with the devices that Derrick has developed is he takes a mold of the remaining part of the leg and fashions a prosthetic bridge so that it slides on and fits perfectly. The animal has a much better stability.”
So, when Chili developed neurodegenerative arthritis in her hips, a common ailment for large-breed dogs that causes them to progressively lose muscle sensation, Eeg once more turned to Animal Ortho Care to discuss potential treatment options.
Campana recommended a new product: the P.A.W. PEMF Active Wrap, which uses pulsed electromagnetic field therapy to help to increase circulation, reduce swelling, relieve pain and stimulate an anti-inflammatory response.
Eeg had first learned about electromagnetic therapy for animals a couple years ago while at a vet conference in Las Vegas. He knew that in humans the technology was proven to improve nerve function. While he was interested in the potential for the therapy, he said the product he saw at the conference was be a bit too labor-intensive for pet owners to use– requiring them to keep their animal lying down while the electromagnetic field loops were applied a couple times a day.
“It worked, but the problem if you know dogs they don’t like to spend a lot of time in once place,” he said.
The P.A.W. was different though. The multi-use garment has two pockets located directly over the hocks that can hold the PEMF patches as well as hot and cold packs. Pet owners don’t need to hold the device on an immobile animal; instead the owner can put it on their pet like a harness, adjust the fit appropriately and rest easy knowing their pet is getting the benefits of PEMF therapy.
“The nice thing about it is, you can put it on and forget about it,” Eeg said.
Chili has been wearing her P.A.W. for about a month and already Eeg has noticed a difference. The dog is experiencing less swelling and pain and has better muscle function. She’s gained both muscle mass and strength in her backend and her joints have stabilized. It’s improved her ability to move and maintain a normal lifestyle.
Previously, Chili had needed help getting up and down the stairs to the Eeg’s second-floor master bedroom. Not anymore.
“She’s been able to climb stairs at night, and back down in morning,” he said.
Of course, Eeg isn’t relying on PEMF alone to treat Chili. She still takes anti-inflammatories, which he also credits for Chili’s improvements. When he discusses recommending PEMF to his patients, he refers to it as an alternative therapy or a conjunctive therapy– another tool pet owners can use in coordination with things like medication, therapeutic laser treatments, acupuncture and acupressure, and water therapy. None of these treatments on its own can cure neurodegeneration, but in combination they can help slow the progression and improve an animal’s quality of life.
Eeg says that neurodegenerative issues are a significant cause for concern for his clients with bigger dogs. As the condition worsens, these dogs often end up needing assistance with mobility and can lose the ability to feel the need to go to the bathroom. As a result, it’s often the cause for euthanasia.
While pet owners like to do whatever they can to maintain their pets quality of life, there’s also an ease factor to consider, Eeg says. If a treatment causes them to have to jump through hoops multiple times a day, a device is too challenging to put on or there are other inconveniences, there’s a high attrition rate.
But the P.A.W. makes it easy for owners. With help from their vet and an online tutorial, they can learn how to put the garment on and adjust it. Eeg cautions that there does not need to be any compression when fitting the device; it’s not like an ACE bandage or pressure wrap. It just has to be placed in the proper position. Once it’s fitted to their pet, owners can set it and forget it.
Chili wears her P.A.W. every night. Eeg doesn’t worry about her chewing on it, but cautions that pet owners need to pay attention to their pets when they’re first using the P.A.W. wrap to ensure they won’t chew on it.
While he hasn’t used the hot-cold packs for Chili, Eeg says they’re definitely useful for animals who have had strains, sprains or a ruptured ligament. Using heat and cold is a cornerstone for treating injured areas in human physical therapy– it’s a natural extension to use it for animals.
Eeg wants to make sure he has a good grasp on best practices for using the P.A.W. PEMF Wrap before recommending it to any of his clients, but he already has a growing list going of clients he plans to talk with about it.
Right now, he’s happy to see his own dog regain some of her mobility thanks in part to her P.A.W. wrap.
“PEMF has been a great addition to keeping her comfortable and making her enjoy her life on our farm better,” he said.