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Lifestyle and Home Modification | Arthritis Awareness Week Day 4

 

Full Interview Transcript:

Eric Shannon:

Alright. Hey everybody. This is Eric Shannon from Big Barker Dog Beds, and I'm here on day four of Canine Arthritis Awareness Week with two special guests. We have Dr. Hannah Capon from the Canine Arthritis Management Group, and she is also the recent recipient of the Impact Award from the Royal Veterinary College. She devotes her entire life to helping dogs with arthritis. We also have Dr. Kathy Murphy with us today, who is a veterinary surgeon and neuroscientist. We have a very interesting topic today, which is...

Eric Shannon:

It seems like a strange question we have here on the screen, could your home be harming your dog? That's something that a lot of us might not ever think about, but there's a couple of things that they're going to talk about today that you're going to find interesting. So before we get into it, just to recap what we're doing here, what is Arthritis Awareness Week? We feel we've been making dog beds for dogs with joint problems and mobility problems for the last eight years, and we feel that canine arthritis is the most widespread health problem facing dogs, and especially the bigger dogs that we serve.

Eric Shannon:

We feel that the topic does not get as much attention as it should; so we're really, really honored to be doing Arthritis Awareness Week with all these wonderful experts. Today's day four, we have one more day, it is day five. There's a link with this video. It's bigbarker.com/aaw. If you go to that link, we will email you all five presentations along with any of the resources we talk about today. So with that, I'm going to turn it over to you, Hannah.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Hey. Hey guys, it's great to be back. This is one of my absolutely beloved friends, so we will behave. We're going to be hopefully helping you look at some of the things that are in and around your home that can have a massive impact on your dog's quality of life. So should we start with our first question, Eric? Why should we consider adapting or adjusting a dog's lifestyle and where they live? What do you think about this, Kathy?

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Yeah, so it's really interesting because I think often when we're considering how to manage a dog's lifestyle when it's been diagnosed with arthritis or even before it's been diagnosed in order to prevent arthritis, we often think of things like drug management or pharmacological interventions or regular vet visits or that kind of thing, but there are simple things around the home that can make a huge difference both in terms of prevention and then also in order to help improve comfort the dog.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Totally agree, and what I love about this is the fact that they're easily accessible by everybody. You don't have to have a good financial backing to do them. Most of them are free of charge interventions, and that's really cool to me because we care about all dogs. It's not just big dogs that can come to the vets. So we're going to [inaudible 00:02:56].

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Well, I was going to agree. Interestingly, there's probably more science behind some of these free interventions that you can do than behind a lot of the supplements that are pushed towards owners, particularly a big dog thing. Your dog's got to have this in order to make sure it has good joint functions, and there often isn't as much science behind those as some of these things that you can entirely do for free.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Yeah. Absolutely. So we're going to crack on something really close to both of our hearts because it's really, really obvious when you actually hear it. So one of the things that we're keen to talk about is sleep. Isn't it, Kathy?

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Yes. One of my favorite subjects. We know how important sleep is for ourselves. We know that if we don't get enough sleep we're grumpy. We know that if we get disturbed in the night, we're often grumpy then too. If we don't get enough sleep, so if we're getting sleep deprived, then our physical health starts to deteriorate.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

This is something that I don't think we frequently enough think about for our dogs and particularly with dogs where pain might be an issue. There's a really interesting interconnection between pain, sleep, and physical health and wellbeing. That's what we're really talking about, wellbeing. So one of the effects of painful conditions is that when the body is in pain, but particularly in chronic pain situations, the body stops producing as much melatonin. Melatonin is usually produced in the brain.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

It's a substance that usually is produced in the brain to promote sleep and it's particularly important for enabling an animal or a human to get to sleep, so to go from being perfectly awake and chatting away to, okay, thanks. It's bedtime. That process of getting to sleep is very much driven by melatonin. If the body is using less melatonin because there's a chronic pain condition, then it's much more difficult for the dog to actually get to sleep in the first place. Sometimes we'll see them pacing around, circling, shuffling.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

They're kind of moving from one side to the other and yes, that may actually be pain in the joints that's disturbing them because you've got two things going on so you've got, ouch, that doesn't feel comfortable because it hurts a bit. I'm going to lie on the other side, but also you've got the added complication that they find it much more difficult to get to sleep. It might be difficult to ignore the aches and pains in their joints because they don't have as much of the chemical produced in their brain called melatonin.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

It's a bit of a negative spiral really, isn't it?

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Yeah. Well, that's actually a really good term for it because guess what disturbed sleep causes? Disturbed sleep causes more pain and that's because pain... I think I've heard you use this terminology before, Hannah. Pain isn't in the joint, pain is in the brain. There is two components of pain. One is the initial initiation of the pain signal, which comes from the arthritic knee or the arthritic shoulder.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

You don't experience that pain until those signals have reached the brain and in the brain, signals are processed through a variety of different methods in order for the brain to be able to say, how painful was it? What type of pain is it? Is it pain I need to be worried about? Is it the type of pain where I need to stay off work if I'm a human or am I okay? If I'm a dog, is it the type of pain where I need to start licking my legs? Or is it the type of pain where I'm not going to bother eating because it's too painful?

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

All of that processing that goes on in the brain and sleep disturbance interferes with that pain processing so that those pain signals are prioritized and the brain could release them, which is more painful. That's called upregulation of the signal. So the signal comes in and then it's like a dial. It gets turned up like a volume dial, so that that pain signal is much, much louder and that's because of the disturbed sleep. Essentially, what disturbed sleep does is it stops you from being able to have control over that pain signal and how it's perceived.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

I suppose you could also say it even prevents you from being able to cope with your pain and that I relate to. I had a shoulder injury and it was affecting my ability to go to sleep and it was waking me up during my sleep. I was grumpy at work and people were getting grumpy with me back, and then that was making the pain worse.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

So then it was harder to go to sleep, and then I woke up with even more and that went on a long time and I can remember halfway through it, I'm thinking, "Is this for life? Have I got this for life?" Then the emotional, "Oh my god, what happens if this is for life?" It all interconnects really quite importantly, so trying to help them have good quality sleep is really quite important, isn't it?

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Definitely. Actually, for human patients, one of the drugs that they can have prescribed to them is actually sleeping tablets to try and break that cycle. Now often that isn't appropriate for dogs for various reasons because we can't communicate with dogs in the same way as we can with humans, so we don't necessarily know what's going on. So for us, it's much more important for our dogs to break that cycle with comfort.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

We need to be able to provide them with a comfortable sleeping area and there are several things to consider with that. It has to be firm enough so that they're not floundering around trying to get out of their bed because that's going to cause them more pain. Some of these really, really soft beds are great to get into, might be great to sleep in, but they're really difficult to get out of. You've got to have them in a firm enough place for them to be able to tip themselves up onto their feet, quite literally.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

And then, looking for whether the dog prefers a raised bed or a bed on the floor, and making sure that bed is at the right height. So it looks like the dog is using as little effort as possible to get up and get down again. That's what you want to be looking for. So that height's going to be different for each dog depending on how big your dog is, for instance. And then, they really need food... Oops, sorry.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Oh, no. I just need to add to that because my little pet hates is when you see beds and the person very lovingly puts some cuddly toys and some blankets and a fleecy bit and...

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

And there's no room.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

This is just going to be a trip hazard and their going to get their feet caught up in the blankets and you see them try and go, "I don't really know where to sleep now because I'm going to lay on something." So one of the things that I do with my own is, is I really...

Dr. Hannah Capon:

I teach them it's okay that the bed is quite plain and it's not pillowing, and the more sequins and fluff it has does not make it a better bed. That really is something that's really important. The more fluff and patches and twinkles and name badges doesn't make it a better bed. Actually, quite often, the plain, simple, predictable, reasonably firm, big enough beds are way better.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Yeah, definitely. There is good research showing that being able to lay out flat, as opposed to curling up into a smaller, rounder bed is really important for getting into some of those deep sleep phases. So, I mean, I always provide my dogs with a mixture of options. So they've got the kind of smaller rounded bed if they decide they want to curl up like a little pussy cat, but they always have options for lying flat-out so they can really get into that nice deep state of sleep.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

I'm going to add just a little tangent there because again, you've heard me say this a hundred times. Also, when dogs get up from sleeping, their often quite stiff for that initial period. I think all of us are like that. You get out of bed and you're like, "Oh, I just got to loosen up a little bit," and if you have something like arthritis, you're going to be worse.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

That stiffness is going to be there for longer and possibly more severe. Do not have a slippery floor around the bed because that's going to be like getting out of bed onto an ice rink, and it's something that can be so easily changed. Can I tangent us into about the house? About other things that really prick your ears up where you're thinking...

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Yeah. It's interesting because I think it's not just about the point that you made about making sure that they can get traction when they're getting up and getting down. It's really important to avoid slips, trips, and further injury. Also, micro injuries, those little injuries that are created because the dog is having to try extra hard to grip the floor and make sure it doesn't fall over. Interestingly, also, that type of environment tends to be associated with a high level of anxiety because the dog knows from experience that it needs to pay attention to how it's placing its feet, and where its body weight is to avoid slipping and tripping because it had one or two bad experiences.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

So the dog learns that the floor is slippery and therefore is anxious about moving around on the floor and anxiety, again, changes that perception. So as soon as the pain signals are coming in, those pain signals, the volume is being dialed up again in animals and humans that have anxiety. So that, again, is contributing to the pain signals and the pain pathway, meaning that that dog will be experiencing a much greater level of pain than it would have to if it had a more predictable surface to work on. So you've got two things potentially going on here.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

If you've got disturbed sleep for the reasons that we were talking about and then anxiety associated with the slippery floor or the floor where they can't get traction, so we've got that anxiety feeding in. You've got two factors there that are dialing up the pain signals and, of course, what do we do when we see our animals are struggling in pain? We go and get them more drugs, we give them pain relief, which is exactly a logical thing to do, but of course, all we're really doing is feeding that vicious cycle, and what were doing is actually stripping everything back and saying...

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

"Okay, let's make this floor as predictable as possible and let's make sure that they can get around the house to the areas that they need to get to without having to worry about getting to it. Let's make sure that they can get in and out of their bed without having to worry that they might get stuck and let's make sure their bed is nice and firm and allows them to strech out. That they've got options for different sleeping areas, so they've got choice and really, really importantly, that they've got an area that's undisturbed. This is particularly important for those of you who've got young families.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Young family households are wonderfully joyful, but they're also wonderfully noisy and they're hectic, and there's a lot going on. That's great, but we just don't have enough to be able to exclude itself from that. So, maybe a room where everybody knows the dog's sleeping or an area that is the dog's area to sleep in. Some people will put a crate up, not to shut the dog in to take the front door off, but just to cover over and make it into a cave or a den. And then, the rule for everyone in this house, you don't go into the crate, that's the dog's area.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

You really do need an area where the dog knows it's not going to be touched. It knows it's not going to be talked to. It knows it's not going to be interrupted because you don't know what state of the sleep cycle its in when you're interrupting it and when those things are happening, and the more you interrupt that deep level of sleep, the less melatonin the dog's going to produce. The more difficult it's going to find it to get to sleep and then the more agitated it's going to get and for reference, all of these things feed in.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Just spiral. I just want to take an opportunity to quickly say two ends of the spectrum that some of our viewers are likely to see. You've got the one end of the spectrum where you're going to have dogs who actually are avoiding slippery floors, and I've seen many clients whose dogs will actually hide away and stay in the corridor where the carpet is, where the rug is, and they'll stop socializing with the family in the room where the slippery floor is. That makes sense.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

That's really logical, but I will say, in the other extremes where the dogs do not seem to be worried about the flooring, but their behavior becomes almost a little bit manic and agitated. What I want to say to you guys is just because your dogs on that floor and they appear to be okay with it, that doesn't make it okay. Be really, really aware about slippery floors, especially dogs that have joint disease because if you think about it, the worst thing you can do to an arthritic joint is make it go in all funny, wrong directions without warning.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

That's horrendous for an arthritic joint, but we're also beginning to understand and believe and gain evidence that this could actually be contributing to arthritic disease. These unexpected movements could be a source of where arthritic changes is developing from. So we need to be aware about this. We're going to take literally about a two minute opportunity because we can't miss this one just to say about the third thing that really jumps out at us, how can we help owners? That's the third thing that me and you have really been up on it about.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Three things that matter most in an arthritic dog's adapted lifestyle; sleep, definitely, and rugs not drugs. So making sure that they can get traction on the floor. The third one is adapted activities. So looking at the activities that the dog likes to engage in and making sure they are suitably adapted so that we're not contributing anymore to the arthritis or any painful condition.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

So that would be things like looking into juicing activities like licky mats and stuffed cones and activities that are quite gentle on the body, but require a bit of mind work or brainwork if you like. There are a variety of puzzle toys you can use for that as well, and then looking at all kind of energetic activities and seeing whether we can modify those. So avoiding things like repetitive high-impact activities, like ball throwing with the ball thinger, and looking up where they would modify that to something like low, low Frisbee throws, for instance, instead.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

So we're looking at reducing the speed that the object is moving at, making sure that with Frisbees, they float in the air longer than falls. So it means that the dog's not having to move quite so fast and it's having to do this running a little bit more to predict where it goes and low to the ground, so you're not getting that explosive jumping up and then falling back down and jarring the dog.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Hide and seek the activity as well.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Yeah, and the scent work activities are amazing. The hiding toys around the car. I mean, I go out with my dog and their scent trained to pick up the smell of tiny little bits of KONG rubber. So I just tied tiny bits of KONG rubber around the path and they just go around off the leash and go looking for them. So games like that are fantastic because they're really low impact and you want to be looking to avoid the high impact stuff. If your dog's really addicted to the high impact stuff, then just acknowledge that, but try and modify the game so that you can slowly wean it onto an activity that's less impact.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Yeah. I think on that note, what I'll do is in the notes that are going to be on the link, we will include a Facebook live that me and Kathy did only a few weeks ago talking about the importance of considering these activities because it's really common for owners to say to me...

Dr. Hannah Capon:

"Oh, but he loves the ball. I know that he's really painful later, but he loves the ball. I can't take that away from him because that's what makes him happy." I really, really beg you to watch the Facebook live that we'll include in the link. Please do sign up for the link because this is really game changing stuff and it doesn't cost anything. So yes, we will see you again, but Eric, do you want to pop back? He's going to reappear.

Eric Shannon:

Here I am. I'm back.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Yay.

Eric Shannon:

Let me get this thing off of the both of our heads. There we go. That's better.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Cool.

Eric Shannon:

Okay. We have a couple questions, but before that, I think I have my own question here. So it was really... When we were talking about beds, it was hard for me to not hop in and start talking about beds myself. I've been obsessed with dog beds since 2006. You mentioned that, and this was interesting, that disturbed sleep actually causes more pain. That's really an interesting point.

Eric Shannon:

Can you kind of talk about the difference between... You talked about what makes a good dog bed and I can talk about that as well, but what might a bad dog bed do for their sleep? For example, let's say you have a bigger dog and you have one of those orthopedic beds that come from the pet store, which is usually fairly thin, sometimes it's egg crate foam. Is a bed like that helpful or is it contributing to the disturbed sleep that's causing more pain?

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

I will say that the only way you are going to know is to monitor what's happening with your dog. The first thing to do is to actually become aware of what your dog's sleeping patterns are. So you want to be looking for how easily they fall asleep and how still they are when they're asleep. They don't have to be perfectly still, but you just want to get an idea. Are they moving around a lot during their sleep? Which might indicate that actually... I mean, it definitely indicates that their aligned and leveled, but it might indicate that their not getting periods of deep sleep.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Are they ever getting to that stage where they're lying flat, their twitching a little bit or paddling off to the rabbit, and their eyes are blinking because that's an indication their in a deeper plane of sleep. The first thing to do is observe. So look and see what's going on with your dog and also observe the total amount of sleep that the dog gets. There are two different factors here. The one is the total amount because sleep deprivation can also dial up the volume to those pain signals and the other one is how disturbed the sleep is, so how interrupted it is.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

That's either interrupted by itself or by others. So I'd say that's the only way to really know, and then you can introduce a new bed and see whether that changes or not. The difficult thing with the thinner beds is that actually for smaller dogs, that might feel comfortable, but if you, yourself, lie on one of those beds, quite often, it's not long before your hips start hurting. Actually, I do do this because I curl up on the dog bed next to my dog sometimes. I know that's weird, but sometimes I do lay there.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

No. That's normal.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

That is surprising how much you can spend... I mean, I think an expensive dog bed is like a hundred quid, but some of my beds are a hundred quid and yet it doesn't take five minutes for my hip to start aching and for me to start shuffling around. So if you've got a big dog, then that's a real problem. Obviously, with my Chihuahuas, it's not such a problem because they haven't got the body weight for it. And then again, like the softness, you want to make sure that the bed is firm enough to actually support them and support their joints and not too firm so that they get pressure sores.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

And again, that might be different for different shape dogs and will certainly be different with different weights of dog. So again, It goes back to observing them and seeing how easily they can get on it and off it, and whether they actually get into a period of sleep that is deep enough for them to get true rest. Naturally, when you watch... I mean, I've got... Hannah, I think mentioned, Raven, my Belgian Shepard, before we went live. So I've just got a new Belgian Shepard four months ago from the police service.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

She's retired and she had a real tough time learning how to sleep because her job is to wait in the kennel for whenever she's next on duty, so she always slept with one eye open. I do wonder if there's a bit of pain there. We don't have time to go into that. It's like diagnosing my own dog live, but I am investigating her for suspected chronic pain that I think is feeding in to the disturbed sleep. All I did was stick a camera on her.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

It was really obvious because she would have a couple of minutes of sleep, then she would change position, then a couple of minutes later then change position, or she'd be constantly groaning or shifting around in her sleep. There was just no areas of time where she had undisturbed sleep, and it took her about a month, I would say, before I saw that settling down. One slight complication is that she chews any bed she's given, so unfortunately I can't get her a Big Barker. If she didn't do it, it would be perfect for her.

Eric Shannon:

Yeah, that does make it more difficult. One thing that you can look for in beds, whether you buy a Big Barker or something different, because like Dr. Murphy said, it's important that the bed is firm enough, but it also has to be soft enough to be comfortable. So the only way you can really do that for a bigger dog is to have multiple layers of foam. In a Big Barker, for example, the top two inches is a softer foam and that's where you get the effect of the joint being enveloped and supported in the foam because it'll sink into that top two inches, but below is a more resilient layer and that's going to block the dog from sinking all the way to the floor because that's the problem.

Eric Shannon:

I mean, the example I like to use is when I was a little kid, we would go to my grandmother's house and it would be my parents in the bed and me and my two brothers sleeping in sleeping bags around the bed on the hardwood floors. That sleeping bag is not a ton of padding whatsoever. Even though I was only eight, nine years old, that stunk. I mean, it hurts your hip. It hurts your elbows. It hurts your shoulder. Any position you get in, it's not good. If you have an 80 pound Labrador or god forbid a 200 pound Great Dane and that bed doesn't have multiple layers of foam, it's really the same thing as sleeping in that sleeping bag.

Eric Shannon:

I'll stop there because I could talk about dog beds all day. The last thing I'll say about it is if you haven't seen it yet, anybody that's watching, there was a clinical study done on Big Barker beds at University of Pennsylvania and the results showed that owners reported things like the bed having a positive impact on having less joint pain, having better mobility, lots of different things. I won't go into great detail here, but if you go to bigbarker.com/aaw in the recap email, we'll send a link to the study so you can check it out for yourself.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

I think that's really interesting because I think that the obvious go to would be to assume that somehow that's having an effect on their joints. I would like to bet my hat that actually some of that effect is to do with just simply giving them a good night's sleep and therefore dialing down the volume on their pain signal.

Eric Shannon:

Yeah, absolutely. Because one of the things they did in this study is they put activity monitors on the dogs collars to see how much they were moving at night. There was some data showing that the dogs did move less at night while on the Big Barker bed, which does probably indicate more restful sleep.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Yeah. Interesting. Send me the study also because I haven't read that I'm afraid to say. Ashamed to say I didn't read it before I came on to meet you, Eric.

Eric Shannon:

I will get it to you ASAP. Let me look through the comments here. There's a few that I wanted to bring up. We have a bunch. So first one, this is Joe Kane. Joe is actually an old friend of mine from like 20 years ago. Joe says his Siberian Husky passed away recently, he had arthritis and diabetes. I miss him every day. We were best friends.

Eric Shannon:

Joe, I'm really sorry to hear that, and actually Joe's Husky, if it's the same dog, was one of the very first Big Barker models. Before we even sold Big Barker, I had some demo beds and me and a friend of mine, we rented a van and we drove those beds around to people that were friends of mine with bigger dogs and took pictures.

Eric Shannon:

This is before we ever had a website and Joe was nice enough to let us come in. So, Joe, I'm really sad to hear that. If that is the same dog, he was a nice dog. I got a chance to meet him and I'll post a picture of him in the comments here as well. Sorry to hear that, Joe. A couple other comments here, we have... There's a lot of them, so it's going to take me a second.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Okay.

Eric Shannon:

Here's a good tip. You guys agree? It says also important...

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Oh yeah.

Eric Shannon:

Oh yeah. Good one, actually.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Yeah, I like it. And nails... Nails is the other.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

I mean, I kind of know because I've got an oldy. He's about 15 now and he would rather die than have his nail cut. It's like a two man job to clip his nails.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Luckily he's only about four kilos, which is quite helpful.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

I think two. He's only two kilos.

Eric Shannon:

Linda is asking, this is back to the ball throwing. Can we roll the ball for them? Would that be better?

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Yeah. Yeah. That's a really good modification of the game for sure. Yeah, definitely. Actually, what I've been doing with Raven because she is a ball addict and I don't use that word lightly. As a neuroscientist, I actually do believe that she's got an abnormal reward system with the ball. She's genuinely addicted to it. So I've been weaning her off really slowly.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

That's one of the things I've been doing is decreasing the speed so that eventually, she can get enjoyment from a really slow moving ball. She's starting to get it now, so it is possible for anyone out there who thinks it's impossible. They won't possibly enjoy it. They need the high activity, the fast ball game. It just takes time. You just have to bring them down gently.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Yeah. I think that's a really good point is actually to say, just remind yourself who you're doing it for now that we've actually highlighted that it can have a lot of hazards attached to it when you're throwing that ball, when you're using your ball chucker, stop and go, "Who am I doing this for, is it because I love seeing it more than my dog actually is loving doing it?" Just check yourself because it's very important.

Eric Shannon:

Jennifer is asking, what about your dogs that sleep during the daytime? Is that bad?

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

No. My dog's sleep all day. They get their best sleep during the day, I think, but I only recently put cameras up in my house since I had the Belgian Shepherd because he's an industrial shredder and I wanted to see what she was shredding. Putting cameras up in the house was the best thing I ever did. I don't know why I didn't do it before.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

What I've seen is that they have better sleep during the day when I'm out because it's predictably for a period of time and they know they're not going to get disturbed. That's best for them, even when I'm in and asleep. So the Chihuahuas, for instance, have their undisturbed sleep during the day, but during the night, they're with me on the bed.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

I find that when I turn over, they're waking up and they also seem to just kind of get up and move around a bit more and somehow seem to need to pee every two hours. I don't know how that works, but during the day, they just sleep and stay asleep. Day sleeping is good.

Eric Shannon:

Alright. Will do one more question before we wrap up, this is from Nicole. She said, "I don't have a Big Barker yet. My dogs that have arthritis are still able to get up on the couch and that is where they sleep. How bad is that for them?" Is that bad for them?

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Not necessarily. It might be perfectly okay. It entirely depends on the individual dog. So I would suggest actually observing them to look and see how well they're coping with that. One of the indicators can be, how long does it take them to decide to get onto the sofa? So my little oldy who's 15, he can in theory jump onto the sofa even though he's only a few kilos, but if you watch him, what he does is he comes into the living room and then he stands in front of the sofa, kind of a little bit of this and of course I interrupt him and pick him up because I don't want him to jump on the sofa.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

But if you're a dog doing that before they jump up, it's probably an indication that they know it's going to hurt, so they just kind of position themselves, so they get in the right place. And the other thing, of course, we make sure they've got one flip surface them both when they put me up, because that will help them with, they look like they pop up super quickly, super easily onto the sofa. I'm popped down equally quickly and equally easily. I don't think that's necessarily bad.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

They don't walk away with a stumble or once they're on the sofa, they get comfortable easily. Like I think at an extreme, I love my extremes today, but I've seen dogs that are sore and they're on leather floor and a leather sofa. They're kind of doing everything at speed because they know it's going to hurt. So they just get there quickly. But that's so is where they feel safe. So they're willing to go through that discomfort to get there, but then they slip around on the sofa and then they slip off this day for us, the slippery floor.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

The other thing is steps. My Chihuahua hates steps. Bizarrely enough, Dennis doesn't want to use them. That's why I pick him up. So it's fine. But steps are really good. And even with the big dogs, just putting one step there so they don't have to do the whole thing in one go, they can do it is, is a good way to manage it.

Eric Shannon:

So I said that was the last question, but I changed my mind.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Oh, it's a long one, Stacey.

Eric Shannon:

The long one that's covering your face. So Stacey's asking what are your thoughts on a dog with limited mobility sleeping in a help them up harness? Sometimes their senior dog needs assistance getting up from her Big Barker, but I worry that sleeping in a harness would impair her ability to slip into a deeper sleep. What do you guys think about that?

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Yeah. I think that she's very lucky to have you because you're clearly thinking about this on entirely the right line and in exactly the same way that I would be thinking about it. I guess it comes back to observation. So you've got to observe her and see how well she's coping and sleeping in the harness. And again, looking for how many times is she changing position? How long does it take for her to get to sleep in the harness compared to without the harness?

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

So you're in a great position there because actually you could take some metrics so you could observe her without the hollowness, observe her with the harness, and then compare the two and see whether they're significantly different. If they're not significantly different, then we can see that you've got a big advantage in her sleeping in the harness because it really means that you can help her up. And that getting up and getting down is usually the most painful part.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Once the dog's up on its feet, then it can kind of manage, but the getting up and getting down is a real struggle. So those help them up. Harnesses can be really good agree. And I do think that having that ability to look at the pros and cons things is so well done that person, but yeah, in the morning they tend to be really, really struggle. And if you've got something in place to give them that added a bit of stability and added effort.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Yeah. And just look for areas like it depends on your dog shape, but sometimes the harnesses will kind of dig in a little bit in some areas or if they lie in a particular position that kind of dent in the side and you can just pass those out with home or fleet. So you kind of modify the harness and make it a little bit more comfortable. You know, if there are sites legally, you can put sleep fleece on the inside of the side, cetera.

Dr. Kathy Murphy:

So you might be able to modify it like that. You may not need, you might find that the dog is not comfortable and you might find that over time, the dog learns that they're not going to have to struggle to get up. And so they're less anxious. And so they do actually end up having better sleep. That's also possible.

Eric Shannon:

Alright. Well, Dr. Murphy, Dr. Capon, I really want to thank you for your time. This was excellent. There's a lot of comments still here. So we will go back in and answer them the best we can throughout the day and tomorrow. So yeah, go to big barker.com/aaw. And we can send you a recording of this entire presentation plus the other four from Arthritis Awareness Week, plus all the resources we talked about, including the Big Barker Clinical Study. So again, thank you very much, everybody. I appreciate everybody's time and we'll see you all tomorrow.

Shannon Wells

Big Barker's Marketing Director

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