Tag: fat

26 Jul 2015

Those fat lumps along the dog's back

Dear Laurie

I hope you are doing well.

Since last year I am the proud owner of a approximately 4 year old female dog, a Puli. She came to me via internet, from an animal shelter, where she had spent 5 months. Prior to that she must have been a dog roaming the streets. When I picked her up she was actually fat!  And she presented with extremely hard lumps in the paravertebral lumbar region. I recall we talked about exactly this at your seminar. What is it? Fat accumulation? Just tightness in the muscles? I am massaging the areas with fierce determination nearly daily, but to hardly any avail. She is visibly enjoying the manual affection. She seems to have no back problems, no limping,... Could you tell me, what it might be? Oh, and she has already lost weight, but the lumps are still there.

Hoping that you can give me some advice

Kind regards



Hello U!

Okay... so what I think happens in these scenarios is that the process is in response to the spondylosing of the lumbar vertebrae.

Two things I find with dogs that have those lumps - one is that their quadratus lumborum is very tender... and quadratus lumborum is thought to play an extra duty role in stabilizing the dog's spine.  

But that doesn't explain the fatty lumps.  A colleague of mine dissected an older dog that had had these, and she had found that the lumps were indeed fatty.

So, my next thought stems from the knowledge that atrophied muscles can experience fatty infiltration amongst the fibres.  So... if there is spondylosis and the epaxial muscle are not able to conduct their same workload in this area and hence become atrophied... then perhaps what we are finding is fatty infiltration of the epaxials

Just my thinking anyways!

So as for what to do.  One would think nothing.

However when I was on my last teaching (of veterinary chiropractors), I was told that they were able to witness a radiographic resolving of some cases spondylosis with chiropractic management.  So... perhaps if you mobilize the spine, you might (MIGHT) be able to affect a change.  Additionally, if the issue is non-use, then perhaps use of electrical muscle stimulation could change the composition of the muscle in the region.

If you make tremendous improvements, you'll have to let me know!

Good luck!


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07 May 2017

Who Should You Blame for Muscle Fatigue – Calcium and Hydrogen

Dog Tired

Remember a couple of blogs ago when I wrote The Lactic Acid Lies?  Here I’ll make an attempt at part two:  Who Should You Blame for your Muscle Fatigue?


So we remember from high school biology (and several courses afterwards), muscles require ATP as an energy source during muscle activity.  You use up your systemic ATP / CP stores in approximately 10 seconds with intense activity, and then the Anaerobic metabolic pathway starts making Lactate for about the next 2 minutes.  Lactate can be used aerobically as an energy substance (being converted by the liver into glucose and hydrogen). The aerobic pathway, when it kicks in, produces ATP by breaking down glycogen and glucose.  Great!


When glucose or glycogen are broken down, they produce lactate and hydrogen ions. Again, the lactate is cleared by the body by metabolizing it for energy. However, if oxygen levels are low, then the hydrogen ions accumulate and the blood and muscles become acidic.  The acidity blocks the nerve signals from the brain to the muscle fibres, and BAM! Tired legs (or whatever muscle group you’re working.)


Calcium could also be to blame.  One study found that after long intense exercise (i.e. 3 hours of intense cycling), tiny leaks of calcium could be found inside of muscle cells.  The calcium leak subsequently weakens muscle contraction and stimulates an enzyme that attacks muscle fibres, resulting in muscle fatigue.  (Happy news is that the calcium leaks stopped after a few days rest.)  Prior to learning this in people, initial experiments were conducted on mice, which led to this discovery.


So, from a QUICK look at what you could do to combat the problem:


Have some high-quality carbs before exercise or during exercise (i.e. grains, fruits, veggies) to provide more glucose for the system.  I did find some resources claiming that Hydrogen water was useful… but that didn’t make sense.  When I dug deeper, I found that hydroxide was what one might be looking for.  A product called AquaOH- claimed to be a natural acid eliminator in a blog I was reading that sort of turned into an advertisement.  (I don’t know anything about this product… I just liked that the blog was actually telling a story about hydrogen, lactate, the desire for OH- (hydroxide) to become H20 by claiming another hydrogen.)  


And beyond just these two things, combating muscle fatigue and delayed onset muscle soreness is fodder for another day!  


Happy exercising (you and your dogs) folks!





MACKENZIE, B. (2007) Muscle Fatigue [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/musclefatigue.htm [Accessed 5/5/2017]

MILLER, J. (2011) Muscle Fatigue & Soreness from Lactic Acid.  Available from:


[Accessed 5/5/2017]


Giere, S. (2012) What causes muscle fatigue, anyway?  Available from:


[Accessed 5/5/2017]



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18 Jun 2017

The old, the fat, the black & the hairy

Old fat black dog

I’m repurposing this blog.  I just put it out on my clinic website… but I like it enough to repost it for all of you!  (Things to think about!)


This blog has been inspired by a few different experiences I’ve had lately: Three client stories, and one personal experience.  Basically, we four dog owners are concerned about the health of our dogs.  Our dogs don’t want to walk.  Our dogs are lethargic.  Something must be wrong!!!  (And since I started writing this, I’ve had this conversation with at least half a dozen more clients who are having similar concerns about their dogs.)   


I’ll start with the story of my dog.  It’s my rescue Borzoi, Syri.  She’s about ten years old, mostly black, and carries a bit of extra ‘padding’ as well.  She’s also is a bit of a ‘head case’.  She can be weird for all sorts of reasons!  Well, one day I decided to take all 4 of my dogs for a walk.  It was 9 am, there was a bit of a breeze and it was about 17 degrees C.  Perfect, I thought!  I could get all of my white dogs enthused about going, but not the black dog.  I did manage to get her out of the house, and down to the end of the drive way, but no further. There was no way she was going into the field.   I even tried pushing her for a bit!  She was standing there shaking like a leaf (and I felt like an ogre)!  I gave up and walked her back to the house and the white dogs and I went for a walk.  I’ve been noticing that she is a bit more lethargic than normal.   She’s fussy about going outside.  However, if I wait until 8:30 or 9pm, then she’s like a puppy!  Happy, bouncy, yeah-I’ll-go-for-a-walk fool! But during the day, she’s a pancake!


The first of my canine patients is fuzzy, black, well padded, senior dog.  Her owner has been noticing that she doesn’t want to walk and isn’t as enthusiastic about eating either.  The third dog is a densely-coated (not-black, she’s tan) dog and the owners are noticing she’s not so interested in going for walks.  On questioning, the 4pm walk in particular.  And the last dog was a small senior dog, and the owners have been finding him to simply be more lethargic than usual and he pants more too.


Naturally, we’re all freaking out a little bit!  Our brains go to the worst-case scenario right off the bat.  What if it C…?  And while that is always a possibility, perhaps we should think about all of the factors.  Slow down a bit, and just be rational. 


1. My black dog heats up like a frying pan when she’s out in full sun!  She will ‘hold her urine’ ALL DAY and not go outside other than first thing in the morning and then right after dinner in the evening in the Spring / Summer.  When she does go out into full sun, it takes just a few minutes before her hair coat is hot.  Not just warm, but hot!  Conversely, even if the temperature is in the 20’s but overcast or late enough in the day that the angle of the sun is different, then she’s fine with going outside!

2.Dogs (and people) that carry extra weight tend to be warmer, especially in warmer weather.  Fat = insulation, and too much insulation on a hot day is like wearing your snowsuit to the beach!  Dogs likely have it worse than people, because they don’t sweat.  They have to pant to cool down.

3.A thick coat of hair may then have the same impact as excess weight.  It may act as an insulator for some dogs, making them heat up faster and then have difficulties dispersing the heat.

4.Lastly, age can play a factor.  There are some reports in human literature that humans (45 +) may suffer more physiological strain during heat acclimatization than younger individuals.  This may be related to aerobic fitness, levels of dehydration in the older individuals, and environmental humidity.


So, what should we take from this?  There are a few things you could try.  Firstly, try going for your daily walk(s) either early or late in the day, when the sun is low.  Secondly, you may need to reduce your dog’s body weight (and we can help with our Fluffy to Fit program).  Thirdly, keep your dog well brushed out to remove dead hair, contemplate a ‘summer haircut / trim’, use a ‘cooling jacket’ (they are wetted and have gel beads that can keep the dog cool when it’s on), reflective jacket, or wet terrycloth jacket, or spritz your dog with cold water (the ‘mist setting’ on your garden nozzle) before heading out to walk might combat the heat issues.  Fourthly, the age of your dog may be a factor, so perhaps you could do some indoor exercises with your dog in your basement instead, or bring him / her in for an underwater treadmill session as a different means of exercise.   And I’m going to add in a fifth thought as my finale, maybe you need to encourage your pooch to drink a bit more fluids.  Low sodium (or home-made) broth could be provided or added to food to increase water / fluid consumption.  


You likely want to try a combination of these suggestions and see how your dog responds. And naturally, if you still have concerns or see other unusual or troubling signs in your pet, it’s best to book an appointment with your vet!



Posted in: Tags: old , fat , black , hairy , lethargy

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