How to help your dog with weak hind legs? Caring for Caesar !
“Dogs are not our whole life but they make our lives whole”
There is no love as pure as one between a dog and his parent indeed. These four-legged bundles of joy come and become our dutiful companions for life.
Today, we will like to share one such story of friendship, fur, wagging tails, and strength. But most importantly, a story of unadulterated love between a dog and his parent that withstands all the hardships in sickness and in health...till death do us part!
Meet Julius Caesar II, a 10-month-old Golden Retriever with a heart of gold!
Caesar’s mother- Tanvi has obligingly shared her dog parent journey with us. She talks about how she tended Caesar’s weak hind legs. We hope that her experience will help fellow pet parents whose dogs are also susceptible to hind leg weakness or canine hip dysplasia. So, let’s start right from the beginning!
1) How did you meet Caesar? A little background on your family!
Brought up in a joint family, I grew up with two Dalmatians- Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus. They were my brothers cum best friends.
When I was in college, they passed away. Our hearts were shattered when they died and while we wanted to get another dog, our mothers didn't allow it. They were the closest to the dogs and couldn't bring it upon themselves to do so.
After marriage, my husband and I planned on getting a dog. But due to our busy schedules, we couldn’t commit to taking care of another soul. We kept delaying it until the lockdown. Now, we had enough time to give to the puppy.
Even after 6-7 months of researching, we hadn’t come across a certified dog breeder near us. By some miracle, I saw a picture of a family friend with her puppy. I pinged her and asked for details. Her breeder seemed ethical and responsible.
As luck would have it, he had also had a litter 4 days before we spoke to him. There was only one male golden retriever and he was ours. We had an instant connection with our baby. It was love at first woof!
2) How did you find out Caesar had weak hind legs? What were the first symptoms?
When Caesar was 2-3 months old, we saw him struggling while getting up from his pen. He had also started slipping on the marble flooring of our house. We knew something was wrong and did not waste any time consulting the vet about it.
The vet advised us to change our flooring or place carpets as Golden Retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia and slipping may worsen his condition. While they didn’t run any tests, he was given medicines to strengthen his joints.
Since he was too young, our main focus was on improving his diet and using home treatments that will help him recover.
3) How did your life change with Caesar's change in lifestyle?
Firstly, we researched about hind leg weaknesses in puppies and how we could assist Caesar in the healing process.
We became more conscious of the products we used. For instance, to help with his skidding, we got a few carpets to place around the house (washable ones) and changed our floor cleaner to a better environment-friendly and chemical-free one. We bought him Zoof Grips so he could run around and play freely indoors
We became more mindful of his diet plan and stuck rigorously to it. We took him walking on different surfaces like sand, grass, and mud so his hind legs could strengthen.
It was more about practicing discipline than anything else. Like ensuring that he wears his shoes indoors. We remove them periodically so he is comfortable.
Honestly, it wasn't a great burden or shift. These were all simple changes that have helped us become better humans.
4) How did you find out about Zoof Grips?
When Caesar started slipping, as dog parents we started panicking. One day, his Godmother sent me a link and asked me to check out these shoes that may help Caesar with his weak joints.
I pinged Zoof Pets on Instagram. They were very helpful in answering all my questions.
Though skeptical at first, we decided to give them a shot. I am glad we did because Caesar was pleased with Zoof Grips and was jumping around in his new accessory!
5) Often people say that making dogs wear shoes is unnatural, that they are not comfortable in them. What is your take? How did Caesar get used to Zoof grips? Did you face any challenges?
I disagree. A lot of how we foster dogs can be considered ‘unnatural’. For instance, feeding them processed food, not allowing them to do what they were bred for, etc. But JC relies on me for his health entirely and so as his caretaker I took the call.
He is comfortable wearing Zoof grips. We liked that we didn't have to worry about him straining his back legs and joints while jumping anymore. Restricting him from playing and taking away his jovial spirit would’ve been unnatural as well.
However, we do look at his body language and remove the shoes when he gets cranky or wants to nap.
6) What would be your advice to fellow pet parents whose dogs show symptoms of weak hind legs or hip dysplasia?
Thoroughly research any issues your breed is prone to. The changes I made have worked for JC but every dog is different. So, find out what works best for your dog.
Understand that the flooring we have in our modern homes isn't customary to dogs. I advise you to get mats, carpets and use socks/shoes while your dog is playing indoors.
Also, diet plays a major role. I recommend a meat-based diet even though I am a vegetarian as I can see the difference.
Before rushing to the vet and putting your dog through the tests, take second opinions. An early diagnosis and treatment will result in the condition not escalating.
Communicate with other pet parents. Dog parents are amazing at sharing information. There are several around who are willing to help. After all, it is all about helping one another in the community, isn’t it?
7) Do you suggest any changes that must be made with regards to how we treat our dogs?
I feel we rely heavily on influencers in the community like vets, trainers and nutritionists. They definitely are helpful but every dog is unique. I trust only those who work with me instead of telling me the dos and don’ts without considering my dog’s unique case.
Dog parents should connect more. Find out about the different strategies they are practicing in caring for their dog. Try out different things and then decide what suits our pup best.
Also, we should be more considerate about the needs of dogs instead of their wants. For example, investing more in harnesses, leashes, stimulating toys, and food instead of clothes, toys, bows, etc.
More than anything, we need to be patient with our pooch.
8) How is Caesar now?
JC is a brat, running around all the time and much much better. He brightens up our lives every day by being the adorable puppy he is!
9) Finally, Why did you name him Julius Caesar II?
Because Julius Caesar I entered my house when I was 6, took over my heart when I was 7, and left a huge gap when I was 20. A void that was empty until JC II. A small part still misses JC I and Marcus. So I wanted to honor my brother who left us too soon. I cannot even begin to put in words how special he made my childhood.