Dru Ross from the Big Dog Bed Company has a background in commercial research which is the basis for her interest in practical problem solving. She stepped into dog bed design when she couldn’t find a decent bed for her own German Shepherd. Dru, produced and tested prototypes for two years and once she achieved what she felt was the right combination of appropriate size, support, practical, easy care and good looking, she launched at Crufts in 2013.
Designing and producing beds brought Dru into contact with veterinary physiotherapists looking for beds, for dogs with joint issues and arthritis. From these discussions, the Active Recovery pressure relief bed was born, and then the AR Lite for smaller dogs. These beds are based on research conducted in connection with beds used in hospital environments to prevent pressure sores developing in people. With some modifications, Dru has translated that into a pressure relief dog bed. With ever more complicated procedures being conducted, the time over which dogs are recumbent is also increasing. Pressure sore prevention and increasing overall comfort is accelerating recovery times.
Through exploring what was needed with therapists, Dru has been designing rehabilitation equipment. Everything is trialed by a number of supportive therapists to make sure it is safe and functional and if it gets the thumbs up, it goes into production.
Dru kindly agreed to answer the following questions:
What are your thoughts regarding our current management of arthritis in dogs?
I am not an expert in arthritis, so I can’t comment on the medical care of dogs with arthritis. However, from observation of older dogs and talking to a lot of people about their dogs at shows, I think we both accept the deterioration of older dogs too readily and fail to act to keep them in good shape because we don’t realise that we can really make a difference with a few relatively simple changes to how we organised their lives.
We are too ready to go for the quick and easy ‘solution’ of supplements, or the magic pill from the vets. Most supplements have little or no scientific or nutritional evidence to support their use in people or dogs. The quantity of the claimed ‘active ingredients’ is also generally too low to have any real impact. Anti-inflammatories can have substantial impacts on the digestive system and should be only for occasional use during acute episodes or left until the final stages.
We all want to do right by our dogs, but busy lives mean an additive is a quick and simple way to feel we are making a difference to them. However, it is generally money down the drain and brings little or no benefit.
Where do you see us heading with developments in management of canine arthritis?
Actions to prevent or delay onset, and early stage management should be considered much earlier in a dog’s life – from the ages of five onwards in the larger breeds in my opinion. I think people will act if they know what strategies to adopt. The greater availability of veterinary physiotherapy and hydrotherapy services is a very useful development for the management of arthritis as improved fitness and mobility builds muscles to support joints. It also places the emphasis on management rather than medication. However, organisations like CAM are vital in order to increase awareness of arthritis prevention, and to give people the tools so they can improve the care of their dogs in later life.
If you could give one piece of advice what would it be:
Think ahead – anticipate. So often we are asked for a bed for a dog who obviously has been in discomfort for some considerable time. I often hear the phrase – ‘Oh, he/she is getting on a bit, so I thought it was time to get him/her a decent bed’. A decent bed is an essential piece of equipment, not a luxury or something to be left until ‘they need it’. A dog spends 10 to 15 hours a day on their bed……you must get one that is size and support appropriate for the animal you have.
Big Dog Bed Company, 41 Bradley Road, Nuffield, Henley-on Thames RG9 5SG, Oxfordshire
Tel: 01491 818460, Fax: 01491 818462, www.bigdogbedcompany.co.uk www.bdbco.vet