The dog-ter is in: Q&A with the vet

At the Watering Bowl, we want your canine BFFs to run free for many years. They’re our real customers, after all. So we brought in a friend of the Bowl, veterinarian Dr. Chris Kennedy to answer the questions your dog would ask if its mouth could form words and question marks.

Dr. Chris Kennedy
Dr. Chris

We all know how important strength & mobility is for humans, but can you talk to us a little about it when it comes to our furry friends? 

Pets are family. When one family member is suffering with pain it affects the entire family unit. Pet parents are more in tune with their fur babies’ mobility and comfort than ever before. As veterinarians, it is our job to keep your furry pets happy, healthy and live comfortably as long as possible. Senior pets tend to develop arthritis and have mobility issues similarly to humans and thankfully there are several more treatment options today than there used to be 10 years ago.  

What can we do while our dogs are young to help set them up for quality health & mobility throughout their lives? 

The best thing you can do to keep your pet healthy is to keep them a good healthy weight. Going to doggy daycare is not only beneficial for pets’ social and emotional wellbeing, but it can be VERY helpful as a weight management tool with all the exercise.

Are there any specific foods and/or supplements that you would recommend for the various stages of life?

It is very patient specific but as a general rule of thumb Hills J/D is a great joint mobility food for senior patients and Dasuquin is a fantastic beef flavored joint supplement. There are tons of other options including injections to help with mobility. Since pets can’t talk we rely heavily on the physical exam to make custom recommendations based on our comprehensive exam findings. If you have any specific questions about what might work best for your pet we recommend consulting your veterinarian.

How should activity change as our dogs age? How much does the size of the dog play a role in this?

I typically tell people to let their pet set the pace when doing an activity. Some senior pets can be very active while younger pets can have severe mobility issues with things like hip dysplasia among other things. Both genetics and environmental factors play a role in the aging process. Generally, smaller dogs tend to live longer than giant breed dogs so arthritis can start at an earlier age for large breed dogs. It is much easier to treat arthritis early with preventative measures than trying to treat end stage arthritis. To prevent arthritis: keep your pet a healthy weight, let them be active, start joint supplements early, take your senior pet to the veterinarian at least every 6 months and keep them on a good diet. 

Are there any specific potential injuries you would like dog owners to be aware of that may affect their mobility?

Torn CCL (aka cranial cruciate injury) is the most common cause for hind limb lameness in dogs. Dogs with torn CCLs come into the clinic not putting any weight on the leg, toe-touching and pain. We diagnose torn CCLs by doing X-rays and feeling the pet’s leg. The treatment for a torn ACL is typically surgery called a TPLO (which stands for tibial plateau leveling osteotomy). The prognosis of a torn CCL is excellent with surgery. Dr Chris Kennedy has had extensive training and has a special interest in performing TPLO surgery. There are very few surgeons in the greater St Louis area who offer this advanced surgery, and several specialists can take 4-6 months to get in which can lead to the development of arthritis during the wait. Help us get the word out that Pet Health Center offers CCL surgery to help these patients who need it.

Meet Dr. Chris

Dr. Chris grew up in Colorado Springs where he developed a passion for animals and medical sciences. After high school he attended Queens University of Charlotte, NC where he completed a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and competed on the intercollegiate tennis team. He graduated summa cum laude from University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine in 2016 where he met his wife Dr. Brittany. Dr. Chris completed a one year post-doctoral internship at the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital before moving to St Louis. He worked as an associate veterinarian at a local animal hospital for several years and as a traveling relief veterinarian for many hospitals in the St Louis area before purchasing Pet Health Center with his wife in 2020.

He was selected to the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association’s Power of 10 (a group of 10 veterinarians in the state of Missouri identified as emerging leaders in the industry). Dr. Chris is passionate about helping people and their beloved pets. He prides himself on his thorough approach to medical care, excellent client communication, and building lasting relationships with pet parents. His professional interests include dentistry, ophthalmology, soft tissue surgery, orthopedic surgery and mentoring veterinary students. 

His professional affiliations and memberships include:

  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • Missouri Veterinary Medical Association
  • Greater St Louis Veterinary Medical Association
  • Missouri Power of 10 Veterinary Leadership Team Class of 2018
  • Orthopedic Advanced Training