Companion Animal Physical Rehabilitation

Companion Animal Physical RehabilitationSimilar to its human counterpart, companion animal rehabilitation can be used to recover and prevent injury. The major goals in rehabilitation are to decrease inflammation and swelling, which cause pain, and to increase range of joint motion, mobility, strength, and accelerate tissue repair. At South Paws Veterinary Specialists, veterinary physical therapists and surgeons work closely together to evaluate each patient and create an individual treatment plan tailored to your pet’s specific condition. We look forward to helping your pet get back on all fours!

Specific Rehabilitation Benefits:

  • Quicker recovery from injury and surgeries
  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced need for pain medications
  • Increased joint mobility and flexibility
  • Muscle gain
  • Weight loss
  • Helps geriatric dogs with arthritis and mobility problems and chronic pain
  • Conditioning of athletic and working dogs

What Conditions Can Benefit from Rehabilitation?

Orthopedic conditions:

  • Companion Animal Physical Rehabilitation - Treatable ConditionsCruciate repairs
  • Fracture repairs
  • Patellar luxations
  • Hip dysplasia
  • FHO (Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomies)
  • Elbow surgeries and arthroscopy
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Amputations
  • Stiffness and mobility problems
  • Soft tissue and muscular injuries
  • Sprains and strains

Neurologic conditions:

  • Disc herniations (Intervertebral Disc Disease)
  • Degenerative nerve disorders

Obesity / weight management
Stress management / behavioral conditions
Athletic conditioning

Rehabilitation Services Offered:

  • Range of motion
  • Stretching
  • Strengthening
  • Massage therapy
  • Heat / cold therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • NMES - Neuromuscular Electrical Nerve Stimulation
  • TENS - Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
  • Balance, coordination exercises
  • Wheelchair fitting / modification
  • Hydrotherapy, underwater treadmill
  • Land treadmill
  • Activity-based weight management

Commonly Asked Questions:

What is "range of motion"?

Range of motion therapy encompasses both passive and active exercises to maintain joint mobility. By maintaining joint mobility, the pet is less likely to become “stiff” while recovering from injury. Range of motion exercises are usually used in combination with stretching and electrotherapy.

How does adding heat or cold help my pet’s injury?

Companion Animal Cold Therapy Just as when humans pull a muscle or sprain an ankle, immediate application of a cold compress helps limit your pet’s inflammation and pain. This is also called “cryotherapy” and is usually performed at the clinic immediately after surgery. After 48 hours, small amounts of low level heat placed over an injury can greatly increase pain relief by increasing blood flow to the wound. The heat emitted from laser and ultrasound is used for the same purpose.

What is massage therapy?

By applying continuous amounts of rhythmic pressure, deep tissue massage can help with muscle spasms, help relieve pain, and increase circulation. Massage therapy is also very relaxing for most pets!

What are proprioception exercises?

Companion Animal Exercise Therapy The term proprioception refers to position of joints and adjustments of balance and coordination. Proprioceptional exercises are used to help fine-tune your pet’s motor skills. By placing your pet on a balance board, using therapy balls, or creating an obstacle course, we are able to increase your pet’s awareness of balance and help to increase those neuromuscular connections needed to react appropriately. These exercises are particularly important when recovering from a neurologic or spinal injury.

What are electrotherapy, ultrasound therapy, and laser therapy?

Electrotherapy is the use of small amounts of electrical stimulation to areas of the body, providing neuromuscular stimulation. This type of exercise is best to help re-educate muscles, and helpful for muscle atrophy from disuse. Therapeutic ultrasound uses invisible sound waves to penetrate deep into tissues to provide heat. Ultrasound is great for muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries. Low-level lasers are used in small animal rehabilitation as a form of heat therapy to increase tissue repair, and to promote faster healing.

What is aquatic therapy?

Companion Animal Aquatic Therapy Aquatic or “water therapy” is useful in your pet’s recovery by allowing muscles to function with minimal weight bearing, due to the buoyancy of the water. Controlled exercises in water are helpful with balance, coordination, painful joints, strengthening muscles, weight loss, and behavioral problems. Aquatic therapy is usually done in an underwater treadmill where treadmill speed, incline, decline, and water height are all easily controlled.

When should my dog begin Rehab?

Your Veterinary Surgeon and Veterinary Physical Therapist will work together to assess your pet’s individual needs and goals. Post-operative rehab will begin immediately after surgery, where you will be given instructions for at home care. Your pet will be re-assessed one week after surgery, and a routine will be initiated for your pet’s gradual return to function over the next 6-10 weeks. Of course, our clinic is also available for continued therapies for weight loss, agility training, or other interests in maintenance activities.