If your pet is recovering from an injury or surgery or has a chronic health condition, they may benefit from pet rehabilitation and physical therapy. Today, our Baltimore vets discuss when physical rehabilitation can benefit cats and dogs, and share some forms of this therapy.
Veterinary rehabilitation (also sometimes referred to as animal physical therapy) can be one tool to help both cats and dogs recover from injuries or surgical procedures, or to manage chronic health conditions.
In the past, pet parents were given basic instructions about how to care for their pets after surgery. But we now know more can be done to help them recover, stay active, get appropriate exercise, and maintain quality of life.
When Veterinary Rehabilitation Is Useful
Most often, feline or canine rehabilitation and physical therapy are recommended after surgical procedures and/or to treat musculoskeletal issues, such as cruciate ligament injuries or osteoarthritis. Pets with weight management issues or neurological conditions can also benefit from certain therapies and exercises.
How Physical Rehabilitation Can Benefit Your Cat or Dog
With canine rehabilitation and physical therapy, we can help restore function to a diseased or injured pet by using a combination of treatments such as massage, electrical stimulation, heat treatment, and acupuncture combined with exercise and hydrotherapy.
A combined approach may help to relieve pain, improve muscle and joint health, and assist in the rehabilitation of pets after injury, disease, or surgery. In some cases, vets recommend physical therapy for dogs as an alternative to surgery, or as a way to stimulate elderly dogs' brains and offer them a renewed sense of purpose.
Physical rehabilitation exercises can also be a fun way to engage with your pet while improving their overall well-being. That said, you should always consult your veterinarian before introducing any new exercise program.
Specifically, physical rehabilitation can improve balance, strength, and mobility. They can also support cardiovascular fitness and allow your pet to get in some full-body exercises such as swimming or agility course training if they are ready.
How Pet Rehabilitation Is Performed
Physical pet rehabilitation can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments, such as lifestyle tools (for example: non-slip floor coverings, acupuncture, prescription pet medications, and nutritional supplements).
The goal is to restore a patient's strength, flexibility, comfort, endurance, mobility, awareness of body position, and quality of life. Many of these exercises also help with reducing or preventing inflammation and managing pain.
During aquatic therapy, animals use a heated underwater treadmill system with hydro jets to improve their range of motion, endurance, and strength.
Always consult your veterinarian and/or therapy team on which exercises and combinations are right for your pet.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.