How to Know When Your Dog Can Benefit from Physical Rehab
Canine rehab can be a really effective way to improve your dog’s quality of life. Just like with physical rehab in humans, Many of the same principles and treatments used for physical rehab in humans are used in dogs as well. There are a number of medical conditions and issues that it can help with and the best way to know for sure is to consult with a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT).
A CCRT has the education and knowledge to most effectively and safely help your dog. Though all vets learn about the musculoskeletal system, a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist receives additional training specializing in canine rehab. Your primary vet may refer you to one. However, even if they don’t, you can go to a canine rehabilitation vet on your own and they will keep your vet apprised of all treatment.
What Conditions Can Physical Rehab Help My Dog
There are a number of issues and conditions dogs can have which physical rehab can help with to increase mobility, improve quality of life, and decrease pain. This is an extensive list, however, it is by no means every single condition that canine rehab can help with. If you have any questions if it could help your dog, please ask.
After a surgical procedure, physical rehab can be very beneficial to your dog. Rest and controlled activity are important initially. However, the longer their body is inactive, the more muscle atrophy will occur. It’s a careful balance that a trained rehabilitation vet can guide you through with an evaluation, in-office work, and a structured homework program. Incorporating rehab into the healing process safely promotes a faster return-to-health for your dog.
Canine rehab can help reduce inflammation and pain, strengthen supporting tissue, promote early weight-bearing, improve coordination and balance, and decrease compensatory muscles. It can also provide much-needed mental stimulation for dogs that are on restricted activity.
Some of the common surgeries that will benefit from rehabilitation:
- FHO (Femoral head and neck ostectomy in the hip)
- Total hip replacement
- Cruciate repair (knee) including TPLO, Extracapsular cruciate repair, or TTA cruciate repair
- Luxating patella repair
- Fracture repair
- Limb deformity/angulation surgery
- Tendon release procedures
- Joint arthrodesis/fusion
- OCD surgery (osteochondritis dissecans)
- Ventral slot fenestration decompression surgery
There are other surgeries that may benefit from physical rehabilitation so it’s a good idea to ask.
Post-surgical dogs are not the only ones that benefit from physical rehab. It can also be used to promote healing for injuries and may help your dog avoid surgery. Here are some of the common injuries that may benefit:
- Cruciate injury/ACL tear (knee) — decrease inflammation, restore extension, speed and improve recovery, and reduce the risk of injury to the other leg
- Joint dislocation — strengthen the supporting muscles and ligaments to prevent re-injury
- Patellar luxation — strengthen the quadricep muscles and prevent re-injury
- Tendon injury — decrease inflammation and scar tissue while increasing range of motion and strength
- Fractures — prevent muscle contracture and speed up recovery
- Muscle injuries — decrease inflammation, prevent scarring, speed healing, and restore normal function
- Nerve injuries — speed recovery, manage pain, and improve functional adaptation
- Back injury (IVDD) — manage pain, increase muscle support to prevent re-injury, and provide gait retraining to help return-to-walking
There are a number of different health issues that can also benefit from canine physical rehabilitation including arthritis, which typically impacts older dogs. Obese dogs can also benefit from a physical rehabilitation program.
- Hip dysplasia — increase comfort and mobility, build supporting muscle mass
- Elbow dysplasia — decrease inflammation, strengthen, and increase mobility
- Degenerative myelopathy (DM) — slow the progression of the disease and prolong life by maintaining muscle function
- Cauda equina syndrome (CES)— manage pain while maintaining strength and function
- Neuromuscular disease — manage pain, strengthening, adaptation
- Obesity — create an individualized weight loss program
- Arthritis — decrease inflammation and the need for medications, increase mobility and range of motion
Canine physical rehabilitation can improve the quality of life for your dog. It is beneficial while they heal from surgery or an injury and can help to manage a mobility issue or many other health conditions, even including arthritis and obesity. For dog lovers, this is huge. After all, what wouldn’t we do for our best friend?