How can I tell if my pet is in pain?
Unlike people, animals are unable to tell us they’re in pain. You must observe your pet for non-verbal and often subtle signs of pain.
Signs to watch for that indicate mild pain:
- Less activity
- Going up or down stairs less often
- Slightly abnormal gait
Signs to watch for that indicate moderate pain:
- Unwillingness or hesitation before going up or down stairs
- Sleeping more than normally during the day
- Obvious abnormal gait (limping, bunny-hopping, etc.)
- Excessive panting
- Irritable disposition
- Specific areas of the body are sensitive to touch
Signs to watch for which indicate severe pain include:
- Severely abnormal gait (little to no weight bearing on a limb, constant weight shifting, head bobs when walking)
- Decreased appetite
- Restless at night
- Sleeping excessively during the day
- Severe sensitivity to touch, sometimes leading to an aggressive response
Do you treat any other animals besides dogs?
Yes. We treat a wide array of animals at our hospital. Check out our Avians and Exotics page.
I have a senior dog. Can he still benefit from rehab?
There is no age limit for rehabilitation. Sometimes older dogs can benefit the most from rehab. Since our physical therapist individualizes each treatment, the program for your elderly dog will be tailored for his or her specific condition. For example, if necessary, your pet can take more breaks while in the pool or walk slower in the underwater treadmill.
What dogs cannot swim in the pool?
Unfortunately, we cannot allow dogs in the pool that are incontinent. Also, your veterinarian may not recommend swimming if your dog has congestive heart failure, epilepsy, diabetes, bleeding and/or asthma.
However, there are other modalities that can be used with these dogs to reduce pain, improve healing and mobility and improve function.
Why canine rehabilitation?
The benefits of human physical therapy have been proven for many years. We have adapted the principles of human physical therapy to meet the needs of your pet.
The goals of physical rehabilitation are to maximize the recovery of your pet as well as increase function and improve overall quality of life.
Some benefits include:
- Promotion of tissue repair
- Decreased inflammation and muscle spasms
- Increased mobility, strength and endurance
- Cardiovascular benefits without stress on joints
- Reduced pain and discomfort
To obtain these benefits, we use state of the art equipment and modalities in our rehab department. This equipment includes an Endless Pool with an adjustable current and a Ferno underwater treadmill.
How long after surgery should my dog begin rehab?
Depending on the surgery, your dog could begin rehab immediately.
The plan of treatment will mostly consist of passive exercises, and pain and swelling management, which can be started by you at home or in the rehab clinic.
Your dog will most likely be immobilized or have sutures or staples for a period following surgery. When they have removed and when your dog is taken off of immobilization precautions, they can begin more intensive rehab including hydrotherapy and therapeutic exercises.
Is rehab only for dogs that have had surgery?
No. Rehabilitation is for any pet with any of the symptoms or diagnoses mentioned previously. In fact, arthritis is one of the foremost indications for rehab.
Can I watch my pet’s rehab?
Yes. We encourage owners to watch and even participate in the rehab sessions with their pet. We know that some animals are scared or nervous without their owners with them and we want your pet to be as comfortable as possible for their rehabilitation.
How long do the treatments last?
The initial consultation is one hour and each subsequent treatment is about 30 minutes.
Can I do anything to help at home?
Included in each consultation is an individualized home exercise program for the owner to perform with their pet at home. This is one of the most important parts of the rehab process. Usually this changes every week, so we re-educate the owners at each treatment.
My dog does not like water. Can he still participate in therapy?
Most dogs do not jump into the water right away, but most get used to the water after one or two sessions. There are two entrances into the pool: the stairs and the hydrolift. Your dog will enter the hydrolift, which will lift your dog off of the floor and gently lower him or her into the water where the therapist will be waiting.
However, if your pet does not tolerate the water or the hydrolift, there are plenty of other forms of exercise and therapeutic modalities to help your pet.
For example, we can use electrical stimulation to strengthen your dog’s legs. We can also use therapeutic ultrasound to loosen up your dog’s joints and muscles so that we can get a good stretch and mimic the range of motion that your dog could achieve in the water.
How often and how long will my dog need to come to therapy?
This depends upon the condition and individual progress of the animal as well as the diagnosis and prognosis. In general, a typical orthopedic patient will be in therapy once or twice a week for four to eight weeks.
What is the temperature in the pool?
The temperature is kept between 85 and 90 degrees. The warm water increases circulation to the muscles and joints, increase joint flexibility and decrease joint pain.