Is My Pet a Candidate for Rehabilitation?
We offer a full range of cat and dog physical therapy options to relieve discomfort and improve mobility in patients with:
- Abnormal gait
- Degenerative neurologic conditions
- Herniated disc(s)
- Post-op orthopedic or neurologic conditions including:
- Fracture repair
- Cranial cruciate ligament repair
- Patellar luxation
- Spinal surgery
- Muscle sprains and strains
- Conformational abnormalities
We may also recommend rehabilitation if your pet needs performance conditioning, or if your pet is a senior that could have a better quality of life with a rehabilitation regimen.
We need to perform a thorough evaluation of your pet so we can understand their condition as fully as possible and find a suitable treatment plan. We will look for signs of pain, limping, loss of muscle mass, decreased range of motion, swelling, and loss of balance. From there, we will run the necessary diagnostics to clarify our findings and move forward with a tailored program best suited to your pet’s unique needs.
Our goals with pet rehabilitation include:
- Pain relief
- Increased muscle strength
- Improved balance
- Increased flexibility and range of motion
- Improved muscle memory
- Speed up healing and recovery after surgery, injury, or illness
- Healthy weight loss
- A much better quality of life overall for your pet
- Hope for you, the pet owner, while your pet recovers from an injury or surgery
Rehabilitation Services We Offer
Following your pet’s evaluation, we can recommend a variety of therapeutic treatment options to relieve pain, improve mobility, and restore function, including:
We are able to offer elevated care for our patients with the support of our underwater treadmill, which allows pets to exercise safely to improve their range of motion, mobility, and overall quality of life. Water provides some resistance for your pet, which helps in building muscle mass and strength. At the same time, the buoyancy the water provides reduces strain and weight bearing on the joints. This makes hydrotherapy reasonably comfortable and gentle for your pet, and customizable, as we can adjust the water level to suit their needs.
Hydrotherapy is recommended for pets with arthritis, pets trying to lose weight, canine athletes looking to build endurance, and pets recovering from orthopedic surgery.
The Bailey Veterinary Medical Center uses the Class 4 Cutting Edge EVO MLS Vet laser, which is specifically designed for treating dogs and cats. This tool allows us to treat a tremendous range of conditions and provide better results to our patients. Laser therapy is an integrative treatment which we can incorporate into just about any care plan, especially when pain relief is a primary goal.
One of the advantages of our laser is that it is capable of penetrating deeper into the muscle tissue, stimulating the cells to generate an increase in ATP, DNA, and oxygen production for better cell metabolism.
Some examples of conditions we can treat with our laser:
- Surgical incisions (post-op)
- Dental incisions/extraction sites
- Stimulation of acupuncture points
- Replacement for acupuncture if patients cannot tolerate needles
- Back pain
- Sore muscles
- Ligament tears
- Ear and skin infections
- Lacerations, bruises, abrasions, and burns
- Lick granulomas
Beneficial Effects of Laser Therapy:
- Accelerates wound healing
- Decreases pain
- Increases the release of endorphins
- Improves blood flow and blood vessel formation
- Decreases swelling and tissue edema
- Reduces the growth of bacteria
Laser therapy treatment sessions can be as short as just 5 minutes and are completely non-invasive and pain-free. The subtle warmth generated by the laser can make for a relaxing and comfortable experience for our patients, who often come to enjoy their treatment.
Dr. Elizabeth Jobe is certified in veterinary acupuncture, and thus has years of experience and knowledge in this area of medicine. Veterinary acupuncture is a science-based integrative therapy that uses the placement of small, slim needles at nerve and blood vessel junctures to generate a healing response in our patients. When acupuncture needles are carefully placed at these specific points, they stimulate the release of various hormones, including endorphins, to decrease pain and increase healing. They can also improve blood circulation throughout the body.
We are happy to offer this service to any patient, not just our rehab patients! Acupuncture is safe and non-invasive and can be applied to treat many different conditions as well:
- Hip/elbow dysplasia
- Knee injuries
- Neurologic disorders (neck/back pain, weakness of the limbs)
- Muscle spasms/pain
- For post-operative pain relief/recovery
- Swelling of the limbs
Acupuncture is generally a painless procedure and tolerated quite well for most of our patients. We will evaluate your pet first and discuss all possible treatment options to find out if acupuncture is right for them.
We can perform various pet physical therapy exercises with your companion to help improve the function of their joints, heart, lungs, and/or nervous system. Our exercises are designed to increase your pet’s range of motion and mobility and build up their muscle mass and strength as much as possible safely and comfortably. Our goal is to enhance their quality of life and reduce their risk of injury in the future.
Dr. Jobe is certified in canine rehabilitation and has the experience and knowledge to decide which therapeutic exercises will yield the most benefits to your pet. Age, size, breed, condition, and endurance level are just some of the factors we need to consider in planning your pet’s treatment.
Guided exercises are beneficial because they:
- Are non-invasive
- Can accelerate and improve injury recovery
- Improve the mobility and quality of movement of the limbs
- Can have a positive psychological impact on your pet (and you!)
- Can improve endurance and performance both in pets recovering from injury, and pets involved in sporting and agility
To make our therapeutic exercises more enjoyable for your pet, we can offer a variety of different exercises at varying difficulty and intensity depending on their condition. These include:
- Land treadmill with sling assistance
- Nerve-stimulating balancing exercises
- Weighted vests
- Wheelbarrowing exercises
- Stair climbing with resistance bands
Our exercises vary widely in order to address different conditions and target different muscle groups. Every pet gets a customized exercise plan that is tailored to their unique and evolving needs.
Massage involves various techniques of kneading the soft tissues of the body to relieve tension, reduce pain, encourage relaxation, decrease swelling, and much more. Our massages are therapeutic, systematic, and functional, ranging from light, gentle strokes to deep tissue massage. We often use massage therapy throughout a patient’s rehabilitation treatment, but also prior to treatment to loosen up trigger points.
Additional benefits of massage therapy include:
- Relaxing the superficial tissues to allow for assessment of deeper tissues
- Facilitating blood flow to send oxygen and nutrients to certain tissues
- Reducing post-exercise muscle soreness
- Decreasing inflammation
- Increasing cell metabolism in the muscles
When a dog gets injured, their muscles and soft tissues will attempt to compensate and end up functioning differently, resulting in knots and muscle soreness. Massage plays an important role in reducing these problems and helping to restore normal, healthy function. Along with performing massage here at our hospital, we can also train you, the pet owner, in performing these massages at home to keep your pet comfortable. It’s also a great way to bond with your companion.
Therapeutic ultrasound uses vibrations produced from sound waves to generate deep heat within the joints and muscle tissues. This technique penetrates deeper than superficial heating systems and is therefore more effective for healing and pain relief in our patients.
Prior to delivering this treatment, the affected area needs to be clipped to shorten the hair as direct contact with the skin is ideal for this therapy. As with other integrative therapies, therapeutic ultrasound works well in conjunction with other treatments like acupuncture, laser therapy, and massage.
Common indications for therapeutic ultrasound include:
- Pain relief
- Muscle spasm relief
- Reducing swelling/edema
- Healing wounds and fractures
- Improving blood flow and tissue metabolic rate
- Improving range of motion/decreasing joint stiffness
- Fibrotic myopathy/joint contracture
- Calcific tendonitis
There are two types of electrical stimulation, or E-stim, which we can offer to our rehabilitation patients. The first is neuromuscular electrical stimulation, or NMES, and the second is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Small electrodes are placed on the skin and an electrical current is passed through these electrodes to stimulate the nerves.
NMES helps to prevent or slow down muscle atrophy and improve the movement of the joints by causing muscle contractions and encouraging use of the muscle. It is often recommended to pets that are recovering from a musculoskeletal or neurologic injury or surgery.
TENS can serve as an alternative form of pain control, stimulating endorphin release and generating a tingling sensation.
Benefits of electrical stimulation include:
- Pain relief
- Reducing swelling/edema
- Re-education and strengthening of the muscles
- Decreasing or preventing muscle atrophy
- Decreasing tightening of the joints
- Strengthening of specific muscle groups
- Decrease in muscle spasms
Another modality we can use in pet physical therapy is the heating and cooling of the tissues via different techniques. These techniques vary depending on the size of the area that needs to be treated, and how much time is needed to change the temperature of the tissue.
The application of cold temperatures for therapeutic effect is called cryotherapy, which plays an important role in dog rehabilitation following either surgery or an injury. It is also useful in lessening muscle soreness after exercise.
The benefits of cryotherapy include:
- Decreasing inflammation and blood flow at the affected site
- Alleviating muscle spasms
- Decreasing cell metabolism and inflammatory mediator release
- Blocking the enzymes that can degrade healthy tissue and cartilage
- Reducing pain
Methods for cooling tissues:
- Cool gel packs/ice packs
- Ice baths
- Cool compression
- Ice massage
On the other end of the spectrum, we have thermotherapy, or the therapeutic use of heat to reduce pain and increase healing in our patients. Thermotherapy is ideal for dogs and cats living with arthritis, or some other chronic painful condition.
Our goal with thermotherapy is to:
- Boost cell metabolism
- Increase blood flow to the injury site so it can deliver oxygen and nutrients
- Encourage the resorption of inflammatory debris
- Lessen the amount of force necessary for stretching the tissues
- Reduce pain (heat helps to sedate the sensory nerve endings)
Our methods for heating injured tissues include:
- Warm compresses
- Hot packs
- Warm water hydrotherapy (underwater treadmill)
Regenerative medicine is growing in popularity, as it is minimally invasive and uses your pet’s own growth factors to aid in their healing. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, from osteoarthritis and soft tissue lacerations to tendon injuries. These treatments mediate the healing process by providing and stimulating growth factors and other bioactive compounds within the body, which means no potentially risky drugs are involved.
The treatment process starts with a blood draw. We take a sample of blood from your pet, and the sample is run through a centrifuge specially designed to produce a fluid concentrate of platelets and growth factors. This fluid is then carefully injected into the affected area on your pet. Often, PRP/stem cell therapy treatments are given in a series. You may expect 1-3 injections at the site at 2-week intervals, but this varies based on the condition and the response to treatment. Remarkably, up to 50% of dogs only need one injection to see a notable improvement in their condition.
As of 2014, studies have shown that over half of all dogs and cats in the US can be classified as either overweight or obese. Obesity puts pets at a greater risk for joint pain, arthritis, diabetes, and other health issues. Since weight loss can be a challenge for many pets and their owners, we are happy to work together with you to find the best solution for your dog or cat.
We can create a tailored weight loss program that includes nutritional recommendations, underwater treadmill exercises, and guided at-home exercises to make the weight loss journey easy for you and your pet. Our underwater treadmill is especially useful because it reduces strain on your pet’s joints while providing increased resistance for building muscle strength and burning fat. It also reduces the risk of an injury, making exercise safer and more effective for your pet.
Along with helping overweight or obese pets achieve a healthier weight, we also work with canine athletes, providing customized core conditioning and strengthening programs to enhance their performance.
We offer carts, slings, and other assistive devices to keep pets moving as much as possible. These devices are critical for patients that have sustained serious injuries or are living with a debilitating condition, as lack of movement can make their condition worse and lower their overall quality of life.
Some devices we offer include:
- Pelvic/chest harnesses
- Padded abdominal slings
- Various mobility carts (2- and 4-wheel) measured to the patient
Dogs with less severe conditions, such as limb weakness, can benefit from ToeGrips or booties, which help to improve traction and prevent slipping, falling, and risking further injury. We can also provide splints, braces, and orthotics for dogs that need corrective support for just one limb. While we try to avoid relying on assistive devices when it comes to rehabilitating our patients, they can make a huge difference for many dogs who would otherwise not be able to get around and enjoy their best life. Movement is essential to keeping your pet healthy and happy.
Schedule your pet's appointment today.