If your pet must undergo surgery, needs help recovering after an injury, or struggles to with a condition such as arthritis, rehabilitation can help them live as actively and comfortably as possible.
Rehabilitation takes human physical therapy techniques and equipment and adapts them to the unique needs of dogs and cats, improving the function and mobility of their joints and muscles.
Notably, Powers Pet Emergency and Specialty is home to one of southern Colorado’s most qualified pet rehabilitation experts—a veterinarian with advanced training and certification in both canine rehabilitation and acupuncture.
Dani Waite, DVM
CCRT, CVA (Canine Rehabilitation/Acupuncture)
Veterinary rehabilitation can help produce healthier, more active pets—and happier pet parents. With a treatment plan tailored to your pet’s unique situation, rehabilitation can:
- Improve range of motion in joints
- Increase muscle strength
- Speed functional recovery after surgery or trauma
- Decrease swelling and pain
- Maintain quality of life for aging pets or those with degenerative diseases
- Reduce the risk of injury in canine athletes
- Enhance fitness and conditioning
- Aid in weight loss and reduce predisposition to certain illnesses
Research has shown that physical rehabilitation can hasten the healing process and help dogs return to optimal function after surgery. Some conditions can even be treated with rehabilitation alone, avoiding surgery. And when surgery isn’t an option, as in certain chronic conditions, rehabilitation can help keep muscles in shape to support function and quality of life.
The most common conditions for which we provide rehabilitation therapy include:
- Strengthening and conditioning after orthopedic and spinal cord surgery
- Managing chronic conditions such as arthritis, disc disease and pain
- Recovery from soft-tissue injuries (sprains and strains)
- Lameness, weakness, gait (walking) abnormalities
- Weight management
After a thorough evaluation of your pet's medical history, current physical limitations and lifestyle—and a discussion of your goals for your pet—we’ll develop a rehabilitation and pain management program tailored to your pet's unique needs. This rehabilitation program may include:
- Acupuncture: A form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in which extremely thin, flexible needles are inserted into specific points of the body to stimulate the release of anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving hormones, and improve circulation
- Hydrotherapy on an underwater treadmill: Pets with neurological conditions can gain mobility and motor function with this low-impact exercise; overweight and post-surgical patients can gain strength and movement using the buoyancy and resistance of the water
- Manual therapy: Joints are mobilized in specific ways, such as through massage or myofascial tissue release, to restore range of motion and function
- Cold laser therapy: A noninvasive procedure that uses light to stimulate cell regeneration, increase blood circulation and promote healing
- Customized therapeutic home exercise: Your pet performs passive and active exercises and activities to improve functional mobility and strength
- Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation (TENS): These techniques use a low-level current that stimulates muscle contraction and helps to decrease swelling. It is helpful for preventing or treating muscle wasting due to disuse in neurological and orthopedic patients. NMES also aids in controlling muscle spasms and reducing pain.
- Therapeutic ultrasound: A safe and effective method of stimulating the tissue beneath the skin’s surface using high frequency sound waves; it may be used to treat muscle spasms, chronic inflammation, restricted range of motion and musculoskeletal pain
- Cryotherapy/heat therapy: The use of cold and heat for pain relief and to reduce swelling and inflammation
- Splinting, bracing, orthotic and prosthetic fittings: Customized aids to support healing, improve function and manage musculoskeletal impairments
- Wheelchair fittings: To help pets recover from certain surgical procedures, or to support mobility in animals suffering from paralysis
- Sports physicals with strength and fitness training: Specialized resources for animal athletes
Why is physical therapy important?
Following any injury, orthopedic surgery or neurologic event in humans, rehabilitation starts almost immediately to help them regain function and mobility. The same holds true for pets. Our main objectives in physical rehabilitation are to restore function, improve performance, accelerate healing and decrease pain. We also aim to prevent orthopedic and soft-tissue injuries by helping pets gain and maintain fitness.
How can I tell if my pet is in pain?
There are several things to look for that may indicate your pet is experiencing pain:
- Introversion or not seeking attention
- Less activity or playfulness
- Change in personality (more irritable or agitated)
- Panting more often
- Decrease in appetite
- Reluctance to go up or down stairs
- Cats may stop grooming themselves
- Falling or stumbling
- Gait changes (limping or not bearing full weight)
What can veterinary acupuncture do for my dog or cat?
Veterinary acupuncture stimulates the release of the body’s own pain relieving and anti-inflammatory substances. With the insertion of tiny, flexible acupuncture needles at specific locations on your pet’s body:
- Muscles relax, generating both localized and generalized pain-relief
- Blood flow to tissues and oxygenation is improved
- The removal of metabolic wastes and toxins is improved
- Unlike prescription and over-the-counter pain medications, veterinary acupuncture has minimal adverse effects on your pet’s internal organs
- Your pet’s medications or supplements will not adversely interact with veterinary acupuncture treatment, so it can safely be used to treat a variety of conditions