We at the Canine and Feline Rehabilitation Service would like to welcome you and teach you a little bit about physical therapy or rehabilitation for pets. While many of us know how helpful physical therapy is with our own recovery from surgery, many people do not realize that pets also obtain a significant benefit from a period of physical rehabilitation following a major surgery. Physical rehabilitation helps most pets achieve a quicker recovery and more complete return to function. Most pets who receive physical rehabilitation have less pain, less complications, less side effects (such as progression of arthritis) and return to normal daily functions (such as walking, sitting, etc) more quickly.
It is true that most pets will begin to walk on their own given enough time after surgery. However, left to their own recovery, they will develop muscle atrophy, cartilage or joint atrophy, and compensate heavily on their other limbs during this time. This can lead to secondary joint issues, an increased risk for arthritis, complications of the surgery, and back problems. Our goal is to address and prevent these issues from occurring.
Around 80% of rehabilitation is exercise, exercise, exercise. We start with very simple and easy exercises that progress in complexity and difficulty as your pet recovers. Each rehabilitation session is individualized around your pet’s needs and rate of recovery. We challenge them to their specific abilities based on how they are progressing. This is very important to obtain the best results for your pet. These exercises will be performed both here at Animal Emergency and Specialty Center and at home. We will provide instructions and show you how to work with your pet at home to maximize recovery.
The other aspect of rehabilitation is pain control and comfort. While there is always some discomfort with recovery from major surgery, we want your pet to be as pain free as possible. This may include applying toe grips to help them walk more securely eliminating the discomfort during sliding on tile/wood floors, massage to relieve sore/tight muscles from taking on the extra workload from an injured leg, laser therapy to reduce inflammation/pain, and cryotherapy or heat therapy to help reduce inflammation. We can also discuss joint supplements or pain medications with your surgeon or veterinarian based on how your pet is progressing after surgery.
We hope to help you and your pet return to a more comfortable life after their surgery and are always ready to be a resource for recovery. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call us at (775) 851-3600 to schedule a consult.