Rehabilitation and Bodywork
Companion animal rehabilitation therapy recognizes that our pets – just like us humans – can benefit from specific exercise regimes, massage and chiropractic treatments, and other therapeutic modalities to decrease pain, maintain or improve mobility, recover after surgery or injury, or proactively maintain strength and flexibility.
Rehabilitation uses therapeutic exercises combined with additional modalities such as massage and chiropractic treatments to help patients recover from acute or chronic conditions. Rehabilitation therapy can also help your companion maintain their function and mobility, proactively prevent injury, and enhance their comfort and quality of life.
Companion animals of all ages, sizes and breeds can benefit from rehabilitation. Good candidates for rehabilitation treatment are those suffering from chronic pain, arthritis, obesity or muscle weakness, those who have recently sustained an injury or undergone a surgical procedure, or active sporting or working dogs who place a high demand on their muscles and joints.
Modalities and treatments involved in rehabilitation therapy can help your companion maintain or restore mobility. Treatment can also play a key role in smooth post-operative recovery, decreasing or alleviating pain, improving circulation, increasing coordination and range of motion, and providing confidence and comfort to geriatric patients.
Chiropractic care for dogs is a gentle, hands-on method of health care that aims to maintain proper joint movement of the spinal column and its vertebrae.
By performing a thorough chiropractic exam, it is possible to identify areas of the spine that have restrictions or limitations to their movement in specific joints. The tissue around these areas may also be painful or tender. Once particular issues have been identified, an adjustment can be made at those specific sites to help restore joint motion and function. This also helps to relieve pressure on the surrounding nerve tissue, which effectively alleviates pain. Establishing and maintaining a healthy nervous system enhances the body’s ability to heal itself.
A chiropractic treatment will generally begin with an observational assessment of how your companion stands and moves, their overall anatomy and physical condition, and an exploration of any areas of discomfort or asymmetry. Radiographs, case histories, and mobility assessments can provide additional information as needed. Your companion will then receive a chiropractic adjustment to bring them back into better alignment.
The frequency of chiropractic treatments varies depending on the particular needs of the patient – we will work with you to establish an appropriate treatment schedule.
As a form of rehabilitation, massage therapy involves the manipulation of the body’s soft tissue structures to improve muscle and joint function. It does so by relieving tension, spasm, or other restrictions to proper motion.
Massage therapy is commonly used for animals with orthopedic, musculoskeletal, or neurological issues, for working or sporting dogs who seek to prevent or recover from athletic injuries, or for senior and geriatric animals who have lost some mobility. Massage is also effective as a proactive therapy to reduce the likelihood of potential injuries in the future.
In addition, massage therapy helps improve circulation. This increases blood flow (bringing fresh oxygen to body tissues) and lymphatic drainage (helping with the elimination of waste products). This improved circulation supports post-injury healing and speeds up recovery from disease.
What are the benefits of rehabilitation?
Physical rehabilitation offers a variety of benefits, including:
- Reduced pain
- Reduced inflammation
- Increased range of motion
- Improved balance and coordination
- Improved mobility or restoration of normal movement
- Maintenance of muscle mass or restoration of normal muscle mass
- Increased stability and muscle strength
- Weight loss in overweight patients
- Improved overall quality of life
How do I know if my companion would benefit from rehabilitation?
Some common situations and conditions that indicate a patient would benefit from rehabilitation therapy include:
- A recent or historical accident, trauma, or injury that is limiting movement or causing pain
- A recent surgery
- They are not functioning or performing to the best of their abilities
- They participate in competitive activities or sports (like agility, flyball, dock diving)
- They have developed a behavioural problem for no apparent reason
- They seem to have a sore back when you pet them or brush their back
- They have developed weakness anywhere
- They are getting older and has any degenerative changes such as osteoarthritis
Can my companion benefit from rehabilitation even if they aren’t injured?
Absolutely! Rehabilitation isn’t always (or even primarily) about managing injuries. It also includes a proactive approach to fitness and mobility, with the goal of preventing injury and improving your companion’s overall quality of life. It’s a little like us humans going to the gym – we go to improve our fitness and reduce the likelihood of injuries. The same is possible for our companions.
Our pets put a lot of demands on their body each day- from twisting and turning while playing fetch at the park, keeping their balance on slippery kitchen floors, or hopping up and down from favourite nap spots. Every animal can benefit from decreased pain and improved fitness.
Does my companion need a veterinary referral?
Yes – a consultation with your veterinarian is the first step to adding rehabilitation therapy to your companion’s treatment plan. This will ensure that their overall condition and health history is assessed, any contraindications are noted, and that rehabilitation therapy is safe and appropriate for your pet.