Most people think of rehabilitation as physical therapy, a treatment you undergo after receiving an orthopedic or neurologic surgery to regain strength and mobility. While this is a prime reason for rehabilitation, the therapy can provide numerous other health benefits to cats and dogs. To see if your furry pal could benefit from rehabilitation techniques, our Stack Veterinary Hospital team answers common questions about this specialized therapy form.

What is canine and feline rehabilitation?

Human rehabilitation techniques are being adapted to suit dogs and cats. Although pets may not always cooperate with rehabilitation therapies, working with the pet at their own pace provides substantial benefits, and eases their worries about unusual situations. Rehabilitation techniques are designed to increase joint and muscle function and mobility in pets, reduce pain, and enhance recovery from injury, surgery, and age-related diseases. Additionally, rehabilitation offers supportive therapy for obese pets in their weight-loss goals. 

Rehabilitation’s main goal is to improve a pet’s quality of life by decreasing pain, speeding healing, and improving overall mobility and physical function. With the numerous rehabilitation techniques available, almost any pet can benefit.

What are the benefits of canine and feline rehabilitation?

The benefits of rehabilitation techniques are widely known in the veterinary community, and we’re working hard to spread the word to pet owners. Equine and canine physical therapy are the most widely used therapies, but rehabilitation is also gaining traction for helping other species.

As rehabilitation becomes more widely available for pets, the focus of the techniques has shifted. Rather than focusing almost solely on curative and palliative care for pets after surgery, or pets suffering from degenerative conditions, rehabilitation is shifting to preventive care. For example, certain rehabilitation techniques, like physical therapy and hydrotherapy, are excellent for helping overweight pets shed extra pounds, without placing additional stress on already overtaxed joints. By reducing a pet’s weight, their risk of developing many degenerative diseases and other health conditions, such as osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, diabetes, and heart disease, is decreased.

Rehabilitation techniques are also traditionally used to regain muscle mass and range of motion, alleviate pain, and improve circulation following surgery. Pets who undergo orthopedic surgeries typically see a marked improvement in function, comfort, and healing of the affected limb following rehabilitation treatment. 

What types of rehabilitation are available for cats and dogs?

Numerous rehabilitation techniques have been adapted for pets. Depending on the pet’s medical condition, they may benefit from a combination of these therapies: 

  • Physical therapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Passive range-of-motion exercises
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Cryotherapy and/or heat therapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Massage
  • Proprioception exercises

Many more alternative therapies can help a pet recover from surgery or an injury, or maintain an ideal physical condition, and rehabilitation techniques can provide integrative care for maximum efficacy.

Can my pet undergo rehabilitation at Stack Veterinary Hospital?

We have a certified rehabilitation practitioner on our team, and we are excited to offer rehabilitation for cats and dogs! By working one-on-one with your pet, your furry pal will experience an improved quality of life and range of motion, and decreased pain and healing time. We often combine rehabilitation with other pain management treatments, such as laser therapy, and will tailor a plan specific to your pet’s needs. Our goal is to improve pets’ quality of life by ensuring successful outcomes, and helping them stay active and mobile for as long as possible.

Since orthopedic and weight issues are common in cats and dogs, many pets are ideal rehabilitation candidates, who can benefit if they have the following conditions:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Hip dysplasia and surgery
  • Elbow dysplasia and surgery
  • Trauma and fractures
  • Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
  • Muscle and ligament disorders
  • Cruciate ligament injury and surgery
  • Luxating patella injury and surgery
  • Tendon and ligament injury and surgery
  • Weakness
  • Muscle atrophy and wasting
  • Degenerative spinal cord disease
  • Neuropathy
  • Paralysis

Rehabilitation can also help pets lose or manage weight, and improve their physical condition. With so many benefits, this therapy can no doubt help your furry pal.

Is rehabilitation right for your cat or dog? Contact our Stack Veterinary Hospital team to schedule an initial consultation to evaluate and discuss your pet’s condition. We also accept rehabilitation referrals from other veterinary hospitals, to help as many pets as we can.