Rehabilitation for dogs includes prescribed physical exercises, stretches and manual therapies (massage, stretching, gentle joint mobilization and range of motion exercises), sometimes in addition to other physical treatment modalities (low level laser therapy, cryotherapy and heat therapy) with the goal of restoring or preserving the pet’s normal physical function and abilities. Canine rehabilitation is best applied following an orthopedic surgery to expedite recovery or to treat acute, chronic and progressive conditions related to a dog’s musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems.
In both humans and animals, well-established scientific studies exist in support of rehabilitation’s large variety of clinical applications, including:
- Accelerated healing and return to normal physical function following an injury or orthopedic surgery (cranial cruciate ligament repair, fracture stabilization and spinal surgeries)
- Pain relief
- Prevention of permanent physical disabilities
- Improvement of chronic conditions (osteoarthritis and neuropathy)
- Slowed progression of progressive medical conditions (degenerative myelopathy)
In addition to these beneficial applications of rehabilitation, it has also been shown to reduce the likelihood of a future re-injury by improving balance and range of motion, reducing scar tissue formation and strengthening key muscle groups.