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WHY CANINE REHABILITATION?

rehabilitation at pet health animal hospital

An active, pain-free dog is a healthy and happy dog. If physical limitations or movement disorders, due to acute conditions (such as surgery or injury) or chronic conditions (such as diseases, age-related conditions or obesity), hinder your dog’s ability to move without pain, discomfort or physical distress, rehabilitation therapy can help.

Common Conditions That Respond Well to Canine Rehabilitation Therapy Rehabilitation therapy in Las Vegas can be used to address a variety of conditions related to the canine musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. The most common conditions treated with rehabilitation therapy include:

LAS VEGAS CANINE REHABILITATION

Postoperative Cranial Cruciate Rupture Surgery – One of the most common orthopedic conditions in dogs, cranial cruciate ligament disease typically requires surgery to address the resulting instability of the knee. Post-operative rehabilitation is essential to restoring normal function to an affected dog.

Postoperative Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy – A number of conditions and injuries (including coxofemoral luxation, femoral head and neck fracture and Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease) require this salvage procedure. Unfortunately, this surgery can result in excessive scar tissue that causes a decreased range of motion and abnormal muscle healing. Early and aggressive rehabilitation provides the best outcome possible for these patients.

Spinal Cord Diseases – If a dog is diagnosed with spinal trauma or a spinal disease such as inflammatory disease, degenerative myelopathy or intervertebral disc disease, goals for rehabilitation would be to manage the pain, maintain joint mobility, restore/prevent muscle atrophy and coordination, and improve proprioception (body-position awareness).

Geriatric/Osteoarthritis – Arthritis is a common problem in our geriatric patients. Unfortunately, declines in activity level due to arthritis pain are often perceived as normal age-related slowing down. In conjunction with exercises that will help improve your senior pet’s activity levels, mutli-modal therapy can be used to help decrease joint pain associated with arthritis.

Obesity – One of the most common canine health concerns in the United States, an estimated 50% of dogs between the ages of five 10 ten are considered either overweight or obese. Obesity leads to serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and accelerating the progression of osteoarthritis. A weight-loss plan that utilizes exercises that are safe for patients of varying physical abilities while also offering nutrition guidance can be formulated. An indoor treadmill is especially useful for providing exercises to heat-sensitive pets during the hot Las Vegas summers.

canine rehabilitation specialists-Pet health animal hospital

ASSESSING PATIENTS FOR CANINE REHABILITATION IN LAS VEGAS

When considering a patient as a potential candidate for canine rehabilitation, our veterinarians will consider your pet’s general physical fitness (orthopedic and neurological health) and perform a more specific thorough examination of muscle mass, strength, joint mobility and stability, range of motion, scar tissue formation, laxity, flexibility and pain.

ESTABLISHING A DIAGNOSIS AND DEVELOPING A TREATMENT PLAN

Your pet will be evaluated by a licensed veterinarian certified in rehabilitation medicine. After performing a thorough health assessment, we will devise a safe and effective treatment plan to target the patient’s specific physical conditions.

TREATMENT PLAN OPTIONS, IMPLEMENTATION AND AT-HOME CARE

When devising your pet’s treatment plan and implementation, we will consider the scientific evidence and study-based recommendations for your pet’s condition before prescribing or implementing the rehabilitation plan. Your pet’s treatment plan will include rehabilitation therapies and modalities, an implementation schedule and an at-home care regimen.

Manual Therapies

  • Stretching – Improves and restores range of motion.
  • Medical Massage – Reduces pain and inflammation by improving circulation, while also preventing the formation of scar tissue.
  • Passive Range of Motion Exercise – Moves joints through their normal range of motion without bearing weight or contracting muscles. Commonly applied following surgical procedures.
  • Joint Mobilization – Skilled hand movements targeting key joints and muscle groups to improve extensibility, decrease pain, reduce swelling, and increase the range of motion.
  • Balance Therapy – Used to help pets regain balance, strengthen affected limbs, improve proprioception and understand that a healed limb is no longer painful, incorporating slings and stability balls.
  • Walking Exercises – Improve almost all aspects of physical function for pets, including the encouraged use of affected limbs. Pets may be walked on a leash or with the aid of treadmills. As the pet improves, challenges, such as stairs, uneven surfaces and inclines, may be gradually incorporated.
  • Cavalletti Rails – Horizontal bars placed at increasing heights and varying patterns to create challenges that increase stride length and range of motion while improving balance and proprioception.
dog rehabilitation -Pet health animal hospital
dog rehabilitation programs -Pet health animal hospital
canine rehabilitation specialist during the work

Treatment Modalities

  • Low-Level Laser Therapy – Reduces inflammation and pain, and accelerates healing.
  • Cryotherapy – Application of cold to manage pain and prevent inflammation.
  • Heat Therapy – Application of heat to increase circulation and manage pain.
  • Therapeutic Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation TENS – Artificially stimulates the contraction of muscles to improve strength and range of motion.
  • Acupuncture.

Implementation of Treatment Plan

We aim to establish a treatment plan that will achieve the fastest and most positive outcome for each patient. Rehabilitation plans require patience, perseverance and flexibility, as every dog is different and will respond differently to treatment. After a diagnosis is reached, we work with pet parents to establish reasonable treatment goals and endpoints to help guide each pet’s rehabilitation process.

Once a plan has been outlined, we begin rehabilitation exercises and treatment modalities with low intensity and duration, then we progressively increase intensity and duration as your pet’s healing and tissue strength improve. As your pet improves, our rehabilitation specialists will modify your pet’s treatment based on weekly health assessments.

Working With Your Dog At Home 

Weekly Appoinments with Pet Health canine rehabilitation specialist aim to keep your dog and his or her treatment plan on track to meet recovery goals. Carefully following an at-home care plan is integral to your pet’s recovery, as daily exercise is essential to healing and strengthening.

We work with pet parents to teach them an exercise program they can practice at home with their pets between appoinments to continue strengthening muscle structure and mass, increase joint range of motion and flexibility, and mprove balance and proprioception. Performing your at-home care plan as often as prescribed will be a key component to your dog’s successful recovery.

Canine rehabilitation treatment plan
working with your pets at home
Dr. Jessica Pizzillo, DVM, CCRP

Dr. Jessica Pizzillo, DVM, CCRP

Dr. Jessica Pizzillo is originally from Virginia Beach, VA. She earned her bachelor of science from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Virginia Tech University.

Dr. Pizzillo completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group in Brooklyn, NY, and practiced in Brooklyn for seven years. She moved to Las Vegas to escape the cold winters and to have better access to outdoor recreation. Dr. Pizzillo joined the Pet Health family in the spring of 2017.

While Dr. Pizzillo enjoys all aspects of veterinary medicine, one of her greatest interests is in geriatric medicine. She has a soft spot for all the sweet seniors and loves working with pet parents to keep them as happy and healthy for as long as possible. She combined that interest in geriatric medicine with her love of physical activities and a fascination in the ways in which exercise can benefit the bodies of both people and pets. Now certified in canine rehabilitation, through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute, Dr. Pizzillo provides consultations and treatment options for pets with debilitating medical conditions get back to normal mobility and an active lifestyle.

She currently shares her home with Isabella (a 14–year-old pit bull who is largely responsible for her love of senior pets), Duncan (adventure cat and BFF to Isabella), and Lola (a robust feline who is a connoisseur of kibble and sunbathing). When Dr. Pizzillo is not working, she enjoys rock climbing, hiking, vegan cooking, and reading.

Tracey Kintner, LVT, CCRP

Tracey has been a licensed veterinary technician for 20 years. She joined the Pet Health team in December 2015 because she believed in the quality of medicine and the close connection the staff has with the pet parents.

Tracey grew up in a small farming community in West Central Indiana. She married her husband, Randy, in July 1995, and they lived and traveled all over the world together while he served in the United States Air Force. She still enjoys traveling. Her other hobbies include camping, restoring a 1970 Corvette with her husband, and competing in dog agility with her two dogs, Frank (8-year-old pug) and Truman (1-year-old French bulldog).

She obtained a bachelor’s in animal production in May 1995 from Purdue University, and became a licensed veterinary technician in Nevada in 2005. Tracey first became interested in canine rehabilitation through her interests in agility and canine sports. She obtained her certified canine rehabilitation practitioner status in December 2018 from the University of Tennessee.

Tracey believes rehabilitation medicine and preventive rehab techniques for our athletic pets and injured or senior dogs and cats can help them live longer, pain-free lives, reduce their risks of injury, and strengthen the bond they have with their pet parents. When asked what she likes about rehab, she replied, “The best parts of rehab are the special bond of trust that forms with each pet and its owner as they progress through physical therapy, and that they can’t wait to come to the vet because they know they are going to get treats, have fun, and feel better!”

Tracey Kintner, LVT, CCRP