The Importance Of Canine Rehabilitation: Tips From A Veterinarian

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This article was written by a guest contributor. For guest contribution guidelines, please visit this page. John Green has profound experience in the veterinary field with years of experience. Now he handles content at Pet Health Hospital. Certainly, John loves and cherishes animals, and owns two dogs Marty and Lou.

If you were to find out you had an illness, or needed an operation, you’d expect some sort of rehabilitation process to follow. Historically, people have perhaps been guilty of just letting their dogs heal on their own after an operation or illness. Dogs are very capable of doing so, and just like humans, they will often find a way to cope after being injured or having serious surgery, but in recent years we’ve started to understand how a canine rehabilitation specialist can help to get a dog back on the right track.

Whether a pup has had an unexpected injury, or they are suffering from a long-term condition or the inevitable issues that come with age, there are ways in which canine rehabilitation therapy can offer support, pain relief and help them to get back on their paws as quickly as possible.

What is Canine Rehabilitation?

Woman working with canine for rehabilitation

Just like physical rehabilitation for humans, this is the same concept, but for dogs! 

Canine rehabilitation is not confined to just one specific treatment. It could be different for every dog. It is a range of treatments and therapies, which a canine rehabilitation specialist can put into a plan for a dog to help recover from long-term injury or illness. Sometimes, canine rehab is just a suitable way to help dogs who have become overweight or have joint problems. It’s not always implemented after a shocking event, illness, or accident.

It makes sense for a lot of veterinarians to start to offer this service. They may already have the knowledge and equipment, and as people are starting to understand how they can take better care of their dogs, canine rehab is becoming more mainstream and better understood.

What Can Rehabilitation Therapy Help With?

As we’ve already briefly mentioned, there are so many things that canine rehabilitation can help your dog with. 

Some of the simpler issues and ailments that dogs find canine rehabilitation therapy can help with include being overweight, or muscle and joint problems that come with age. 

Canine rehabilitation is perhaps even more essential for dogs with illness or injury. For example, if a dog has had surgery and finds that they have not been able to walk, run or move freely for some time. Certain canine rehabilitation methods are designed to take the stress off joints and aid the dog’s body in its recovery. 

Canine rehab can also help with neurological disorders that may restrict your dog’s movement. It’s all about doing what is needed to make your dog more comfortable.

Related: Human Foods Safe for Dogs [And 22 Human Foods They Should NEVER Eat]

What are the 5 Top Tips from a Veterinarian?

Vet-tech snuggling with a yellow lab during a visit
  1. Work with a canine rehabilitation specialist to create a specific plan. Every dog has different needs, depending on what their size and breed, and what they have been through. Different conditions, the age of the dog…these all play a part. This is why it is so crucial that you have a specific and tailor-made plan.
  2. Don’t underestimate cryotherapy. After an injury or surgery, cryo has shown to be incredibly effective, even if you just use cold compresses to help to treat the injury. It can reduce muscle spasms, and even boost recovery time after surgery.
  3. Simple walking exercises can make a difference. Many of a dog’s ailments can be helped by walking, and certain specific walking exercises might form the bulk of a rehab program. For example, you may support their walking by providing assistance to a dog’s balance, or extra support for the joints. You may want to provide specific obstacle courses or encourage your dog to gradually get used to inclines again.
  4. Hydrotherapy can be a simple solution (especially for small dogs). There are certain considerations when using water, but a dog tends to only bear a small fraction of weight on their limbs while they are in the water. If you have a dog that has joint problems, this can be a way to build strength back up. It’s particularly good for smaller dogs, who can fit in the tub.
  5. Treadmills can take pressure away from the joints. This is something that a lot of people neglect to consider. The idea of a dog on a treadmill might be amusing, but actually, it can be a good way for them to recover without having to put excess stress on their joints. You can also control the incline.

Benefits of Veterinary Rehabilitation

There are a number of different benefits to veterinary rehabilitation, which have helped to make it such a popular and growing industry. Most people adore their dogs and don’t want to see them in any pain. This is the first, and arguably the most important benefit – it helps dogs to cope with pain, or even lowers the pain in the first place.

On top of this, rehabilitation can help to get a dog back to its previous levels of activity. Eventually, a dog might find that they have mobility issues, but if you step in with rehabilitation after an accident or injury, you give your pup the best chance of getting back to its former self. It’s important to be realistic, especially with aging dogs, but generally, this is one of the most important and helpful aspects of rehabilitation.

Another benefit for those who have had an injury is that rehab can help to prevent the chances of the same thing reoccurring in the future.

Of course, it is very important to be realistic about your expectations when it comes to rehabilitation. A dog may have gone through something traumatic, or developed a problem over time. You will want to fix this, but it isn’t always something that can be 100% returned to normal. Instead, rehabilitation is all about helping a dog get back to where they were before an accident or injury, or as close as possible. It’s about keeping a happy and healthy dog and making sure you do all you can to support them in their daily life. 

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