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Types of Animal Rehabilitation for Geriatric Pets

Image of a dog animals receiving geriatric pet rehabilitation treatments using class 4 laser

There’s an old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but when it comes to their health and wellness, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. With advancements in veterinary medicine, there’s a wealth of options available to keep our geriatric pets healthier and happier than ever before. And this is where we enter the exciting and heartwarming world of animal rehabilitation for geriatric pets.

Types of Animal Rehabilitation for Geriatric Pets

Physical Therapy

Just as with humans, physical therapy plays a pivotal role in the rehabilitation of older pets. It helps manage pain, improve mobility, and boost overall wellness. The exercises included can range from the ever-so-gentle passive range of motion (PROM) to more challenging ones like underwater treadmill therapy.

Passive Range of Motion (PROM)

PROM exercises involve gently moving the pet’s joints to maintain or improve flexibility and strength. These exercises are particularly beneficial for pets with arthritis or recovering from surgery. The therapist performs these movements without the pet’s active involvement, hence the name ‘passive’.

Underwater Treadmill Therapy

This form of therapy is a game-changer for our four-legged companions. The water provides buoyancy, reducing the impact on their joints while still allowing them to exercise. Underwater treadmills are used to improve cardiovascular fitness, enhance strength, and aid in weight loss.


Acupuncture, a practice rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, is now being harnessed for the well-being of our geriatric pets. It involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body, stimulating nerves and releasing endorphins. Acupuncture can help alleviate pain, improve digestion, and even reduce anxiety in older pets.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is more than just a relaxing rubdown for your pet. It’s a comprehensive tool that enhances blood circulation, reduces stress, and can aid in pain management. For geriatric pets, it’s a boon, helping them retain flexibility and combat muscle atrophy.

Chiropractic Care

Don’t get bent out of shape at the mention of chiropractic care for pets—it’s more common than you think! This therapy can be particularly beneficial for geriatric pets, helping to align their spines and improve nervous system function. Chiropractic care can assist in managing conditions like arthritis and hip dysplasia.


The idea of pets taking a dip for health might seem a bit outlandish, but hydrotherapy has proven its mettle time and time again. Hydrotherapy, particularly beneficial for pets with mobility issues, involves the use of water to assist or resist movement, thereby strengthening muscles and relieving pain.

Nutritional Counseling

We are what we eat, and the same goes for our pets. Nutritional counselling forms a critical part of animal rehabilitation for geriatric pets, with diet changes often recommended to manage conditions like obesity, heart disease, or diabetes.

The Importance of Regular Vet Check-Ups for Geriatric Pets

Like humans, as pets age, they’re more prone to health issues. Regular veterinary check-ups can identify problems early on, providing opportunities for timely intervention and rehabilitation.

The Role of Pet Owners in Geriatric Pet Rehabilitation

While veterinary professionals undoubtedly play a significant role, pet owners are the real heroes in their pets’ rehabilitation journeys. They’re responsible for regular exercise, medication administration, diet management, and most importantly, showering their pets with love and patience during difficult times.

Animal Rehabilitation Centers vs. Home Rehabilitation

When it comes to rehabilitation, one size does not fit all. While some pets might require intensive care at rehabilitation centres, others might do just fine with home-based rehabilitation. Understanding your pet’s unique needs is paramount in choosing the right path for them.

The Emotional Aspect of Geriatric Pet Rehabilitation

While we often focus on the physical aspect of rehabilitation, the emotional side is equally important. Pets are sensitive to changes in their environment and routines. Therefore, providing them with emotional support during their rehabilitation journey can help improve their outcomes.

The Future of Geriatric Pet Rehabilitation

While we’ve come a long way in animal rehabilitation, the future holds even more promise. With emerging technologies like stem cell therapy and laser therapy, we’re on the brink of a new age of geriatric pet rehabilitation.


1. What is animal rehabilitation for geriatric pets?

Animal rehabilitation for geriatric pets involves a combination of therapies and techniques designed to improve the health and quality of life of aging pets. These can range from physical therapy and massage therapy to acupuncture and nutritional counselling.

2. At what age is a pet considered geriatric?

Typically, dogs are considered geriatric around the age of 7-10 years, depending on the breed and size. Cats often enter their senior years around 11-14 years.

3. How can I tell if my pet could benefit from rehabilitation?

If your pet is showing signs of decreased mobility, pain, weight gain, or changes in behaviour, it might benefit from rehabilitation. Always consult with a veterinarian for a proper evaluation.

4. Can all pets undergo rehabilitation?

While most pets can benefit from some form of rehabilitation, the specific types of therapy suitable for your pet will depend on their health status, age, and specific needs. Your vet can provide the best advice in this regard.

5. Is animal rehabilitation for geriatric pets expensive?

The cost can vary depending on the type of therapy, the pet’s specific needs, and the frequency of treatment. Some pet insurance plans may cover parts of rehabilitation costs.

6. Can I do any rehabilitation exercises with my pet at home?

Yes, many exercises can be done at home with proper guidance from a veterinarian or a certified animal rehabilitation therapist.


From traditional therapies to high-tech innovations, the types of animal rehabilitation for geriatric pets have evolved tremendously over the years, ensuring our aging companions continue to enjoy their golden years. As pet owners, our role in their well-being cannot be overstated. After all, they rely on us just as much as we rely on them—for comfort, for companionship, for love.

Dr. Sara Lam

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