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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

As our pets age, they may begin to experience various health issues that can affect their quality of life. Geriatric pets, generally considered those over the age of seven for dogs and ten for cats, may benefit from animal rehabilitation therapies specifically designed to address their unique needs. This blog will discuss the types of animal rehabilitation options available for geriatric pets and how these therapies can improve their overall well-being.

Understanding the Needs of Geriatric Pets

Older pets often face several health challenges, including arthritis, muscle weakness, and degenerative neurological conditions. These issues can impact their mobility, comfort, and ability to perform daily activities. Properly addressing these concerns through a tailored rehabilitation programme can help to:

  • Alleviate pain
  • Improve mobility
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Enhance balance and coordination
  • Promote overall well-being

Types of Animal Rehabilitation for Geriatric Pets

  1. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is a crucial component of animal rehabilitation for geriatric pets. It involves using various manual techniques and therapeutic exercises to improve joint mobility, increase muscle strength, and alleviate pain. Some common physical therapy methods include:
    • Massage
    • Stretching
    • Passive range of motion exercises
    • Balance and coordination training
    • Targeted strengthening exercises
  1. Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy uses water to provide low-impact exercise and resistance training for geriatric pets. It can help to reduce joint pain, improve muscle strength, and increase mobility. Two primary forms of hydrotherapy include:
    • Underwater treadmill therapy: In this therapy, the pet walks on a treadmill submerged in a tank of warm water. The buoyancy of the water reduces the weight placed on the joints, while the water resistance helps to build muscle strength.
    • Swimming: Swimming can be an effective form of exercise for older pets, as it provides low-impact movement that helps to increase muscle tone, flexibility, and overall fitness.
  1. Laser Therapy: Low-level laser therapy, also known as cold laser therapy, can be beneficial in managing pain and inflammation associated with conditions such as arthritis. This non-invasive treatment involves using light energy to stimulate cellular healing and reduce inflammation.
  2. Acupuncture: Veterinary acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on your pet’s body to stimulate the release of natural pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory substances. It can help to manage chronic pain, improve circulation, and support overall well-being in geriatric pets.
  3. Orthotics and Prosthetics: Geriatric pets with mobility issues may benefit from the use of custom orthotic devices or prosthetics. These can provide support, stability, and improved function for pets with joint or limb abnormalities, injuries, or amputations.
  4. Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for geriatric pets, as excess weight can exacerbate existing health issues and lead to new problems. A veterinarian or animal rehabilitation professional can help create a tailored nutrition and exercise plan to ensure your pet maintains an appropriate weight.


Geriatric pets can greatly benefit from a variety of animal rehabilitation therapies tailored to their specific needs. With a focus on alleviating pain, improving mobility, and enhancing overall well-being, these treatments can help your aging pet maintain a comfortable and active life. Always consult with a veterinarian or animal rehabilitation specialist to determine the best course of action for your geriatric pet’s unique requirements. By investing in your pet’s well-being during their golden years, you can help ensure they continue to enjoy a high quality of life.

Dr. Sara Lam

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