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Physiotheapy, Canine Rehabilitation or Physical Therapy

Physical therapy or physiotherapy or canine rehabilitation for paralysis is designed to help your pet recover lost ability and make the best use of function as it returns. If your pet is paralyzed, you may have been told there is little or no chance your pet will walk again. No one can know if that is true or not, only time will tell how much ability your pet will recover. Our experiences have shown that recovery from paralysis continues for at least two years, with small improvements occurring even after that. Physiotherapy or canine rehabilitation can help your pet make the best recovery possible. But proper home care, including home exercises and preparing the environment for the dog needs to work simultaneously to provide the best chances of healing.

Your vet or your pet’s surgeon will make the decision on when your pet may begin physical therapy. How soon therapy can begin depends on what caused the paralysis. In some cases, such as paralysis caused by a fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE), you may be instructed to start physical therapy right away. In other cases, such as the medical or surgical treatment of intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), you may be ordered to keep your pet on crate rest first.

REFERENCES

Darryl L. Millis, MS, DVM, DACVS, DACVSMR, CCRP
Professor of Orthopedic Surgery & Director of Surgical Service

Robin Downing, DVM, MS, DAAPM, DACVSMR, CVPP, CCRP
Diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management, is a a founder and past-president of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management.

Janet B. Van Dyke, DVM
Diplomate American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, CCRT, CEO

Ludovica Dragone, DVM, CCRP
Vice President of VEPRA, Veterinary European of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Association.

Andrea L. Henderson, DVM, CCRT, CCRP
Resident, Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation

Steven M.Fox, MS, DVM, MBA, PhD
President Securos. Inc

HOME REHABILITATION EXERCISES

Cryotherapy – Ice Packing

Keep the cooling device in place on the affected body part. Leave it in place for about 15 minutes, or until your dog’s skin feels cold to the touch. Cold therapy can be repeated every 6 to 8 hours or twice a day.

If your dog displays any signs of discomfort during this process such as excessive movement, growling or biting, stop the cold therapy treatment immediately. Check the icing area every couple minutes and making sure that the skin is not turning red. And a good trick to note is that a cotton towel should always be place between the cooling device and the dog to prevent frost bite.

Thermal Therapy – Heat Pack

Just like humans, dogs benefit from warm compresses to help alleviate pain from illness, injury or surgery. Warm towels or commercial heat packs can all be applied to affected areas of your pet. A warm compress can help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with surgery and joint pain. And can be useful for loosening joins and relaxing muscles prior to their session with us.

Hold the heat pack on the affected area (with a towel in between) of your dog to ensure it doesn’t slip out of place. Make it a pleasant experience by petting your dog and talking gently. Warm compresses typically are recommended twice a day for 10 to 15 minutes.

Passive Range-of-motion – Bicycling

If the joints in your dog’s limbs can be manually moved in all possible directions, within normal limits, and without pain or injury, they should be able to tolerate passive range-of-motion. The exercise typically has a dog lie on their side while you gently stretch and flex their front and back limbs with movements that mimic how a dog walks. The motion also copies the circular movement a human does when they ride a bike.
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