Dogs Benefit from Physical Therapy

Physical therapy helps dogs lose weight and recover from injuries.

A 75-pound dog walks effortlessly on the underwater treadmill, strengthening his surgically repaired elbow as he goes, wrote Kathy Van Mullekom.

“We’re trying to build up his triceps,” said Cori Baldwin, lead canine rehabilitator. “A lot of times we do exercises until they are obviously fatigued.”

The underwater treadmill is one of several animal rehab techniques used at the St. Francis Pet Resort and Rehabilitation Center in Williamsburg, VA, according to a recent article.

“We’ve taken some dogs who could barely get across the room and worked with them on the treadmill until they last 25 minutes on it,” said veterinarian Pamela Nersesian Dumont in a recent interview.

The Animal Clinic and Wellness Center, also in Williamsburg, offers a similar program, the article stated.

“Nationwide animal rehabilitation is a growing trend and emerging field of study at many veterinary medical schools,” reports Mullekom. “Acceptance and demand for the specialty also helped create the animal physical therapy special interest group associated with the American Physical Therapy Association.”

“It’s not acceptable for a pet owner to pay for a knee surgery for Fluffy and just wait around for two months for it to heal,” Amie Lamoreaux Hesbach told Mullekom.

Baldwin sets up the walking treadmill for Jewel’s treatment at the center. She works with 12-year-old Jewel on the large ball in an attempt to help the dog’s mobility and flexibility. In addition to post-operative clients St. Francis in Williamsburg works with aging, overweight dogs like Jewel, a clumber spaniel who weighed 67 pounds when she started therapy about four months ago, according to research.

“She seems to have a real blast there and it’s been so good for her,” said Loren Grimes, Jewel’s owner, in the article.

When Baldwin and canine rehabilitation assistant Megan Stanley work with dogs like Jewel they are careful to push them only as far as each dog is willing to go, they say.

But right now a low-calorie cookie convinces Jewel to go a few more minutes so Baldwin inclines the treadmill and speeds it up to one mile per hour, according to reports.

Cooper enters the glassed-in box calm as can be, writes Mullekom. Cooper, a two-year-old black Lab, walks inside the underwater treadmill as Baldwin stands inside the tank.

Before any treatments are done dogs are evaluated for their condition and needs.

“Rehab is not invasive like surgery and something dogs enjoy,” says Dumont.

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