When animals experience pain or injury, they will compensate by altering their posture and movement increasing the risk of injury to other areas of the body. The main aims of physiotherapy are to reduce pain, restore function and mobility and enhance performance by stimulating the body's natural healing processes through a combination of techniques including massage, electrotherapy and remedial exercise tailored to your pets individual needs. All animals can benefit from the effects of physiotherapy some of the common conditions treated include:
Elbow and hip dysplasia
Pre and post surgical rehabilitation
Neurological Conditions, e.g. IVDD,
Neck and back pain
Tendon and ligament injuries
Muscle tears, strains, atrophy and imbalance
Controlled exercise to improve weight loss in overweight animals.
If your pet has any of the above conditions or if you think your pet could benefit from physiotherapy, then please contact me, and I will be happy to discuss the treatment options available.
Continue reading below or click the condition to find out how physiotherapy is used to treat animals.
Osteoarthritis is a common condition suffered by many of our golden oldies affecting their daily life, signs which many may consider as "old age" such as being less active and seaming a bit stiff could indicate that your pet has osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, there is no cure so we must do everything we can to ensure our pets remain pain-free with this condition.
Management of this condition requires a multi-modal and team approach between your vet, physiotherapist and other professionals. Your vet can prescribe analgesic medications, advise on joint or dietary supplementation and offer acupuncture. Physiotherapy can also be used alongside these treatments to alleviate pain and improve muscle strength and function surrounding the joints helping your pet live an active, long and happy life. Other treatments that may be offered to help your pet include hydrotherapy and laser therapy.
It is likely that a pet with osteoarthritis will have been compensating for a long time by changing their weight to other areas of the body leading to muscle imbalances, there is likely to be noticeable areas of muscle loss to some limbs and increased muscle to others. A physiotherapy programme for pets with osteoarthritis may include massage, stretching and joint range of motion to provide pain relief, reduce muscle tension and increase muscle and joint flexibility. Once pain-free we can prescribe exercises to correct the muscle imbalances increasing muscle mass and quality around the affected joint(s) which supports the joints helping prevent further injury.
Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture
Cranial Cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture is a common injury occurring in dogs causing pain and lameness. Physiotherapy for CCL rupture typically begins post-surgery following a referral from your veterinary surgeon. The aim is to complement their surgery through the provision of pain relief and to improve healing allowing your pet to recover as quickly as possible and preventing future problems.
Recovery following surgery can be stressful for both dog and owner your physiotherapist can help to relieve some of that stress by guiding you through a recovery programme. A typical plan will initially focus on pain relief and may include massage, range of motion and cryotherapy in the early stages.
Once your pet starts mobilising introduction of gentle, safe exercises encourages the use of the injured leg promoting recovery and restoring mobility and function. As your pet improves, the exercises will increase in difficulty to challenge the muscles until their fitness levels have recovered.
Physiotherapists have a holistic approach to treatment meaning that we treat the whole body and not just the injured limb, this allows us to find and address imbalances in the body which will have occurred while compensating for the injured limb.
A pet suffering from a neurological condition or injury can be a very challenging and emotional time for both pet and owner. Neurological issues are associated with the nerves within the brain, spinal column or limbs which can lead to a loss of function and your pet unable or only partially able to mobilise.
Physiotherapy helps animals regain the use of their body. Once your vet or neurologist is happy with the progress of your pet, either following surgery or crate rest, they will refer to a physiotherapist to start a rehabilitation program.
Rehabilitation initially focuses on using massage and range of motion, to promote normal muscle tone and maintain joint function. Lots of proprioception exercises are also used to help regain the connections between nerve and muscle. As your pet improves, remedial exercises are introduced to re-build muscle, improve muscle strength and start getting your pet back to where they were before the injury occurred.
Sporting and Working Dogs
All professional sports people rely on physiotherapists to keep them in peak performance, and this should be no different for our canine athletes. Whether its the fast-paced action of Agility and Flyball, the endurance required of being out in the field all day as a Gundog or requiring the perfect build and movement of the show ring, physiotherapy can help to keep your dog strong, supple and in peak performance.
Keeping your pet in top physical condition can be challenging, massage and stretching treats changes occurring in the tissues due to the physical demands of their sport and allows any injuries to be picked up quicker enabling early intervention and quicker recovery. Specific exercises focussed on their sports speciality aim to improve muscle strength, stamina, suppleness and coordination, preventing injury and enhancing athletic performance.
For dogs exhibited in the show ring conformation and movement are paramount to success, muscle imbalances can be picked up by the judge and effects performance in the ring. Massage and stretching improve muscle tone and flexibility increasing range of movement creating a more graceful gait. Including exercises within their routine to build core muscles and balanced muscles allowing your dog to stand easily for the judge. With your dog looking and feeling their best a red rosette won't be far away.