Approximately 52.5% of dogs and 58.3% of cats are overweight or obese in this country and the numbers appear to be rising. Carrying around this excess weight can have devastating effects on their health, longevity, functional mobility, and pain.
Weight gain is serious enough in and of itself, but several other conditions can exacerbated or caused by weight gain. In dogs, osteoarthritis is one of the most common disorders seen with obesity. The increased stress on the soft tissues and joints predisposes to instability or inflammation which in turn can cause arthritis in patients. Other disorders seen include difficulty breathing , intolerance to exercise and heat, problems with anesthesia, skin disorders, increased fat/cholesterol in the blood stream, pancreatitis, renal disease and decreased life span. In cats, some cancers, diabetes, skin disorders, urinary tract disease, and mouth problems are linked to obesity.
A veterinary rehabilitation weight loss program tailors the program to each patient’s current ability. Overweight or obese dogs are at increased risk for musculoskeletal injuries; concurrent diseases, such as tracheal collapse or painful osteoarthritis, can affect the safety of prolonged exercise.
Our certified canine rehabilitation practitioners, in collaboration with your veterinarian, can develop an exercise plan to help your dog jump-start his or her metabolism.
If your dog does not have underlying health conditions and weight loss is your primary consideration, check out our TOTAL DOG programs.
Post Op & Injury
Rehab is beneficial in getting your pet back to their pre-surgery or pre-injury state. Rehab at every stage of recovery improves strength, increases mobility, reduces pain, and restores agility and confidence. Exercising in a controlled manner and under therapist supervision can improve the surgical success rate and reduce the risk of re-injury.
Common Post Operative and Injury conditions that can be treated with physical rehabilitation include:
- Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)
- Lateral Suture Technique or Extracapsular Repair (Outside the Joint)
- Medial Patellar Luxation (MPL)/ Lateral Patellar Luxation (LPL)
- Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)
- Total Hip Replacement (THR)
- Elbow Arthroscopy
- Shoulder Arthroscopy
- Fracture repair
- Soft tissue injuries
- Muscle strains
- Conservative management for ligament tears
- Overuse injuries
We will contact your family veterinarian and/or surgeon for referral information on the injury/condition. Our therapists will create a customized program to suit your pet’s needs.
Injury Recovery Case Study – Quizz
Watch as Quizz recovers from biceps tendinopathy. His rehab plan includes laser therapy, massage, exercises (in clinic and at home), and underwater treadmill. After completing a rehab program with us, he was back to competing in agility competitions and running with his owner!
Post Op Case Study – Monty
Monty is a 5-year-old neutered male Goldendoodle who received 3 months of physical rehabilitation therapy with CRCG after a TPLO surgery to stabilize his right stifle (knee) after he tore his cranial cruciate ligament or CCL (the canine equivalent of a human’s ACL). His owners were dedicated to his recovery, limiting his activity carefully, following our recommendations for walks and home exercises, and bringing him in every week for rehab visits. His rehab therapy at CRCG consisted of laser therapy to decrease pain and inflammation, massage to tight muscles, and strengthening exercises to increase muscle mass in his hind limbs. We also used the underwater treadmill to allow him to walk with the buoyancy of the water decreasing the stress on his joints and the resistance of the water providing extra work for his muscles. With the help of his rehab therapy and hard work by his owners, he recovered smoothly and quickly. Unfortunately, shortly after finishing rehab for his right stifle, he tore the CCL in his left stifle and had a TPLO surgery on that limb. Because of the positive results with rehabilitation after his first surgery, his owners returned to us for another course of rehab after his second surgery. He has minimal muscle atrophy (muscle loss) after his second surgery because of the strengthening work we did after his first surgery so he’s doing extremely well and making even faster progress the second time around.
Post Op Case Study – Lola
Lola is a 4-year-old FS golden retriever service dog that was diagnosed with bilateral medial coronoid disease at a year old (right worse than left). Bilateral subtotal coronoidectomies have been performed on each elbow twice; the most recent occurred in early November 2014. Lola responded well to rehab after the first surgery, so her owners are pursuing it again this time. She had eight full weeks of rest before rehab was begun in December 2014. Her service duties were suspended during her recovery time. Initially, Lola had a normal gait in her LF, but a grade 3/5 lameness in her RF. Her right elbow only flexed to 72°, and her left elbow to 55° (normal 20-40°). Both had normal extension. Her muscle mass was moderately decreased bilaterally in her triceps, biceps, supra- and infraspinatus, rhomboid, and latissimus muscles. We focused on pain management and increasing range of motion for therapy, as well as strengthening her forelimb muscles. Cold laser, joint traction, therapeutic ultrasound, and the underwater treadmill were used at weekly rehab appointments, and she performed simple exercises at home. After a brief setback when she slipped on ice and exacerbated her elbow pain (especially on her left fore), she is gradually becoming more comfortable on her forelimbs. She has gained 20° of flexion in her right forelimb with consistent passive range of motion that the owners are doing at home, and she is on a good path to recovery with a gentle rehab plan.
Benefits of Post Op Rehab – Side by Side Comparison
Not sure if post op rehab is necessary or beneficial? Watch the above video to see side by side results of 2 dogs who had the same surgery (Femoral Head Ostectomy) by the same surgeon, a few days apart. One dog received rehab the 2nd day after surgery and the other did not. The results are stark and illustrate the importance of rehab in your dog’s recovery.
Pain and Reactivity Case Study – Meca
Meca is an 8-year-old spayed female labrador retriever mix who was presented to us for physical rehabilitation after a perceived episode of pain at home. During this episode, she was hunched in her back, walking stiffly, didn’t want to use the stairs, and snapped at her owner when she tried to help Meca on the stairs. An exam by one of our therapists revealed back pain as well as muscles in her hind limbs that were significantly tight and painful. She was started on pain medications by her regular veterinarian and for additional pain management, we began therapeutic laser therapy to her spine. Therapeutic laser decreases pain by decreasing inflammation and increasing blood flow. We also worked on stretching and massage for her tight hind limb muscles and after a couple weeks, she was much more comfortable and acting like herself again. Since then, we’ve been working on strengthening and conditioning to help prevent future pain or injury. Meca walks in the underwater treadmill here and does exercises both at home and in the rehab facility to strengthen her hind limbs as well as her core (abdominal and back muscles). She also continues to get regular massage and stretching to keep her muscles relaxed.
Meca exhibited reactivity to other dogs and started working with Carrie Bowlus (CRCG Behavioral Consultant) in the CRCG playground. On her first visit, she was introduced to the clicker — the goal was to be able to “catch” moments of focus and calm. She also started simple foot placement exercises. During her second visit, we introduced Meca to the Total Dog equipment (the equipment you see in the CRCG Broomfield playground). Both the first and second visits were scheduled during reserved time, so there were no other dogs passing by. On the third visit with Meca, we built on previous skills and also used the distraction of other dogs passing by the playground area to work on her discomfort with other dogs. Reducing Meca’s pain through rehab has allowed her to focus on training and improving her interactions with other dogs.
How well an animal ages is based on many factors, including genetics, environment, and nutrition. Aging pets, like aging humans, often have range-of-motion and mobility issues. For geriatric dogs, physical therapy goals include pain control, maintaining range of motion and flexibility, maintaining or improving strength, and promoting psychological well-being. Geriatric dogs often have secondary conditions or comorbidities that impact treatment. These conditions include:
- Degenerative joint disease
- Degenerative myelopathy
- Cardiovascular/pulmonary disease
- Diabetes mellitus
- Cognitive changes
Physical rehabilitation can improve quality of life and maximize health benefits. Implementing a low-stress program with positive reinforcement strategies and multiple therapeutic exercises during rehabilitation sessions positively affects patients. Our experts develop specialized programs to help your pet fully enjoy its senior years.
Geriatric Case Study – Sammy
9 year old Sammy came to see us for relief from arthritis. His treatment plan focused on limb strength, pain management, and building core strength. Easing his symptoms improved quality of life both for him and his family!
Geriatric Case Study – Dottie
Dottie is an 11-year-old FS black lab that was originally purchased as a puppy a decade ago. Her family relinquished her to the local lab rescue last year because they “didn’t want to own an old dog.” The family had never walked Dottie so she was overweight and under-socialized. As a black lab in a shelter, she had the least likely chance of being adopted. Fortunately for Dottie, a volunteer at the time decided to foster her, which quickly turned into a foster failure, and Dottie now has a loving and healthy home. With regular walks and a strict diet, Dottie reached a healthy weight, but it became very apparent that she had bad hips.
Weekly acupuncture and laser therapy helps control Dottie’s pain from arthritis. We built up strength in her hindlimbs in the underwater treadmill twice a week. After starting at only 4 minutes, Dottie can now walk for 12 minutes! We recently introduced her to the variable current pool to help vary her strengthening regimen while also encouraging greater hip range of motion.
Dottie is much more mobile compared to when we first saw her last year. While we don’t expect Dottie to hike Pike’s Peak at any point, we hope to keep her as comfortable and independent as possible in her new home. She enjoys walks with her “sister,” Tessa, and if she needs a rest, Dottie’s owners push her in a cart for a time. As long as Dottie’s spirit stays strong, we will be here to help!
Rehabilitation can help treat a wide variety of neurological conditions including intervertebral disc disease, degenerative myelopathy, disc herniation, spinal trauma, and many others. Outcomes of neurological disorders can include paralysis, vision impairment, poor balance, and inability to ambulate.
Rehabilitation therapy is a key component of recovery from neurologic disease. Each patient requires a rehabilitation protocol designed specifically for the patient’s neurologic condition, owner expectations and level of participation, and expertise of the professional canine rehabilitation team.
Both non-surgical cases and post-surgical patients greatly benefit from rehabilitation modalities to regain as much mobility and independence as possible. Our rehabilitation therapists focus on helping and improving dysfunction.
Neurologic Case Study – Ella
Ella is a 9-year-old FS chocolate lab that had an IVDD event at T12-T13 in June 2014. Within 48 hrs of the event, Ella had a left hemilaminectomy. She has been severely paraparetic since June, using only her forelimbs for walking. Her owners purchased a wheelchair to help her get around.
When we first saw Ella, she had severely atrophied hindlimb muscles and delayed reflexes in her left hindlimb. Her right hindlimb reflexes were normal. Both limbs exhibited very strong extensor tone. Her shoulder muscles were very tense and hypertrophied. She suffered from frequent urinary tract infections due to upper motor neuron bladder complications. She was able to maintain a standing position if we placed her hindlimbs for her, but only for approximately 15 seconds before falling over.
We focused on ways to help reinforce Ella’s proprioception and strengthen her hindlimbs. We used the underwater treadmill to help her walk, in which she had excellent and purposeful motion of her limbs, but ataxia was evident as she crossed her paws. We also used electrical-stimulation (e-stim) of her HL muscles to help initiate contractions in her atrophied hamstrings, gluteals, quadriceps, and gastrocnemius muscles. Exercises to increase tactile stimulation to her back paws were used both in-clinic and at home.
Since starting rehab last month, Ella has increased her endurance in the treadmill from 3 minutes to over 10. She is still too paretic to walk solo, but her hindlimbs are stronger with daily e-stim, and she is able to stand for more than a minute on her own. We are currently practicing postural transitions (sitting to standing, for example), and she is doing better every day. At the time of this writing (January 2015), we hope to have her walking again within the next 3-4 months.
"My 2yo heeler mix had a bilateral elbow arthroscopy, and all the therapists have been so great with her--we've pretty much seen them all at this point. They're great with dogs, knowledgeable, and push my dog appropriately. They have taught me what to do with her at home, and I am seeing improvements each week! Highly recommend."Mackenzie H