Rehab for Pets Recovering from Surgery, Injury, or Trauma
Veterinary physical rehabilitation is a specialized field focused on the recovery of injured or ill animals. Rehab is very beneficial for pets recovering from surgery, injury, or trauma, and pets suffering from a chronic illness. Veterinarians that specialize in rehabilitation consider various things when determining the best regimen for a certain pet, including age, exercise abilities, and the specific injury or illness. Veterinary rehabilitation is a very effective practice for helping pets recover and enhance their quality of life.
Goals of Rehabilitation for Pets
Rehab can benefit pets in many ways. Patients recover more quickly with rehab programs by enhancing the healing process and minimizing pain. The overarching goal of rehab is to return the patient to the full function they had before the injury or surgery and to prevent further injury in the future. Patients are more likely to make a quicker and fuller recoveries with rehab rather than cage rest or restricted activity.
Patients that Benefit
Rehab programs can benefit patients with a variety of medical conditions. It can help patients recover from surgeries, especially if they require a long recovery process and a lot of downtime. For example, orthopedic surgeries require at least two weeks of exercise restrictions and limited activity for the following four months. For this reason, physical rehab is often recommended for a pet that is recovering from orthopedic surgery.
Patients with osteoarthritis, neurologic diseases, and soft tissue injuries are also great candidates for various rehab programs. Rehab can help improve the patient’s range of motion and prevent further injury. Additionally, patients suffering from obesity can use physical rehabilitation to begin losing weight. Rehab programs provide low-impact exercises, so they do not injure themselves.
In addition to recovering pets, athletic and working dogs can benefit from rehabilitation, as well. For these dogs, rehab can be a precautionary measure as well as used to recover from injury. Athletic dogs include sled dogs, hunting dogs, herding dogs, competition dogs, and even dogs who are workout companions to their owners. Working dogs include police and military dogs and service dogs. All these dogs can benefit from rehab to prevent injuries as well as injury recovery.
Rehabilitation Programs for Pets
The veterinarian will examine the patient and make a proper diagnosis before recommending a rehab regimen. Rehab programs include therapeutic ultrasound, mild exercise, underwater treadmill, heat therapy, therapeutic laser, home care exercises, and customized nutrition plans.
Heat therapy provides deep heating to soft tissues in the body including muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments. It is used to repair these tissues when they are damaged or torn. Examples of heat therapy include ultrasounds, heating pads, hot water bottles, and baths.
Mild exercise can help patients build strength and limit the chance of injury in the future. Rehab exercises are designed to help the patients range of motion as well as their ability to stretch, balance, and bear weight. Underwater treadmills offer a low-impact exercise to help all these areas.
Massage therapy has the same benefits for pets as it does for humans. Massage therapy helps patients improve their muscle and joint function and can be used to prevent or recover from an injury. Massage therapy can also be used to stimulate blood flow, which improves circulation and the function of some internal organs.
Therapeutic laser treatments address inflammation and acute pain in chronic conditions. This treatment can also treat injuries, wounds, skin problems, and fractures. The laser light stimulates the cells, which then boosts the metabolism. A higher metabolism means better blood circulation, which leads to reduced inflammation and less pain. The treatment is a painless and quick procedure, lasting five to ten minutes.
Home care exercises are a rehab technique used as a supplement to hospital treatments. Veterinary rehab specialists can provide pet owners with exercises to do with their pets at home for continuous recovery. For many of these exercises, treats are the guide to eliminating pain and building strength. These exercises are especially beneficial for a range of motion and flexibility improvement.
Customized nutrition plans help with overall improvement and wellbeing. Many veterinary rehabilitation centers have a nutritionist on staff to provide counseling and education to pet parents. They offer dietary recommendations and ways to incorporate them into the rehabilitation process. Diet management is crucial for pets recovering from obesity. Additionally, patients with critical illnesses or chronic diseases have a high risk of malnutrition, so close diet management is crucial.
If your pet is recovering from injury, surgery, or trauma, rehabilitation might be a great option for them. Once an accurate diagnosis is made, your vet can recommend a local rehab specialist. You and the rehab specialist can then determine the best rehab regimen for your pet. Throughout the recovery process, it is important for you to remain calm and be a source or positive reinforcement for your pet. With your support and the help of a veterinary rehabilitation specialist, your pet will be on the fast track to recovery.