Our 360 Pet Medical team provides your pet with comprehensive and unparalleled care. Along with routine wellness and preventive care, surgery, and emergency services, we also support your pet’s healing, mobility, strength, and comfort through veterinary physical rehabilitation. Take a close look at the many ways veterinary physical rehabilitation improves dogs’ and cats’ quality of life.

Veterinary physical rehabilitation explained

Veterinary physical rehabilitation is similar to human physical therapy (PT) in many of its practices, techniques, and goals. As in PT, veterinary rehabilitation uses one or more therapeutic techniques or modalities to alleviate pain, accelerate healing, and improve pet mobility and strength. 

Rehabilitation can be used as a stand-alone treatment method (i.e., conservative management); however, to achieve positive and lasting outcomes for a wide range of pet health conditions, injuries, and procedures, veterinarians sometimes use more than one complementary modality (e.g., pain medication, surgical correction, assistive devices). 

Veterinary rehabilitation at 360 Pet Medical

360 Pet Medical is proud to have the only rehabilitation-certified veterinarian in the Gallatin Valley. Dr. Kenyon is certified by the Canine Rehabilitation Institute (CRI), one of the leading rehabilitation training centers in the United States. Dr. Kenyon uses her extensive knowledge to assess each pet’s condition thoroughly before designing a rehabilitation plan. This assessment typically includes:

  • Standard physical exam
  • Gait or stance analysis (i.e., observing the pet walk and stand)
  • Functional analysis (i.e., observing the pet perform basic movements such as sitting, lying down, climbing stairs, or placing their feet on an object)
  • Baseline measurements (e.g., muscle mass, abdominal girth, joint flexibility)

Pet conditions that benefit from veterinary rehabilitation

At least one or more veterinary rehabilitation modalities can typically provide safe, noninvasive, and effective therapy. Veterinary rehabilitation is completely contraindicated for few health conditions, and for a full list of medical conditions that veterinary rehabilitation can treat or manage, visit our rehabilitation page. However, our 360 Pet Medical team routinely provides veterinary rehabilitation for conditions and situations such as:

  • Osteoarthritis and chronic pain management
  • Weight loss 
  • Neurologic conditions 
  • Orthopedic recovery (e.g., surgical and nonsurgical management)
  • Soft tissue injuries (e.g., tendon, ligament, and muscle strain)
  • Senior pet mobility
  • Conditioning and fitness for athletic or working dogs 

Rehabilitation benefits for pets

Veterinary rehabilitation is incredibly advantageous for pets. Benefits include:

  • Healing — Rehabilitation therapies can speed healing for various body parts, including skin, muscle, tendon, ligament, and bone.
  • Pain relief — Targeted therapies interrupt pain signals, improve circulation, and decrease pain-inducing chronic inflammation. 
  • Medication reduction — Rehabilitation can reduce or eliminate the need for prescription pain management.
  • Adaptation — Rehabilitation can help pets learn how to cope with new physical conditions such as amputation, progressive weakness (e.g., degenerative myelopathy), or using a prosthesis or cart.
  • Weight loss and fitness — Rehabilitation is a safe and fun way for pets to shed extra pounds and improve their body condition through low-impact exercises.
  • Injury prevention — Increased strength, balance, and flexibility can enhance your pet’s health and reduce their injury risk. 
  • Confidence — Rehabilitation is fun and empowering. As pets’ strength increases, they also experience better emotional wellbeing. 
  • Longevity — Preserving mobility and decreasing pain enhances a pet’s quality of life and can delay disease progression, providing you and your pet with additional enjoyable years together.

Veterinary rehabilitation therapies for pets

Each pet’s therapeutic plan is unique to their condition and capabilities, and will likely evolve as their condition improves or plateaus. Your pet’s plan may include the following modalities:

  • Therapeutic exercise — These are active exercises that encourage muscle strengthening, flexibility, balance, and proprioception (i.e., spatial awareness). Exercises may involve various objects and balance equipment to shift the pet’s weight, promote healthy posture, activate core and stabilizer muscles, and increase body awareness.
  • Manual therapies — Stretching, mobilization, and massage can free restricted tissues, reduce tension, and improve joint and muscle blood circulation. 
  • Laser therapy — To activate your pet’s natural cellular processes, laser therapy (i.e., photobiomodulation)—a soothing and noninvasive modality—uses light’s specific invisible wavelengths. Pets enjoy a warm and nearly touch-free therapy providing benefits that include:
      • Pain relief
      • Improved circulation
      • Accelerated tissue healing
      • Decreased inflammation
  • Underwater treadmill — The underwater treadmill allows pets to exercise in a nearly weightless environment. The warm water reduces muscle tension while the buoyancy takes weight and pressure off their joints. The surrounding water provides gentle support for unstable or weak pets while the moving belt promotes gait training. The water depth is customized to suit each pet’s condition—greater depth for weaker pets and shallower for athletic pets working on cardiovascular fitness.
  • Pain management — Each pet’s pain is unique and so is their treatment plan. Multimodal pain management (i.e., a plan using more than one modality) is typically most effective for severe or chronic pain. Most pain management plans include medication, nutritional supplements, pain-relieving therapies (e.g., laser, massage, acupuncture), and a structured weight-loss plan. Once their pain is well controlled, your pet’s strengthening plan can begin. 
  • Acupuncture — Acupuncture is an ancient healing practice during which tiny needles are applied to specific body points to stimulate circulation, pain relief, and energy flow. Many owners are pleased to learn that pets enjoy acupuncture and often fall asleep during their sessions.

Is rehabilitation right for your pet?

Our 360 Pet Medical team is passionate about veterinary physical rehabilitation’s healing powers, and we look forward to showing you how these therapies can benefit your pet. To learn more about rehabilitation therapy’s possibilities for your dog’s or cat’s health, schedule a veterinary physical rehabilitation consultation with our 360 Pet Medical team.