Restoring Dog Mobility Through Physical Therapy

If your dog suffers from mobility issues, physical therapy can help your pet restore movement, reduce discomfort and help him adjust to his new physical condition. Dog physical therapists or physiotherapists can utilize the following 6 methods to treat your pet's leg injury, disease or disability, even if your dog is an amputee.

Massaging and Manipulation

Used to decrease your dog's stiffness and pain while increasing his mobility. If your dog sustained an injury or requires surgery, massage and manipulation therapy can speed up healing time and result in a better recovery by encouraging blood flow and bring nutrients to the injured area. For dogs that have decreased activity levels, massage can help keep muscles toned and slow atrophy and musculoskeletal degeneration.

Electrical Stimulation

When your dog is rendered inactive for longer periods of time because of illness or surgery, the application of low-level electrical currents can also slow muscle atrophy and accelerate healing.

Thermal Therapy

Cold compresses are applied to the dog's injured area to help reduce swelling and inflammation. This is usually done within the first 24 to 36 hours of sustaining the injury. Hot compresses are applied to increase comfort, stimulate blood flow to the injured area and relax tense muscles.

Therapeutic Ultrasound

Ultrasonic waves are targeted at injured tissue. This application stimulates blood flow and can warm injured muscles more deeply than a superficial heat compress. When used in conjunction with massage and manipulation, therapeutic ultrasound can help increase recovery time.

Therapeutic Exercise

Designed specifically to strengthen and rehabilitate, increase range of motion and restore physical function to your dog's injured area. Some exercises might include leading him through a series of cones, stepping through objects, sitting-to-standing repeatedly and going up and down steps in order to regain control and balance. Therapists recommend short exercise periods separated by long rest periods. Exercise should be consistent and spaced out evenly throughout the day and week for maximum benefit.

Aquatic Therapy

An underwater treadmill allows a dog with joints pain or leg weakness to exercise easily and safely. The warm water provides buoyancy and gentle resistance. It can also give a dog that is unsteady on his legs a feeling of stability. The benefits of water therapy include: increased strength, flexibility, endurance and confidence.

These dog physical therapy techniques should only be performed by a licensed and trained professional and under the supervision of your vet. If your veterinarian does not offer these services, he will be able to refer you.