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Canine Rehabilitation Therapy: An Awesome Option for Many Pets!

Canine rehabilitation is a rapidly expanding area of veterinary medicine. This specialized field is represented all over the internet through informative articles and eye catching advertisements from rehab providers stating how physical rehabilitation therapy will benefit your pet. Then, of course, there are the amazing videos everywhere that perfectly demonstrate super cool rehab exercises (with well trained and healthy dogs, naturally). It all seems so easy and straight forward. Get a needy dog into the clinic, have them complete a few customized exercies and other therapies, then send them on their way with some “home work”. The road to recovery is all rainbows and sunshine, right? Well, not when you are dealing with the reality of real-life pet ownership. Daisy is a great example of the canine rehabilitation process for many of our cases.

Introducing Daisy, a Typical Post-Op Rehab Case

Mz. Daisy is a young bulldog who tore her cruciate ligament and had an artificial suture placed to stabilize her knee. She began rehab therapy 1 week after surgery and has continued her sessions once weekly for the next 10 weeks. Here is a typical day with this energetic female powerhouse:

The Challenges of Working with Daisy

Daisy plows through the door, into rehab. She is pulling, spinning, jumping, and running in circles. Yup, she has covered ALL of the activities that she is NOT supposed to do in a span of 2 minutes. Her owner and I quietly have an anxiety attack and herd her into the underwater treadmill, a closed and confined space where she can do less damage to herself and her surgery leg. This, of course, is completed by the repeated shouts of “Daisy, no!” and “Daisy, stop!” as we round her up and get a harness on her for exercising. Ok, she is locked up now. Great! I ask her mom some questions about her week, how she is doing at home. Looks good, she is settling down. As I reach down to give Daisy a low calorie cookie she jumps up and head butts me in the nose. Hmmm. I guess you really do see stars with head trauma. What was I doing again? Oh, yeah, Daisy. Alright, let’s get this treadmill moving as the tank is filling with water. That should keep her busy and out of trouble. My eyes have stopped watering and the stars have passed. Sure, I can handle this, after all I AM a certified rehabilitation specialist. What’s that sound? Oh, crap! She’s farting. A poorly timed poop incident is just seconds away. With no thought for personal safety, I quickly reach over and snatch the round ball of farting bulldog out of the wet, moving treadmill and set her down. She immediately climbs a set of nearby stairs (another “not supposed to do” moment) and sticks her entire head in a cookie bucket. After separating her from the now almost empty bucket, we head out for the emergency poop break and take care of business. Deep breath, poop crisis avoided. Daisy and I go back to the underwater treadmill and she gets lifted in again and continues her exercising to finish the session. (Big sigh)

Breathe Deep and Say a Little Prayer. It’s Almost Over for Another Week

Oh, no. It’s time to get Daisy out of the treadmill and laser her knee. I take a yet another deep breath (I might be hyperventilating at this point) and say a little prayer. 1, 2, 3! The door is open. Daisy is out running, spinning, and circling again. I race to grab her and place her on a table for laser therapy. She usually gets into less trouble when she is on the table. Again there are shouts of “Daisy, no! and “Daisy, stop!”, the next 8 minutes are the longest of my life. Daisy snorts, wiggles, attempts sky diving off of the table, but we manage to hold on and complete the last task.
By this time both mom and I are sweating and a nervous wreck. We are soaked from her trips in and out of the treadmill and covered in hair. I have absolutely no control and Daisy is still wanting to run around like she just had 4 or 5 energy drinks (at once). Umm… time for her weekly progress assessment. Whelp, she is still putting plenty of weight on her surgery leg and is able to run, spin, and jump very well. Daisy is healing nicely with excellent progress. We will see you next week!