Somebody call the tabloids. Your dog’s in rehab. But no need to worry about relapse – rehabilitation gets the job done. By focusing on soft tissue work instead of bones and joints, certified practitioners improve a pup’s mobility, manage pain and ultimately, boost his quality of life. “Over the past 10 years, pet rehabilitation is fast becoming a mainstream treatment option within veterinary medicine,” says a recent news release from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). To find out why, the Woof Reporters rounded up the facts.

What is Canine Rehabilitation?
After seeing tremendous success with human rehabilitation, rehab options for dogs (and even for cats) were introduced. Today it’s the fastest growing segment in veterinary medicine, with over 300 certified veterinary practitioners in business across the country.

Using skilled techniques for joint mobilization and therapeutic stretches and exercises, canine rehab helps dogs manage pain and increase mobility. Diagnostic services, such as ultrasound, as well as laser and electric stimulation treatment options are generally available as are specialized tools to help increase dogs’ strength and coordination and maximize muscle flexibility. Typical canine rehab tools include Cavaletti poles, rocker/wobble boards, physioballs, therapeutic pools and hydrotherapy.

Who Needs Canine Rehab?
With so many medical advances available to pet patients today and increasing public awareness about canine rehabilitation, the demand has skyrocketed. This coupled with the increase in canine agility participation and the benefits of therapy for service dogs helped spur growth. But canine rehabilitation isn’t only for doggie athletes and working dogs. Pet dogs recovering from surgery or injuries and those managing long-term mobility issues also benefit greatly from rehab services.

Who Can Practice Canine Rehab?
Today 17 veterinary colleges offer specialization programs in canine rehabilitation. But one doesn’t need to be a licensed vet to practice it. Though this proves to be a heated topic between the AVMA and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), at the present time both groups certify canine rehabilitation practitioners – the AVMA certifying only licensed veterinarians, the AMPA allowing human physical therapists to receive canine rehabilitation certifications.

Who Pays for Canine Rehabilitation?
Many pet insurance companies now cover physical rehabilitation when it’s prescribed by a veterinarian and takes place in a veterinary clinical setting. Since canine rehabilitation can often successfully manage conditions previously only rectified by surgery, it can actually help decrease veterinary costs.

The Scoop:

See the types of conditions treated and the treatments used in canine rehabilitation at the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians site


Learn more about Canine Rehabilitation from the AVMA

Thank you to Samnooshka Designs for the photo.