Veterinary physical rehabilitation is a relatively new veterinary medicine offering, but this treatment modality has quickly proven to improve pets’ health and wellbeing. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Nederland team is proud to offer veterinary-supervised rehabilitation services for dogs and cats.

If you’ve ever wondered if rehabilitation could help your pet, question no more, because this treatment usually benefits pets’ health. No matter a pet’s age, health, or size, veterinary physical rehabilitation’s therapeutic options and modalities provide your four-legged friend with pain relief, muscle building, motor learning, and enhanced balance and coordination. Read about five popular rehabilitation modalities that help pets every day.

#1: Postsurgical rehabilitation for pets

Physical therapy is a standard follow-up to humans’ orthopedic or neurologic surgery. In fact, many surgeons refuse to perform an operation unless the patient commits to follow-up care. This protocol has been introduced because physicians know that surgical success (i.e., full return to function) depends on a slow and careful recovery that gradually challenges human patients’ flexibility, coordination, and strength.

Veterinary medicine follows the same philosophy. Pets who undergo complex orthopedic, back, and neck surgeries need an appropriate balance of rest, pain control, and muscle, joint, and nerve re-education. Postsurgical rehabilitation has proven to reduce pets’ complications, prevent or minimize muscle atrophy (i.e., wasting), and accelerate recovery. Rehabilitation activities also help pets build confidence—a critical advantage after life-altering procedures (e.g., limb amputation) or mobility loss (e.g., intervertebral disc herniation [IVDD]).  

#2: Strength and fitness for senior pets

As in humans, age takes its toll on a pet’s body. Oxidative damage, chronic disease, pain, and inactivity create a vicious cycle that contributes to pets’ sensory and cognitive decline, muscle atrophy, decreased cardiovascular strength, generalized weakness, and poor emotional wellbeing (e.g., depression, frustration, anxiety). With no intervention, these changes decrease a senior pet’s quality of life and may hasten end-of-life decisions.

Senior pet rehabilitation is an effective and enjoyable way to push back the paws of time. Customized rehabilitation plans can address your aging pet’s pain and discomfort through non-pharmaceutical modalities (e.g., laser therapy, massage, stretching, therapeutic ultrasound) and help them build and maintain core muscle strength and coordination through fun low-impact exercises. Pet owners report that after rehabilitation therapy, their senior pets are more mentally engaged, socially interactive, and appear more confident in their movements.

#3: Sport-specific conditioning for athletic or working dogs

Active or working dogs need targeted training and conditioning to help them perform at their peak, and prevent work- or performance-related injuries. Dog sports (e.g., agility, flyball, obedience, nosework, barn hunt, lure coursing, field trials) and working tasks (e.g., service dogs, military and police canines, herding and hunting dogs) require dogs to perform specific actions—sometimes in quick succession or at high speed—and recruit either fast- or slow-twitch muscle groups for short high-energy bursts (e.g., flyball, criminal pursuit) or steady sustained performance (e.g., field work) over an entire day.

Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Nederland rehabilitation team will evaluate your dog’s present health and fitness status, ask about your goals, requirements, or expectations for your four-legged friend, and identify any physical weaknesses or compensations that may prevent your furry pal from reaching their full potential. Our team uses this assessment information to design a customized fitness and conditioning training plan to help your dog achieve and maintain peak physical condition.

#4: Weight loss for pets

Overweight and obese pets have a shorter lifespan than pets who maintain a health weight. In addition, overweight or obese pets have an increased risk for serious health conditions, including cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and orthopedic injuries. However, despite their efforts, many pet owners struggle to help their pets shed extra pounds.

Veterinary rehabilitation is an incredibly effective—and fun—way to help your pet lose weight, feel better, and enjoy a longer, healthier life. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Nederland weight-loss programs include:

  • Nutritional counseling — Your veterinarian will explain how to feed your pet for effective muscle building and weight loss.
  • Pain and injury assessment — Hidden pain and injury can cause or worsen an overweight pet’s inactivity, and contribute to further weight gain. To ensure your pet’s maximum safety, comfort, and weight-loss success, before recommending exercises, your veterinarian will rule out or diagnose and treat any painful conditions your four-legged friend might have. 
  • Low-impact exercises — Your pet’s therapist will combine safe low-impact exercises that support your furry pal’s body mass and protect their joints while activating muscles and increasing their heart rate. These exercises may include underwater treadmill therapy, dry treadmill walking, stepping over low-height rails, and balancing on unstable equipment.
  • Regular follow-ups — Safe and effective weight loss is a slow journey, but offers a rewarding goal. Regular visits to our rehabilitation center and periodic weigh-ins will help your pet stay on track to meet their goals.

Weight loss is one of the most rewarding pet rehabilitation applications. Pet owners are often amazed to see their pet’s energy and mobility improve after only a few visits!

#5: Injury prevention for at-risk pets

Preventive rehabilitation (i.e., prehabilitation or injury prevention) is beneficial for all pets, but especially for those who have early orthopedic conditions such as mild to moderate hip or elbow dysplasia, grade 1 or 2 luxating patellas, or mild IVDD. Early intervention through movement-based exercises and therapeutic tissue work can enhance and preserve your pet’s joint health, build strong stabilizer muscles to support and protect weak areas, and teach the body healthy movement patterns and posture. Preventive rehabilitation’s ultimate goal is to halt or slow your pet’s disease progression, minimizing the potential need for surgery.

Veterinary physical rehabilitation is changing how we care for pets, and our team is thrilled to offer this treatment modality to our favorite Southeast Texas pets. Schedule a consultation to learn more about how our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Nederland rehabilitation service team can help your beloved four-legged friend, or if your pet is ready for their new-year wellness exam.