Pet Vet: Physical Rehabilitation

By: 16 Saturday Morning Email
By: 16 Saturday Morning Email

Pet Vet: Physical Rehabilitation

We are all prone to injury, and part of the healing process can involve physical therapy.

As 16 Saturday Morning’s Pet Vet Dr. David Visser explains, there are new ways that physical therapy is helping pets conquer some of their health problems.

Many pets have arthritis, dysplasia or other musculoskeletal health problems, and it is often a challenge to provide comfort and improved mobility. The veterinary profession is constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of life for our four-legged family members, so more and more veterinary hospitals are recommending physical rehabilitation for their patients having joint or muscular health problems.

Some of those results can be remarkable.

Physical therapy is common in human medicine and veterinary practitioners of animal therapy say that the benefits for their patients are remarkable; so much so, that a prescription for physical therapy may be the newest standard of care for pets.

There are several reasons for this new wave in animal health.

Dramatic advances in veterinary diagnostics and surgery demand rehabilitation therapy to help contribute to post-operative success.

Also, there is more participation in competitive sports where animals can be injured and need a high level of care and rehabilitation. Veterinarians can see injuries, like torn ligaments in the knee, and physical therapy can help those animals recover and perform better.

The average life expectancy of domesticated dogs and cats is also increasing, and the benefit of physical therapy to treat age-related problems like arthritis, neurological conditions and obesity can be dramatic.

In fact, the response has been so favorable that physical therapy, when prescribed by a veterinarian, can even be covered by pet health insurance.

Physical therapy for pets is also more than exercises and stretching. Sophisticated devices, like underwater treadmills, can help pets regain range of motion of sore joints without putting much weight on the joint.

The interest in rehabilitation for animals is generating widespread excitement among veterinarians. Several national veterinary conferences now have many sessions devoted to equine and canine physical therapy, and there is a strong effort to develop certification standards and a possible board certification.

We always need to be aware of the comfort of our pets, whether they are high-performance athletes, patients recovering from surgery, or health companions in our homes. This segment highlights physical therapy and rehabilitation and how it goes a long way to manage injuries and assist in recovery. You can help your veterinarian care for your pet’s comfort by bringing any concerns you may have to their attention.

And don’t forget about “Howls and Meows,” a choral music program by the South Bend Chamber Singers to benefit the Humane Society of St. Joseph County. It will be held Sunday at the South Bend Christian Reformed Church at 7:30 p.m.

If you want to contact the Pet Vet, Dr. David Visser, you can reach him at the Roseland Animal Hospital by calling 574-272-6100 or at the Center for Animal Health by calling 888-PETS-VETS.

You can also shoot him an email at

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