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Physical Therapy: Helping Your Senior Dog Learn New Tricks

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As our pups get older, much like us, they begin to experience the aches and pains of old age. It’s after a game of fetch that you notice it: your dog is limping. You check her paws for spurs or puncture wounds, wanting to be sure she didn’t step on something that became embedded in her fur. When you get home, she walks to her bed, does the circle dance and goes right to sleep.

caring for older dogs After the nap she still seems to be having a hard time putting weight on her back leg. You make an appointment with your vet and check your pup again for signs of bites or sticker weeds.

The vet determines that the muscles in her hind legs have begun to atrophy. Being an older dog, your little love’s muscle mass has decreased, leaving her less flexible and more prone to injury.

To keep her fit and pain-free, the vet suggests your gray-muzzled pup start a regular exercise regimen and begin physical therapy. Physical therapy for a dog? Does it really help?

The Benefits of Canine Physical Therapy

Canine physical therapy, or veterinary rehabilitation as it’s called in the veterinary world, uses the same techniques found in human physical therapy. After getting a referral from the pup’s veterinarian, the veterinary specialist tailors a rehabilitation program to the dog’s needs. The ultimate goal of the program (like it is with humans) is to improve the quality of life of the dog. By creating programs that address surgery, injury, obesity and diseases in dogs, canine physical therapists have developed exercises that make better and extend our furry companions lives.

In 2007, the American Association of Rehabilitation was founded to “educate veterinary surgeons, veterinarians and the public about the role [a veterinary] specialist can play in [canine] health.” Some of the techniques canine physical therapists use include:

water therapy for dogs Hydrotherapy: A form of water therapy, this technique is used to alieve arthritic pain and build strength after a surgery. Hydrotherapy demands complete water immersion (your pupper is going to be swimming!) so they’ll need a waterproof dog collar that won’t restrict their movement or get ruined by all the exercising.

Cryotherapy: This technique is used to treat diseased tissue that causes pain and discomfort to the dog. By applying intense cold to the affected area, the diseased tissue will die and make your pup pain-free.

Thermotherapy: This technique is “the application of heat to the body for therapeutical purposes.” Thermotherapy is used to treat inflammation.

The purpose of canine physical therapy is to build muscle and coordination and lessen joint and arthritic pain. If your dog was active and high-energy when they were younger but have slowed down with age and suffer all sorts of aches and pains after playtime, veterinary rehab will help them get back in tip-top shape. Not only will it get your pup back to feeling good, they’ll have a fun time doing it too, just look at Merlin the Collie Mix, he definitely has a smile on his face!

To make sure your dog has the tools they need to succeed in their physical therapy work, visit Hot Dog Collars for all your doggie accessory needs. 

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