Physical therapy and other treatment methods for your pet
This article was written in collaboration with Tieropraktik Dr. Gudrun Werner .
The veterinary care of our pets is nowadays becoming more and more specialised. In recent years, many veterinarians have specialised in a particular field. In addition to cardiologists, surgeons, oncologists and internists, to name just a few, for some years now there have also been specialisations in physical/physiotherapy, acupuncture and neural therapy, chiropractic and manual therapy for animals.
Do you know how these different therapies can be beneficial for your beloved pet or what options are available for your darling?
What is physical medicine and rehabilitation?
Physical medicine and rehabilitation are special fields of veterinary medicine that aim to improve and restore the functionality and quality of life of pets. They may suffer from physical impairments or disabilities affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. The aim of physiotherapy for dogs and cats is to improve the independence of the animals in their daily activities and their quality of life.
Just like for humans, animal physiotherapy offers your pet many benefits, including improved and faster healing, reduced pain and inflammation, and improved functionality and mobility.
How do I know if my pet needs physiotherapy?
It is often obvious that your pet is suffering from pain. Limping, whimpering or wheezing are typical signs of pain, as are reduced performance, sluggish movement or problems getting up. However, our pets do not always show, whether something hurts them obviously, especially if the pain is due to chronic, long-term medical problems such as degenerative joint disease. Examples when physical therapy / physiotherapy can help:
- after (orthopaedic) operations
- with neurological diseases (slipped disc, nerve damage …)
- with degenerative joint diseases
- after soft tissue injuries
- for muscle tensions
- after sports injuries
Various possibilities of physiotherapy/physical therapy
- Passive Range-of-Motion exercises (PROM). A therapist passively moves your pet’s joints back and forth, mimicking your pet’s normal movements. This helps to improve the range of motion and flexibility of the joint.
- Heat and cold therapy. As for humans, heat and cold therapies can be very helpful in physical rehabilitation and they go hand in hand with PROM. Warm compresses prepare the muscles for activity, while cold therapy relieves inflammation and pain after training.
- Obstacle course. These exercises are helpful to improve balance, mobility and paw position in animal patients with neurological injuries. These courses can include balance bars, hills, steps, bars and ramps.
- Therapeutic Ultrasonic. This is a special type of ultrasonic wave that stimulates muscle activity. This treatment method provides heat to muscles, tendons and ligaments to promote healing and strength.
- Laser. This is a newer treatment method that is becoming increasingly popular. The laser works at the level of the cells. It reduces inflammation and promotes blood circulation, helps relieve pain and promotes healing.
- Underwater treadmill. This form of animal physiological therapy is becoming more and more common, especially in large clinics. In the water, the animal can build up muscles and improve joint movement without harming the joints.
Physiotherapy for pets is considered very safe, although complications can occur if not carried out properly. If it is not used properly, your pet’s health may not improve or may even deteriorate.
Other treatment options
Other treatment options include chiropractic and osteopathy. Both therapies are treatment methods that originate from manual human medicine. These have, if carried out correctly, hardly any risks or side effects. So-called “bone crushers”, as they keep appearing on television, are neither veterinarians nor serious therapists. Normally Blockages are released and the animal is given back its natural freedom of movement.
In Austria, any examination, diagnosis and therapy (this also applies to homeopathy, acupuncture and all forms of manual therapy, such as chiropractic, osteopathy, etc.) on the sick animal may only be carried out by a veterinarian. Please note that animal physiotherapists who are not veterinarians are working illegally in Austria and that not only they but also the client (i.e. you) is committing a criminal offence. Furthermore, as a pet owner you have no legal recourse in case of a wrong treatment.
If you would like to know more about this topic, you can inform yourself at Tieropraktik Dr. Gudrun Werner .
So it is worth to think about alternative therapies for your darling. Because just a few hours can give your pet back a pain-free life and considerably increase its vitality. Like a young dog, like a little kitten – fit into old age!