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Performance and Rehabilitation

Canine Physiotherapy

Nina Clare
MSci AdvCertVPhys CertEdVPT DipSAHydro MIRVAP
Registered and Fully Insured ninaclarevp@gmail.com

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What is veterinary physiotherapy?

Veterinary physiotherapy aims to reduce pain, optimize tissue healing, restore movement, improve gait, improve muscle strength and tone, and improve function. It is an ideal form of treatment to be used alongside veterinary medicine to rehabilitate and condition dogs. Each veterinary physiotherapy programme will be tailored to the individual to achieve the best possible outcome.

A dog does not have to have a diagnosed condition when referred for veterinary physiotherapy. Veterinary physiotherapy can help in everyday living for all dogs, and it can be a good idea to get your dog checked out yearly to ensure any developing issues are caught early.

For example conformation (how the dog is structurally built) will influence its muscle loading during stance and movement. Even small differences will affect the way the muscles are strengthened and can result in tight muscles with restricted range of motion. This can alter bone alignment, and in the long term can cause an increased incidence of osteoarthritis in the joints. With physiotherapy exercises can be prescribed to change the dog's movement patterns and to build up the dog's muscles evenly. Soft tissue manipulation and electrotherapies will be able to help reduce muscle tightness and improve joint range of motion. Overall the dog will be able to move more freely, have improved range of motion, reduced discomfort from chronically tight muscles and more evenly built muscles which will help the dog live a long healthy life.

What cases can be treated?

1. Neurological conditions

2. Degenerative orthopaedic conditions such as elbow, hip dysplasia and spondylosis

3. Pre & post surgical rehabilitation to maximize the success of surgery

4. Soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains

5. General old age aches and pains

6. Maintaining and improving fitness

Benefits of physiotherapy

1. Neurological
- improves proprioception (body awareness and limb placement)
- improves co-ordination and balance
- improves the prognosis of degenerative neurological conditions

2. Chronic and acute pain relief

3. Improved healing
- optimal healing
- reduces scarring
- reduces inflammation and tissue damage

4. Musculoskeletal
- improves and maintains joint range of motion
- improves and maintains muscle tone and reduces trigger points
- safe and controlled weight loading and muscle building
- reduces compensatory strain
- targeted and symmetrical muscle building

5. Safety
- prepares the dog for athletic activity, skill training and cardiovascular training
- early recognition of future issues
- injury prevention through targeted exercise prescription
- conditioning allows the animal to be in top shape for the specific sport. Different sports place different demands on the animal's body. The endurance of waterwork recruits different muscles, skills and cardiovascular effort than the speed and precision of agility

6. Mental health

- improves quality of life and can prevent further problems or surgeries

- mental stimulation

What modalities are available?

1. Manual therapies
- massage
- myofascial release
- passive stretches
- passive range of motion

2. Electrotherapies
-low level light therapy (blue and red laser)
- pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMFT)
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES)

3. Heat/cold therapy

4. Exercise prescription
- targeted muscle building
- targeted active stretches and joint range of motion
- neurological stimulation techniques
- gait training

- cardiovascular training

5. Advanced techniques
- kinesiotaping
- laser acupressure

Can I be sure that my dog will improve with veterinary physiotherapy? 

While complete recovery and return to function cannot be guaranteed, I will work my hardest to ensure the best possible outcome. During our appointments I will go through the treatment plan and realistic goals with you and if any modifications are made, I will keep you informed throughout.


(c) Salmelin Clare