VCA Animal Hospitals

What types of physical therapy are available for my dog?

Published: Dec 30, 2012

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Whether your dog is recovering from an injury or operation, or is getting on in years and facing arthritis, hip dysplasia or another age-related condition, he might be having some problems with mobility. Although this kind of pain in dogs can be treated with medication, veterinarians are also turning to a more holistic healing method: physical therapy.

By strengthening key muscle groups or training the dog's body to use some muscles rather than others, physical therapy for canines can go a long way in ensuring your dog makes a full recovery after an injury or surgery and lives a long, happy life despite a joint condition. So what types of physical therapy are available for your canine companion?

Water therapy
Many dogs love to swim by nature, but this activity is also a great form of therapy for dogs after operations or injuries, and can help with weight reduction in dogs. Because swimming is a non-impact sport, it's a great way for older dogs who have joint pain to get exercise. Although going for a swim has plenty of benefits in and of itself, physical therapists or veterinarians might use underwater treadmills, endless pools and other tools to carry out specific treatment plans for dogs.

Massage therapy
In this type of therapy, a veterinarian or certified therapist uses manual deep-tissue techniques that increase circulation in the muscles, which results in less tension and spasming. This can translate to increased range of motion, enhanced muscle tone and muscle healing for the dog. These massage techniques may also decrease pain and swelling by promoting circulation. Dogs who suffer from arthritis, joint problems, over-extended ligaments or have had surgery may benefit from massage therapy, and you might be able to learn some techniques to try on your own at home.

Laser therapy
Laser therapy has been proven effective in both laboratory and clinical settings, and can help with a wide range of issues and ailments. It can boost collagen production in the skin, speeding up wound healing, and increases blood flow. It is also effective in re-establishing the lymphatic system after trauma, which can reduce swelling. This type of therapy can also lessen pain, since the lasers stimulate the release of the body's pain-killing chemicals.

If you have noticed that your dog is having trouble walking, playing, getting up or lying down, talk to your veterinarian about whether physical therapy could be beneficial.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.