Types of Rehabilitation (How often and how long?)
Post operative orthopedics: Most orthopedic surgery patients recover best with 6 to 10 weeks of rehabilitation. Dogs that are returning to athletic work will need more intensive work, but usually within the same amount of time can start to return to training.
Surgical “back dogs”: Post operative disc or neck surgeries are quite variable in recovery time depending on the level of dysfunction present to start. Dogs that are able to walk after surgery usually need 6-10 weeks of therapies (when “homework” is done daily). Dogs that are unable to walk after surgery can require significantly longer and daily intensive homework. With proper supports, many of these dogs can return to full function.
Non-surgical “back dogs”: These dogs are more variable because often due to financial constraints, we don’t have a full diagnosis of how deeply effected the spinal cord is. However, with a combination of multiple modalities including work at home, many of these dogs return not only to function, but to better core strength and spinal support to help prevent another disk extrusion. In general, 6-12 weeks is needed.
Arthritis: Arthritis patients need strengthening — the muscles take the pressure off the joints. Depending on the need for weight loss, these dogs should be treated at least weekly for 6 weeks and then put on a home program with regular rechecks to keep it fun and interesting for the pet and to monitor medical progress and pain levels.
Neurological dogs to maintain function (Wobbler’s, Degenerative Myelopathy): Unfortunately, these conditions are not ones that any amount of medication or surgery can cure. Goals for these dogs is to maintain as much function for as long as possible by maintaining good muscle strength and “reminding” the nerves of their job as they deteriorate. In addition, I can help with comfort equipment for maintaining quality of life like carts, booties, toe grips and splits. I recommend weekly sessions, but can set up home programs too with monthly “check in” appointments where we establish new exercises to keep everyone (you and your pet) from getting bored or overworking the same muscles for too long.
Conditioning: Therapy for conditioning is entirely dependent upon the dog’s age and competition level. We will work out a regular program for home and for in-clinic work to continue long term for optimal conditioning. (See athletic dogs).