A Guide to Pet Physical Therapy Options

Pet physical therapy adapts human physical therapy techniques to small animals. This allows them to lead longer, happier lives with less pain. Most veterinary physical therapists work with dogs, but the same techniques can heal cats and other small animals.

Clinical practice of physical therapy for animals is a relatively new field in United States. The veterinary community has acknowledged the benefits of physical therapy for many years. But in the last three to five years, the discipline has seen particularly large growth. This has allowed for more available resources for practicing veterinarians.

orthovet cat leg brace

What does practicing physical therapy on animals look like?

First, a Certified Rehabilitation Practitioner discusses the animal’s condition with the diagnosing veterinarian. Together, they develop a specialized therapy plan. This plan is different from case to case. Each technique used in animal physical therapy has different benefits. There is no ‘one size fits all’ technique.

Physical therapy for orthopedic conditions can include any combination of the following techniques:

  • Thermotherapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Muscle building exercises
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Coordination exercises

Neurological conditions benefit the most from the following techniques:

  • Balance and coordination building exercises
  • Muscle building exercises
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Hydrotherapy

Surgical repairs and traumatic injuries are treated with the following techniques:

  • Heat therapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Massage
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Hydrotherapy

These techniques also help enhance recovery from injuries, slow age-related diseases, and fight obesity.

orthovet dog leg brace

Orthopedic devices, such as splints or braces, are a helpful tool during the healing process. Veterinarians use these devices to correct or support the limb affected by trauma or surgical intervention. The vet will use the splint or brace as a temporary or permanent solution, depending on the case.

Situations where a veterinarian will use splinting along with the physical therapy include:

  • Knuckling or nerve damage
  • Tendon/ ligament weakness
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Arthritic problems
  • Non-union or unstable fractures
  • Lower limb positioning

OrthoVet currently offers a full line of lower limb splints used on a variety of injuries. Visit our storefront to see what we have available.

We always recommend consulting with a veterinarian or veterinary rehabilitation/ physical therapy professional before using any orthopedic devices.