Who We Help
We have extensive experience working with dogs (and cats!) with a wide variety of diagnoses including:
Conservative Management of Torn Cranial Cruciate Ligament
Cranial Cruciate Ligament ("CCL") tears are one of the most common orthopedic injuries. Historically this injury was treated only with surgery. “It is not that surgery is not recommended, instead there are certain patients that may do fine without surgery,” says Dr. Kapatkin, professor of orthopedic surgery and section chief at University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Many patients are not surgical candidates for a number of reasons including dog's age, health considerations, lack of fitness, and owner's beliefs. We have successfully treated many dogs of all ages and sizes using conservative rehabilitation. The rehabilitation process is very similar to post-surgical rehab. “Physical therapy can be performed to help with dynamic stabilization of the stifle (knee) by improving musculoskeletal strength in the affected limb,” Dr. Kennedy said. “Management of pain through medication, Adequan injections, and other therapies, such as lasers or acupuncture, can help reduce the discomfort. These treatments are viable options for patients who cannot have surgery...”
Until recently, surgical intervention was the gold standard due to lack of long-term studies citing outcomes of conservative management. In January 2018, a study was presented at the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) citing that long-term outcomes of conservative management are as good, if not better, then surgical outcomes. In our experience, dogs rehabilitated without surgery have good functional outcomes.
If you have a dog that has undergone surgery the role of rehabilitation can prove invaluable. Studies indicate your pet’s muscles will begin to atrophy just a day or two after an injury or surgery. If rehab is not started immediately, there can be increased swelling (which delays the healing process), loss of muscle mass and strength, decreased stability in joints and decreased balance and proprioception. Your dog will compensate for the injured limb which typically causes additional muscle tightness, pain and dysfunction. It also puts excess strain on the non-injured limbs and core muscles putting them at risk for injury.
The first few weeks after surgery rehabilitation goals consist of decreasing pain and swelling and facilitating healing without compromising the surgical repair. We will develop a well-rounded, personalized rehabilitation program for your dog to ensure that the affected limb recovers fully, and to protect the compensating limbs and muscles.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Conservative Management of Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Rupture (Full or Partial Tear)
Post-Operative Management of Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Rupture
Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)
Trans Tibial Advancement (TTA)
Lateral Suture Stabilization
Fibular Head Transposition
Osteoarthritis (OA) and Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)
Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)
Luxating Patella Repair
Osteochondritis Dessicans (OCD)
Medial Shoulder Syndrome (MSS)
Conservative Management of Cranial CRUciate Ligament Rupture
Whether your dog has been diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), Wobblers, Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) or a Fibrocartilagenous Embolism (FCE), rehabilitation can improve your dog’s quality of life. It is important to bring your dog for rehabilitation as soon as possible. The sooner the dog comes for rehabilitation, the greater the improvement. Damage to the nervous system causes loss of motor function and can cause a range of sensory deficits, including decreased sensation, abnormal sensations and heightened sensitivity to stimuli.
Physical rehabilitation during recovery is important to stimulate both the motor and sensory nervous system to regain function. In some cases, our goal is to regain as much function as possible. In other cases, the goal is to slow down the degenerative process and maintain your dog’s ability to function independently for as long as possible. Therapy for patients that are not walking includes techniques to stimulate the muscles, provide sensory input to affected limbs, strengthen the core, and manage pain. We believe in owner education and assistance with management of the injured dog. We can provide an array of activities owners can do themselves to ensure your pet is getting therapy even when they are home!
- Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
- Fibrocartilagenous Emboli (FCE)
- Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)
- Wobblers Syndrome
One of five dogs suffer from degenerative joint disease (Osteoarthritis "OA"). An integrative, multomodal therapy regimen can maximize your dog's comfort. Controlling pain and decreasing inflammation is one of the first steps in physical rehabilitation for dogs suffering from arthritis. Modalities used in rehab to help pain include laser therapy, myofascial trigger point therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, and cryotherapy. Once pain is under control, patients can begin low-impact, controlled exercise. Mild weight-bearing exercise also helps stimulate cartilage metabolism and increases nutrient diffusion in the joints. Muscles act as shock absorbers for joints. Therefore, rehabilitation focuses on strengthening muscles and helps protect joints. Active exercises are designed to improve range of motion, hind-end awareness and muscle mass all while being low-impact to the joints. Hydrotherapy using underwater treadmills can be beneficial especially when starting an exercise program. Human studies show that aquatic therapy contributes to decreasing pain, increasing range of motion and improving overall function in arthritic patients.
The Benefits of Aquatic Therapy Are:
Decreased weight bearing on joints
Increased circulation and decreased pain
Reduced swelling and stiffness
Improved range of motion
Increased strength and muscle mass
Our goal is to strengthen your dog and manage their pain to improve function and quality of life. A personalized home exercise plan allows owners to be an integral part of their dog’s recovery process.
If your dog has been diagnosed with hip or elbow dysplasia but is currently not symptomic, they can still benefit from rehabilitation. We can teach you a number of exercises that will provide support to the dysplastic joint and slow down the progression of arthritis.
We CAN do something to help our aging pets!!! When my first dog, Teejay, got older he just wanted to sit under the tree in my yard. It made me sad but, everyone said, “he’s just getting older.” I felt helpless because I wanted to do something to slow down the aging process but I thought there was nothing I could do. Well, now we know there IS something we can do – a lot actually! As canines age, they lose strength, balance and proprioception in their hind legs. They compensate by over using the front end. With less use, the hind end becomes weaker which causes the dog to compensate even more with their front end. This becomes a continuous cycle. With rehabilitation, we can interrupt the cycle! We can provide your friend with an array of low impact exercises targeting the hind end, massage sore and painful muscles used to compensate for a weak hind end and help with pain management. The underwater treadmill has been an incredibly successful modality for senior dogs. The buoyancy of the water reduces stress on weak, achy joints while the resistance of the water strengthens their legs. Give us a try! We can help your furry friend stay mobile and minimize pain during their golden years.
Canine Conditioning For Performance
Petra has been a human physical therapist for 20 years and has 12 plus years’ experience working full-time as a certified canine rehabilitation therapist. She raced bicycles at the professional level for many years. Current she runs half marathons and practices yoga. She has competed with her dogs in field trials, hunt tests, nosework, agility and obedience.
Through these combined experiences, Petra has become an expert on performance dog injuries and injury prevention. Petra has carefully cultivated a reputation of excellence with clients coming from as far as Southern Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Long Island and upstate New York.
Like human athletes, performance dogs have specialized needs. These dogs often have soft tissue injuries that are difficult to identify and must be rehabbed to an elite level to prevent re-injury. Performance dogs have sports specific needs for conditioning. They need someone that understands the rigors of training and competition. We can teach you how to condition your dog CORRECTLY and SAFELY. Exercises done incorrectly can actually contribute to injury. We can develop a personalized rehabilitation program, conditioning program and educate you on injury prevention.
Rehabilitation of Injuries
Improving Reach and Drive
Sport Specific Conditioning
According to recent findings by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), more than 45 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats can be classified as overweight or obese. A gain of even a pound or two on some dogs can place significant stress on the body.
Some of the conditions that can occur as a result of excess weight are:
- Exercise intolerance, decreased stamina
- Respiratory compromise (breathing difficulty)
- Heat intolerance
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Diabetes or insulin resistance
- Liver disease or dysfunction
- Osteoarthritis (lameness)
- Increased surgical/anesthetic risk
- Lowered immune system function
- Increased risk of developing malignant tumors (cancer)
Unfortunately, a little extra weight puts lots of extra stress on a dog's body and predisposes them to injury and/or illness. Don't despair… we can help your best buddy lose weight, get in shape and feel great. We will put together a personalized, well-rounded program combining underwater treadmill, core strengthening exercises, a home exercise program and food management. A dog that is in good physical condition is more likely to age gracefully.