Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a veterinarian’s referral?
Yes. Most of our patients are referred by a veterinarian or surgeon. We prefer to work closely with your existing veterinarian/surgeon in order to provide the most comprehensive treatment plan possible.

How long does an evaluation take?
You should plan about 45 minutes for an initial evaluation. Please arrive for your appointment a few minutes early to complete paperwork.

What happens at the initial evaluation?
Our veterinarian takes time to observe your pet’s movement, noting issues with gait, function, standing, sitting, etc. A thorough history of your pet’s condition is taken. Radiographs, if available, may be reviewed and discussed.

We then carefully examine your pet’s joints and muscles, evaluating lameness, strength, flexibility, pain sensation, and neurological soundness. This is an exam of function, compensation and adaptation, to evaluate how your pet is coping and to see how they respond to different therapy techniques. We perform manual (hands-on) therapies as we evaluate, so your pet can move and feel better even with their first visit.

Once the exam is complete, we work with you to develop a rehabilitation treatment plan which fits you and your pet’s needs. This will involve in-clinic as well as at-home treatments, supplements, and/or medications. All recommendations are summarized for you in an easy to read format. Home care instructions and exercise plan handouts are included with an end-of-visit summary email.

Can canine rehab help a pet recovering from surgery?
Yes! During rehab we use “modalities” such as therapeutic laser and pulsed electromagnetic frequencies and micro-current electrical stimulation to decrease pain after surgery. Gentle manual therapy such as passive range of motion helps restore mobility when it becomes appropriate to do so. Targeted therapeutic exercises help your pet return to weight-bearing quickly and build strength so he/she can resume favorite activities safely without re-injury. 

How soon after surgery should my dog receive rehab?
It can vary depending on procedure, but often rehab can help decrease pain during the immediate post-operative period. More extensive rehab (such as therapeutic exercise) can be started once the surgeon feels comfortable with your dog’s progress. Collaboration between your pet’s surgeon and your rehab therapist helps ensure a good outcome.

My dog is weak in her hind limbs. Is she just getting old?
Can rehab help?Weakness in the hind limbs, along with muscle atrophy, difficulty rising, and decreased mobility can have many different causes–and sometimes more than one in the same patient!  For example, if your dog has spine (back) pain and also arthritis in a hip or knee, you can imagine how that could cause all of the above signs.  Although more common in older dogs, even young to medium aged dogs can suffer from these conditions.  The good news is that rehab therapy can greatly help these pets by decreasing pain, increasing strength and improving mobility.

My dog is limping. What should I do?
There are many reasons for front or rear leg lameness in dogs.  The first step is to visit your regular veterinarian who will examine your pet and very likely recommend x-rays to try to determine the source of the lameness.  Common problems include ligament tears within your dog’s knee or arthritis in a hip, knee, shoulder or elbow joint.

How do I know if my dog is in pain?
Lameness (unwillingness to bear weight on a front or hind limb) means it hurts! Our dogs are often stoic and don’t tell us (via crying/whimpering) that they are uncomfortable. Becoming reluctant to jump into the car or onto the sofa, struggling to rise from a prone position, slowing down on walks can all be more subtle signals—versus obvious limping—that your dog is experiencing discomfort. 

My veterinarian says my dog needs surgery. Can I do rehab instead?
Just like with us humans, each dog is an individual. In some cased rehab can resolve a problem enough to achieve a client’s goals (e.g., be able to walk around the block without limping). However if the goal is to have your dog be able to chase a ball or hike 5 miles, rehab alone may not achieve the desired outcome.

Do I need to bring my dog’s records, x-rays, or bloodwork from my regular vet?
Your regular vet can usually email us your pet’s records. We work closely with your dog’s general practitioner so we are fully aware of any underlying medical conditions

Will I be shown what I can do at home?
Yes. Using videos and instructional handouts, we make your dog’s home therapy program easy and fun for you and your pet.

How often and for how long will my dog need to go for physical therapy?
Depending on your pet’s problem and pain level, he may benefit from twice weekly visits initially. Then, monitoring his progress, we decide together when and how to taper off visits. It all depends upon the patient.