Published: September 15th, 2017 | Jeremy Feldman

On September 7th, 2017 PetYen was invited to visit Canine Rehab of New York to check out their fantastic facility and get an inside peek into the rapidly evolving field of canine rehabilitation. Canine Rehab of New York is one of the premier specialists in New York City using physical therapy and hydrotherapy to treat joint, soft tissue and chronic pain issues in pets.

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Canine Rehab of New York’s own Hydro Physio hydrotherapy machine in action

How Canine Rehabilitation Came to Be

Canine rehabilitation and physical therapy started in the mid-1900’s when horse racing became a popular and lucrative sport. The rising trend meant more events and inevitably, more injuries. Soon, horse trainers began to seek alternatives to the standard choices of anti-inflammatory drugs coupled with rest or early retirement. Specialists in neuromuscular and musculoskeletal conditions, who could guide horse trainers in alternative methods of healing joint and soft tissue injuries, became widely sought after for their expertise.

In Europe, where dog sports are deeply rooted in tradition, dog trainers saw the wisdom from their equestrian counterparts and began using physical therapy on their injured dogs. Not long after, canine physical therapy became widely popular in the United States. One of the main forces cited for the rising demand is the recent phenomena of treating pets as family members with no expense spared for employing the best treatments.

Hydrotherapy for Dogs and Other Rehab Practices

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Enjoying a stroll in the hydrotherapy tank

Today, canine rehabilitation and physical therapy are primarily focused on improving quality of life and decreasing pain. Veterinarians now regularly prescribe canine physical therapy for animals that are recovering from surgery or have incurred injuries to their joints or soft tissue. Canine rehabilitation can help pets recover quickly, increase their mobility, flexibility, improve endurance and reduce the need for pain medication.

Canine physical therapy specialists have also become highly skilled professionals. They now perform in-depth evaluations, manage treatment, and measure progress using specialized tests to assess joint rotation and range of motion. Some of the equipment therapists use to increase strength and flexibility are underwater treadmills, physioballs, therapy bands, rocker/wobble boards and Cavaletti poles. These professionals are also trained to use tools such as ultrasound machines, lasers, and electrical stimulation.

Canine Rehabilitation and Course of Treatment

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Rewards for a job well done!

Ideally, when a veterinarian sees that a dog has a soft tissue injury, they will send him to a canine physical therapist. Since a good portion of rehab is working on building strength, flexibility, and range of motion, how the therapist addresses these issues will vary depending on the dog’s particular injury. The rehabilitation specialist will work with the pet’s primary veterinarian to tailor a program to fit a dog’s specific injury and therapy needs. A typical course of recovery can be as short as two visits or as long as three weekly visits for three months. Sessions are an hour and progress is documented during each visit. It’s also important to note that not all the work is done by the physical therapist, pet owners will receive homework in the form of exercises and other milestones to accomplish between visits.

We had a great experience visiting Canine Rehab of New York. We felt a buzz of positive energy and excitement that can only come from an emerging field of veterinary medicine that is making leaps and bounds with new technology and methods. It’s clear that Canine Rehab of New York is making a positive difference in the lives of so many of New York City’s dogs. We can’t wait to come back next year and see how they and the field of canine rehabilitation have evolved.

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