Posts Tagged ‘physical therapy for animals’

Beds, Arms, and Broken Bones: The Dangers of Being A Small Dog

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

     Every year, Veterinary Pet Insurance releases some of the data that it garners about pets and their owners, and one tidbit worth repeating is the most common reasons dogs and cats break their bones.  Not surprisingly, getting hit by a car tops the list.  Yep, that’ll definitely break a bone—or worse—so it’s a good reminder to keep dogs on leash at all times when they’re outdoors and to keep your cats inside.  And while being hit by a car accounted for 40% of all VPI’s claims for broken bones, the next 40% was attributed to pets jumping or falling from furniture or other high places. 
     At Scout’s House, we can attest to how dangerous it is for pets, particularly small dogs, to jump or fall from a height.  Some of the dogs we’ve seen have fractured their front legs by suddenly jumping out of their owners’ arms or by launching themselves off beds (usually to “answer the doorbell”).  It happens most with small dogs, especially the teacup and toy breeds, but we’ve also had patients as big as Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, and Shelties.  And overweight pets are at even greater risk, for obvious reasons.
     Granted, they’re just being themselves and jumping off things is what dogs and cats do, but you can lower your pet’s chances of breaking a bone by putting ramps and stairs in strategic spots around the house—leading up to sofas and beds—and then training your dog to actually use them.  And never, ever let a dog or cat  jump from your arms or your lap, no matter how often that doorbell rings.  Hang on tight until you can put Fluffy down on the ground and you just might save your pet the pain of a needless injury–and save yourself the $1500-$2600 it costs to surgically repair a broken bone.

“Exercise is Medicine”

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal had a great article in it about the physical dangers inherent in many of the winter sports at the Olympics.  What I particularly loved about the story was a comment by Jim Cerullo, the head trainer for the the U. S. luge team, about how much more quickly athletes recover these days from their injuries.  Cerullo credited these improved recovery times to advances in arthroscopic surgery (which is being used in veterinary medicine now, too) and to–and I quote the article here–an “approach to rehabilitation that encourages exercise and movement (almost immediately in the case of world class athletes) over rest.”  Cerullo explains that if an athlete injured a knee 20 or 30 years ago, he or she would have ended up in a brace for a month, but today those athletes get into rehab almost immediately.  “Tear an ACL,” the article says [and, I should say, that’s analagous to a dog tearing a CCL], “and the staff at The Center for Excellence will have you working out in the hydrotherapy pool within days of the operation.”  Mr. Cerullo summed it up beautifully:  “We have a saying now ‘exercise is medicine.'”

Thank you, Mr. Cerullo!  That is exactly the message we’ve been sharing with our clients at Scout’s House for almost five years now–a message that’s overshadowed by the fact that veterinary medicine is about 10 or 15 years behind the advances in human medicine (although quickly catching up).  Don’t put your dog in a crate for 8 weeks after a TPLO surgery if you have a certified canine rehabilitation therapist nearby.  Get your dog into rehab and you’ll give him the best chance of recovering more quickly and more completely from his injury.  And yes, he may not be an Olympic athlete, but he can definitely benefit from what we’ve learned from them.

The Low Down on Low-Level Laser Therapy for Pets

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Recently, we had a number of emails asking us what low-level laser therapy is and can it help a pet with osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative myelopathy (DM).  So I thought it might be good to give a quick overview of it here.

First off, low-level laser therapy is a form of intense light therapy that can reduce pain and stimulate healing by promoting positive physiologic changes at the body’s cellular level.  It’s a lot like therapeutic ultrasound, which heals with sound waves, only low-level laser therapy uses light.  And while there hasn’t been a lot of research into the use of low-level laser therapy in dogs and cats, but there have been plenty of studies on its use in humans and horses and from that we know that it accelerates tissue repair, increases the formation of new capillaries in damaged tissue, and speeds the formation of collagen.  For those reasons, it’s proven effective for wound management, alleviating chronic pain from joint conditions, including osteoarthritis, and healing soft-tissue injuries, including sprains, strains, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, capsulitis, and bursitis.   Is it effective for DM?  No, it won’t slow the progression of the disease, but often dogs with DM compensate for their limited hind limb mobility by putting more weight on their front limbs and low-level laser therapy can help mitigate pain in those overused muscles.

So those are the conditions where it can be helpful.  There are times, though, when you want to be very careful with a low-level laser–for example, when using it on an animal with black skin as it can burn–and you never want to use low-level laser therapy on an animal who has or has had cancer as it can stimulate tumor growth. 

For more information about this and other rehab therapies and techniques, including hydrotherapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, pulsed electromagnetic field therapys, and acupuncture, please visit our website at