Benefits of Veterinary Physical Rehabilitation

December 5, 2019
Benefits of Veterinary Physical Rehabilitation
Veterinary medicine has become nearly as sophisticated as human medicine, and Care Center is fortunate to be able to provide many advanced therapies for your pet. You may have experienced the benefits of physical rehabilitation after an injury or surgery, but do you realize that this therapy is available to your four-legged companion, as well? Many pets with health conditions can benefit from physical therapy, such as:
  • Pets recovering from surgery
  • Pets suffering from injury
  • Pets experiencing chronic pain (e.g., arthritis)
  • Pets who have been diagnosed with a neurologic condition
  • Pets who are overweight
  • Pets experiencing difficulty with normal movements, such as standing up, lying down, or climbing stairs
  • Pets with decreased strength, muscle tone, or endurance
Veterinary physical rehabilitation can help patients recover from surgical procedures, injuries, and chronic conditions more quickly so they can return to normal function sooner. It can be particularly helpful in patients who experience a period of immobility, such as those recovering from orthopedic or neurologic conditions. Reduced recovery time gets patients back on their feet sooner, and reduces complications associated with prolonged periods of inactivity, such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and bed sores. It is also extremely useful for pets with kidney or liver disease, who cannot take many medications.  If your family veterinarian has diagnosed your pet with a condition that can benefit from physical rehabilitation, Care Center Cincinnati’s certified canine rehabilitation practitioners will work with her to customize your pet’s recovery plan, which may include a combination of therapies that will facilitate her recovery. 


Hydrotherapy takes advantage of water’s natural buoyancy and resistance to assist patients in walking on an underwater treadmill. Patients with paralysis or severely debilitating conditions can often walk underwater much sooner than they can walk on land, and a faster return to mobility is an invaluable component of their recovery. Underwater treadmill therapy can also be used for patients with chronic arthritis, as the water takes pressure off sore joints and allows the pet to move with less pain. Water’s resistance makes this an ideal exercise for canine athletes and obese patients, who receive a more strenuous workout than walking on land. 

Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) 

NMES is a type of electrotherapy used to rehabilitate injured muscles by delivering an electrical current through skin electrodes to cause muscle contraction. NMES benefits patients by increasing blood circulation, improving joint mobility, and preventing muscle loss. NMES is often used in patients with swelling, delayed wound healing, or paralysis. 

Cold Laser Therapy care center vet rehab

Low-level laser therapy alters biological pathways to enhance cellular energy production, which provides benefits, such as:
  • Enhanced wound healing
  • Muscle regeneration
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Pain control
Laser therapy is often used to enhance wound healing after surgery or a traumatic wound, such as tissue loss after a car accident, and to manage pain in pets with chronic conditions, such as arthritis.

Therapeutic Massage

Veterinary therapeutic massage is the manipulation of a pet’s soft tissues with a therapist’s fingers and hands to stimulate healing and recovery. It can be used for many conditions, including:
  • Tendon and ligament injuries
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Scar tissue development
  • Edema
  • Surgical recovery
Therapeutic massage can provide many benefits to injured patients, such as:
  • Improved circulation
  • Reduced edema
  • Enhanced tissue healing
  • Reduced scar tissue and adhesions
  • Improved range of motion
  • Pain relief

Therapeutic Ultrasound 

Therapeutic ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to vibrate molecules in injured tissues, which increases blood flow, decreases swelling, and improves healing. Therapeutic ultrasound can be used for damaged muscles, tendons, and ligaments to reduce inflammation and scar tissue formation. 

Passive Range of Motion (PROM) Exercises

PROM exercises are manipulations performed by a therapist that require no effort from an injured patient. PROM exercises are critical to maintain joint flexibility and muscle strength, and to prevent muscle atrophy in pets experiencing paralysis or limited mobility.

Therapeutic Exercises

Therapeutic exercises are a component of almost every patient’s rehabilitation plan, and our certified rehabilitation practitioners will choose exercises that will target your pet’s specific condition. Therapeutic exercises provide many benefits, such as:
  • Strengthened muscles
  • Improved balance
  • Improved flexibility
  • Faster return to normal activities
Many therapeutic exercises can be performed without specialized equipment, and can eventually be done at home.  If you have questions about veterinary physical rehabilitation, or if your veterinarian has diagnosed your pet with a condition that can benefit from rehabilitation, contact our rehabilitation department.