Animal Physical Therapy for Dogs

Recent research confirms that animal physical therapy works just as well as physical therapy for humans!

Thinking back to beloved family pets that suffered serious injuries or grew too old too fast, we can’t help but imagine the improved life they might have been granted if physical therapy for dogs had been an option.

This page will address...

YOUR Dog Care Stories

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  • Has your dog received physical therapy?
  • “It’s advanced very rapidly in the last 10 years, in line with people’s expectations of their own physical therapy. We’ve seen more and more people participating in physical therapy for their own injuries, and that’s spilled over into veterinary medicine as well.”

    Michael Andrews
    President, American Animal Hospital Association

    This revelation in veterinary medicine is an incredible step forward and gives us a chance to heal our dogs without surgery or prescription drugs.

    What is Animal Physical Therapy?

    Physical therapy for dogs uses many effective techniques in order to promote healing, relieve pain and help with recovery for musculoskeletal injuries.

    animal physical therapy
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    Treatment includes...

    • Electrical Currents
    • Heat & Cold
    • Hydrotherapy
    • Lasers
    • Stretching
    • Treadmills
    • Ultrasound

    Massage is also commonly used on dogs to promote well-being and increase healing before or after surgery or injury.

    animal physical therapy

    Taylor Tips!

    Do you enjoy a good massage? Of course you do! My owners indulge me every once in a while, and I absolutely love it!

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    Specific Benefits of Animal Physical Therapy

    One of the best parts of physical therapy for dogs is that it often satisfies our cultural need for a “quick-fix”, which is typically not the case with other alternative medicine for dogs.

    Results are often rapid, and many pets show some type of improvement after just one visit.

    However, the majority of dogs reach full recovery in about two to four months.

    Specific physical therapy benefits include:

    animal physical therapy
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    • Quicker recover from injury
    • Increased mobility and flexibility
    • Improved endurance and agility
    • Reduced need to for pain medication
    • Helps dogs lose weight
    • Reduced pain
    • Muscle gain
    • Conditions athletic or working dogs
    • Helps aging dogs suffering from osteoarthritis and mobility problems
    • Helps to prevent disease, injury, neurological disease and stress

    Will all of these benefits result from just your visits to the animal physical therapist? Unfortunately it's not quite that easy. You will also need to work one-on-one with your dog outside of the therapist’s office.

    But with a little team work, you and your dog could be on the faster-track to prevention or recovery...

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    Could Your Dog Benefit from Animal Physical Therapy?

    Thousands of dogs have benefited from this relatively new healthcare option.

    You should consider animal physical therapy to improve your dog’s mobility and promote a greater quality of life, especially if your dog has:

    • Recently undergone orthopedic surgery and requires immediate rehabilitation
    • Neurological problems
    • Chronic pain due to old age or un-diagnosed problems
    • Recently experienced a trauma or injury
    • A weight problem (60 to 70% of owners of obese dogs don't know their dog is overweight - see our Dog Weight Loss / Dog Obesity page for more info)
    • A higher susceptibility to injury
    animal physical therapy

    If you're not sure whether physical therapy is right for your dog (or what other options are available for your dog's specific condition), you can also ask our veterinarians directly through My Online Vet.

    What is Required of Me During My Dog's Physical Therapy?

    The animal physical therapy process may indeed be trying on you and your dog at certain points along the way.

    “Homework” is involved in physical therapy for dogs. According to rehab specialists, this homework is very important for long term success.

    Homework may include applying ice three times a day for a week or learning massage and at-home exercise techniques. Though the homework may differ from patient to patient, the necessity for it to be done consistently and correctly does not.

    In addition, it may take a little work to find the right animal physical therapy doctor for you and your dog. Since the rehab process can take some time, it is crucial for the doctor/patient relationship to be strong. It is also important that the doctor of your choice is licensed and certified.

    More on finding a licensed and certified animal physical therapist near you in a moment. First...

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    What is the Cost of Physical Therapy for Dogs?

    The unfortunate part of every great innovative therapy is the cost. You can expect to pay around $150 - $200 for an initial consultation which includes a physical exam, neurological exam and gait analysis.

    After the initial appointment, the cost per visit will vary according to the type of therapy needed and also special considerations for the individual patient. Expect an average of $75 per day and between $500 and $1,500 for end-to-end therapy.

    The good news is that certain types of pet insurance will cover some or all of the costs. If you are planning ahead (in other words, if your dog does not currently need physical therapy), you will have more options.

    If your dog needs therapy now, a discount program like PetAssure will probably be your only option since their policies do not include pre-existing condition limitations.

    See our Pet Insurance Reviews page for a comparison of available plans.

    Keep in mind that physical therapy for your dog is still usually much less expensive than a hospital stay if you go without it. If you are on a slimmer budget, the therapist can work with you to reduce the number of visits per week or to require less visits by beefing up the homework.

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    How to Find a Licensed Physical Therapist

    Start by asking your veterinarian for a recommendation. This is a relatively new field, so it may take some searching to find a qualified fit for you and your dog.

    The University of Tennessee maintains a comprehensive list of facilities throughout the world. Click here to search by state or country.

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    Your Experience with Animal Physical Therapy

    Has your dog received physical therapy?

    If so, please share your experiences and advice...

    - Why did your dog need it?
    - What specific treatment did she receive?
    - Where did she receive it?
    - How many sessions has she had?
    - What happens during the sessions?
    - Is it working?
    - What does it cost?

    And don't forget to upload a picture of your little rascal as well!

    Animal Physical Therapy Experiences from Other Visitors

    Click below to see other contributions...

    Canine Physical Therapy in North Aurora, IL (CPR) 
    My 6 year old Wheaten Terrier, Maggie, tore her ACL and had surgery. I decided to forgo the $3200 TPLO surgery and instead opted for the $1400 Extracapsular …

    Click here to write your own.

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    Disclaimers: The information contained in this web site is provided for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as nor should be relied upon as medical advice. Rather, it is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a pet owner/site visitor and his/her local veterinarian(s). Before you use any of the information provided in the site, you should seek the advice of a qualified professional.

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