I’ll say it right away: physiotherapy for dogs is indeed recommended for “every dog”. Item. Completely without reason, there are still voices that ridicule physiotherapy in dogs. But why should something that helps us humans so wonderfully not help our four-legged friends? Physical therapy is much more than wellness for our dogs. It contributes quite significantly to fitness, rehabilitation and health.
In recent years, physiotherapy in dogs has not only developed continuously. Treatment methods was carefully transferred from the two-legged to the four-legged. The applicability and effect tested. It is also becoming increasingly popular in veterinary medicine. More and more veterinarians are recommending treatment by a physical therapist.
For which disease does a visit to the physiotherapist make sense?
The field of application is as broad as in human physiotherapy. In principle, you can support quadrupeds with all kinds of diseases of the musculoskeletal system. This includes joint diseases such as patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and Co. Also with neurological illnesses it succeeds to bring quadrupeds again “to the running”. Such as Cauda Equina Compression Syndrome, herniated discs, Wobbler Syndrome, Vestibular Syndrome or spinal cord infarction. But also with the classic cruciate ligament rupture, tendonitis and tears, fractures, muscle diseases, etc.. I recommend every dog owner to consult a physiotherapist.
And what about diseases that are not curable?
There are indeed diseases of the musculoskeletal system that are not curable. Examples are osteoarthritis or spondylosis. We cannot cure these diseases. However, the progression of the disease can be stopped and delayed with physiotherapy. Symptoms are also alleviated, pain is relieved and more mobility and quality of life are given. Just and especially here physiotherapy is very valuable in dogs.
But physiotherapy for dogs is much more than “physiotherapy”.
Spry in old age
Physiotherapy helps our seniors stay or become fit and mobile. Many a senior who struggled to move during the first few appointments in my practice was back on his owners’ noses after only a short time – suddenly hopping back onto the sofa, starting to play or demanding longer walks. These are not isolated cases and are not magic.
The focus of my work is on active movement exercises – because just as people stay fit longer with advancing age and active movement – our four-legged friends also benefit. This keeps the body and mind fit and agile for longer.
The heavyweights among the four-legged
In recent years, the percentage of overweight dogs has increased dramatically. And the consequences of being overweight are drastic! Thus, the life expectancy of dogs decreases by 20%. Almost inevitably, it also entails damage to the musculoskeletal system. The number of dogs who train off their excess pounds with the support of a physiotherapist and declare war on them is constantly growing.
Athletes should also see their physiotherapist regularly
The field of dog sports is constantly growing and more and more new dog sports are sprouting from the ground. In the same way, the number of responsible dog owners is growing, who not only visit a physiotherapist after a competition to relax and release blockages – but for whom, for example, regular check ups or condition building in expert hands is a matter of course.
The dog should not be seen as “sports equipment” that has to “work”, but as a partner with whom you practice the sport together.
After all, how can I expect performance in sports from my dog who suffers from blockages and tension? If you look at competitive sports in humans, you don’t have to look far: in soccer teams, always by the side of the team: the physiotherapist, who assists in athletic preparation, acts and treats in case of injuries, and relaxes and loosens the strained athlete’s body after exertion.
This is exactly what you should take as an example if you want to practice responsible dog sports.
And if my dog is fit and healthy?!
The key word is “prevention.” It is quite wonderful when our four-legged friends are fit and healthy – living a life completely free of complaints. The dream of every dog owner. So you don’t really have to do anything, do you? Not quite – of course, there is no need for intensive treatment, such as a dog with an acute cruciate ligament rupture undergoing rehabilitation.
Nevertheless, I think it is important that our four-legged friends are not only presented to the veterinarian for a regular check-up with blood work – but also to a trusted physiotherapist. He looks to see if everything is still in the “right place” and if there are any tensions or abnormalities in the course of movement. At the same time, there are many things you can do in everyday life to keep your dog as fit as he is. Because there is no reason to wait until he shows the first signs of age to start targeted exercise. For example, it has been shown with dogs I care for that even a combination of a few different, targeted active movement exercises done on a regular basis has a great training effect.
This does not cost much time, it is fun for the dog, we humans spend time with our dog at the same time – and train his body and also head.
I always compare this to regular jogging sessions or other athletic activities that we humans engage in to do something for our fitness and health. This is as much about prevention as it is about my approach to training. Take some time several times a week and perform various active exercise activities with your dog. You can supplement this with some light conditioning training.
You see, dog physiotherapy is something that offers support to each dog according to his needs and actively supports health. Have you ever taken your dog to a canine physical therapist? Feel free to share your experiences with me in the comments!
All the love, your Tina