Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Benefits of Physical Therapy for Dogs #PetHealthAwareness

This post is sponsored by BlogPaws. I am being compensated to support Pet Health Awareness Month with an educational post, but To Dog With Love only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. BlogPaws is not responsible for the content of this article.

Physical therapy has helped ensure that Rocco can safely
run faster and jump higher! 
Today we're participating in the BlogPaws Pet Health Awareness Blog Hop as well our regularly scheduled Fit Dog Friday Blog Hop. Earlier this year, I noticed a strange skip in Rocco's step that led us down a path of visits with our regular vet, with an orthopedic vet and physical therapy.

I'm happy to report that Rocco is in tip top shape, and I thought it would be helpful to share the benefits of the physical therapy treatments he received.

The Road to Physical Therapy

First we wanted to rule out anything serious that might cause an even greater injury. The skip worried me that he might have a luxating patella, and since earlier this year he was getting ready to compete in agility, I didn't want to do anything that would cause more harm.

So off we went to our regular vet, who didn't see anything definitive and referred us to an orthopedist. The orthopedic vet examined Rocco and reported that his patellas were sound, thankfully, but he thought the skip could be due to a muscle pull, possibly iliopsoas. He referred us to a rehab clinic for further evaluation.

Visiting the Rehabilitation Vet Clinic

Rocco enjoys the benefits of laser therapy to reduce inflammation
After a gait evaluation and some more poking, prodding and stretching, the rehab vet ruled out iliposoas (again thankfully since that can require a lengthy recovery period), but she did find some tenderness in his groin area and in his left, front shoulder.

She recommended stretching exercises and strength training for Rocco's rear and front legs and laser therapy to help reduce the inflammation in those areas. Rocco had six laser treatments, which he didn't mind at all... except for the part where he had to wear the protective eyewear!

The clinic we went to also has a therapy pool to help patients regain strength and range of motion in their limbs. Since Rocco was still reluctant to fully extend his left front leg, the vet also recommended swim therapy.

The therapy pool is heated and a vet tech was always in the pool with Rocco. They also can turn on a current to increase resistance when the dog is ready. Rocco seemed to enjoy the swim therapy and it did seem to loosen him up and help his range of motion. It also was a good cardio workout for him!

Here's look at Rocco swimming against the current!

Follow up to Physical Therapy

Rocco's finished his course of physical therapy, but we still do regular stretching and strength and balance training at home using our K9FITBone and other Fit Paws equipment.  In addition, cross training -- walking, hiking, running games in our backyard, tricks, intervals, etc. -- as well as agility training will help keep Rocco happy, healthy and injury free.

My goal is to keep Rocco healthy for the long haul, which includes all these things plus proper nutrition, keeping him at a healthy weight and regular vet visits.

As far as the skip goes, it's still there, but it doesn't seem to bother Rocco a bit and it certainly hasn't affected his agility performance. We're chalking it up to  a unique trait from the line of Cuban Havanese that Rocco comes from! 

Last weekend Rocco nabbed three Qs, a new title in USDAA P1 Standard
and four first-place finishes!
Physical therapy can help all types of dogs -- performance dogs, senior dogs, dogs recovering from surgery -- regain their mobility and strength AND get back to their active, normal lives!

Have you done physical therapy with your dog? What kinds of treatments did your pup receive?

The fun and games continue every Friday with FitDog Friday, the weekly Blog Hop brought to you by To Dog With LoveSlimDoggy and My GBGV Life to promote a healthy active lifestyle for pets (and their people, too!). Join in every Friday by linking up your FitDog story or visiting the blogs in the Hop.


  1. Glad to hear it was nothing serious and that the PT helped. Thunder had a pulled ligament once and that required casting, but no PT so we have not been down that road...yet.

  2. Great information, Diane and Rocco—and so glad that Rocco is in tip-top shape!

  3. I've had a skip in my step my whole life. Sometimes people comment on it as I skip like a little girl going down the street, but no one has found any problem that would cause it. Bailie, on the other paw, walked like she was pooping when we first got her. She went to the dog chiropractor and got straightened out and has been great ever since. They think she was out of alignment from being with 14 total pups in the womb. As long as you keep an eye out for changes in your pup, you will be able to keep him healthy.

    1. Glad to hear Bailie got straightened out. Gotta admit I laughed at the "walked like she was pooping"... poor little Bailie! Emma, I didn't realize you skip too! You and Rocco can have a skip-a-thon next time we meet!

  4. Look at all those ribbons - wow! Luke or Sheba would be in heaven if they needed physical therapy and it meant going swimming. I'm so glad Rocco is doing better.

  5. The swimming video is so cute! My vet recommended a swim therapy place for Mia if her arthritis worsens, but I don't know, she's not much of a swimmer.