Is Rehab For Dogs Really Necessary?

brown dog with a cream arm cast and green neck cone

WHEN WOULD MY DOG NEED REHAB?

I would love to ask “when is dog rehab actually necessary?” to some of my loyal clients and I could promise their answer would be – “All the time”. It isn’t necessarily my work that is so amazing but rather the techniques I have learnt that have proven to be most effective. 

Post-operative care that includes Rehab has a better outcome. Osteoarthritic management that has a holistic, all round approach (with weight management included) has a better outcome. 

Take for example, Mr Whiskey who is an overweight Labrador. The typical style of dog that once he crosses the line of “young Labbie” becomes excessively overweight; and spends most of his day lounging on the patio. He has been diagnosed with generalised Osteoarthritis and quite severe front limb lameness – Referred by his Vet. He has been “Ramsay Rehab-ing” for a few months and with small amounts of hydrotherapy, a new weight loss diet, and some ultrasound and massage therapy Whiskey is a totally new dog. Lameness – Excluded. 

WHY IS REHAB IMPORTANT?

Rehabilitation can be used for so many reasons and every one of them is centered on the ultimate goal of providing quality of life.

Increased speed of recovery: the less time that a paralysed patient is recumbent, the less disuse atrophy that occurs as well as pressure sore formation and secondary infections. Paralysis is traumatic enough, for owner and patient. This doesn’t only apply for paralysed patients but any post-surgery case; any type of disuse can be avoided with dog rehabilitation. 


Improved performance and quality of movement: this is for the “go – getters” of the canine world. But who says that your geriatric amputee can’t have a good quality of movement? Well, no-one! 

Try some hydrotherapy and see your old man climb those stairs with confidence again. One of the best things a client has ever said to me is: “Candice, he is just so much better within himself.” 

Which leads me to the positive psychological effects that rehab has for both the patient and owner. Massage, EMS, Light Therapy, Active Exercise, Hydrotherapy… all of these therapies cause endorphin release, blood flow, muscle stimulation, relaxation and (without sounding like an advert) promote the well-being of your pet.

ISN’T REHABILITATION FOR PETS EXPENSIVE?

Always a great question to answer. The way people view their household pets has changed dramatically over the last few years. I am inclined to say “what is the difference between your pet and yourself?” well, not much. It is our true responsibility in life to care for all creatures big and small. The professional response here is that in many cases Rehab has saved many clients lots of money. Rehab used post operatively can decrease the recovery time. 

Did you know that dogs may lose one third of their muscle mass in the hind limb following surgery for a cranial cruciate ligament rupture and it can take over a year to regain the lost muscle tissue? Wouldn’t it make sense to reduce this time by doing a couple of daily exercises and Rehab sessions for a happy, comfortable, pain free pup? 

WHAT ARE THE OTHER BENEFITS OF REHABILITATION? 

What’s the most important thing to a pet owner? I will give you a clue: “happy dog, happy owner.” Quality of Life. All people want for their animals is to be happy and healthy. 

As a veterinary professional, there are so many times I’ll observe that the patient still has an abnormal gait or his hip extension is slightly short, but owners don’t care about the nitty gritty of it – they just want their pup to be happy.

For me, rehab has proven to be the cherry on top so many times. This is just to say that there still has to be the cake and ice-cream underneath the cherry. Let’s remember that without veterinary medical or surgical treatment, rehab is not as successful.

It’s the combination that makes the great outcome for a patient, and a vital part of that is owner compliance.

WHAT I – CANDICE RAMSAY – LOVE ABOUT REHAB

My personal journey with animal rehabilitation began as a pet owner and not as a veterinary professional. I believe that this is why I feel so strongly about the topic of rehab.


‘Return to function’ is almost always the outcome and the bond that develops between therapist and patient is absolutely irreplaceable. Owner’s complaints that were “my dog is not walking properly” become “my dog loves you more than me.” 

______________________________________________________________________________

LAUREN AND INCA’s REHAB ‘TAIL‘:

ePETstore: Please tell us when and how Inca came into your life.

Lauren: We were looking for a Collie Lab breed and found an ad online. She was born on 2 August 2007 in Mpumalanga.

ePETstore: When did you first start to notice that something could be wrong and what exactly did you notice? 

Lauren: At the beginning of this year, we noticed Inca seemed uncomfortable. She was limping and moving around with less ease, was less active and also less ‘chatty’ than normal. 

ePETstore: How did you hear about rehab and why did you decide to try it? 

Lauren: We took her for a check up at Rivonia vet and they suggested Ramsay Rehab along with a weight loss plan to improve Inca’s quality of life. We were happy to try it all, as Inca really wasn’t her usual, happy self at that point in time.

ePETstore: What kind of difference did Rehab make in Inca’s life? 

Lauren: She responded really well to the treatments and is almost back to her old self. She now moves with more ease, runs around in the garden, sneaks up onto the couch for cuddles and looks (as well as behaves) a few years younger. The rehab in combination with weight loss has been very successful and just amazing for Inca.

ePETstore: Was rehab a once off visit, or do you still go? 

Lauren: We started initially with regular weekly appointments and we now do an appointment every 2 weeks for treatment and maintenance.

ePETstore: What would you say to people who aren’t sure whether rehab works or not?  And is rehab worth the time and money in your opinion?

Lauren: Definitely worth it! Candice and Nadia have been great with Inca and she is a much happier dog for it. Inca loves her warm bean bag on her back and we would definitely encourage other people to give rehab a try. We weren’t sure how Inca would react, but she has responded so well – just as humans would to massages, tens machine, laser therapy and so on. Ramsey Rehab of course recommend doing regular exercises at home too.

ePETstore:  Any tips and tricks for other pet-parents starting pet rehab?

Lauren: It’s important to follow the recommended exercises in order to get the best results and help strengthen target muscles. It truly is SO important to make sure they’re eating the appropriate amount of food for their age and activity level – optimal weight is key. Inca also just loves those GCS CHEWS for her joints and KONG TOYS for when lounging about.

black border collie dog on grass with a red chew toy after attending pet rehab

Image: Inca the Border Collie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *