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How Physical Therapy Can Help Your Pet After Surgery

How Physical Therapy Can Help Your Pet After Surgery

Have you ever considered the importance of physical therapy for your pet after they’ve undergone surgery? Like humans, our furry friends can greatly benefit from various therapeutic techniques to aid their recovery and overall wellbeing. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of animal rehabilitation and the essential role veterinary hospitals play in postoperative care.

What is Physical Therapy for Pets?

Physical therapy, also known as animal rehabilitation, is a critical component of post-surgery healing for pets. Canine physical therapy, a rapidly growing field within veterinary medicine, involves therapeutic techniques adapted from human physical therapy to promote the recovery of pets. These techniques help increase mobility, decrease pain, speed recovery, and strengthen joints and muscles, improving overall health.

Essential Therapeutic Techniques in Pet Physical Therapy

Various therapeutic techniques are used in pet physical therapy to help our furry friends recover following surgery. Some of these methods include:

Passive Range of Motion Exercises

These exercises involve the therapist manually massaging, aligning, and rotating the pet’s muscles and joints, promoting a gradual return to mobility and function.

Underwater Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy uses a treadmill in a warm water pool, allowing the dog to exercise while benefiting from the buoyancy of the water as support. This reduces strain on joints and muscles during the healing process.

Pet Massage Therapy

Massage therapy for pets helps improve circulation and relaxation while reducing pain and stress, making it a valuable tool during recovery.

Swimming Therapy for Pets

Once a pet can bear weight, swimming becomes a low-impact exercise that strengthens large muscle groups and alleviates joint stress.

Cold Laser Therapy

Low-level lasers are utilized in cold laser therapy to stimulate cell function for faster healing. This non-invasive treatment has many benefits of cold laser therapy, making it an ideal option for pets recovering from surgery.

Other Therapeutic Techniques

Additional treatments, such as neuromuscular electrical stimulation, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, deep tissue laser, and heat or cryotherapy, can be tailored to each pet’s unique needs and recovery plan.

The Role of Veterinary Hospitals in Pet Physical Therapy

Providing physical therapy as part of comprehensive post-surgery care is essential for any reputable veterinary hospital. Choosing a facility that offers a well-rounded approach to pet care is necessary. A great example of such a hospital is the Spanish Trail Pet Clinic, where the staff works together to ensure every aspect of your pet’s wellbeing is considered. Collaboration between veterinarians, surgeons, and rehabilitation specialists is crucial for effective pet recovery and rehabilitation. They will closely monitor your pet’s progress and adjust the therapy according to their needs.

Benefits of Physical Therapy for Pets After Surgery

Embracing a physical therapy plan post-surgery can significantly improve your pet’s recovery in several ways, such as: 

  • Speeding up the recovery process 
  • Reducing pain and inflammation
  • Increasing mobility and joint health 
  • Strengthening muscles and preventing atrophy
  • Aiding in weight loss and improving overall health 
  • Enhancing Performance for athletic breeds 
  • Improving the quality of life for pets

Special Considerations in Animal Rehabilitation

It’s vital to learn more about customizing therapy plans based on the type of surgery and your pet’s specific needs. The role of anti-inflammatory medications in the healing process can be significant, and it’s essential to understand the proper usage and dosage as per your veterinarian’s instructions. Moreover, your involvement as a pet owner plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation process. Working closely with your veterinary team, you can learn specific at-home exercises and techniques to help your pet regain strength and mobility more effectively.

Preparing Your Home for Your Pet’s Post-Surgery Rehabilitation

To ensure your pet is comfortable and supported during their recovery, take the following steps: 

  • Create a safe and comfortable environment for recuperation, free from hazards and distractions
  • Provide access to appropriate physical therapy equipment, such as ramps, supportive harnesses, or specialized cushioning 
  • Collaborate with your veterinary team to learn and implement specific at-home exercises for your pet’s rehabilitation

Monitoring Your Pet’s Progress and Adjusting Therapy as Needed

Staying in close contact with your veterinarian and rehabilitation specialist is critical for evaluating your pet’s recovery progress. Regular check-ups will allow your veterinary team to track advancements and promptly address any concerns or complications. Watch for signs of pain or discomfort in your pet, and take immediate action if required. Adjusting therapy plans according to your pet’s progress and changing needs is essential for optimal recovery.


In conclusion, physical therapy is pivotal in helping pets recover from surgery more quickly and successfully. As a pet owner, working closely with your veterinary team ensures that your furry friend receives the best possible care during rehabilitation. Remember, a well-rounded approach to postoperative care is essential for a speedy recovery and your pet’s long-term health and wellbeing. So, don’t underestimate the healing touch of physical therapy for your pet after surgery – it could make all the difference in their journey back to a happy, healthy life.


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