If you are here, it probably means you are seeking help for your dog with visible physical discomfort. But even if you live with a doggo who seems just fine physically, you may still want to read through this. Why because sometimes even healthy-active dogs too may need physical therapy. And recognizing warning signs early on can help your four-legged friend get timely treatment and avoid living a painful life.
We will save you the hassle of reading about how lovely dogs are and how they are our true soulmates and cut straight to the chase, answering questions such as why is my dog limping? Why does my dog look uncomfortable walking? Why is my pup struggling to get up after sleeping? Or when should seek a canine physical therapist? If these are some questions bothering you, buckle up.
Why Dog Physical Therapy?
Much like us, dogs too benefit from physical therapy or rehabilitation programs. A dog’s physical discomfort may continue long after being treated for arthritis, limb injury, or trauma. Canines with visible physical discomfort, get the required physical therapy on time, as the signs are more in your face. But some dogs, who never suffered such injuries or setbacks, may secretly develop such complications too. It is very much possible to inherit health issues from their family. In such cases, we need to read between the lines and gauge our dog’s behavior, looking for particular signs that signal the need for physical therapy.
How do I know my dog needs physical therapy?
If your dog exhibits any of the below-mentioned behaviors, then it may be a calling for a physical therapist. These are subtle signs and can go easily unnoticed or ignored for a long time, which may make their condition worse.
Subtle warning signs that dog’s need a physical therapist include:
- Resisting the staircases:
While learned behavior, traumatic experiences, and aging can be a few reasons, your dog hesitates using the staircase, the cause for the behavior can be much deeper than that. Some dogs avoid staircases as it causes them physical pain. Hip dysplasia, arthritis, or any injury that went unnoticed could be the case here. And especially in the case of puppies, their congenital abnormality is mistaken for phobia and mistreated or is worsened by exposure therapy.
2. Struggles to get up after waking up
If you are wondering why your dog is having trouble standing or walking after a nap, the answer to that is, they most likely have arthritis. Although arthritis is associated with aging or overweight dogs, even adult pups can develop the disabling condition. According to research, 20 percent of all adult pups over 1-year-old have the disease.
3. Reluctance to go for walks, especially the long ones.
Many reasons can cause this behavior in dogs. But they also tend to avoid walks if they are suffering from a sore hip or back, and due to aching muscles caused by an injury, which makes your dog reluctant to enjoy walks with you.
These are only a few of the many signs such as lack of appetite, vocalizing, growling and even losing interest in day-to-day activities.
We highly recommend you visit a trusted vet to see if there is no life-threatening, underlying condition causing the abnormal behaviors. But, if otherwise, Physical therapy can take care of most of the physical ailments.
But Does Dog physical therapy actually help?
Physical therapy for dogs is a tried and tested way that has proven its effectiveness time and time over again.
Of course, it requires patience and work, but if done under experienced PT’s supervision and with the right treatment, gradually but eventually, you will start noticing positive changes in your dog’s behaviors. PT or physical therapy includes combining manual therapy and physical exercises customized for dogs with physical discomfort or disabilities such as dog arthritis.
Some of the Physical therapy procedures or modalities (as PT’s like to call them), include:
- Manual Therapy
Manual therapy combines techniques, such as heat and cold therapy, passive range of motion (PROM), and massage to regain movement of joints, muscles, and other soft tissues.
2. Therapeutic Exercises
Therapeutic exercises for dogs include exposing your buddy to techniques such as range of motion, weight-bearing, or walking on balance and coordination. There are many different avenues here and it is not much different from human exercise. It just requires a certified canine rehab therapist, such as those at Salt Lake Animal Physical Therapy, to help implement the proper exercise at the proper time.
3. Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field (PEMF)
PEMF sends very low-level electromagnetic fields into the body, usually between 5-15hz. These energy waves then work with the body’s own natural magnetic field in order to promote healing. This can promote tissue and bone healing, as well as decrease pain and inflammation.
But remember, these are only some of the many techniques used in physical therapy, and your local PT may have more customized solutions to offer.
Things to keep in mind before getting physical therapy:
The need for taking your ailing dog to a certified physical therapist with relevant experience cannot be emphasized enough. Since your dogs are already suffering, any improper treatment or overexertion during the therapy can lead to more damage than good. And rest is, keep in mind that physical therapy is no magic trick and will take patience, learning, and time on your behalf. The more you are committed to your dog’s well-being, the better the chances of him getting better.