Physical Rehabilitation

Veterinary physical rehabilitation is the use of non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical therapies to treat animals with painful or functionally limiting conditions affecting the musculoskeletal and neurologic systems. The aim of rehab is to achieve the highest level of function, independence and quality of life possible for the patient. The rehab services at Kindred-Canines In Motion and Synergy Integrative Veterinary Clinic have been designed to supplement the care already being offered by the pet owner and primary care veterinarian. Working together, our goal is to provide the greatest opportunity for a successful outcome.


Rehab patients can range from young animals with congenital abnormalities to geriatric pets suffering from arthritis. Rehabilitation is also important for patients recovering from surgery or injury. For all patients, the objective of rehab is to improve strength and mobility and decrease pain.

Common conditions that can benefit from rehabilitation include, but are not limited to:

  • Arthritis
  • Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tear, post-op and non-surgical
  • Patellar luxation
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Soft tissue injury/tendonitis
  • Post-surgical recovery from femoral head osteotomy (FHO), amputation or fracture repair
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Lumbosacral disease
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Obesity with limited mobility

After an initial physical examination, careful review of the patient’s medical history, and open discussion about the goals of therapy, an individualized treatment plan will be developed. The exercises and treatment modalities selected are tailored to the patient’s needs, and can include both in-clinic and at home therapies.

Therapeutic Exercise and Manual Therapy

Therapeutic exercises enhance strength, flexibility, balance and coordination to improve mobility. These exercises can facilitate return to function after injury as well as slow the progression of arthritis. An exercise plan is thoughtfully designed to achieve a pet’s individual goals, and can utilize a variety of in-clinic gym equipment. Pet owners can be shown how to safely perform some of the exercises, using common household items, for continued care at home.

Manual therapies include passive range of motion (PROM), therapeutic massage and stretching. These techniques can allow for greater joint mobility, increased circulation and pain relief. Just as important for recovery are the relaxation and emotional well-being that these therapies also provide.


An underwater treadmill utilizes the buoyancy, warmth and resistance of water, in a controlled environment, to facilitate physical rehabilitation and conditioning. This low impact exercise is ideal for reducing recovery time from surgery, reducing pain during exercise for arthritic patients, and for improving cardiovascular fitness and body condition.

Therapeutic Modalities

Thermotherapy involves the use of ice or heat to treat sites of inflammation. Cryo, or cold therapy, is applied to reduce acute pain and inflammation, typically in the immediate post-operative period or after strenuous exercise. Heat is used to increase blood flow to the targeted tissues and aid in muscle relaxation. It is often applied to assist in stretching. These treatments can be applied in clinic as well as at home with owner instruction.

Therapeutic Laser
Laser therapy utilizes light energy to stimulate tissue repair and reduce pain. Laser treatments are painless and can alleviate the muscle and joint discomfort associated with arthritis as well as aid in healing after injury.

Electrical Stimulation
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) produces controlled muscle contraction by sending electrical impulses to the nerves. It is used to reduce muscle atrophy during periods of disuse that may occur after surgery or injury. Once weight-bearing can begin, the patient can be transitioned to therapeutic exercises.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) uses a lower level electrical current for pain relief and works by disrupting the body’s normal pain perception pathways.

Targeted Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (tPEMF)
PEMF therapy uses pulsing electromagnetic fields to speed healing, reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. The Assisi Loop® is offered for convenient at home treatment.

Fitting for Assistive Devices

Ready-made and custom-fit slings, harnesses, splints, braces and carts are often a part of the rehabilitation process. Slings and harnesses may be used to support weak patients by reducing weight bearing and avoiding falls. Splints and braces are used to support an injured limb during healing, to correct a deformity or to improve limb use. Carts are fitted to patients that are paralyzed or unable to walk without full support.