By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

Often clients ask if therapy would be beneficial in conjunction with a brace.  While it is not necessary, many dogs benefit greatly from combining physical therapy with the application of their custom brace. The next question then becomes what type of therapy? While that question is best answered by a discussion with your veterinarian or rehabilitation therapist, let me touch on various therapies available.

Physical therapy is a series of specific exercises performed under the guidance of a trained therapist. These exercises are designed to improve muscle strength and flexibility, reduce pain, and encourage healing. Traditionally when we think of physical therapy we think of a series of exercises performed on a hard or matted surface utilizing balls, weights, balance, etc.

Hydrotherapy refers to exercises performed in water. The water provides buoyancy and enables the dog to exercise without the stress on joints and muscles that is experienced when exercising on harder surfaces. The therapy is beneficial for a variety of issues including arthritis, joint pain, cruciate ligament ruptures, as well as neurological disorders such as degenerative myelopathy or spinal strokes.

Depending on the type of hydrotherapy, the session may include an underwater treadmill, a whirlpool, or a dog pool. Underwater treadmills are often used for patients with joint problems, such as cruciate ligament issues, carpal injuries, or Achilles tendon injuries. The dog enters a plastic or glass chamber that fills with water once the door is closed. The amount of water used is dependent upon the type of injury. The dog walks on a treadmill and the water creates the resistance. The combination of treadmill and water resistance works together to strengthen muscles and joints in a low-impact environment.

Laser therapy, also known as cold laser, red therapy, or low-level laser, is used to treat a variety of conditions including muscle, ligament, and tendon injuries, post-surgical and soft tissue injuries, acute pain, and chronic conditions. It uses a deep-penetrating, non-heat producing light to create several chemical reactions knows as photobiostimulation. This process stimulates injured cells to heal at a faster rate and helps to reduce pain through the release of endorphins. It is non-invasive, non-surgical, and involves no drugs.  Each treatment session may range from 3 – 15 minutes in length with the length and number of treatments depends upon the type of injury being treated. The treatment is non-invasive and most dogs find it very relaxing.

The number of rehabilitation therapy sessions and the length of each treatment needed are dependent upon the type of injury being treated. The cost of the sessions would need to be discussed with your veterinarian or physical therapist. If you have pet insurance, be sure to check with your insurance company as these sessions may be covered under your pet insurance.

Keep in mind that while we all want the very best for our dogs, ease of accessibility and affordability has a great influence on what avenues of therapy clients can pursue. If your capabilities prevent you from getting professional therapy, remember that those frequent daily walks that we suggest during the healing process of ACL injuries are a form of therapy and will go a long way to strengthen your dog’s leg.