Olive & Physiotherapy

My dog Olive, an 8-year-old Rottweiler, has had her fair share of issues. I could write posts about her extensive behaviour training, her gastrointestinal issues or the pros/cons of adopting a rescue. However, given our recent focus on senior pets this fall, I chose to write about our recent experience with physiotherapy.

Olive had orthopedic shoulder surgery in 2013 to repair a damaged tendon, and at that time a radiologist noted on her x-rays that she had arthritis in her digits (the human equivalent of fingers). She recovered well from her surgery and to slow the progression of her arthritis we kept her lean and on omega fatty acids. Things had been going well with her for years. Recently, however, I noted that she was starting to hold her paws abnormally while she sat and walked. After a thorough physical examination, her arthritis was determined to be the root cause, and it was decided that physiotherapy and rehabilitation would be the best treatment course.

Physiotherapy can be used to address chronic pain, muscle weakness, decreased flexibility, promote tissue healing and ensure a successful recovery post-surgery. A trained specialist will examine your animal and chose from a variety of treatment modalities, depending on your pet’s specific case. Options include cryotherapy/superficial heating, manual therapy, massage, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, electrical nerve stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, low-level laser therapy and others. A home exercise program will likely be recommended to ensure that any progress made is long lived.

I worked with a certified animal rehabilitation specialist who completed a gait analysis and orthopedic examination. She noted not only the changes in her paws but also a strain in her groin area secondary to her long-term compensation from her previous shoulder injury. We used laser therapy, massage therapy and stretching/strengthening exercises at home to work on her issues. After 2 months, I noted a huge improvement both in her flexibility and ability to walk.

Olive will continue to age, and new problems will continue to arise, but physiotherapy allowed me to manage one of her issues without medication or surgical intervention. Please contact the veterinarians at Coxwell Animal Clinic for recommendations about your pet’s muscle and joint issues so we can help them heal properly and age gracefully.

Written by Dr Alana Kestelman, DVM