Speak to a vet within minutes

4.9 On the App Store 3600+ reviews

Physical Rehabilitation For Your Pet – Really?!?

dog physical therapy

Absolutely! Physical rehabilitation has been used to treat animals for years. It has become increasingly more available over the past 10 to 15 years and provides countless benefits for our four-legged companions. Keep reading to learn more about physical rehabilitation options for your dog.

Known as physical rehabilitation in the veterinary world, physical therapy had its beginnings with some of the earliest physicians like Hippocrates. Physical rehabilitation is a non-invasive method of treatment that not only helps recovery from injury but also can benefit so many other conditions.

Can my pet benefit from physical rehabilitation?

Physical Rehabilitation is not just for pets who have sustained injuries. Many conditions will benefit including:

  • Rehab before Surgery or Pre-hab - Allows patients to be in the best possible physical condition PRIOR to undergoing surgery, making recovery easier and quicker.
  • Muscle building – After an injury or surgery, muscle loss (atrophy) happens very quickly. Rehab provides safe methods for rebuilding muscles.
  • Pain relief
  • Improvement of joint motion (Range of Motion)
  • Return to activities of daily living/physical well being
  • Wound management
  • Conditions affecting bones, joints, or muscles (orthopedics) such as ACL tears, hip dysplasia, and fractures
  • Neurologic problems like Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), and paralysis
  • Conditioning for athletes or working animals
  • Arthritis/chronic conditions, especially for older patients

It’s been found that when treatment is started early, before conditions become severe, the benefits of rehabilitation increase significantly. Continuation of rehabilitation throughout a pet’s lifetime provides ongoing benefits for increased mobility and pain control.

Who should treat my pet?

Rehabilitation can be provided by a variety of people, including veterinarians, veterinary technicians, human physical therapists, and physical therapy assistants. These individuals have completed advanced training in fields such as physical rehabilitation, acupuncture, and massage. In addition, rehabilitation therapists can be great resources for help with:

Lifestyle changes/home modifications to help with the changing needs of your pet, such as non-skid surfaces, ramps, and even modified food bowls

Assistive devices like specialized harnesses or carts to aid in keeping your four-legged family member mobile and safe

How is treatment performed?

Typically, pets benefit from a combination of therapies such as:

  • Hands-on body work or massage
  • E-stim – electrical stimulation provides pain relief as well as anti-inflammatory effects
  • Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation – aids in muscle re-education after an orthopedic or neurologic injury
  • Therapeutic Ultrasound
  • Cold Laser or Low Level Laser Therapy
  • Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Hydrotherapy – Underwater Treadmill or Therapeutic Swimming
  • Therapeutic Exercise/Passive ROM

Where can I find a physical rehabilitation therapist for my pet?

Canine Rehabilitation Institute


University of Tennessee Canine Rehabilitation Certificate Program


One of the most rewarding aspects of rehab is that you get to play a huge role in your family member’s health. The success of rehabilitation is dependent on customized home programs provided by your therapist. Your active participation can improve your pet’s recovery and well-being while strengthening your special bond with him or her.

Read more

Arthritis in Dogs

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) in Dogs

Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding physical rehab for your pet or another condition?

Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.

More articles about dog

Are you concerned about your pet?

Book a video consultation with an experienced veterinarian within minutes.

Get started
  • Low-cost video vet consultations, 24 hours a day Low-cost video vet consultations, 24 hours a day
  • Experienced, licensed vets Experienced, licensed vets
  • Over 700,000 satisfied pet owners Over 700,000 satisfied pet owners

Speak to a vet within minutes

4.9 On the App Store 3600+ reviews