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HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT PHYSIOTHERAPY?

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What is animal physiotherapy?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

Animal physiotherapy (or physical rehabilitation) is a series of non-invasive techniques that aim to improve an animal’s mobility and reduce its pain generally caused by:

  • Surgery
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Injury
  • Old 

Animal physiotherapy uses a combination of passive and active exercises that can be performed in the veterinary clinic and at home, as well as massage, hydrotherapy, laser treatment, ultrasound therapy and electrical stimulation to improve your pet’s quality of life.

How can physiotherapy help my pet?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

The benefits of physiotherapy include better joint function and range of motion, improved muscle strength, reduced pain, and accelerated healing following an injury.

When will I start to notice results?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

The results of animal physiotherapy vary significantly from one pet to the next, and also depend on many other factors such as treatment frequency, the pet’s age, weight and health, and the medications and/or supplements used in conjunction with physical rehabilitation.

What equipment do I need?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

It varies with each exercise. For some exercises, such as those involving passive full range of motion, you don’t need any equipment. It all depends on the exercises outlined by your animal physiotherapist. Here are a few commonly used accessories: foam pad, signal cones, rug, and of course, treats to reward your pet’s hard work! 

In what situation(s) could my pet benefit from physiotherapy?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

Animal physiotherapy is used in many situations where the pet’s joints have been put under considerable strain, for instance:

  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Osteoarthritis
  • An accident or injury
  • Excess weight
  • Aging
  • Intense exercise 
How can I tell if my pet is suffering or in pain?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

The first signs of discomfort in an animal may be subtle, especially in cats, and easily interpreted as “normal” signs of aging.

  • For dogs, this can mean stiffness after vigorous activity or when standing up after lying down for a long period of time, reluctance to jump into the car or onto the sofa, and less enthusiasm on walks.
  • For cats, we often see less grooming, reduced height and frequency of jumping. and soiled areas outside the litter box. Cats may also sleep less or longer than usual, avoid contact with humans or hide.
  • An animal that is limping or repeatedly licking or chewing at the joints is most certainly uncomfortable.
Will treatment be painful for my pet?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

Physiotherapy is not painful. In fact, it aims to reduce the pain experienced by your pet. Physiotherapists make sure that they adjust procedures according to the patient’s abilities. Your pet may have tired muscles after treatment – just like you would after working out! 

What types of treatments or exercises are used during physiotherapy?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

Several treatment methods may be used depending on your pet’s needs. Here are a few examples:

  • Massage and stretching
  • Aquatic treadmill
  • Passive movements
  • Therapeutic exercises
  • Laser therapy
  • Cavaletti exercises
  • Exercises on training balls  
Can I do the exercises with my dog myself?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

Of course, many of the basic exercises can be done with your pet yourself! But before you get started, it’s very important for your veterinarian or physiotherapist to show you how.
Advanced therapeutic exercises should always be carried out under the close supervision of a qualified professional.

Can physiotherapy be used to prevent pain/injuries?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

Absolutely! Physiotherapy can help to maintain joint and muscle health. It is therefore beneficial for animals that are very active, getting older or overweight. 

Can physiotherapy replace surgery?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

Sometimes, but not always. Both of these options are often complementary. This question can only be answered following a complete evaluation by a surgeon and a certified physiotherapist.

My pet just had an operation. When should I start physiotherapy?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

It depends on the type of surgery. Only your veterinarian can confirm when physiotherapy can begin. 

Who can provide physiotherapy? Is my veterinarian qualified?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

Physiotherapy programs have the best chances of success when supervised by veterinarians and technicians who are certified in this field. To become certified, these professionals have taken and successfully completed recognized training.
They may ask for your assistance in doing the exercises at home, under their supervision. Your veterinarian’s cooperation will also be helpful in monitoring your pet’s overall health.
To access the list of physiotherapists in your area, 
click here.

Will my pet need physiotherapy for the rest of its life?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

Every case is unique, so it’s difficult to predict how much physiotherapy time is needed. What we do know is that some chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis, do not heal. With an animal that is suffering, physiotherapy would therefore be beneficial for the rest of its life. The treatments and exercises, as well as the frequency of the sessions, will vary depending on the animal’s progress and health. 

How much does the treatment cost?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

The cost of treatment varies considerably and depends on your pet’s health, the proposed treatments and exercises, as well as the number of sessions recommended by the physiotherapist.

Can I attend the sessions?
Renée Charbonneau
Veterinary

In most cases, yes! In fact, this is even strongly recommended if your pet finds the treatments stressful, because your presence will be comforting.
Some programs include exercises that you can do at home. It is therefore very important that you attend the sessions so you can learn how to do the exercises with your pet.

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