When a dog is injured or a dog is in need of some rehabilitation, there are specialized physical therapists who can treat your dog to get better. Physical therapy for dogs has some of the same core concepts that human therapy does. You have to work on treating the joints, the damaged muscles and helping the dog learn to walk again in some cases. The overall goal is to improve the mobility of the muscles, joints and to treat trauma. There are even some classes that can help work on psychological trauma.
For example, a lot of rescue dogs usually come in with psychological trauma. Some of these dogs come from abusive homes where they’re beaten, they’re barely fed and you often see a lot of animals in these shelters with abandonment issues, so whenever they’re left alone, they go into a frenzy and will tear your furniture up.
That’s not the only reason that your dog would need therapy though. Here are some of the other reasons to seek physical therapy for your dog.
- If your dog is obese and in dire need of some physical therapy to help reduce the weight and to stop stress-eating
- As your dog gets older, some bones will start to deteriorate and it will begin to show its age and this is when physical therapy can help prolong the dog’s lifespan
- Recovering from surgery or significant injury to help the dog learn to walk properly again or make sure the wounds are healing properly
However, it’s not just dogs that go into therapy. A lot of other animals use the exact same techniques in therapy such as rabbits, horses, birds, cats and other types of domesticated animals.
How to Determine if Your Dog Needs Therapy
Sometimes, the signs and symptoms might be hard to spot, but if you notice some of the following signs, you might want to check into therapy and animal behavioral training right away.
#1 – Aggression
There are many reasons as to why a dog might start showing signs of aggression. Some dogs are aggressive towards one sex, which might indicate former abuse or abandonment by someone of that particular sex. If dogs start showing signs of aggressively barking, growling at people or other pets, trying to bite other people or pets and snapping at people, it’s time to get into a behavioral class and therapy right away.
#2 – Fear
If your dog is afraid of irrational things like its own shadow, toys, subtle noises, his own bed or things that most dogs wouldn’t normally be afraid of, your dog might need some therapy to heal through and get over whatever is causing the fear. Don’t judge a dog just because it’s scared of something you can’t understand, there may be an underlying cause or reason the dog is scared.
#3 – Boredom/Abandonment Issues
We all know the story. You go out for a few drinks that night, are only gone for a couple of hours but you come home and your couch is torn up. Believe it or not, your dog isn’t trying to make you angry and it’s not doing it just to spite you into never leaving again. This is usually a sign of an abandonment issue and extreme anxiety. Some dogs will just lay around comfortably waiting for you to come home and some will begin to panic, thinking that you’re not coming back.
Boredom is another key factor. If you own a breed like a German Shepherd that needs constant attention and physical activity, your dog might start tearing things up out of pure boredom. Again, they’re not doing it just to anger you, they actually try to avoid doing things that anger you.
#4 – Limping
Limping can be a sign of injury and since dogs can’t talk or vocalize their concerns, you have to take it to a specialized physician who can determine what’s wrong with the dog. When dogs are injured, they tend to try and avoid their owners, especially if they think they’re about to die. A dog in need of physical therapy might become distant and will limp around the house, trying to find hiding spots. My dog had the same problem, luckily I could find a dog physiotherapist in Budapest, who could help him, this is her blog.
Different Types of Canine Physical Therapy
#1 – Massage
This is the most common type of physical therapy for not only dogs but for humans as well. A lot of people don’t realize what stress can do to your body. It can create knots or hard balls in your muscle fibers which is what a massage can flatten out. This is the same concept for dogs. It’s to help stimulate muscle repair and development.
#2 – Acupuncture
This isn’t something widely used as some people are highly against it for their animals but studies have shown a lot of benefits to using acupuncture, especially in animals. The only challenge during this is getting your dog to stay still while the physician is putting a bunch of needles into them. Acupuncture helps alleviate pain and helps promote faster healing.
#3 – Exercise
When a dog is able and healthy enough, exercise is sometimes one of the best medicines that they need. These can be broken down into several areas. There are exercises that focus on getting some of their strength back, there are exercises that focus on helping their coordination and then there are some that focus solely on balance to help them get back on their feet. After head trauma or significant injury, some dogs lose their coordination and balance. Physical therapy exercise is what might be needed to get them back on their feet.
#4 – Heat Therapy
This isn’t as common as most people don’t see it worth the time or money spent but athletes in the field often use heat packs to help alleviate pain and reduce swelling after an injury. Heat packs can also be applied to animals to help reduce swelling, alleviate pain and help promote faster healing. Between heat therapy and acupuncture, it’s not quite concise as to which one is better.
There are dozens of different physical therapy techniques for your dog to get back to recovery, whether it needs mental or physical therapy.