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Physiotherapy Month/Holistic Healing For Your Fur Kid

In today’s world more and more people are looking at their companion animals much differently than our parents and grandparents did. Even those households that loved and cherished their family dog or lap cat would not have thought to take him to a massage therapist or book an appointment for laser therapy. Today it is almost commonplace. With advancements in animal science and a deeper understanding of just what medicine and holistic practices can do to prolong not only life but health and mobility; our companion animals are living longer and better lives.

Photo Credit mikhail-nilov

Twenty years ago, there was only one veterinary practice that offered a holistic approach to animal health in our town. Today there are several clinics that offer anything from massage to acupuncture. One of the reasons our furry friends are able to live better and longer has to do with a shift in thinking about these types of services. Instead of waiting until an injury occurs, our fur kids can now benefit from prophylactic care.

As more and more people embrace and incorporate the allied health sciences into their care repertoire there is a spillover effect with our fur kids. Physiotherapy is not just for animals recovering from orthopedic surgery or degenerative diseases. Now it is being used to slow the effects of aging, keep animals moving, and treat the connective tissue that holds the bones in their proper place. If your fur kid is suffering from chronic inflammation or nerve damage physiotherapy can help to slow the effects of degenerative disease and atrophy.

What should you expect from physical therapy? What will it look like? Is it something I can do at home myself?

It takes practice and expertise to administer physical therapy properly. It is important to make sure that when you bring your fur kid for therapy that a licensed and trained professional is performing the service.

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There are a number of treatments that may be prescribed for your fur kid, for example: stretches to improve flexibility, strengthening exercises, training to re-learn tasks such as walking correctly or sitting correctly, and manual therapy techniques to improve joint mobility, help to properly align muscle fibers, reduce excess scar tissue, and facilitate proper muscle contractions. Laser therapy, administered cold or heat packs, and water therapy to reduce stress on joints while they are being exercised may also be prescribed.

Your therapist may teach you some techniques to use at home or offer a handout with illustrated exercises. In addition, your specialist may also recommend supplements and a special diet if your fur kid is getting chunky or is already suffering from arthritis.

If your veterinary practice does not offer this type of service, you should have no trouble finding a specialist near you. As a matter of fact, your vet may have someone they can recommend. No two practices are alike, so you may want to audition a few before you decide to commit to a regular schedule with any one therapist. Make sure that whomever you choose will be comfortable working with your species of fur kid, and your cat, dog, or rabbit will feel comfortable with the person who will be spending time touching and manipulating them. Having the right specialist can be the difference between a positive experience and a traumatic one.

Below is a link to the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians. You can search by state, practitioner, or even from a list of participating countries.

Photo Credit Blue Bird

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