Pet Physical therapy, together with a pet wheelchair, and a good nursing care program is often instrumental in bringing a pet back to walking independently.
The type and amount of therapy you are able to provide will depend on the size of your pet, what your pet will tolerate, and your available finances. While there are many excellent pet rehabilitation and therapy centers throughout the USA, Canada and abroad, these can be expensive.
We have found, after 50 years of working with mobility impaired pets, that there are few things to equal the therapeutic value of placing your pet in one of our pet wheelchairs. We recommend either renting, or purchasing, one of our K9 carts as soon as you see your pet experiencing any mobility problem. The wheelchair encourages your pet to return to walking independently. However, if your pet is unable to walk on its own, the cart will give your pet a greatly improved quality of life and make Nursing Care easier for you. Please see our comments on Rehabilitation.
While there are many different types of physical therapy, most pet physical therapy programs usually include the following:
Swimming is an excellent form of physical therapy! If you have a pool, take your pet in the pool with you. Life jackets are available from many pet and marine stores, if you would like one for your pet. Check out local vetinary pet rehabilitation centers for swimming facilities.
For smaller pets, that are not afraid of water, fill your bathtub with warm water that is deep enough to keep your pet’s paws off the bottom of the tub. Support your pet and allow it to swim with the front legs, while you move the rear legs, manually, back and forth.
For larger dogs, use a swimming pool if you have access to one. We remember once watching a Golden Retriever, who was totally paralyzed in the rear limbs and weak in the front, swim and retrieve a log out of the water. It was an amazing sight and a powerful demonstration of how buoyant and mobile we are in water versus the physical limitations we have on solid ground!
Range of Motion Exercises
It is important for your pet to retain normal range of motion in its immobile limbs. This prevents joints from becoming rigid, immovable, or frozen. If we keep the joints and limbs flexible, when a pet does regain feeling and movement, it will have every advantage for full recovery.
When doing range of motion exercises, place the pet on its side with the paw flat on your hand. Move the leg up and down towards the hip; you may want to keep one hand on the knee of a larger pet or on the hip of a smaller pet. Turn the pet over and repeat. Although your pet may have no feeling in its legs, doing this daily will help keep the limbs and joints flexible. Wheely Willy is a great example of the positive results of performing range of motion exercises and the benefits of our pet wheelchairs. He is a 20-year-old Chihuahua and has been in a K9 Carts for 17 years. His owner, Deborah Turner, has done range of motion exercises regularly with Willy over the years. When not in a cart his legs are totally lifeless, yet while in his cart his little legs move like pistons! Deborah is often asked if he really is paralyzed and will even sometimes take him out of his cart to prove the point.
- Never allow your pet to scoot around on its bottom with rear legs out at a 45-degree angle. This could cause limb deformity or damage to rear limbs and joints.
- The length of time spent in the cart depends on your pet’s physical condition. We recommend little and often.
- If your pet is paralyzed and weighs 40 pounds or less, we recommend using our Protect-A-Pet when not in the cart.