Is Physical Rehabilitation right for your dog? 

Physical rehabilitation is comprised of therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, and several therapeutic modalities that can help with improving mobility in pets and decreasing pain.

Therapeutic exercises may involve increasing flexibility and strength, maintaining balance and proprioception and in general preparing a plan with long term goals for each individual patient. Your veterinary rehabilitation practitioner will teach you exercises for your dog or cat specific to your pet’s individual needs and prescribe a home exercise program for your pet.

Manual therapy often involves different massage techniques, joint mobilizations, passive range of motion and stretching that will help improve joint motion and also help with pain. Your rehab practitioner will identify areas with trigger points, decreased range of motion and prescribe passive range of motion exercises, teach you certain massage techniques and stretching that can all be incorporated as part of your home exercise program with your dog or cat.

Therapeutic modalities are cryotherapy, heat therapy, pulse electromagnetic field (PEMF), transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)/neuromuscular electrical stimulation, laser, extracorporeal shockwave therapy, etc.

The underwater treadmill or pool for hydrotherapy is often a great form of therapeutic exercise. We will be happy to refer you to facilities that have this equipment if your rehab practitioner feels your pet would benefit from this form of exercise.

Great Falls Animal Hospital (GFAH) is now able to provide our patients with a range of rehabilitation options mentioned above. Your rehab practitioner will decide what is best suited for your pet.

A brief description of the therapeutic modalities offered by GFAH:

Cryotherapy/Ice packs:

Cooling therapy or ice packs are often used to decrease inflammation or reduce blood flow to the area of inflammation thus decreasing pain signals from injury to the brain. This is often effective after orthopedic surgery or even after exercise in an arthritic dog. Please contact your veterinarian prior to applying an ice pack to your pet for detailed instructions.

Heat packs:

Heat increases blood flow to an area, reduces muscle spasms and provides a soothing sensation. Animals with arthritis can often benefit from applying a warm pack to painful muscles. Please consult with your veterinarian before applying heat packs.

Pulse electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF):

Every cell in our body has its very own electromagnetic field. When cells are damaged the electrical gradient is disrupted and this alters the electromagnetic field in the body. PEMF therapy has been shown to help restore normal electromagnetic field in the body by tiny micro pulses or bursts that do not damage the cell membrane but decrease pain and inflammation and stimulate healing of the damaged tissue.


Transcutaneous nerve stimulation or electric muscle stimulation applies a current to the body that stimulates nerve endings that transmit sensations to the spinal cord. The tingly sensation of the TENS is recognized by the brain instead of the dull pain associated with arthritic pain. It is used for pain relief which is another non-pharmaceutical adjunct for pain management.

If you found the above information helpful and would like to schedule a physical rehabilitation consult to learn more, please do not hesitate to give us a call!