Moist Heat And Cold Therapy For Canines
After your dogs surgery it is important to understand what kinds of exercise and therapy you should be doing with your dog.
Hands down the best thing to do is to seek out an established canine rehabilitation facility. By doing so you can ensure that you will receive the best and most individualized treatment for your dog.
Unfortunately, there are several reasons why people do not go for canine rehab therapy after surgery.
Below lists a few of these reasons:
Which ever applies to you it is OK. You don’t need to feel as if you are stranded and unable to provide the “best” for your dog. If possible we still would strongly recommend at least getting an initial evaluation performed by a certified canine rehabilitation expert.
With that being said there is a light at the end of the tunnel and TopDog Rehabilitation is here to provide you with the plan for your dogs recovery.
Therapy Modalities You Will Learn:
Dog Icing: Learn how to effectively ice your dog after surgery. Icing is so incredibly important but so under utilized when it comes to helping our pets heal after injury.
Dog Moist Heat Therapy: Like Icing, moist heat therapy is also completely underutilized. This incredible simple therapy which you can do at home, promotes increased blood flow to the surgery site therefore promoting increased healing time.
Dog Massage: You don’t have to be an expert at massage to effectively soothe and promote healing through the power of touch. In addition this can be an incredible stress reliever for both you and your dog.
Dog Passive Range of Motion: This another hallmark of post-surgical recover but for many can be a difficult concept to grasp. Learning how to perform this properly is the key to success.
Dog Stretching: We all know how beneficial stretching can be especially after major orthopedic surgery. Learning how to perform this therapy effectively and safely though is extremely important.
Even if you are planning on taking your dog to a canine rehabilitation facility, educating yourself first about what is available and how you can assist in helping your dog is the key to a successful and safe recovery.
Could Physical Therapy Improve Your Dog’s Mobility?
By Dr Karen Becker
Animal rehabilitation (physical therapy) had its start in the 1960s as horse racing and other equine events grew in popularity. More events meant more injured horses, and owners and trainers began to seek rehabilitative veterinary services for their animals.
Canine physical therapy became commonplace in Europe in the 1980s and interest here in the U.S. started to grow a decade or so later.
Today, rehabilitation is the fastest growing arm of veterinary medicine. There are now 17 veterinary colleges in the U.S. offering instruction in canine rehabilitation, and over 300 people were certified as therapists in 2008. The number of veterinary practices offering rehab services is also growing rapidly.
Dr. Becker's Comments:
One of the main forces behind the rising demand for canine rehab services are dog owners with an awareness of the benefits of physical therapy for their pets, and an expectation their neighborhood veterinarian will be able to provide this type of care. The growing popularity of canine agility trials and sports like Flyball are also adding to the need for physical therapy for dogs that compete. Local and federal governments who use highly-trained service dogs are also learning the advantages of rehab for their canine workers, including police and search and rescue dogs.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of the potential of rehab to improve the lives of dogs, but a short list of the benefits of canine physical therapy includes:
The Goal of Rehabilitation
The purpose of physical therapy is to help the patient, whether human or canine, regain functional ability, optimize movement of all body parts, and improve quality of life. If you have a dog that has undergone surgery, for example, the role of rehabilitation and in particular water therapy can prove invaluable. Studies indicate your pet’s muscles will begin to atrophy within just a day or two after an injury or surgery. If rehab is not started immediately, the area of the wound or injury will show increased swelling due to lack of movement. There can also be loss of muscle control, decreased stability in joints, and increased stiffness of tendons and muscles. Normal weight-bearing activities that would arrest and reverse these conditions often can’t be allowed for weeks postoperatively. But your dog can begin physical therapy in a pool right away.
Underwater treadmills are an excellent way to make use of your injured pet’s natural functional activities like walking, trotting and running. An underwater treadmill takes advantage of your dog’s natural gait patterns which helps improve his range of motion after an injury or surgery.
At the same time, the water provides gentle resistance, which helps build and maintain his muscle strength.
Is My Dog a Candidate for Physical Therapy?
The need for rehabilitation in the canine population is quickly evolving from primarily post-operative cases to include a wide range of disabling conditions seen in working and performance dogs, agility dogs and family pets.
Canine rehab services and modalities have expanded to include dogs who suffer from a wide range of functional disabilities, including:
Canine rehabilitation specialists typically work with your veterinarian to tailor a program to fit your dog’s specific therapy needs. A course of rehabilitation can be as short as two visits or as long as three weekly visits for three months. Sessions are generally an hour, and progress is carefully documented at each visit. Your pup will also receive homework in the form of exercises and other milestones to accomplish between visits.
Types of Rehabilitation Therapies Available
Manual therapies including exercise, joint mobilization, therapeutic stretches and massage, typically performed by certified rehabilitation practitioners highly skilled in these techniques.
Strength, coordination, flexibility and balance therapies use tools like rocker and wobble boards, physioballs, therapy bands and Cavaletti poles. “Unbalancing” exercises like walking on irregular surfaces help your dog learn where her feet are in space and how to keep from falling over with changes in body position.
Aquatic therapy using underwater treadmill and swimming. The buoyancy of water takes pressure off your dog’s injured or painful joints. Water therapy also improves your pet’s cardiovascular health, muscle strength and range of motion. Swimming uses natural canine motions to improve mobility.
Cryotherapy is the use of cold packs to reduce pain and inflammation, and decrease both surface and deep tissue bleeding.
Heat therapy uses heat packs or warm, moist towels, to decrease pain and inflammation and speed healing.
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is a therapeutic ultrasound device that transmits high-energy sound waves through your dog’s skin. This causes soft tissues to vibrate and generate heat, increasing blood flow, oxygen and nutrients to internal injuries and wounds. ESWT can break down scar tissue, reduce swelling and inflammation and muscle spasms. It has been used successfully to improve conditions including fractures, tendon and ligament injuries, hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis.
Low-level laser therapy is used to improve wound healing, reduce post-trauma swelling, and facilitate long lasting pain relief by stimulating the release of your dog’s own pain killing chemicals like endorphins.
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) is low-volt electrical stimulation of motor nerves to cause muscle contractions. Contraction/relaxation of your dog’s muscles can help to improve musculoskeletal and vascular conditions.
A Brighter Future for Injured and Disabled Dogs
Your canine companion was born to move. Walking, running, playing, swimming -- these are things she longs to do but can’t if she’s not healthy and fit. Without the ability to move around comfortably, exercise and explore the world, the quality of your pup’s life suffers. Canine rehabilitation is an exciting, evolving area of veterinary medicine that holds great promise for restoring the health and mobility of physically compromised dogs.
Amazingly Simple and Effective Pain Relief for your Dog
Heat and cold have been used for relieving pain in both dog health care and human health care. These methods work with acute stages, with chronic conditions and with inflammatory disorders. Using heat and cold at different stages of the injuries development are one of the most effective treatments for pain control. Nothing else is as safe, as easy to use, and as free from side effects and as cost effective.
Using these methods has two different effects on the dog. The first one is temporary and the second one is more long lasting. Using cold applications will constrict the blood vessels and numb the nerve endings. This relieves the pain and brings about a lasting dilation of the vessels. Using heat will dilate the blood vessels first, and cause the nerve endings to be soothed. This further causes the tissues to be relaxed.
To use water applications, following the correct temperature is important. These temperatures are shown below:
The more extreme the temperature that is used, the less amount of time it is applied. More moderate temperatures can be used for longer periods of treatment. A short time of application would be from 15 to 60 seconds. The average duration would be two minutes. A longer treatment would be from three minutes to 10 minutes, the longest generally being 30 minutes.
In the recovery phase of an injury, there are three phases; the acute, the sub-acute and the chronic. During the first 24 hours after an injury use cold immediately. This is the acute stage and the cold will help stop hemorrhaging in the tissues while reducing swelling.
The sub-acute stage is between 24 and 72 hours and generally the injury has stabilized by then. This is when you would perform a vascular flush, which consists of alternating cold and heat applications, but always finishing with cold.
Once past 72 hours, you are in the chronic stage. At this time you would use heat to increase the blood circulation and loosen the tissues. If it is an old injury flaring up, use cold to numb the nerve endings and reduce the swelling and inflammation. This application is used in tendonitis, bursitis, and arthritis to control any inflamed tendons and joint structures.
There are various devices for use in cold therapy. There are leg wraps with Velcro containing chemical ice bags, and leg boots that can be filled with cold water. A simple and cost effective measure is a plastic baggie filled with crushed ice and cold water, wrapped up in a towel and applied to the area. Another useful technique is a towel wrung out in cold water kept in the freezer or fridge, and used when needed.
Heat is used in numerous applications in dog health care. The applications used vary from ultrasound, laser, heating lamps and water. Moist heat is far more effective than dry heat because it penetrates the body better. Heat performs so many actions from raising the body temperature, stimulating the metabolism, relieving stiffness in older dogs, to controlling pain in acute injuries. Heat helps in the recovery stages as well as in the regular maintenance and preventative regime.
Methods of heat applications that can be quite easily utilized are a hot water bottle, and hot towels covered in plastic. These are two very economical methods to use. Electric heating pads are not recommended because of the potential shock hazard from chewing or urinary incontinence. To reduce the risk of your dog overheating, no more than 20 minutes in duration of heat should be applied.
Heat and cold therapy is a very effective and great way to help your older dog from the pain of arthritis, or recovery from an injury. Arthritis in dogs has been helped amazingly from the use of heat and cold applications. If it has been used for centuries on humans and is now being applied on our canine friends, it has obviously proven to be a worthwhile treatment. Check out the possibilities with your own precious canine companion. You never know what astounding results you will see!
About the Author
Helga Schmitt has been passionately studying and researching dog health, physiotherapy and rehabilitation hands on for the past 20 years. Her keen interest in health and healing motivated her to become a Chartered Herbalist and also obtain a degree in Nutrition and Advanced Holistic Nutrition. She furthered with a Certificate in Homeopathy and continues to study various healing modalities to this day. She is a Certified and Registered Canine Hydrotherapist. Her research, past and current studies and experience, have her striving to educate dog owners that there are numerous ways to achieving and maintaining optimum health for your pet. For more information on helping with your dog’s pain from arthritis or cancer, check out her best selling book, “The Ultimate Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy Guide for Dogs.”