Post-Op and Injury

“I believe that in the near future, failing to refer a patient for physical therapy will amount to malpractice” – 1959 HA Apfelbach, MD Director of Orthopedics, Rush Presbyterian Medical Center, Chicago, IL

Rehabilitation has been standard post-operative procedure for humans for over 50 years, but is relatively new to the veterinary field. Our post-operative pets have previously been told to ‘cage rest’ for 6 weeks or more and now we understand how much that can work against the healing process. Through post-operative rehabilitation, your pet can recover normal function more quickly and be engaged through the process of recovery instead of being cooped up in a confined space.

  • Cruciate disease and injury: The cruciate ligament helps to stabilize the knee joint. When this ligament is torn or injured, a dog or cat will typically experience lameness in one or both of the rear limbs. While we cannot replace this ligament, there are several surgical procedures to help stabilize the knee. We do not perform these procedures, but will work with your pet after surgery to help them recover as quickly as possible. Therapies such as hydrotherapy (underwater treadmill) allow your pet to continue exercising which helps reduce muscle atrophy and expedites the recovery process. The warm water in the treadmill is soothing to the injured area and the buoyancy of the water helps alleviate any strain on the knee joint that can compromise surgical success. If your pet has a medical condition that prevents surgical repair or if the ligament is only partially damaged then we can treat exclusively with rehab therapies.
  • Medial patellar luxation: This congenital condition is common in some of our smallest patients. Does your adorable poodle have a little skip in his step? This can be a sign of medial patellar luxation (MPL) in which the patella, or knee cap, pops out of place. In severe cases, surgicalrepair is needed to correct the problem and enable your pet to walk normally. We can help in the post-operative phase to speed up the recovery process. In less severe cases, we can help strengthen the associated muscles and potentially eliminate the need for surgical repair.
  • Fracture repairs: Has your pet suffered a fall or other traumatic event that resulted in fracture? Once your surgeon has given the all clear we can begin to rebuild the atrophied muscles commonly seen after such an injury using a combination of rehabilitation therapies and modalities.
  • Tendon/muscle injuries: Veterinary medicine has long overlooked the importance of muscles and tendons, instead focusing on bones and joints because they are easy to feel and diagnose with radiographs (X-rays). Because of this, tendon and muscle injuries tend to be the most overlooked musculoskeletal injury in our pets and athletes today. Our rehab therapists have undergone specialized training that focuses on injuries to muscles and tendons and thus can create a targeted program to help those tissues heal quickly. LASER and ultrasound therapies may be used to alleviate pain and decrease tissue inflammation. In addition, manual therapies typical of human physical therapy can have incredible (and often even immediately visible) positive effects for our canine patients.
  • Amputation: While dogs and cats with three legs do great and can lead fully functional lives, they can suffer later in life from joint issues such as osteoarthritis. When a limb is lost, pets learn quickly how to adjust their gait and movement. This change in movement can have a tremendous impact on the remaining three legs. Maintaining core muscle strength and balance through a foundation in rehabilitation therapies can help reduce the impact of these changes.
  • Back pain, IVDD (intervertebral disc disease), Lumbosarcal disease, Wobbler’s disease: At some point in their lives, many pets will suffer from a neck or back injury. Dogs and cats may not lift heavy objects but their tendency to jump and their four-legged stance places a lot of strain on their spinal column from their neck to their tail. Because of this, veterinarians see a variety of related diseases such as IVDD, Lumbosacral disease, Wobbler’s disease, and back pain. These conditions can result in symptoms from pain to complete paralysis. We offer a variety of therapies that can help restore function and comfort to patients both before and after any surgical procedures that may need to take place.
  • FCE (fibrocartilaginous embolism): This neurological condition is commonly referred to as a ‘spinal stroke’ and can result in complete paralysis of one or more limbs. Pet can recover from the debilitating disease but often require intensive therapy and care to regain full function. Treatments from passive range of motion exercises and E-stim to help combat muscle atrophy and maintain joint health to intense therapies design to help retrain the muscles and nerves all designed to get him/her walking again.

Office Hours

Monday: Closed

Tuesday: 9:00am to 6:00pm

Wednesday: 9:00am to 6:00pm

Thursday: 10:00am to 7:00pm

Friday: 9:00am to 6:00pm

Saturday: 8:00am to 2:00pm

Sunday: Closed

*Lunch is from 1-2pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 2-3pm on Thursday


To make the best use of your initial consultation time, please complete the applicable form at least 24 hours prior to your appointment. If you prefer to wait until you arrive at Vet REC, please arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled appointment time.