Rolling Hills Pet Hospital believes animal physical therapy is a safe, effective treatment that can be used for a variety of conditions:
by KAI OLIVER-KURTIN | San Diego Pets
After bringing their 8-week-old Rottweiler, Kuma, home from a breeder, Debora and Michael Stacker thought they’d spend the rest of their days chasing after their big, playful puppy. As luck would have it, about a year and half later the Stackers found themselves sleeping on the couch, taking care of Kuma after he underwent corrective surgery for Wobbler disease, caused by stenotic lesions in his neck. Still having trouble walking after surgery, the Stackers enlisted the help of Pet Physical Therapy of San Diego to help Kuma when his progress began to plateau. After just four weeks of physical therapy, Kuma now bolts into the clinic for his biweekly visits without requiring any assistance.
Kuma is one of many dogs who has benefited from physical therapy after neurology, surgery or injury threatened their movement, and ultimately their quality of life.
“In human medicine, physical therapy is almost automatic when scheduling surgery—the two are married,” said Lisa Draper, registered veterinary technician and certified canine rehabilitation assistant. “Animals’ natural instinct is to bounce back, because if they’re weak then they’ll fall to prey.”
“They will survive without physical therapy but will be enhanced with it,” said Draper. “They’ll prevent further injury, and recover quicker and better with rehab.”
Pet Physical Therapy of San Diego offers rehabilitative and corrective exercises, acupuncture, stretching and massage, heat and cryotherapy, hydrotherapy, laser therapy, weight management and neuromuscular electrical stimulation.
“Pet physical therapy is very similar to the human practice of using therapeutic exercises to rehab,” said Draper. “It’s a very rewarding experience for both me and the dogs. They really look forward to the interaction and exercise—just like they came to play.”
Draper has been in the veterinary field for 20 years. After the last few years as a surgery technician, she saw how much animals could benefit from the rehabilitative process during their recovery, and decided to focus more closely on physical therapy.
“Kuma is one of our success stories,” said Draper. “In May he was carried in on a stretcher and couldn’t stand or walk, but we used a sling to hoist him up and get him going on the underwater treadmill. Now he runs into the office.”
In January, Kuma wouldn’t walk down stairs or exit cars on his own. After a hike with his owners, the instability of his back legs was exposed. The lesions in Kuma’s neck were pinching nerves that would never correct themselves naturally. Steroids provided temporary relief but he would have to become dependent on them for the duration of his life. After deciding on surgery, the Stackers had a hard time watching Kuma lay around motionless; having to carry him outside for bathroom breaks and provide 24-hour supervision. Today he is a new dog.
“Kuma has blossomed,” said Debora Stacker. “He wouldn’t be where he is today if it weren’t for Pet Physical Therapy of San Diego. They’ve given us very valuable tips and explained everything in great detail. Therapy has been a special treat for Kuma; it has really pulled him out of a rut and boosted his spirits.”
Pet Physical Therapy of San Diego is located at 2260 Otay Lakes Road in Chula Vista. For more information, visit www.petphysicaltherapysandiego.com.