VSCR in NoVa Dog Fall 2016: Rehabbing the Way to a Better Life

In "Rehabbing the Way to a Better Life," featured in NoVa Dog Magazine's Fall 2016 issue, VSCR Medical Director Dr. Julie Wentzel outlines the many ways physical rehabilitation and pain management can and HAVE helped improve quality of life for pets of all shapes and sizes.

Here's a quick excerpt:
What to Expect
If you choose to pursue rehab, know that there are many options available to suite your pet’s needs and your schedule and budget. Here are some tips for what you can expect:

-Take your time. An initial evaluation for rehabilitation should include a thorough history; a thorough exam to evaluate for lameness, function, areas of discomfort; as well as a discussion about your goals. Therapy options and prognosis should be discussed and treatment may start.

-Do your homework. The work doesn’t stop at the door of the gym. Typically, your practitioner will send you home with a strengthening or conditioning plan with exercises for you and your pet to engage in for 30+ minutes per day in order to help your pet reach his goals. If any activity restrictions are recommended, follow them closely to avoid injury!

-Come prepared. If your pet is on pain medications, you may want to give those meds prior to your rehab appointment. But all practices are different, so be sure to ask when you call to schedule your appointment. And if your pet has a toy or a specific treat that helps to motivate or calm him, bring that along as well!

-Take it easy. In some cases, your pet may be a bit sore or tired following this appointment. Rest assured, this is totally normal. Think of your last tough workout at the gym—you pet will be feeling similarly after a good rehab session. If the soreness or sleepiness persist more than 24 hours, contact your rehabilitation practitioner or primary veterinarian.

-Forget one-size-fits-all.The best rehabilitation programs are customized to your pet’s specific needs and your goals. Many primary veterinary clinics now offer rehabilitation therapies, or you can pursue treatment at a specialized rehab center. If your pet prefers the comforts of home, a practitioner can develop an at-home program with exercises you can do in a controlled setting and work with you from afar to assess progress and make adjustments.