Canine Rehabilitation Therapy

What is rehabilitation therapy?

Rehabilitation Therapy is the canine equivalent of physical therapy for humans. For decades, humans have benefited from physical therapy as an aid to recovery after injury or illness. The same techniques used in humans can be applied to canine patients. Rehabilitation therapy can:

  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Improve strength and range of motion
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Accelerate healing
  • Improve quality of life

Who can benefit from rehabilitation therapy?

Studies have shown that Rehabilitation therapy can help pets with a 
variety of physical challenges including:

  • Post orthopedic surgery for recovery 
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Arthritis pain relief
  • Pet weight loss
  • Neurologic diseases including weakness
  • Ruptured disks
  • Non-surgical luxating patellas or cruciate ligament injuries

Who performs rehabilitation therapy?

Dr. Teresa Hershey is Westgate Pet Clinic’s Certified Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT). She received her veterinary degree from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1998 and has been with Westgate Pet Clinic since 2001. She received her rehabilitation certification through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute in Florida in 2010.  Dr. Hershey is also a Certified Veterinary Medical Acupuncturist (CvMA).  She received her acupuncture certification from the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, Medical Acupuncture Program in 2012. 

What happens at a rehabilitation therapy visit?

At the initial consultation, Dr. Hershey will evaluate your pet and review his or her medical history. She will determine the problems that need to be addressed and help establish goals for therapy.  Then together a plan for therapy will be made for the next weeks to months, depending on the needs of your pet.  At a typical session, Dr. Hershey will send you, the owner, home with a set of exercises that you will perform on your pet at home, and often recommendations for nutritional supplements, diets or medications that may benefit your pet.  

How is Rehabilitation Therapy at Westgate different than other Rehab Clinics?

At Westgate Pet Clinic we don’t keep the pet at the clinic to perform therapy treatments.  Instead, we educate the owner on therapeutic exercises, stretches and massage techniques that they can do at home on their pet. This may or may not be the best approach for your pet.  Some pets benefit from visiting a clinic that is strictly dedicated to Canine Rehabilitation.  These clinics have additional tools, such as underwater treadmills and therapeutic lasers that may benefit your pet. For example, young, athletic dogs that are going into therapy with a lot of muscle mass may require an underwater treadmill to adequately challenge the muscles during therapy.  In addition, your pet may not be manageable at home when performing exercises on him, or you yourself may have some physical limitations preventing you from adequately executing the exercises.   Dr. Hershey can help you decide if a rehabilitation visit at Westgate Pet Clinic, or one of our referral Rehabilitation Centers is best for your pet.  

Please Note: Dr. Hershey does not perform ACL injury rehab. 

The referral hospitals that we recommend are:

The University of Minnesota Veterinary Teaching Hospital  in St. Paul

Veterinary Rehab and Conditioning Center in InverGrove Heights

Twin Cities Animal Rehab and Sports Medicine in Burnsville 

What happens at a rehabilitation therapy visit?

At the initial consultation, Dr. Hershey will perform a thorough musculo-skeletal exam on your pet and review his or her medical history. She will then create a plan for therapeutic home exercises, and often will have recommendations for nutritional supplements, diets, or medications for your pet.  A typical session lasts about 1-1.5 hours.  Your consultation includes a complimentary acupuncture session.  This will allow us to see if your pet is an “acupuncture responder” and if he or she would benefit from further acupuncture appointments.  (Click Here to learn more about acupuncture).

Quote from Dr. Hershey

“My favorite rehabilitation appointment to see is a pet that has become weak from age or disease.  There are many therapies that can be performed to improve your pet’s quality of life.  I love helping pet owners understand what is happening with their pets and what can be done to help their friends.”  

If you would like to learn more about if a rehabilitation therapy appointment at Westgate Pet Clinic is right for your pet, Dr. Hershey is happy to talk to you over the phone before your visit.  

To schedule an appointment for your pet, please Make an Appointment here.

What's Next

  • 1

    Call us or schedule an appointment online.

  • 2

    Meet with a doctor for an initial exam.

  • 3

    Put a plan together for your pet.

GI Stasis in Rabbits and Guinea Pigs