5 Benefits of Dog Physical Therapy

dog physical therapy in Clarion, PA
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5 Benefits of Dog Physical Therapy

There are some cases where dogs may require physical therapy to make a full recovery from an injury or effectively manage a chronic illness. Though this type of treatment may seem unique for dogs, it is becoming increasingly common for several very good reasons.

You probably already know that physical therapy can help dogs recover from surgery or an injury. But what if we told you that this type of treatment can even help dogs with mobility issues and chronic conditions like arthritis? These are just some of the benefits dogs receive from physical therapy.

In this article, we will be explaining what dog physical therapy is and how dogs can benefit from it. We will also address some questions that dog owners frequently have about physical therapy for dogs. Let’s get to it!

What is Dog Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy for dogs is extremely similar to physical therapy for humans. Physical therapy works to improve a dog’s condition through specifically designed exercises and treatments. Here are just a few examples of these treatments and exercises frequently used in physical therapy for dogs.

  • Underwater treadmills
  • Carefully designed obstacle courses
  • Passive range of motion exercises (involves someone moving a dog’s joint or muscle for them)
  • Heat and cold therapy (hot and cold compresses)
  • Cold therapy lasers (work like cold therapy does but in an acute location)
  • Ultrasound therapy (uses ultrasonic waves to activate muscle movement)

What Dogs Need Physical Therapy?

There are many dogs that could benefit from receiving physical therapy. Here are just a few examples of dogs that could improve with this type of treatment.

  • Dogs recovering from surgery
  • Dogs recovering from an injury
  • Dogs with arthritic pain
  • Dogs with mobility issues
  • Dogs with cancer
  • Dogs with neurological disorders affecting their movement

If your dog is working through any of the above issues, it is a good idea to talk with your vet about your options. They may refer you to a veterinary physical therapist!

dog physical therapy in Clarion, PA

The 5 Benefits of Dog Physical Therapy

There are five main benefits to physical therapy for dogs. Most commonly, physical therapy helps dogs get through a chronic medical condition or recover from surgery or an injury. However, physical therapy can also improve a dog’s mobility issues and overall well-being. Here are the five benefits of physical therapy for dogs.

1. Physical Therapy Helps Dogs Heal From Chronic Illnesses

There are many chronic illnesses in dogs that can be partially treated with physical therapy. These conditions mainly include arthritis, neurological disorders, and some forms of cancer.

Certain forms of physical therapy, particularly underwater treadmills, can help arthritic dogs receive exercise without pain. This is because the water relieves pressure from the dog’s joints. Meanwhile, dogs with neurological disorders affecting movement could benefit from more structured exercise.

Some forms of physical therapy like cold therapy lasers have shown promise in treating certain types of cancer in dogs when combined with more traditional treatment.

2. Dog Physical Therapy Helps Them Fully Recover After Surgery

Some dogs will have some mobility issues after surgery. This is especially true if the surgery was on one of the dog’s limbs or other important parts of the body such as the back, chest, or head. If your dog is about to undergo extreme surgery, it may be a good idea to speak with your vet about physical therapy for them after the fact.

3. Physical Therapy Helps Dogs Heal From Injuries

Like surgery, extreme injuries can affect the way that a dog moves. As a result, physical therapy can be extremely therapeutic for dogs healing from an injury, and it may even be needed for them to make a full recovery. If your dog is healing from a severe injury, then it may be a good idea to speak with your vet about getting them some physical therapy.

4. Physical Therapy Prevents Dogs With Mobility Issues From Developing Muscle Loss

Some dogs will experience an issue that affects their mobility during their lifetime. Whether the dog is in a wheelchair, has arthritis, or has a neurological disorder affecting their movement, dog physical therapy can help them in many ways.

Here we will be specifically mentioning the factor of a dog’s muscle mass. When a muscle is not in use, it will atrophy over time. This will make the muscle very small and limp. Working out these muscles through physical therapy will prevent this issue from happening.

5. Physical Therapy Helps Keep Dogs Happy

In many cases, physical therapy is something that dogs get excited to go do, especially if they have a condition that affects their mobility. Physical therapy can be a fun and pain free outlet for your dog to enjoy some exercise and attention from other people.

How Often do Dogs Need Physical Therapy?

The frequency of physical therapy in dogs varies case-by-case. For example, a dog that needs physical therapy to recover from surgery will typically need physical therapy twice a week for five to ten weeks. However, this timeline will likely be different depending on what your dog needs physical therapy for.

Do You Need to See a Veterinary Specialist for Physical Therapy?

Yes, you will need to find a veterinary specialist when looking to get your dog physical therapy. Here are some certifications that a rehabilitation veterinary specialist may have.

  • American Association of Rehabilitation Practitioners (AARP)
  • Canine Rehabilitation Institute (CRI)
  • Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP)

When looking for a veterinarian to give your dog physical therapy it is always a good idea to double check that they have at least one of the certifications listed above. This will certify that the vet is knowledgeable and able to provide your dog with proper rehabilitation and care. Your general vet may be able to help you out with some referrals as well.

Do You Need a Referral to Get Your Dog Physical Therapy?

Many times, a veterinary physical therapist will require a written referral from your general vet that states that your dog requires rehabilitation treatment. However, you do not necessarily need to go with your general vet’s recommendation for a veterinary physical therapist.


Dog physical therapy can have many benefits for your dog when they are sick, injured, recovering from surgery, and more. Talk to a vet about your dog’s options for pain management and physical therapy.

If you are looking for dog physical therapy near Clarion, PA, Clarion Animal Hospital is here to help. Our veterinarians can discuss your dog’s best options for recovery from pain or illness with you and see if physical therapy is an option. Call us today at (814) 227-2603, or Request an Appointment Online!

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