Rehabilitation Therapies

A combination of therapies are often used during a rehabilitation sessionbam-jump-original

Manual Techniques involve using hands-on techniques to affect the spine, joints, and soft tissues. The benefit of trained hands cannot be overstated for providing pain relief and mobility enhancement. Knowing where and how to use our hands is the essence of therapy and the art of our therapists. Certain massage techniques, passive and assistive stretching, and PROM (Passive Range of Motion) may be taught in addition to other techniques beneficial to your companion.

Therapeutic Exercises are a mainstay of our rehabilitation plans and are assigned for your dog based on comfort level and the goals of therapy. Therapeutic exercises are used to enhance and preserve flexibility, retrain proprioception, and strengthen the body. This result is vital to any patient, whether recovering from surgery, an injury, or to promote physical wellness. When possible, utilizing behaviors your dog is already naturally good at can be further shaped into beneficial exercises.

Specific exercise types (isometric, eccentric, concentric), frequencies, and combinations are chosen in relation to the type of tissues targeted and the stage of healing those tissues are in. At each successive appointment, the therapeutic exercise plan will be assessed and adapted to reflect the stage of healing and condition of your dog. It is imperative for you to be comfortable performing the exercise homework with your companion once you are home, so practice time is built in to our sessions.

Our therapists may also incorporate simple exercise equipment into the rehabilitation session that you can either re-create or purchase. When available, we can incorporate fitness or sport-related equipment you may already own and use with your dog to enhance the exercise plan.

Modalities are treatment tools we use to enhance what we do with our hands to affect healing and pain relief. Dual-wavelength Class IV Laser therapy, Therapeutic Ultrasound and Phonophoresis, PEMF (Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field therapy), and TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) units are often combined with therapeutic manual techniques for treatment of joints, soft tissues, and the spine. Myofascial Trigger Points may be addressed utilizing dry needling techniques with acupuncture-type needles.

These modalities should not be confused for the art of rehabilitation, but seen as an aspect of rehabilitation treatments. Laser therapy has become widely available in many practices to improve the quality of life for our companions. It may be possible and beneficial to prescribe additional laser therapy sessions with your primary care veterinarian in addition to being in an active comprehensive rehabilitation program with Skylos.

Types of Rehabilitation Therapy:

Pre-Surgical Rehab (Pre-hab)

When your companion is in need of surgical intervention, “pre-hab” will allow our therapists to obtain baseline information and initiate the learning process for both you and your dog. This option is offered ahead of time when there is less stress involved, prior to the post-op recovery period. This also allows time for your dog to meet us and become familiar with the hospital environment in a very positive way. We can initiate pain relieving therapies, teach you passive range of motion and stretching, and introduce appropriate exercises that may also be used in the post-op period. In many cases, we are able to improve comfort and strength in our patients prior to actual surgery. Having time to develop a routine, ask questions, and prepare for working with your dog prior to surgery is an option we encourage, particularly in severely compromised patients or dogs with higher levels of anxiety. This is an additional opportunity to ask questions about recovery and prepare your home and schedule as well.

Post-Surgical Rehabilitation

The goal of post-operative rehabilitation is to ensure patient comfort, maintain and promote mobility of joints and soft tissues, gradually improve strength, and return your companion to normal life with enhanced function. Once proper movement and comfort are achieved, we adjust the therapy plan to focus more on building muscle mass, gaining strength for the entire body, and re-establishing neurological connections. Therapeutic exercise plans and hands-on body work are taught and assigned as homework. We provide guidance as to when and how to transition your dog through the various stages of healing, and the types of appropriate activities to engage your dog with. Many post-op patients benefit from weekly therapy, but we adjust our recommendation of rehab intensity based upon the type of surgery performed, the patient’s comfort and rate of healing, and overall progress.

Return to Athleticism

After any injury, recovery should be followed by a transition period, prior to your companion returning to full unrestricted activity. Without proper transition, the risk for re-injury or new injury such as strains, sprains, and improper body mechanics exists. This is an aspect of the rehabilitation process that is unfortunately often overlooked, but is equally important. The length of time your companion has been benched will determine how we transition him or her back to a full activity level. The goal is to achieve maximum potential in a safe way and to address any concerns that may have led up to the injury. We are knowledgeable in various canine sports, and actively incorporate your training knowledge and consideration of your dog’s athletic demands for a customized exercise program. Part of our return-to-sport transition also includes education about proper warm-up and cool-down routines. We believe in teaching safe appropriate stretching techniques, which will also serve as a tool to help monitor how your canine athlete is feeling upon resumption of heavier activity. We are fortunate to work with very talented individuals in numerous canine sports and can provide referrals for specific sports instructors or retraining as needed. Identification of problem areas or even bad habits may aid in future injury prevention.

Special Needs Rehabilitation

Although our canine companions are inspirational in how they adapt to various physical challenges without complaint, there are often numerous ways they may benefit from rehabilitation therapies to improve comfort and quality of life. Through counseling we may identify small changes you can implement at home that bring about improvements in function for your companion, and/or the family. We have been fortunate to help dogs with various birth defects, metabolic disorders affecting the musculoskeletal system, cancer patients, trauma recovery, amputees, and more. As with all our patients, we will assess each as an individual. We will also get to know you and your family’s unique situation, to allow us to best assist YOU in helping your canine in day-to-day life.

Neurological Rehabilitation

Patience and commitment are the hallmarks of effective neurological rehabilitation. We work with dogs that have had back or neck surgery or suffered from spinal stroke, as well as non-surgical neuro-degenerative disorders such as Degenerative Myelopathy or medically managed disc disease. Although our patients come with various levels of ability and unique needs, we will work toward a common goal of maximal function and quality of life. Regardless of the type of condition you and your companion are facing together, rehabilitation therapy is vital component of recovery to provide guidance and hand-on techniques. Our team will provide you with support and encouragement, education on what to expect, and customized therapy plans.


Conditioning and fitness play an integral role in performance success and injury prevention in the canine athlete and working dog. However, dogs from all walks of life should be kept fit for optimal health. A side effect of a well-exercised dog is often a more mentally content dog as well. Our rehabilitation team will develop a gradual and do-able plan to get your dog back to a healthy weight and able to live life to the fullest (you may find yourself in a tad better shape as well). If your canine is a competitive athlete who has had time off, and needs to be fine-tuned before returning to prior activity level, we will develop a plan considering the types of movements and demands specific to your dog’s sport. When available, we like to include home exercise equipment such as thera-balls, treadmills, and swimming pools, as well as sport-specific training equipment.

Geriatric Wellness

Old age is not a disease; it is a stage of life that comes with changes and unique challenges that we can help you understand and adapt to harmoniously so that all can enjoy this special stage of life more fully. Unfortunately, often what is perceived as just slowing down may actually be a sign of pain or metabolic dysfunction/internal disease. We understand the difficulty in seeing a dog that used to sprint and jump now struggle to simply rise from the floor, or use the stairs to follow the family at bedtime, as just one of the changes that evolves with senior pets. The good news is that many of these age-associated changes can be better managed and improved. Our thorough assessments take into account physical and mental status, nutritional needs, medical needs, and activity level. We will institute gentle therapies that will provide improved quality of life, as well as instruct you on beneficial therapies to perform at home. With some seniors, less can be more in terms of the intensity of interventions, and finding a balance in the types of therapies for each unique situation is key to successful management. There is a lot of joy and bonding that occurs during this aspect of your dog’s life, and we would like to help you appreciate and optimize this experience.