Canine Rehabilitation for Senior pets with Osteoarthritis

Goal 1- Improve the range of motion of the joints

The more the angle of flexion and extension are comfortable, the more at ease is the dog to walk.

Q: How do you tell a dog to flex and extend and stretch their legs?
A: Series of exercise that make them flex and extend more their legs

  1. PROM. Passive range of motion
  2. Cavalletti rail
  3. Walk uphill, downhill, on the side of an inclined ground
  4. Stair climbing or ramp climbing. Careful not to flare up the inflammation

Goal 2- Prevent muscle atrophy and gain muscle strengthening

Muscles around joints make them more steady.

Q: How to increase muscles without triggering inflammation and make it worse?
A: Series of exercise with low impact, short and often rather than long from time to time.

  1. Sit and stand exercise.
  2. Walking slowly, short 10 min twice a day better than 1h during the weekend.
  3. Walking in water as buoyancy supports the body and it avoids the hard impacts on the ground. Swimming requires fast leg movement and can easily flare up inflammation so be careful. Use a dog lifejacket to avoid panic, and getting tired too quickly.
  4. The BIKO System. A brace with elastic bands between hock and harness. It helps in strengthening the hind legs.
  5. Diet. Overweight make it worth.

Goal 3 – Improve balance and agility

Because your dog is stiff, losing vision and walking through the slippery kitchen floor to reach his bowl of water became a challenge.

Q: How to compensate for the loss of these abilities?
A: Improve proprioception and core muscle

  1. Adapt the home environment with rugs and ramps. Ease access to food, water, and the pet bed.
  2. Adapt your dog with gripping socks/dog boots.
  3. Series of exercises with wobbly cushion, board, pad
  4. Series of exercises of weight shifting.

Goal 4 – Pain management

For a better quality of life of course

Q: But when do you start medication and which ones?
A: Ask your veterinarian what is the level of pain of your dog.

You are in charge but your vet is here to guide you with their experience and knowledge and to get a precise diagnosis.

  1. Joints supplement to bring more nutriment to the joints
  2. Joints support/wraps: wrist brace, hock brace, stifle brace, harnesses with handles.
  3. Massage: Dogs love it. Great for the animal/human bond. Easy to learn. Break down muscle spasms from chronic pain.
  4. Thermal therapy: Hot pack before exercise on muscles. Cold pack after exercising on joints.
  5. Drugs: anti-inflammatory and morphinic. Few days when in crise or continuous but need blood monitoring.
  6. High-Intensity Laser Therapy (K-Laser): It uses certain wavelenghts of the light to stimulate cells. Similar to photosynthesis, cells accept energy from light in order to produce their own energy. It has an anti-inflammatory effect, is a wonderful painrelief and improves healing and tissue repair. It cost between $35 to $50 per session. Some vets offer package of 6 or 10 sessions. A typical protocol is three times 1rst week then twice the second week then once a week to once a month for maintenance.