What is Rehabilitation and Conditioning for Animals? (Rehabdeb, RehabRevolution)

Animal Rehabilitation, Pet Rehab, & Canine Sport Conditioning

Rehabilitation and Conditioning for Animals provides science-based functional rehabilitation, wellness conditioning, nutrition counseling, and athletic training for all ages and stages of companion animals in collaboration with veterinarians while also engaging community and worldwide participation in programs that benefit the human-pet experience.

What You ‘ll Find on This Site –

  • programs for pets for after surgery and conservative treatment programs to use instead of surgery
  • programs that you may do at home, in a standard clinic, or elsewhere
  • a lot of work for you to do with your pet
  • first-hand details about programs I have developed and used as well as information about results
  • pros and cons of rehabilitation I have discovered in my years of practice in veterinary rehab (see clients I’ve helped)
  •  programs designed by a professional certified in several disciplines related to conditioning, recovery, and strength (this is important because there is a lot of bad information on the web about how to rehab a pet, even though most of it is well-intended)
  •  pet rehab = principles of exercise science + neuroscience + clinical medicine

How Are These Programs Different?

My programs are based on over four decades of my having participated in, worked in, and created programs in human sport science, nutrition, and medical recovery. They are also based on my experiences working hands-on with veterinary specialists, and sitting in on medical, neurological, and surgical specialty evaluations of patients.

I design these programs so that almost anyone may use them at home or in a standard veterinary clinic. You may do all rehabilitation on pets in the home environment in most cases.

Why Did You Create Different Programs?

I professionally began small animal veterinary pet rehab in 2004. At that time there were no standard, concise, systematic, and progressively oriented rehabilitation programs available on the web or that I could find in publications.

I had hoped to find programs based on exercise physiology and recovery principles like those I already had experience using for athletes. I wanted them to exist already so that I could follow-up on specifics that also interest me. I’d like to investigate breed recovery differences and give more complementary rehab care for veterinary cancer patients.

Over the years, I have ended up developing and using the types of programs I thought would already exist for small animal medicine and recovery. I figured they already existed, in part because I was used to systematic programs from human exercise physiology science and in equine science.  

May Anyone Use These Programs?

These programs mean a lot of work for you. Your work should be successful if you follow the recommendations I give. 

I have shared my rehabilitation protocol with many pet healing groups, veterinary clinics, trainers, boarding facilities, and specialty hospitals. I have shared rehab programs in person, on the phone, and on many internet platforms over the years (remember MySpace?).

You Don’t Need to Have a Certification to do Successful Rehabilitation on Your Own Pet!

There are a couple of standard courses of pet rehabilitation in use in veterinary medicine. None of these teaches practitioners foundations in exercise science and exercise physiology-based recovery.

My programs use a combination of a small amount of clinic-type rehab and a large dose of recovery science. I’ve pulled over athlete recovery methods from the “human” side and successfully applied them to the veterinary side of rehab.

My rehab work is designed to teach you how to work with your pet and gain success in recovery

In addition, I have certifications in pet massage, canine rehabilitation, human strength and conditioning, and wilderness medicine, to name a few. I use information from a wide variety of experiences to help pets recover or to improve sporting conditioningMore here…

 

Nside Texas MD Rehabilitation and Conditioning for Animals Article by Heather Daniels

Other “Official” Information –

Check out my semi-updated profile on  LinkedIn

We discuss lots of issues on this site, so I recommend you look through the Q&A. Please use the search box to find specific topics. More info about how to get the most out of this site is on this page, How Do I Find Help For My Pet on This Site?.

Rehabilitation and Conditioning for Animals is subject to guidelines overseen by the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME).  Therefore, I do require that your pet has recently gone to their veterinarian for acute issues. Additionally I require that your pet’s veterinarian has evaluated your pet within the past year for any chronic issues. I also need to be able to communicate with your pet’s regular veterinarian about the issues I will be addressing.

I do not need a referral from a veterinarian to begin rehabilitation work with you and your pet. The TBVME does not require a referral for me to work with your pet on sport training and conditioning.

After my consults, I direct clients to be in communication with their regular vet to discuss medications, signs & symptoms, and collaborative treatments. Your pet does need to go to their veterinarian if they have a new medical issue the vet hasn’t seen.

Thank you for visiting and I believe you will find useful information for you and your pet!

Rehabdeb

Originally Published February, 2015 and Updated April 14, 2018

4 Month Old Pup Too Active After Spay

Q & A –

Is your spayed pup active? Your newly altered pup bouncing off the walls?

The following question came from a long-time client who occasionally texts to me. My response was given while I was on the road, voice texting concise answers back to her.

After our text exchange, below, I’ll give a few extra thoughts, and here are some more pointers!

Question –

“Hey, I have a friend with a 4 mo old pup who just got spayed. She keeps jumping around and opening the wound. Any ideas to get her tired?” 

Dog caught by the belly in the window blinds
Didn’t Mean to Get Caught in the Blinds. This is NOT the dog mentioned in this post, btw!

Answer –

“:-) Hey! Is she using a harness only and keeping her restricted in a crate or a penned area or restricted with the harness?

All walks should be in a harness with a snug leash, no leeway, restricted always, & also potty on tight leash, 5-10 min out (then back in), & follow the recovery for first four weeks after surgery. Do not walk more, not longer & not dozens of times.

Capillaries need to heal and they won’t do that if she keeps getting her blood pressure up (playing). Splitting the stitches or staples is a secondary problem cuz the stitches are in place so that the tissue can heal, and all the activity is going to tear the healing tissue and open up the healing capillaries.”

Her Response –

Response to my response: “She’s keeping her in a crate. She has a donut (e-collar), but I don’t think she’s keeping her on a leash in the house.”

Further Discussion –

This is a question based on a situation I encounter *all* the time. Pets very often tear out stitches and staples, in many ways and for many reasons.

If a pet you know that has had surgery has torn out their stitches, staples, butterfly bandages, etc, then that pet will need to have the wound(s) and incision(s) inspected and may need to have the stitches replaced. That advice is the smartest I can easily give on this website.

There are many different issues a medical practitioner will be looking at depending on the type of surgery the pet had. This means you should probably just go to the vet and not take a poll of your friend’s and family’s opinions first. If your veterinarian told you at the last visit that you didn’t need to return if the pet tore out the stitches again, then perhaps you don’t need to go. However, if you were told that you didn’t need to return yet you see blood coming from any area, I recommend you have the area evaluated medically.

The pet caretaker mentioned in this Q&A text was returning to the vet for care, to my knowledge. So, the question that they came up with was how to tire the pup so she quit busting her stitches.

Pets can get very excited –

small white plastic open top pen for pets
Small Crate for Bedroom

This is why my simple post-surgical instructions work. I recommend the harness, etc, as I did in my answer, above. Use restrictions. Follow the four-week post-op plan in my booklet. All of this helps keep your pet from damaging their healing areas and encourages healing.

I recommend, in addition to what I’ve already said, to give all pain medications as the veterinarian prescribed them. Please double-check the medication labels. I do that for people when I am in-person at an appointment. You might be surprised at how often people are making mistakes with the medications. Make a chart or record that details when you give the medications.

Positive Vibes –

Follow the restrictions with a good attitude toward them and pass along a “positive vibe” to your pet. Animals pick up on our emotions. I often need to discuss with clients that their feeling sorry for their pet is rubbing off and they need to switch to praise and encouragement with a “normal” tone and voice. More of a “move along, nothing to see here…” attitude, with empathy instead of pity.

Pets feel the worry and pity that their people feel toward them. Often the pet will worry about their people. That usually makes the pet seem “worse”, and the people worry about the pet worrying about the people. In my experience, dogs and people do this cycle more than cats and people do.

I explain more in my booklets about the positive benefits of restriction plus the right kinds of exercise for recovery. “The right kinds of exercise” includes progressive work that is relative to healing and includes many restrictions. I have found that if people restrict themselves or their pets as I urge them to do plus take their pet on specific outings, for potty or rehab work, the people end up doing a lot more attention-giving activities with the pet. This helps the pet to stop being so crazy or anxious in the house during recovery.

I intend to write more on the psychology of how we humans mess with our pets in other posts.

Bottom line –

In this case, the dog doesn’t need exercises to tire her out. In fact, as I’ve said, that will open healing capillaries. Too much exercise obviously caused other problems, too.

This pup and others like her need to start with a structured recovery plan which includes a lot of restrictions.

Rehabilitation is available for every condition known to mess up our bodies. Every injury and surgery should have a rehabilitation plan. No one needs the water treadmill for most surgeries or injuries, and we don’t want or need to put a newly spayed pup into a water treadmill. What’s can you do? Recovery in a fairly controlled atmosphere and a thoughtfully crafted work program.

Cheers!

Rehabdeb, April 7, 2018

If you would like advanced or personalized exercises, then please contact me for a consult. There is a contact form at the bottom of this page <<Click on link . Use this form if you would like to schedule a paid phone or in-person consult with me for rehabilitation for your pet.

 

Rehab for Pet Surgery – 3 Steps

 

Spaniel dog with plastic Elizabethan collar on her

Jicky the Spaniel in the E-Collar after FHO

A quick bit of info for you after your pet has had surgery.

I do work on lots of cats and a variety of other animals. If you want to know more about cat specifics now, please search for cat in the search box. I’m still working on developing the cat information pages.

For more specific info on a particular condition, please refer to the menus at the top of the page. If you do not see what you are looking for, please use the search box on any  page.

If the injury is a torn knee ligament, then please click here to read more info about that condition. After that, please go to the instructions on this page!

“My pet just had surgery…
…and now that I’ve gotten them home, I realize I’m not really sure what to do!!”

First and foremost:  pay attention to the discharge instructions your veterinarian has given you if your pet just had surgery or you have received instruction about an injury.  Please pay special attention to the part about no running, jumping, or playing. You and your pet will be doing good work for recovery if you exactly follow my booklet instructions.

If your veterinarian did not say so, please note there should not be any flying over couches, no galloping on stairs, no jumping into or out of cars and trucks,  no jumping onto couches or your bed, no jumping off of couches or beds, no twisting very fast in tight circles, no sliding on ice or slippery floors, and no freedom in and out of doggie doors.  No owner jumping out from behind things to scare the dog into running crazy funny around the house like you sometimes like to do.

No running really means no running…

…to the door when the doorbell rings, no running away from Halloween costumes, no running from one end of the house to the kitchen every time the fridge or a plastic bag is opened, no running to you when you yell to ask the dog if it wants to go outside, no kitty running from anything right after surgery, and no running inside after the ball, which is very similar to no running outside after the ball. No, no swimming until at least eight weeks after surgery and then only if no lameness is present at a slow walk.

DO work on the protocol below and the info contained in the instruction booklet.

1) Here are guidelines to follow for the first four weeks after surgery:

I currently have published one book to help your pet through four progressive weeks of recovery after any surgery.

Guidelines for Home Rehabilitation of Your Dog: After Surgery for Torn Knee Ligament: The First Four Weeks, Basic Edition

This book is specifically addressing surgery after a torn knee ligament. Until I am able to publish the books I am working on that deal with soft tissue surgeries, hip issues, other knee issues, elbows, spinal issues and more, this book will be very helpful to you for the first four weeks of recovery if your dog has had one of these other surgeries.

This book has the information, restrictions and advice I would give after almost any surgery. If you follow the restrictions and the practical applications in the booklet, your pet should do well and recover progressively if there are no additional issues.  These restrictions will match a lot of what your vet surgeon gave you to follow after surgery.

My recommendations are based on decades of information we have in human sports medicine recovery. These methods matches up very well how your pet thinks and moves and behaves. This program matches up scientifically with how the body recovers.

These instructions incorporate steps  for functional recovery, so there is a LOT more structured and guided info in the book. The links to the book I made for this page will take you to Amazon. You may order the book from any bookstore using the ISBN.

I also have info elsewhere on this site about cats and surgery. Cats aren’t small dogs. Unless your cat will walk on a leash, which some do very well, I recommend looking at this page for now.

So, the following book will help you calmly and methodically approach recovery from your pet’s surgery. The book will guide you to establish a functional base of activity.  You have to build a good base to help recovery and to of avoid additional injury. This is only the base. I have more strengthening programs and other drills for you to do to return your pet to a rambunctious lifestyle.

A good recovery plan helps guard against future or further injury, especially in the opposite limb! I am very happy to report that people and dogs that follow both this and the non-surgical program for 12 weeks do not end up with the other knee ligament tearing. It’s all a matter of balancing the work. I design programs based on decades of experience with exercise physiology recovery principles.  My programs also help encourage people being connected to their pets!


Amazon

Books are also available on Barnes and Noble and you should be able to order them from any bookseller, especially if you use the ISBN.

Instructions for first four weeks for dogs after FHO (hip surgery where the ball of the femur is cut off):

Instructions for first four weeks after surgery for luxating patellas (flopping kneecaps):

Find a few more homework info pages by following the links in the menu at the top of the page.  Also use the search feature.

2) In addition to thoroughly reading any of that info (some of which now includes exercises available in book form), please watch > this video < twice, and begin to do this massage daily for a month:

Please watch the video to see my recommendations on method of use for massager unit AND so you will hopefully have success introducing the massager.

There are written instructions under the video on the linked page.
Here is what the massager looks like, and if you click on the picture, you may buy it on Amazon if you choose:

3) If your pet is still limping 5-7 days or more after surgery, please read this > pain post < all the way through!

There is more on the topic of pain within the books-

Check out other resources under the “Rehab Resources & Tools” link in the menu under the website title at the top or by clicking here

If you would like advanced or personalized exercises, then please contact me for a consult. There is a contact form at the bottom of this page <<Click on link . Use this form if you would like to schedule a paid phone or in-person consult with me for rehabilitation for your pet.

Blessings-
Rehabdeb

(Original Post March 17, 2015. Updated July 29, 2019)

FCE – Fibrocartilaginous Embolism – Rehab for Sammy

Hello,
I adopted Sammy from the Humane Society in 2006, we’ve had a great journey together! Two years ago, he had a very rare accident that they called FCE (fibrocartilaginous embolism), he recovered and was able to walk again…thank god!!!!!! Recently, he has shown significant signs of his back legs being very weak, my vet has him on Adequan….he just took his fourth shot, but I’m not seeing any improvement. I’m wondering if water therapy would help him…he still has so much life, but watching him try to get up is very heart breaking. Also, I’m assuming its very expensive, so I’m not even sure I can afford it.
Please let me know your thoughts, I would greatly appreciate your wisdom!
LH

Hi, L!

I apologize for the delay in my response 🙂 If you got onto my website, you likely saw my info about traveling, etc, and my not always being able to answer quickly!

Glad you & Sammy found each other!
I realized after a couple of years into my independent business that many veterinarians had not ever seen what they knew to be a FCE case, yet due to my particular focus in veterinary rehab, I’ve dealt with dozens of them. Just so you know that I do have a lot of experience with FCEs 🙂 I have created functional improvement programs that work on increasing neuro-muscular strength, based on neuroscience, principles of exercise physiology, and individual needs.

Also good news…
I recommend you go to my website and follow all the instructions on this page:

Pet Injury

If you read everything on that page, you will see why that’s the place to start with Sammy now, for FCE or for many other injuries or setbacks. I explain on that page that I intend in the future to make a more specific FCE rehab instruction booklet, but tempis fugit…

If you do follow all the instructions I have on that page, you’ll save over $500 in rehab costs, on average (or more if going to a rehab clinic), and you’ll be using an advanced, dynamic program. Also, if you do follow everything I recommend, you and Sammy should be in the proper condition to move to advanced strength-building and proprioception-improving work. You may contact me again at that point if you’d like to have an evaluation for the next steps!

I also have some supplements and helpful tools listed on my website. Adequan is sometimes helpful for some few pets with arthritis in my experience with 100’s of cases that have tried Adequan for joint pain, however it isn’t something that will automatically help with muscle and nerve strength, which is what it really sounds like Sammy needs. Nothing will help improve function to the best possible in the situation “automatically”, whether you’re wanting to improve neuro-muscular strength, or recover better from surgery or injury in general; we all need to add a functional activity program that suits our particular needs, both humans and other animals, in order to recover beyond “average biological existence”!

Regardless, prior to doing dynamic drills, a foundation always needs to be laid, so my site will help you toward that goal 🙂

Blessings-
Deborah

What Would You Do For MPL’s? (Medial Patella Luxation)

Hi, Deborah-

Dr. D at our clinic is referring a 1.5 yo M 31# mixed breed with bilateral medial patella luxation to you. How should we proceed?

Thank you-

 

Hi!

Glad you contacted me, and I will tell you that I start out MPL’s here on my website, if they will (and, as my website says 53.7 times, I’m editing and revising and changing a lot of content appearance):

Luxating Patellas

and this is one of the many pages I have yet to fix all the links on, add photos to, revise content, etc…
but it’s still relevant, so check it out if you’re interested.

The books on the page noted above are titled about CCR, but I cover how the books are relevant to MPL on this page:

Pet Injury

I have a lot on my website to help pet parents and clinicians and others work with their pets on their own in the home (or at the clinic).
I have a lot of words explaining that ^^ on my site, so I won’t fill up this email with more 🙂

Let me know if you have additional questions!
Thanks!
Deborah