About Exercise Physiology-Based Veterinary Rehabilitation, Rehabdeb, Rehabilitation and Conditioning for Animals, and Move2Live
Check out our Moving2Live interview about exercise physiology-based veterinary rehabilitation! Rehabilitation and Conditioning for Animals is now live on the Moving2Livewebsite. You may find a direct link to the podcast here: http://bit.ly/M2L-Rehabdeb
The interview discusses my background and exercise physiology-based veterinary rehabilitation. You may also find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify and other platforms by searching “Moving2Live.”
What is Exercise Physiology-Based Veterinary Rehabilitation and Rehabilitation and Conditioning for Animals?
Rehabilitation and Conditioning for Animals provides science-based functional rehabilitation. This includes wellness conditioning, nutrition counseling, and athletic training. This approach works for all ages and stages of companion animals, in collaboration with veterinarians. Our goal is to also engage community and worldwide participation in programs that benefit the human-pet experience.
My programs are based on over four decades of my having participated in and having worked deeply in human sport science, nutrition, and functional recovery. All of those same basic operational principles translate to care of our pets. These programs are additionally based on my experiences working hands-on with veterinary specialists. Through this I gained knowledge of diagnostic approaches and medical treatment options. I put that knowledge with decades of historical knowledge in order to create simple plans for you and your pets!
This has trained me to combine navigation of difficult issues with a vast library of recovery info to help you further with your pet. I’ve participated in medical, neurological, and surgical specialty evaluations of patients. This additionally helps me to translate what is going on with your pet to you. A pet injury is often a whirlwind of confusion for pet companions!
I design these programs so that almost anyone may use them at home, therefore veterinary clinics may use them as well.You may do all rehabilitation on pets in the home or regular veterinarian’s environment in most cases.
Get the Word out and Get in Touch!
You probably already know how the internet works regarding “getting the word out”. Please spread the word if you have benefited from this rehab. It’s a great idea to share the interview with co-workers, friends, and family! You never know who needs the help or who knows someone else who needs rehabilitation and conditioning for animals.
Follow the exercise and recovery information I have on this website and/or in my books. Afterward if you would like advanced exercises to complete the rehabilitation, you will then need to contact me for a consult. There is a contact form at the bottom of this page <<Click on link . Use this form to contact mto schedule a paid phone or in-person consult with me for rehabilitation for your pet.
I hope you are well, stay well, and help others to be well-
I have frequently seen cases where veterinary surgeons performed these two surgeries at the same time, on both knees, so a quadruple whammy. On the one hand, reasoning for doing so includes such thoughts as, “You only have to put your pet (usually a dog) through anesthesia and surgery one time”, and “You *only* have to go through recovery once”, and “We might as well do both surgeries once we open the knee”.
For now, I will tell you basic functional details of this case without the additional info I’d report in a formally published case study for a journal. I’ll put all the additional info into my booklet when I write it.
Feel free to ask questions.
This particular client found me after her dog’s surgery, having been referred to me by a groomer. The client, like most, was at a loss as to how to handle what was a very fragile situation with her best buddy.
Within the first 2 days of working with this little cutie I noticed tissue swelling, redness, and heat in one knee. The other leg was limping along in a fairly average recovery yet also not seemingly infected.
I typed reports, including extensive details about the signs and symptoms of a possible infection in one knee post-surgically, and I faxed them (years ago when we used fax more) to the hospital for the surgeon after my first visit with the dog.
The surgeon didn’t respond to me regarding my observations so I guided the client in solid restriction protocol, including how to help her dog potty, while she waited for her recheck appointment. I also thoroughly explained to the client the discussion she should have with the surgeon or her regular veterinarian to get the knee re-evaluated for possible infection asap and/or rule out other post-surgical complications.
Infection or Activity Level?
At the time of the appointment, instead of recognizing infection, the surgeon offhandedly blamed the owner and rehab for doing too much, saying that was why the knee was red and swollen. I assure you, Dear Reader, that neither the client nor the 1st week of rehab recovery was the problem…not at all! I emphasize this so that if you feel strongly about your or your pet’s health, you don’t feel intimidated when you pursue answers for healing. Politely speak up for yourself and for others. Try to build a bridge while not settling for any answer that belittles you or your thinking, if possible.
Recovery Protocol –
The client had gone above and beyond regarding securing the best recovery she could for her little dog. She frequently worked from home, a multi-level home, and she purchased baby playpens as good recovery pens for her fuzzy kid and put them on each level and in at least one room on each level. The dog was confined to the pens or to a crate.
The client originally hired me to come daily and strictly perform my very basic first week recovery plan just so “it would be done right”. I assured her that the plan was so simple for the first four weeks that she would not mess it up and that she could do it herself, but she really wanted me there daily.
The client was incredibly attentive to *doing everything right* and wanted me to do all the work except for potty breaks and other relevant work I couldn’t perform because I didn’t live with the dog. That turned out to be beneficial for the dog, since I caught signs of infection early.
Outcomes and Results –
The surgeon did not return my communications regarding the signs I noted that pointed to a problem that was likely infection in one knee. He also made the client to feel inadequate when she most very likely had nothing to do with the onset of the infection (based on preventative measures & type of infection), and she did return to have the surgeon address the issue, as anyone should.
You, Human Reader, should have your concerns addressed without your being made to feel inferior by the surgeon. Just so you know that’s a potential great outcome from the encounter, should you have one.
Soon thereafter, the pin the surgeon had placed in one knee as part of the patellar luxation surgery began to remove itself from the knee due to the infection and swelling. The pin notably moved out of where it was placed during surgery to a place that was easy for anyone to feel it poking out.
The client and her regular veterinarian were both timid with regard to “going over the head of the surgeon” and didn’t want to “step on toes” by addressing the now fairly obvious infection. This does happen fairly frequently in some communities.
Activity and Pain –
The Yorkie was in so much pain that he wasn’t trying to bounce around or get out of his confinement(s). I’ve never seen a dog that received this quad-whammy surgery bounce and try to play soon after surgery. They are usually very subdued by the pain of the surgeries. Also, bouncing and playing on a post-op leg usually produces a different type of swelling than infection swelling.
It is my opinion that we need better pain controlfor our pets . We do for humans, too, and you may already know that. Help for pain, especially nerve pain, has been a fave topic of mine for decades.
Is it an Infection?
I have also found that it is often hard to determine whether or not infection is present. We (client & care team) discover sort of anecdotally most of the post-surgical infections I see in cases. These infection areas are not hot and do not cause tissue swelling. These infections are causing pain in the joint. This pain doesn’t go away with combos of the right amounts of the right pain medications.
Dealing With the Infection –
When I suspect infection in a post-op orthopedic case, I recommend the client and vet discuss trying an antibiotic. I base this recommendation on something I learned in about 2006 from a surgeon. I always tell them that it was the surgeon’s idea, not mine. If the limping stops around three days after beginning abx, it is likely that we’ve found infection causing the pain.
I can’t legally diagnose infection, however I may share information about infection and potential treatments to inform the client. I also easily have many conversations with veterinarians to share what other vets might have done in a particular situation. That is collaborative work.
Of course antibiotics are considered only after ruling out the other usual pain scenarios (not enough pain medications, destroyed surgery, etc…) and/or medical reasons the pet cannot take antibiotics. Often this abx (antibiotics) dosing is the cure for continued limping if all else seems okay. I have shared the info from this surgeon with many veterinarians in my area. It has helped a lot of pets.
Usually I also tell the pet’s regular veterinarian about the many situations I’ve encountered where antibiotic treatment has produced the pain relief we hope for. In these cases it has eliminated an infection that wasn’t even suspected. I cannot legally diagnose any medical issues, but I don’t hesitate to relay my findings and experience to veterinarians. By doing that, sometimes we all get to learn and collaborate.
This infection was not the fault of rehab nor of the client and possibly not the fault of the surgeon. Infections like this are actually a common occurrence. I cannot say whether or not this infection could have been avoided. In my experience it seems very difficult to avoid infection under certain circumstances. Let’s just recognize it and deal with it medically on our ends, because we are working after the fact.
If there is swelling in your pet’s knee (or other body area) or if it is hot and red after surgery or injury, please go to your veterinarian or veterinary specialist and have it evaluated sooner than later.
…and the Pin?
This Yorkie’s infection advanced quickly. The surgeon removed the pin from the infected knee after the dog finished a course of antibiotics. In the meantime, the infection did its damage. This Yorkie never gained as full a use of the infected leg as he did in the other leg.
“That’s What I Thought!”
If you feel like your pet has a problem that the surgeon or veterinarian is ignoring, then please go ahead and get a second opinion from another licensed veterinarian. I post information about cases like this because I receive many, many emails from all sorts of people about their pet’s cases, which are similar to what I frequently encounter in my practice. I want to give strength to your voice if you are trying to get to the bottom of a problem with your pet and aren’t sure to trust your gut.
What Else Helps With Infection and Infection Pain?
Ice will not do much to help infection swelling and pain, in my experience and according to research. Usually other time-consuming therapies don’t get rid of the infection, and therefore the pain, either, and waiting for them to help with pain allows the infection to cause additional joint and tissue damage. Bacteria are causing the pain in the case of infection pain and have to be killed for the pain resolution.
Anti-inflammatories and narcotics don’t usually help against infection pain and they don’t kill the infection bugs, either. I never recommend heat compresses or dry heat in general right after surgery or injury. I base that idea on decades of published research that practitioners still argue about. Sometimes heat and/or ice are the best idea, but only in specific cases and not across the board. Sometimes moist heat is great for certain infection cases AFTER infection diagnosis.
Ultimately, there is no “blame” here, especially since that isn’t productive in this case; what there is, however, is discovery and learning through experience. Ultimately the pets health (or yours) needs you to be the best advocate you can be. Trust yourself if things don’t seem right, and push to find a practitioner who listens and collaborates.
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.
Since you got to this page, you are probably hoping to find out more about other’s experiences with these rehabilitation programs. I have three different areas of feedback for you to discover. Click on the bold purple headers below and that will take you to that page of feedback.
It’s a collection of posts made from questions people have asked of me and my answers to them at the time. I have taken time to edit a few answers if my perspective has changed over time or if I think I need to make the information more clear.
I’ve got hundreds more questions on file that I have answered that I might get to make into posts, so stay tuned! Probably easier if you subscribe to this website. If you do, then you’ll receive email notice when I make new posts.
This page directs you to both veterinarian reviews and client reviews of my booklets and programs. I have copied most of the reviews from other business places on the web, such as Amazon. I really need and want to edit my booklets to add more info and photos and such, so, stay tuned, again.
In some cases, veterinarians wrote emails to me when they read my booklet(s) for the first time, and I copied some of the mail into posts for you to read as reviews.
This section has posts I made out of people’s feedback about the programs after they worked on rehab as I directed. In these posts clients tell how this rehab worked for their pet(s).
Social Media –
I completely deleted all of my Facebook pages and profiles in November, 2016, but I did save my files. I also deleted Twitter at the same time, but I have since begun a new Twit account. Once in a while I make a post based on feedback I received on Facebook or my old Twitter. The Twit changed in the time I was off of it, and I don’t have the same engagement type as I used to have, so there’s not a lot on there as of May, 2018. Feel free to engage me on the Twit.
Anyway, you get the idea. My other sm accounts are represented by words or badges in the sidebar or footer of this site. I aim for reciprocal connections.
I am my own social media person, and that takes a backseat to seeing patients, communicating with clients, and improving this website. There is already plenty of feedback for you to read on here, though, so I hope I’ve hit your topic of concern in these web pages.
Want to Comment?
I turned off comments on this site for a long time because I couldn’t keep up with answering people’s questions in what I thought was a timely manner. One of my former WordPress themes even stopped telling me I had comments when people posted them on the site. I have been on the road a lot and was not able to check the site very often. Sometimes people’s questions went unanswered. Not good, imho.
I have comments after most posts turned on now. If you have feedback about this program or a post, you may write that as a comment or contact me with questions using the form on this page.
I have also been working hard on upgrading this site for you. I turned comments on again because I have easily covered info about the most frequent pet rehab questions searched on the web and on this site. I’m hoping people will read and search the site for the basics before asking me in a comment or contact form 🙂
Please be aware that if you have a pet emergency, you really need to contact your veterinarian, a veterinary emergency clinic, or a 2nd opinion veterinarian if need be.
Also, sometimes people do not think they are getting answers they need or want from their veterinarian. I do a lot of patient advocacy and navigation in human medicine and veterinary medicine, and I am a big fan of getting a 2nd (or 3rd or +) opinion on some issues.
People ask very many questions of me in comments and via contact forms about topics I have already covered on this site. Please search and read a lot of the info on this site so that you hopefully have your questions answered more quickly than you will waiting for me.
AND, if you read my basic post-injury or post-surgery information, you will know more details that will save you time if we later get together about your pet!
I am open to working with clients in paid consults from all around the world. I work in person and via phone for consults at this time. You may find out more about my practice by looking at the info on the pages in the first drop-down menu under my main site banner.
Happy Reading, and Happy May Day –
First Published March 9, 2017. Updated May 1, 2018
“Once again, thanks for engaging the veterinary industry and client owners with your work and experience. I enjoy your enthusiasm and passion for the area.” DVM, ACVS (American College of Veterinary Surgeons), South Texas
“Thanks so much, Deborah! The book is impressive. Maybe you should leave a copy at (some shelters) since they put so many cruciate dogs on the euthanasia list…Great work and thank you!” DVM, Austin, TX
“Read your book. Excellent job. Now at ACVS they are all for non surgical acl (rehab)…Good job!” DVM, Austin, TX
“Finished reading “instead of surgery” kindle booklet. Bueno! Great discussion on importance of pain control, in particular. ” DVM, Austin, TX
“Hi Deborah! I read your book the night I got it. I really like it and have already recommended it to a client last week. I hope she bought it. I will write a review for amazon for you, too. I hope you are really successful in this. I know how hard you work!” DVM, Kerrville, TX
“Once again, thanks for engaging the veterinary industry and client owners with your work and experience. I enjoy your enthusiasm and passion for the area.” DVM, ACVS, South Texas
Here are short instructions for rehabilitation steps after pet injury and, hopefully you have already sought a diagnosis from your pet’s veterinarian for that injury. Please have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian if you have not done so already. When you do that, we may all have a working diagnosis and then hopefully be on the right track for your pets recovery.
I do also work on lots of cats, as well as a variety of other animals. For this reason, I often use the word “pets” instead of only using “dogs”. If you want to know more about cat or horse specifics right now (because I haven’t finished developing those info pages), please search the word cat or horse in the search box.
Where Does This Rehab Fit In?
These recommendations also work if your pet isn’t moving as well as they used to because of arthritis or advanced age, for instance, and you would like to help them become stronger.
It is very possible that your veterinarian does not know about this style of rehabilitation, and that’s not unusual or due to any error on their part. People ask me about this, so here is one of many possible answers:
I developed my rehab protocol based primarily on human exercise physiology, sports injury recovery, and principles of neuroscience, in collaboration with veterinary clinical and medical protocol. I also designed it to be performed by anyone in a small animal clinic or home-based, which was a completely new idea when I began my rehabilitation service.
For more specific info on a particular injury or diagnosis, please see the menu on this site or use the search box on this site. For more info on what pet rehabilitation is and what some of my qualifications are, please read this page or this page.
The information in this booklet about torn ligament recovery without surgeryalso serves as a GREAT foundation-building, functional recovery base for older pets that have lost muscle mass & strength. The information is also what I use to build a base for pets that have lost proprioceptive abilities. This means they have lost the ability to maintain balance and know where they are physically in relation to their environment.
The four-week foundational program in this bookletis often what I use to help older dogs that are slipping on the floor of the house. They might also be having trouble rising from their bed or the floor, and/or are tripping over the doggie door threshold. This foundational program has helped many to improve their function at home.
You have to start with a specific foundation though, at the beginning, to make sure your pet has a solid base to improve upon and to help offset additional injury.
Right now I have published one book containing information about helping your pet build a foundational base through four progressive weeksof your work with them after injury. This is the book, then, to get you started and the one to order if your pet has lost any degree of function, especially in their hind end. Back end. Rear drive train.
This book is specifically addressing torn knee ligaments, yet until I am able to publish the books I am working on that deal with hip issues, other knee issues, elbows, old age/arthritis, and spinal issues, this book will help you help your pet with those issues, too. This book contains the restrictions and advice I would give to get you started after almost any orthopedic injury or diminished functional condition.
…And, Before All Else:
Please pay attention to the discharge instructions your veterinarian has given you if your pet just had surgery or you have received instruction regarding your pet’s injury.
Please pay special attention to the part about no running, jumping, or playing.
If you follow my booklet instructions, you and your pet will be doing appropriate work toward recovery and should/will not be causing any harm. And, again, no running or jumping or playing!
You may use the directions I give to you on this site for allowable activity. And you should restrict any activity beyond my or your vet’s instructions for your injured or recovering pet. I repeat this forty dozen times because most of my clients, as well as I, have paid the price of cutting corners or eliminating information that is new to us. Because, information bias.
Your pet’s veterinarian really needs to evaluate most injuries sooner than later, even if you think you know exactly what the problem is.
I also recommend you do this as early in the week as possible, in the happy event that your pet injured themselves on a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday! It sure will be a lot easier on you and your pet if you don’t have to contend with a Saturday or Sunday emergency clinic visit!
If you are using my programs, please do not add on additional work you or your acquaintances come up with until you have at least passed the four-week foundation with gold stars!
Please follow all the instructions for the best outcome. And, Please do not, don’t,add swimming (no swimming yet), stairs (no stairs yet), hill repeats (no hill repeats yet), poles (no poles yet), cavalettis (no cavalettis yet), or any other dynamic activity.
Your pet may seem to be doing great and may seem to you like she/he is healed, especially if they have good pain medication, but I can assure you that biologically the minimum amount of time for soft tissue recovery is on average 8-12 weeks.
Some injuries and conditions take up to, and even over, a year to heal well (nerve damage, torn muscles, etc…), so please don’t get ahead of your pet’s recovery by using programs that don’t relate to biological recovery science and that push dynamic exercises prior to laying a good foundation and seeing progressive healing. I’ve encountered complications from hundreds of cases where people skipped steps needed to lay a solid foundation of healing, stability, and strength.
After the base is built, then always there are additional strengthening and proprioceptive drills to be done in order to return your pet to a better quality of movement and lifestyle!
Conservative treatment after torn knee ligament, instead of surgery:
Booklet on Amazon, and you should be able to order from any bookseller by using the ISBN, 978-0615900476 .
Also, if the injury you are concerned about is a torn knee ligament in your dog, then please click hereto read more info (then return to the instructions on this page!).
2) In addition to thoroughly reading any of the above info, 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 successintroducing the buzzy massager.
I recommend that you watch it 2x, mostly because there is a lot of dialogue and I give a lot of instructions. Often clients miss some important details because they are thinking about the information they just heard and are processing. Maybe watch it five times.
As of 2023 this massage video is not monetized. I recommend you watch it several times because I find that I often also miss important bits when I’m listening to or watching vids; at some point I realize I missed a big chunk of info while I was processing another chunk of info.
Most of my clients report doing the same thing. I find this out when I show up for a recheck at the house and see that they have a rando, willy-nilly massage technique. The technique I recommend is a beneficial process with specificity of method :-).
I also wrote instructions on in the info under the video, if you want to know more.
Here is what the massager looks like,
and if you click on the picture or this link, you may buy it on Amazon if you choose.
I may receive a small amount of USD from purchases you make using the links to Amazon on this site that I have provided. My receiving this small percentage does not increase your purchase price, as you probably already know 🙂
(Updated November 16, 2023. First posted on this site April, 2015)