Rehabilitative Therapy for Pets

Rehabilitative therapy for pets works much the same way that physical therapy for people does. Animals who are injured in any way can be treated by a trained rehabilitative therapist and learn to move again, as freely and as easily as possible.

If you’ve ever had surgery, you may remember how hard it was to learn to move normally afterward. If it was hard for you, imagine how hard it will be for your dog or cat, who doesn’t understand why surgery was required, or where the pain comes from.

Most of the time, you will know why your dog needs rehabilitative therapy. Your dog had an operation or an injury, or you noticed a change in the way she acts. Maybe she’s stopped joining you in bed or won’t go downstairs anymore. Maybe you even thought it was nice that she stayed off the living room sofa, but then you realized she wouldn’t join you on the den couch, either. Start with a visit to Harmony Animal Hospital so your pet can be evaluated. It’s important to understand what is causing the change in behavior.

Dr. Elizabeth Williams is an integrative veterinarian. She trained in rehabilitative therapies and Eastern modalities, like acupuncture, herbal medicine and Tui Na (a chiropractic type of massage). Harmony Animal Hospital offers hydrotherapy with an underwater treadmill; energy therapies; hands-on therapies; and much more to help your pet live their best life.

Underwater Treadmill for Rehabilitative Pet TherapyHydrotherapy/Underwater Treadmill

Similar to PT for humans, there are lots of ways that Dr. Williams and our vet techs  may work with your dog, depending on the problem, the expectations for recovery, and Fido’s age and health. You may have seen underwater treadmills on Facebook—the water supports the dog’s weight and the treadmill lets the dog learn to walk again without pain in weight-bearing joints. Sometimes we may fit your dog with flotation devices (life jackets) and allow them to swim. Needless to say, some dogs take to water exercise more readily than others. Cats are not offered water therapy quite as often. We can also use the treadmill without water, so your pet can get safe gentle exercise without worrying what the other dogs think about that ugly cone on their head.

Veterinary Laser TherapyEnergy Therapies – Laser, Ultrasound

Animals with open wounds can’t go in the water; they may receive various forms of energy therapies, such as laser, ultrasound, neuromuscular stimulation, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).

These therapies bring warmth and circulation to an injured area and promote healing deep within the injured area. 

Hands-on Therapies

We offer hands-on therapies like massage and guided stretching that can help to relax painful muscles and restore range-of-motion to joints. The Chinese modality of Tui Na is a spinal manipulative therapy similar to a chiropractic adjustment. 

Assistive Technology

If your pet’s injury is permanent or lasting, the two of you may want to investigate assistive technology to make life easier and more enjoyable. Dogs can’t use crutches, but they can be fitted with a two-wheeled cart that lets them get around any flat area on their own power. We can work with Spot to teach him how to navigate in the cart. If steps are the problem and you are able-bodied, get a fitted lifting harness with a handle on the top so you can offer a boost when you come home from a walk and need to get up the steps to the front door. (Dogs do pretty well on three legs, particularly if it is a hind leg that is amputated, but prosthetic legs can be fitted for most animals, too.)

white-short-hair-dog-receiving-rehabilitative-therapy-for-pets-with-two-helpers-in-uniformsAt Home Exercises

As we understand what is going on with your animal’s condition, we may give you exercises to do at home in between visits. Depending on the specific problems, you could be working with your dog on a balance board, doing wheelbarrows, or using Therabands.


Harmony’s Dr. Williams has a Certification in Veterinary Acupuncture from The Chi Institute and offers acupuncture treatments to speed healing, treat some conditions, and manage pain. When the acupuncture needles touch certain points in the body, they stimulate the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormones that ease pain and relieve tension. This is why acupuncture not only helps with physical pain but also causes an overall feeling of calm and relaxation in pets. The goal of acupuncture is to help your pet’s body heal itself. 

Call Harmony for an Evaluation

When your best friend needs help getting out of bed, give us a call. We can’t promise Fluffy will be back on the kitchen counter, but we can do everything possible to help her live the fullest life possible.