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Rehabilitation Treatment Options

Ground Treadmill

PPVG utilizes Jog-A-Dog®, a land treadmill designed specifically for dogs, but it can also be used for cats. As with other active therapeutic exercises, this treadmill is used to increase strength, balance, and proprioception (awareness of where the feet are placed). Both the speed and incline can be adjusted, allowing for a tailored exercise plan. The ground treadmill is an excellent exercise modality for non-painful patients, or for those patients whose pain has been adequately managed.


This modality relies on the principles of relative density, buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, surface tension, viscosity, and resistance to achieve its therapeutic benefits.
These principles have the following implications in aquatic therapy:

  • The limbs bear less body weight in water, which reduces the load on painful joints to permit more comfortable exercise.
  • Water pressure can reduce swelling and edema.
  • Water resistance is useful for muscle strengthening and cardiovascular training.
  • The stabilizing and buoyant effects of water enable many patients to perform exercises in water that they cannot do on land.

Exercising in water is effective for improving strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, range of motion, agility, and psychological well-being, while minimizing pain. It is also an excellent form of exercise for weight loss. Many conditions benefit from hydrotherapy, especially those disorders in which an animal is reluctant to use a limb or there is a lack of strength, range of motion, proprioceptive ability (the ability to know where the feet are placed), or weight-bearing status. An animal that will not use a limb on land will frequently use it in the water. The underwater treadmill at PPVG has variable control over speed, resistance, and depth, which allows for a tailored and progressive therapy plan for every patient, from Chihuahua to St. Bernard. The tank has jets which can be turned on or off, depending on the amount of resistance desired. Also, the tank converts to a countercurrent swim tank so patients can benefit from both treadmill and swim therapy.

Low-level laser therapy

Low-level laser therapy is a newer advance in veterinary rehabilitation. Unlike high-powered surgical lasers that create a thermal destruction of cells and tissues, the lasers used in rehabilitation are low-powered activity in many different types of tissues. Low-level lasers have the potential to accelerate tissue repair and cell growth of structures such as skin, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Laser therapy may help maintain cartilage health during periods of disuse. It also has therapeutic effects in the management of chronic pain. Laser therapy has been used to treat osteoarthritis in humans. Some studies have shown an improvement in peripheral nerve injuries when LLLT is utilized. Low-level laser therapy is noninvasive, and there are no reported adverse side effects when it is used properly.


Massage has long been a component of human performance medicine and rehabilitative therapy, and is now gaining wide acceptance as a therapy for cats and dogs.

Massage has many benefits:

  • increases blood flow
  • improves oxygen delivery to tissues
  • accelerates muscle recovery
  • breaks down adhesions
  • promotes mental and physical relaxation

Massage may have immediate benefits to a patient, but it usually takes regular treatments to bring about significant improvements in a particular condition. It is often used in conjunction with other therapeutic modalities to enhance the effectiveness of those modalities. Peak Performance Vet Group has a Certified Canine Massage Therapist on staff.

Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES)

NMES is the administration of a low-level electrical current through electrodes placed on the skin to depolarize the motor nerve and produce a skeletal muscle contraction. NMES is used for conservative and postoperative treatment of various orthopedic and neurological problems.
The goals of NMES are:

  • to prevent disuse atrophy
  • muscle strengthening
  • muscle reeducation
  • edema reduction
  • muscle spasm reduction

Therapeutic Exercise

Therapeutic exercise is one of the most effective treatment modalities we have. Therapeutic exercise can be used to preserve range of motion and muscle mass, and to challenge healing tissues during recovery.

Passive exercises (passive range-of-motion or PROM) are performed to help maintain or improve joint mobility, improve flexibility of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and to help enhance awareness of neuromuscular structure and function.

Assisted exercises bridge the gap between completely passive and more active activities. Many of them are proprioceptive exercises that help animals regain their ability to use and place their limbs appropriately. The goals of these exercises are to enhance proprioceptive feedback, encourage weight shifting and muscle contraction, and to facilitate balance and function.

Some examples include:

  • assisted standing
  • weight-shifting while standing
  • weight-shifting on exercise ball
  • balance board

Active exercises are voluntary activities that help animals regain strength and function. They are the most beneficial exercises for regaining muscle mass.

Some examples include:

  • slow leash walks
  • treadmill walking
  • hill and stair climbing
  • sit-to-stand exercises
  • Cavaletti rails
  • pole weaves
  • dancing or wheelbarrowing

Therapeutic Ultrasound

Therapeutic ultrasound is the application of sound waves to tissues. The energy from these waves is scattered and then reabsorbed, resulting in localized heating of deep tissues. Ultrasound heats tissues to a depth of 3 cm or more, compared to more superficial methods (e.g., hot packs, heating pads, etc.) which only heat to approximately 1 cm. This is an effective modality for rehabilitating musculoskeletal conditions such as restricted range of motion resulting from joint contracture, pain and muscle spasm, and wound healing.


Thermotherapy is the use of cold (cryotherapy) and/or heat over an injured area of the body. Cryotherapy is typically used alone during the first 24-72 hours post-surgery or injury (the acute inflammation period). After that, it is often used in conjunction with heat therapy.

Cryotherapy has the following benefits:

  • Decreases inflammation
  • Causes a localized decrease in blood flow followed by an increase in blood flow.

Superficial heat therapy is typically used after the first 2-3 days post-injury. It is often used in conjunction with cryotherapy. It has the following benefits:

  • Increases blood flow and decreases pain
  • Increases enzyme activity (which speeds healing).
  • Increases muscle contractility and stretching capability Heat therapy should not be used during the acute inflammatory phase of an injury (first 72 hours).

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Dr Gaynor is the absolute best, his numbers one objective is quality of life for your pet. I am always impressed by cutting edge approach as well as his gentleness and compassion. Dr Gaynor has made the last 5 years as pain free as possible for Kaya and we can not thank him enough ❤️

Gene W.
Frisco, CO

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