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Canine Rehabilitation Nutrition: What You Need to Know

No matter how responsible a pet parent you are, you have to deal with illness, injury, and treatment during Fido’s time.

If your dog is recovering from an injury or surgery, mobility concerns from an underlying health issue, or simply old age, it’s best to visit a canine rehabilitation specialist to help improve your dog’s quality of life.

What is Canine Rehabilitation?

Much like physical therapy in humans, the same principles and techniques apply to dogs with the goal of diminishing pain, improving mobility, and treating injury or illness.

A certified canine rehabilitation clinician is knowledgeable in the subject and qualified to carry out an intensive assessment of the patient, including an appraisal of the walk, agility and varied movements, strength, adaptability, stamina, joint range of motion, and soft tissue mobility.

An evaluation of the patient’s medical history, as well as an assessment of the home and the community, are vital on how these will affect the patient’s functional status and recovery.

From the results of the evaluation, the clinician will draw a treatment plan for the patient. The pet parent will be educated on how to adjust the environment according to the patient’s needs and how to use any assistant devices.

Physical Rehabilitation Modalities

Clinicians use many treatment and therapy methods, some of the most common are:

Therapeutic Exercises

Fido hits the gym for some exercises and sometimes use special equipment for strength and balance, and gets a home training program for many of the same routine.


Also called cold therapy, it is the application of cold agents such as ice, gel packs, or other cold compression devices in an affected area of the body. This is effective in the first 72 hours after a serious injury or operation to address pain and swelling.

Balance Therapy

The clinician assists the patient in a variety of exercises, using the affected portion of the body in a coordinated manner.

Walking Exercises

Once the patient shows signs of movement on the affected limb, leash walking can be applied giving the dog adequate time to shift its weight to that limb.

The Role of Nutrition in Canine Performance and Rehabilitation

After an operation, or if your dog is undertaking rehabilitation for an injury or other trauma, they find a hard time eating. Reduced appetite results to weight loss, and it can interfere with your dog’s recuperation.

It is important that the food they eat should cover their nutritional requirements to strengthen their immune system for a quick recovery.

When you visit a canine rehabilitation specialist, you will know the right combination of ingredients to facilitate recovery. Understanding the right food provides the nutrients that repair your dog’s damaged tissues and reduces inflammation.


Protein builds tissues, such as muscle, helping an injured dog stave off infection. Recovering dogs need more protein than normal to build back body mass.


Carbohydrates are nutrients found in food that the body turns into glucose for the much-needed energy to function. Grains and vegetables are excellent sources of carbohydrates. Also, they keep your dog’s intestines healthy.


Fat is concentrated energy for dogs, providing twice the amount of energy compared to protein and carbs. It reduces inflammation and complications to a canine patient who had an operation. They keep the skin healthy and the fur shiny.


Dogs can survive despite losing all their body fat and 50 percent of their protein. But, they could die if they lose 10 percent of water in their body. More than half of an adult dog’s weight consists of water.

Why You Should Choose a Vet with Rehab Training

Any vet can provide surgery, but not all vets can offer canine rehabilitation services. Vet professionals need additional training to gain knowledge in pain management, strengthening and conditioning, stretching, and flexibility, the use of assistive devices, and maximizing your dog’s physical potential.

A certified canine rehabilitation practitioner should have the letters CCRT or CCRP after their name. These stand for certified canine rehabilitation therapists and certified canine rehabilitation practitioners, respectively.

Under the veterinary practices act, certified or an uncertified vet can practice canine rehabilitation. With the guidance of a vet or a certified physical therapist, veterinary nurses, technicians, and physical therapy assistants may provide canine rehabilitation to your pet.

Unfortunately, some companies took advantage and advertised canine rehabilitation services after purchasing equipment, such as a laser device and an underwater treadmill. They will grab every opportunity to include this equipment in their program, even if it’s not needed. Canine rehabilitation is about body movement and preparing an exercise plan to restore body parts with impairment to normal function.

Physical therapy performed by a vet with a certificate in rehabilitation supports recovery from surgery, including fracture repairs, spinal operation, and amputation. A canine patient will experience a quick and complete recovery, making veterinary rehabilitation a significant addition to surgery protocol.

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