Pet Physical Therapy
My husband and I are starting to consider getting a dog. I'm not really sure how serious we are about it. We both work full-time and neither one of us wants to buy a dog only to have it be alone for the majority of the week. It's a big responsibility. So, of course, in true Lisa-planning style, I ordered a book about dogs to do some research and see if we are really committed to taking care of a pet.
As I was reading through the chapters this weekend, there was a little blurb on the side of one page about how physical therapy for pets may be beneficial if your dog would ever need surgery or sustain an injury. Wow! I had a few lectures about pet physical therapy in school and I've heard about it through some coworkers, but I never expected to see physical therapy services promoted in a dog book!
Obviously the concepts are the same - dogs (or cats) have bones, muscles, nerves, ligaments and tendons just like humans do. Pets run, jump, walk and exercise too. It makes sense that they would be prone to injuries similar to what human beings experience. And, as physical therapists, this is another niche practice to expand our clinical expertise.
I searched online and found a few educational institutes aimed at teaching PTs how to adapt their skills to apply to animals. The Canine Rehabilitation Institute offers certifications to PTs (and assistants as well) through three courses and a 40-hours internship. They also have a link to veterinary rehabilitation jobs across the country. My little search online also found many rehabilitation centers for canines and pets, similar to rehab facilities for humans. Actually, as I was clicking on different sites I was led to a few pages describing animal amputations, braces, dog wheelchairs and other adaptive equipment made specifically for pets. It's amazing how much information is out there.
The pets I had growing up never had surgery or needed physical therapy, from what I could tell. I know if we end up getting a dog, I'll be more sensitive to look for signs of pain or weakness in my pet. What about you? Have you ever had a pet that needed therapy? Or, do you ever perform physical therapy on animals?