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Pet Rehab Is Going Mainstream


Physical therapy for animals increasingly seen as viable treatment option

Pet Rehab - Arkansas Veterinary Surgery & Rehabilitation CenterOver the past 10 years, pet rehab or rehabilitation has emerged from a boutique service to what is fast becoming a mainstream treatment option within veterinary medicine.

With animal rehabilitation services becoming increasingly commonplace, more and more clients are recognizing that physical therapy is not just for people but can also mean pain relief, increased mobility, and an improved quality of life for pets as well.

Horse owners have long understood the value of rehabilitation in restoring an injured animal to health as have sporting dog enthusiasts. It’s only recently, however, as pet owners in general have come to expect their companions will have access to the same medical options they themselves have, that the interest in physical therapy for pets has exploded.

The expectation really isn’t all that surprising, according to Dr. Hilary M. Clayton. “A lot of people, after injury or surgery, get physical therapy, so it’s natural to expect that might be available for pets,” explained Dr. Clayton, the McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Why Vets Are Offering Pet Rehab
One reason veterinarians are offering pet rehab is that it’s another way of protecting the human-animal bond. And the results can be immensely rewarding for everyone involved. Dr. Julia E. Tomlinson, owner of the Twin Cities Animal Rehabilitation Clinic in Burnsville, Minn., and a graduate of the UT rehab program, said many clients come to her thinking there’s nothing more that can be done for a severely disabled or pain-wracked pet. A colleague has even called her clinic “the last hope veterinary hospital.”

“I’ve been an emergency vet, I’ve been a surgeon, I’ve been an equine vet, and I’ve been a researcher, and pet rehab is singularly the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” Dr. Tomlinson said. “Just to watch an elderly dog play again … people are so delighted they can go on a little walk with their dog again.”

Several pet insurance companies cover rehab when it’s recommended by a veterinarian, Dr. Tomlinson noted.

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