Animal Rehabilitation

Getting them back to top form

Animal Rehabilitation, Conditioning, and Massage

We offer on-site Animal Rehabilitation (similar to human physiotherapy) sessions with the goal of improving the quality of life for your pet by enhancing their recovery from orthopedic and neurological conditions, reducing and managing chronic pain, and promoting health and wellness.
Dr. Hutchinson performed a TTA surgery on my lab and within 2 months she was able to run. You can't tell there was anything wrong now! Here is Polly exactly one year Post-op after her TTA performed by Dr. Hutchinson for a completely ruptured ACL. As you can see, she is happy and healthy - fully restored! She was walking normally immediately afterwards.

Animal Rehabilitation Services

Hydrotherapy

During the recovery from surgery or traumatic injury, a full range of limb motion may not always be possible on land. The careful use of hydrotherapy after surgery or injury can be extremely beneficial for dogs, increasing their chance of a successful return to normal function.

Hydrotherapy acts by encouraging a full range of motion in reduced weight bearing conditions, thus improving muscle tone and promoting tissue repair. The buoyancy of the water reduces stress on the joints, creating a much safer environment for recovery after surgery or injury without imposing undue stress on damaged tissues.

The warm water increases the circulation of the blood to the muscles, thus increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients. As the blood circulation increases, it flushes away the waste products leading to muscle relaxation and reduction in pain and stiffness. Improved circulation also reduces swelling around an injured area and enhances healing. The hydrostatic pressure of the water reduces swelling of the limbs. The perpendicular jets apply pressure in all directions, resolving the edema in the distal portions of the body while the patient exercises.

The BBVSH Underwater Treadmill:

  • Allows observation by rehabilitation staff from all sides
  • Allows early rehabilitation for spinal injury and surgery patients
  • Water height can be adjusted to optimal weight bearing level
  • Speed and duration can be adjusted to achieve optimal gait
  • To add more challenge for fitness, the treadmill can be inclined and equipped with jets for increased resistance

Hydrotherapy has specific effects on the body:

  • Relief of pain, swelling and stiffness
  • Increased joint range of motion
  • Increased tissue healing
  • Increased speed of recovery
  • Stability and balance
  • Improved circulation
  • Improved muscle patterning and recruitment (extremely important for spinal injury dogs learning to walk again)
  • Prevent secondary complications as a result of limb disuse, muscle contracture, gait abnormalities
  • Assist in earlier return to normal life or work (especially important for assistance or police service dogs)
  • Improve quality of life (especially for older or disabled dogs)

Conditions that benefit from hydrotherapy:

Dogs that require improvement in: core strength, gait modification, flexion, extension, proprioception, muscle bulk, cardiovascular and muscle endurance will benefit from hydrotherapy including those with:

Pre and Post Surgical Cases

  • Cranial Cruciate Rupture (TTA, TPLO)
  • Arthroscopy
  • Patellar Groove Replacement (PGR)
  • Proximal Abducting Ulnar Osteotomy (PAUL)
  • Total Hip Replacement (THR)
  • Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO)
  • Bone Fracture Repairs

Neurological conditions

  • Intervertebral Disc Disease
  • Spinal Injury/Trauma/Shock
  • Cervical Vertebral Malformation
  • Neuromuscular Disease
  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
  • Peripheral Neuropathies
  • Spinal Stenosis

Developmental Conditions

  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD)

Soft Tissue Injuries

  • Tendinitis
  • Ligament Sprain
  • Tendinopathies
  • Muscle strain

Obesity

Canine obesity is dangerous because it can lead to a great number of health problems. It may also adversely affect an existing health issue. The following diseases and disorders may be caused or exacerbated by obesity:

  • Cardiac disease
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Orthopedic injuries (such as cruciate ligament rupture or patellar luxation)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Various forms of  cancer

Conquering Canine Obesity

involves establishing goals, tailoring exercise programs and examination of diet in order to safely reduce body weight, improve body condition and move towards a sustainable long term healthy lifestyle.  Contact our Animal Rehabilitation Services for more information.

Laser Therapy

Non invasive therapy for pain relief and faster healing. Laser therapy involves driving energy derived from light into the target area stimulating tissues at the cellular level. The metabolism of the cells, are stimulated to accelerate healing time and provide pain relief through the release of endorphins.

Canine Massage

a gentle superficial massage is indicated in order to increase local circulation and warm tissues to minimize pain associated with stiffness prior to exercise. Realignment of damaged tissues when stroked in direction of muscle fibers. Effective to relax the patient in preparation for other treatments

Therapeutic Exercises for Dogs

Therapeutic exercises are designed to encourage affected limb use for those patients reluctant to use a limb post surgically. The principle objectives are to build muscle strength and increase the range of motion, facilitating the return to normal function for orthopedic/neurological conditions.

Cold Thermotherapy

  • use of superficial cold source applied to remove heat from an affected area
  • causes vasoconstriction and slows metabolic rate of tissue reactions, reducing inflammation, swelling and pain
  • most effective in acute inflammatory phase following tissue trauma
  • may also be used during later healing stages to minimize inflammation following rehabilitative exercises

Warm Thermotherapy

  • use of superficial heat source to apply heat to an affected area
  • enhances the healing process by increasing local circulation and metabolic rate of tissue reactions (increased rate of delivery of nutrients to and waste products from affected tissues)
  • may be used to warm tissues prior to exercise or stretching (heat increases extensibility of tissues allowing for greater flexibility and more effective stretching)

Electrical Stimulation for Dogs

Electrotherapeutic Modalities involves the use of electrical currents to accelerate healing, slow muscle atrophy and build muscle mass during periods of inactivity

Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation

  • application of electrical currents via electrodes to elicit muscle contractions
  • delays muscle atrophy in non-ambulatory patients, facilitates neuromuscular reeducation, promotes muscle strengthening and sensory awarenessTranscutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
  • application of electrical current via electrodes for the purpose of pain control
  • gate control theory of pain argues that a low-level constant stimulation of nocioceptor fibres that are sensitive to vibration interferes with other nocioceptor fibres responsible for communicating pain sensation to the brain resulting in decreased pain sensation
Need a referral to Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital?

Why Choose Us for Animal Rehabilitation Services?

Boundary Bay offers animal rehabilitation services; serving dog and cat owners throughout Vancouver, Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, Burnaby, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Chilliwack, the Interior and the Island as well as Bellingham, WA and northern Washington state. We invite you to consider the following reasons to entrust your pet to Boundary Bay’s animal rehabilitation department.
Animal Rehabilitation Director has a degree in Physical Therapy

The director of our Animal Rehabilitation Service has a degree in physical therapy and has completed the canine rehabilitation course at the University of Tennessee.

Help with chronic pain

Just like what physiotherapy in humans, structured movement and exercises can improve the quality of life for pets with chronic ailments.

Rehabilitation speeds healing

Having rehabilitation on-site helps speed up post-surgery healing and gives the younger dogs an outlet for their energy.

Love and care

We take care of your dog and we love to do so.

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Meet Our Animal Rehabilitation Director

Glenn Pepito

B.Sc.P.T.

Animal Rehabilitation

Common Surgery Questions

What is a board-certified veterinary surgeon? (from the ACVS website)

The term “ACVS Diplomate” refers to a veterinarian who has been board certified in veterinary surgery. Only veterinarians who have successfully completed the certification requirements of the ACVS are Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and have earned the right to be called specialists in veterinary surgery. Veterinarians wishing to become board certified must complete a three-year residency program, meet specific training and caseload requirements, perform research and have their research published. This process is supervised by current ACVS Diplomates, ensuring consistency in training and adherence to high standards. Once the residency has been completed, the resident must sit for and pass a rigorous examination. Only then does the veterinarian earn the title of ACVS Diplomate.

Do I need a surgeon who is board certified? (from the ACVS website)

Advances in animal health care have led to a wider variety of treatment options, including highly specialized surgical procedures. Board certified surgeons spend at least four years after achieving their veterinary medical degree (DVM) focusing strictly on surgery. This concentrated training in surgery allows the ACVS Veterinary Surgeon to keep current with frequent advances in veterinary medicine. Ask your veterinarian if the procedure requires a specialist. General procedures may be less likely to require someone who is board certified.

Does a consultation always lead to surgery?

During your initial consultation, the veterinary surgeon will review your pet’s clinical history, previous test results and treatments, and the clinical course of your pet’s disease. The surgeon will then perform a thorough physical exam of your pet. Following this review, the surgeon will make recommendations. The recommendation may be to proceed directly with surgery but may also include additional diagnostic tests, medical treatment regimens, or a wait-and-watch approach. Occasionally surgery is not the best immediate or long-term option for your pet based on the comparative risks and expected benefits. Your consultation with the veterinary surgical specialist is the most comprehensive way to make this assessment. Your pet will not proceed to surgery until both you and the surgeon are comfortable with the recommended treatment plan.

How is surgical pain managed?

Our practice philosophy is to minimize distress associated with care and treatment of your pet.

This includes the use of surgical methods designed to maximize the beneficial effect of surgery with the least possible morbidity and invasion of normal tissues. Examples include the use of arthroscopy, laparoscopy, radiograph-guided procedures, alternative materials (such as titanium), and alternative techniques (such as TTA and ALPS fracture fixation).

Even with these lower morbidity methods, some degree of inflammation and discomfort is expected. We treat anticipated surgical pain preemptively by using multimodal perioperative analgesia. This often includes the use of epidural analgesia and anesthesia. The epidural injection is done while your pet is under general anesthesia prior to the start of the surgical procedure and aids reduction of the required depth of general anesthesia (and associated depth-related anesthetic risks).  In addition, the effect of the epidural injection may reduce post-surgical pain up to 24 hours after the procedure thus limiting pain “wind-up”.

Post-surgical pain and any distress are managed 24 hours per day by doctors in the hospital who are well versed in analgesic and sedative protocols.

At the time of your pet’s discharge from the hospital you will receive post-operative instructions describing signs of pain or discomfort and explaining treatment options, including pain medications and indicated complementary therapies such as icing and massage.

What is the typical recovery time for my pet following surgery?

The time expected for your pet to recover from surgery will vary significantly based on its specific disease or injury, the surgery performed, and other potential complicating factors such as pre-existing osteoarthritis or endocrine disorders (e.g. diabetes, Cushing’s disease). These expectations will be specifically discussed at the time of your initial surgical consultation and will be further discussed at the time of patient discharge.

Most perioperative surgical inflammation and its associated swelling, bruising, and discomfort will improve rapidly in the first post-operative week.

Healing from orthopedic procedures may take several weeks, and full return of function may occur over several months depending on the disease or injury, the procedure, and post-surgical rehabilitation.

If at any time your pet does not seem to be recovering at the rate or to the degree expected, please call us or recheck for an evaluation.

What restrictions will be placed on my pet during the recovery period?

Typically surgical incisions will heal in one to two weeks. During this time, you may be instructed to prevent your pet from chewing or licking the incision by using a bandage or a restrictive collar. This is usually the surest way to reduce the risk of post-surgical incision infection or dehiscence (opening of the surgical wound).

Post-surgery confinement of your pet, either in a kennel or in a small room, may be required when your pet is not under your direct supervision.  This confinement may be necessary to allow the appropriate healing of the surgical repair.

Who takes care of my pet overnight following surgery?

Most patients that require surgery stay overnight and can go home once they are ready the next day. Some surgeries may require a few days of post-operative hospitalization. The surgeon will advise you prior to surgery how long to expect your pet to be hospitalized. While hospitalized, your pet will receive 24-hour care from the Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialists.

Preparing for Your Surgery Appointment

During your first (initial) consultation:

Bring your pet

Please bring your pet with you so that the surgeon can fully assess your pet’s condition.

Fasting

It is important that your pet arrive fasted (with no food and minimal water in the stomach) so that he or she may be sedated should x-rays or surgery be required the day of the appointment. Your pet should not eat and should have only small amounts of water after 10pm the night before your consultation.

If your pet is diabetic or less than 4 months old please call the hospital for specific instructions.

Medications

Please bring to your appointment any medication(s) that your pet is currently taking. When making your pet’s appointment, check whether or not to give any medication that is due the morning of the appointment.

Special diet

Meals are included in your pet’s hospitalization. However, if your pet requires a special diet, please bring enough for two meals. Due to safety concerns, hospital policy requires that you do not bring any raw food.

Radiographs (x-rays)

If your pet has had radiographs (x-rays) for this condition at your family veterinary clinic, make sure that you bring a copy or the original x-rays with you for the surgeon to assess. We have the ability to view either manual (film) or digital x-rays. Your family veterinarian will provide us with current medical information and tests that may be pertinent to your pet’s case at the time of referral.

Expected appointment time

Your initial appointment will last 1 hour, but please prepare to spend 1-3 hours at the hospital, as additional tests may be required. We respect your time and will do our best to complete the consultation in a timely manner. If you do have time restrictions, please make us aware so that we can accommodate your schedule. We are often able to perform procedures such as biopsies, x-rays and surgeries the same day as your appointment, in which case you may be leaving your pet with us for a day procedure or overnight for a surgery.

How the initial appointment works

When you arrive for your appointment, please check in with Reception. The receptionist will then advise the surgery service that you have arrived. To start the appointment, an assistant or technician will bring you into an exam room with your pet, complete a history form, and perform a check of all your pet’s vital signs (such as heart rate, temperature, etc.). The surgeon will review the information, discuss your pet’s condition with you, and examine your pet. Once this is complete, the surgeon will go over the diagnosis, any further testing that may be required to reach a diagnosis, and treatment options. Each option will be thoroughly explained so that you can make an informed choice for your pet.

Treatment plan estimate and deposit

A treatment plan will be prepared for you based on your pet’s specific needs. The treatment estimate will be explained and authorized by you prior to surgery and/or hospitalization. A deposit of 50% of your estimate is due at the time of surgery; the rest of the invoice must be paid at the time of discharge.

Overnight or home the same day

Most patients that require surgery stay overnight and can go home once they are ready the next day. Some surgeries may require a few days of post-operative hospitalization. The surgeon will advise you prior to surgery how long to expect your pet to be hospitalized. While hospitalized your pet will receive 24-hour care from the Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital and Animal Emergency Clinic of the Fraser Valley veterinarians. You are welcome to arrange a time to visit your pet should he or she require hospitalization. You will be able to relax, read a book and visit in our comfortable quiet room. In the interest of privacy, we do ask that you arrange a visit time in advance.

Primary care veterinarian updates

So that your family veterinarian will be kept up to date regarding your pet’s condition and care, we will provide your vet with copies of all medical charts, tests performed, and a summary of your pet’s visit.

During your Suture/Staple removal appointment:

Suture removal schedule

After surgery, most patients require suture/staple removal 10-14 days after surgery. The timing will be indicated at the time of surgery discharge. If possible, please make this appointment with Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital, because the surgeon would like to see your pet at this time to check on your pet’s progress and view the incision. Many procedures will receive additional follow-up instructions at this recheck. If you are unable to see us within the specified time frame for suture removal, please arrange to have the sutures/staples removed by your family veterinarian. If you choose to do this, please call us with an update and to determine if you should schedule an additional appointment for the surgeon’s evaluation and further instructions.

Expected appointment time

Your pet’s suture appointment will take approximately 30 minutes, as the surgeon will need to briefly examine your pet’s progress.

Cost of rechecks

There is no charge for your pet’s suture/staple removal visit.

During your recheck examination:

Recheck schedule

After your pet’s first consultation or surgery, follow-up appointments may be required. When your pet is discharged, we will provide you with a schedule of when to return for recheck appointments. Please ask which, if any, follow-up appointments you may be able to schedule for your pet at your family vet.

Fasting

It is important that your pet arrive fasted (with no food and minimal water in the stomach) so that he or she may be sedated should x-rays or surgery be required the day of the appointment. Your pet should not eat and should have only small amounts of water after 10pm the night before your consultation.

If your pet is diabetic or less than 4 months old please call the hospital for specific instructions.

Expected appointment time

Your recheck appointment will last 45 minutes, but please prepare to spend at least 1 hour at the hospital. We respect your time and will do our best to complete the consultation in a timely manner. If you do have time restrictions, please make us aware so that we can accommodate your schedule.

How the recheck appointment works

When you arrive for your appointment, please check in with Reception. To start the appointment, an assistant or technician will bring you into an exam room with your pet, complete a history form, and perform a check of all your pet’s vital signs (such as heart rate, temperature, etc.). The surgeon will review the information, examine your pet, and discuss your pet’s progress with you.

Cost of rechecks

The cost of rechecks varies depending on your pet’s condition, the type of previous surgery, the time since the last appointment, and what procedures and additional assessments are required. There is typically a charge for procedures requiring follow-up radiographs. Payment is due at the time of service.

Ask Us a Question

We’ll do everything in our power to help you make an informed decision!