Being a pet owner isn’t as simple as feeding them healthy food and letting them out to roam around the yard. Just like humans, pets need mental and physical exercise so that they can live a happy, long life. There are even more things to consider if your pet is in the healing process from a surgery or simply needs to keep their joints and muscles flexible as they age. Following are some simple things you can do to help your pet heal and keep both of you young and happy.
Take a Walk
Walking is the perfect form of therapy for senior dogs (and their humans) that have mobility issues and those that may be recuperating from some surgeries. Walking helps increase range of motion, promotes normal movement and gait, helps prevent degeneration of the joints, promotes healthy circulation, is mentally stimulating, and improves muscle mass, strength, and endurance. The good news is that your dog will be happy taking a walk just about anywhere, even if it’s just traversing the neighborhood!
The primary benefit of therapeutic massage is that it increases circulation; it’s the enhanced blood flow that aids the healing process. Massage therapy nourishes the muscles and improves movement and range of motion by extending muscle fiber, contributing to a longer stride. A few specific ailments that therapeutic massage helps include soreness, stiffness, arthritis, imbalanced movements, and post-surgical rehabilitation, among other things.
Passive Range of Motion (PROM)
These exercises can be beneficial for both incapacitated and healthy, physically fit pets. PROM exercises are carried out while the pet is lying down on its side in a relaxed position. The limbs are then gently extended and flexed one at a time, holding the position for approximately 10 seconds. You will need to keep the position of the leg in a parallel position to the body’s wall to prevent twisting the joints. It’s also important to avoid hyper-extending ankles or wrists.
This treatment involves exercising in water, and it’s the absolute best exercise when it comes to rehabilitation as it helps reduce swelling and pooling of body fluids. In addition, hydrotherapy improves strength, muscle mass, and range of motion; it decreases pain and increases endurance. If your dog has had surgery and still has incisions, wait until they’re completely healed before using hydrotherapy or any kind of water therapy.
Both of these therapeutic remedies serve unique purposes. Heat therapy helps decrease muscle spasms and pain, lowers blood pressure, increases nerve conduction, enhances the flexibility of fibrous tissue, and increases blood vessel dilation. To apply heat, you can use hot packs wrapped in a cloth towel, heat wraps, or even a cloth saturated with hot water. Apply to the area that’s causing problems for approximately 15 minutes, making sure that the water isn’t uncomfortably hot.
Cold therapy reduces swelling, inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. Using a cold pack wrapped in a cloth, apply it to your dog’s surgical site or injury for about 15 minutes. Using cold therapy is especially helpful after physical therapy.
Consult with Your Vet
Before you try any of these suggestions, consult with your veterinarian or surgeon to find out which would be the best choices for your pet. Your vet should also be able to offer guidance on the proper application of these techniques. If there’s any sign of pain, stop doing them, and again, contact your veterinarian.
Not only can these simple exercises and treatments speed up your pet’s recovery, they’ll also help deepen the bond that the two of you share!