Physical Rehabilitation

Canine Physical Rehabilitation

Canine physical rehabilitation borrows physical therapy techniques used for humans and adapts them to the dog’s anatomy. The goal of physical therapy and rehabilitation for dogs, is to improve their quality of life by reducing pain and increasing their mobility. This is achieved by increasing the movement of their joints, ligaments and muscles through different exercises and manual techniques to relieve pain, make the dog’s muscles stronger and more flexible.

Physical Rehabilitation

Canine rehabilitation is mainly used to enhance recovery following surgery, an injury or to improve mobility and general well-being when surgery is not an option. It is also used to improve the comfort and health of obese animals and to prevent problems of age-related and degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis. Rehab is mainly used for dogs, but cats, rabbits and other small animals may also benefit from it. Horses also respond well to physical rehabilitation.

After a thorough physical examination a therapy plan is created for the specific condition of each dog. Several different techniques are used as each technique has different benefits and not all techniques are useful for each condition. Massage, cold laser, thermotherapy, cryotherapy, hydrotherapy, muscle building exercises, electrical stimulation, coordination and balance exercises are some of the different techniques used in physical therapy. The human companion is also taught how to do different exercises with the animal at home.

Physical Rehabilitation for Animals


Massage is used to relieve muscle tension and muscle development. This helps speed up recovery from injuries and surgery by increasing the blood flow to the problem area and thus relieving muscle spasm. Animals find massage comforting and it may be used to improve almost all medical conditions.


Thermotherapy involves the application of both heat and cold as a way of relieving muscle aches and pains. Heat is used to help the animal feel more comfortable before applying certain physical therapy techniques, as it decreases stiffness in the joints and thus increases the range of movement and blood flow of the affected part of the dog’s body. Cold is used to decrease inflammation when the injury is acute.

Physical Rehabilitation

Coordination Exercises

Coordination exercises help the animal regain or improve proprioception – the ability to know the position of its body or to sense where a body part is, without having to look. Exercises like walking zig zags with cavalettis poles, and figure eight, help to achieve that goal. Coordination exercises are especially useful for dogs suffering from neurological conditions.

Cold Laser Therapy

Low Level Laser Therapy, also known as cold or soft laser, works by directing a beam of coherent light onto the injury. This beam activates the damaged tissue by increasing local circulation, improving tissue oxygenation and the delivery of nutrients, allowing the tissue to be more responsive and to heal faster. The pain and inflammation caused by sprains and strains, arthritis and joint injuries, decreases quickly as the repair of both tissue and mucous membrane are accelerated. It also encourages post-surgical wounds and wounds caused by injuries to heal faster, whilst reducing fibrous tissue formation, improving and regenerating nerve function and repairs injuries of ligaments and tendons. Cold laser therapy is excellent for dogs, cats and other animals that are difficult to treat with other modalities.

Muscle Building Exercises

Exercises to improve balance are beneficial for neurological conditions and strengthen small muscles of dogs that are otherwise not used. This is often the case as other strengthening exercises tend to focus on the role and importance of larger muscles. These exercises are done using a special dog’s treadmill, physio-balls, wobble and balance boards.

Strengthening Exercises

A set of exercises to do at home and at the clinic to strengthen different muscle groups of the body. Exercises such as walking uphill or downhill, walking in zig zags, sit to stand, three leg standing and many different ones are used to build strength and muscle mass in animals that have undergone surgery, or are injured or weak.


Swimming, walking on an underwater treadmill, or doing other underwater exercises help to improve muscle and joint function in animals. Water resistance helps regain muscle strength and endurance, whilst minimizing the stress on joints by decreasing the weight placed on the dog’s limbs. This allows very weak or injured dogs to be able to work with their bodies. In addition, swimming can be very useful for dogs recovering from orthopaedic surgery.

Dr Yael BaliHi. I am Dr Yael Bali,
a veterinarian certified in several holistic complementary medicine modalities. I studied in Mexico and the USA and am committed to an integrative approach of veterinary medicine. I treat patients from all over the country in my clinic in Zichron Yaacov. If you would like to receive an holistic approach when caring for your beloved pets then please call me or mail me.


Book an appointment

To book an appointment please leave your name, email and message or call me on my mobile 972-52-4268671. I will be glad to see you in my clinic in waze 9 HaShoeva st, Zichron Ya’acov. (click for Waze)

Contact form

5 + 12 =