When we suffer a severe injury, most people don't ask their neighbor to be their primary care doctor. We employ professionals, from medical doctors to chiropractors, to ensure we get the best treatment for our ailment. The same is true for dogs! Though the local pet store may carry various OTC treatments, the best action is to consult a professional if your pet has an injury.

When an injury has been diagnosed and treatment is required, it may be possible for owners to do some of the work at home. Often, seeing a Canine Rehabilitation Specialist can ensure exercises are being done correctly, your pet is improving as expected, and no new issues have arisen.

Unfortunately, we can't explain to our dogs why they suddenly need to rest after surgery. They don't understand why we don't want them jumping and playing immediately. The Canine Rehabilitation Specialist can work with you to develop a plan for your pet to balance their desire for activity and need for healing. A plan that includes more than cone collars and mandatory resting!

What Does It Mean To Be A Canine Rehabilitation Specialist?

Canine Rehabilitation Specialists work under supervision or in association with a licensed veterinarian. While a vet must care for myriad issues and disorders, the Rehab Specialist can focus on rehabilitation and has specific training in this area. The Rehabilitation Specialist has studied the topic extensively and continues to educate themselves on trends and changes in treatments that may benefit your pet directly.

The Rehabilitation Specialist has gone through an accredited program. Similar to a medical or veterinary student, these programs require classes and hands-on practicum hours. Then, they graduate and develop affiliative relationships with veterinarians or work directly out of a vet clinic.

No Canine Rehabilitation Specialist should be treating a pet without veterinary input: a diagnosis alone isn't enough information. Instead, the Specialist will review your pet's health history and lifestyle and learn about your needs and availability as an owner. Then, they'll explore different treatment modalities, developing an individualized treatment plan that targets your dog's specific needs.

Sometimes, the first treatment plan isn't the perfect fit. At that point, the Specialist will work with you and your pet to improve the plan, using the new information you've gathered. If you see your pet isn't improving at all or has new symptoms, you should reach out so issues can be addressed promptly. That's not a failure of you, your specialist, or your dog! Not every treatment works for every dog. Speaking of which…

What Types Of Treatment Can A Canine Rehabilitation Specialist Offer?

Most Canine Rehabilitation Specialists have a wide array of treatment options available, especially if they've continued their education and learned about new possibilities as they become available. That isn't to say you should seek out a Canine Rehabilitation Specialist who offers every option under the sun! Instead, look for a Rehabilitation Specialist whom your vet recommends and who can provide references of having helped other pets with similar conditions.

For example. not all Canine Rehabilitation Specialists will offer every one of the following treatment modalities. Some specialize in specific options, such as PEMF or Underwater Treadmill work. Most times, the goal isn't to find a specialist who offers every option but one with suitable options for your dog.

Manual Therapy

This treatment encompasses nearly every option, such as massage or chiropractic, performed by hand.

Exercise Programs

The best treatment for injuries is prevention. Developing a solid system of muscles is a great way to increase the health and longevity of your dog.

Therapeutic Laser

Laser therapy reduces pain and inflammation and accelerates healing.

Therapeutic Shockwave Therapy

Therapy using shockwaves can increase the flexibility and stretch of soft tissues in your dog's body, which can relieve pain associated with injury and age-related arthritis.

Hydrotherapy or Underwater Treadmill

Exercise done in water is an excellent, low-impact method of increasing fitness and range of motion, especially after an injury, with minimal chance for re-injury or creating new damage to the body. Most dogs enjoy their time in the tank and even look forward to these treatments!


Cryotherapy is the use of cold, either in a targeted part of your pet or his whole body, and is excellent for skin conditions and reducing inflammation, which is often associated with a reduction in pain and discomfort.

We all want our dogs to have the best, healthiest, and most extended lives we can provide for them, to show the love they shower us with daily. For dogs who experience injury or ailment, one way we can demonstrate commitment to their well-being is treatment with a Canine Rehabilitation Specialist.