The main goal of rehabilitation in geriatric pets is to improve quality of life and maximize health benefits, including but not limited to decreasing pain, improving joint mobility, and improving psychological well-being. In canines, the years considered to be geriatric vary. According to the American Animal Hospital Association Senior Guidelines, a dog is considered geriatric in the last 25% of their predicted life expectancy for their breed. Although aging is not a disease, it does come with certain comorbidities that can impact your older dog’s quality of life. Comorbidities such as osteoarthritis, obesity, degenerative joint disease, musculoskeletal changes, and behavioral/cognitive changes are common among older dogs. Prior to starting a rehabilitation plan, it is good practice to have baseline lab work and an overall assessment of any underlying musculoskeletal, physiologic, neurologic, and metabolic disorders.
Implementing a multimodal approach is the best way we can serve our geriatric patients. This may include pain management, supplements, assistive devices, and rehabilitation therapies.
- Manual Therapy is a treatment that utilizes a hands-on approach. A skilled rehabilitation practitioner will do an extensive evaluation to determine which technique is best suited for your dog.
- Low-Impact Exercises get your senior dog moving without putting extra stress on their joints and muscles. These exercises are beneficial for providing balance, proprioception, and strengthening in an easily accessible way so as not to cause injury.
- Therapeutic Modalities are tools we use to complement a rehabilitation treatment plan. These tools are typically performed by a rehabilitation practitioner.
- Hydrotherapy utilizes water exercises as part of your pet’s rehabilitation process. Hydrotherapy can help with weight loss, strengthening muscles, and lowering the effects of immobility. Being underwater decreases the weight on joints and painful limbs.
Working with geriatric patients can be very rewarding. A well-planned rehabilitation protocol tailored to the geriatric patient can provide support comfort, and improve their quality of life for years to come. We look forward to working with you and your pet(s).
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