In an effort to speed up Zola’s recovery from a broken leg, we decided to do something that used to be the exclusive domain of professional athletes. Zola met with a physical therapist last weekend, one who specializes in rehabilitating canine athletes. Not that long ago, a surgery like Zola’s would be left to heal on its own. According to Michael Andrews, former President of the American Animal Hospital Association, “[canine physical therapy] has advanced very rapidly in the last 10 years, in line with people’s expectations of their own physical therapy. We’ve seen more and more people participating in physical therapy for their own injuries, and that’s spilled over into veterinary medicine as well.”
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Why’s this important?
We believe that we are part of a much larger trend of recreational athletes who include their dogs in their own physical activities. According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), running activities in the U.S. have increased substantially in the last nine years with running/jogging total participation up 40%, walking for fitness up 21%, and trail running up 16%. This coupled with dramatic increases in dog ownership, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) the number of U.S. households with dogs has risen 45% over the past 20 years, means that our dogs are probably just as sore as the rest of us. It also means that the types of proactive training and aggressive rehabilitation that many of us do for ourselves is now being done for our canine companions.
It’s too soon to tell
As much as we would like for there to be noticeable improvement in less than a week of physical therapy, right now we only have a worn out doggy who hides from us whenever we grab a bag of ice. However, swimming, massage, stretching, and strength training are very familiar tricks of the trade for these weekend warriors. Our own experience tells us that using the kinds of therapy that used to be available only to the pros has worked every time that we have needed it. The only real difference this time is that we need it for our dog.