It has been reported that Central Oregon has the highest number of dogs per capita than any other location in the country. That, coupled with the athletic lifestyle of Central Oregon residents, makes the region an ideal location for a state-of-the art physical rehabilitation facility for dogs. As more and more people recognize the impact of pain and physical dysfunction in their own lives they begin to recognize that these also affect their pets’ lives says Kristin Wolter, CVT, CCRA, Physical Rehabilitation with Bend Veterinary Specialists and Pawsitive Strides Physical Rehabilitation.
The animal specialists offer our four legged family members advanced surgery, internal medicine and physical rehabilitation services.
Wolter has been working with local veterinarians and other pet businesses to increased the awareness of the many benefits physical rehabilitation offers. As in people, dogs can rupture their ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), suffer from chronic pain, become disabled or painful due to disc rupture, battle obesity and lose mobility as they age. It only seems natural that the same therapies recommended to people to treat these common conditions are now gaining popularity among veterinarians locally, and across the nation and globe.
“A prime example of the benefits that physical rehabilitation has to offer the canine community is the dog that undergoes surgery to repair a torn ACL,” explains Wolter, who has been in the veterinary field since 1991 and has worked in both small animal and equine veterinary hospitals. “While this injury doesn’t happen while they are madly careening down the side of a snowy hill with long boards strapped to their feet, those trips to the dog park, the occasional suicidal squirrel and obsessive tennis ball behavior can all put them at risk for an ACL rupture and subsequent surgery.”
Wolter became a certified veterinary technician in 2002 after challenging and passing the Veterinary Technician National Exam and has since also become certified in Canine Rehabilitation Assistant. Kristin has been a member of Bend Veterinary Specialists since it’s opening in 2004.
While at BVC Specialists she has shifted her position from head surgical technician to managing and operating Pawsitive Strides, the facilities canine physical rehabilitation wing.
In the past, dogs that had orthopedic surgery, be it for an ACL tear or a fracture repair, were confined to a crate for eight to twelve weeks in order to protect their surgery site. “Now, we commonly begin physical rehabilitation as early as the day after surgery, focusing first on pain, swelling and inflammation reduction, then weight bearing exercises and finally strengthening and endurance exercises,” reports Wolter. “We have found that this early intervention promotes safe healing and gives our clients confidence that the surgery will be a success, and that their canine companion will be able to comfortably participate in the Central Oregon activities that they previously enjoyed.”
Additionally, as these dogs age, physical rehabilitation is helpful in reducing the effects of osteoarthritis, often the result of injury and overuse conditions.
“Just like in people, maintaining function is imperative in protecting quality of life through a dog’s senior years,” says Wolter. “Hydrotherapy (underwater treadmill) is a very valuable tool for these canine ambassadors, allowing them to gain or maintain strength while reducing the impact on their osteoarthritic, stiff joints. While physical rehabilitation can’t offer time travel and transform a 12 year old into an exuberant happy three year old, it can certainly preserve and even help to regain function, coordination and comfort.
“At Pawsitive Strides, we feel very fortunate to be able to provide physical rehabilitation services to the Central Oregon dog population and hope to continue to add therapies that help dogs and their families get “a new ‘leash’ on life!”
Bend Veterinary Specialists and Pawsitive Strides, 1245 SE 3rd St. Suite C-3. Bend, 541-312-2114, www.bendvetspecialists.com.