The importance of rehabilitation therapy

Happy New Year, everyone!

Dieter is doing great!  He has still been getting around well, and has a lot of spunk and joy.  Next Tuesday is round #3 of chemo.  I can’t believe he’ll be halfway through that.  So happy.  He’s taking it well.  It seems to slow him down for the first week, then he slowly works his way back to the puppy he is.  I wanted to share something important that I learned today.

What I learned today:  Read, read, read, read, read.  The surgeon who amputated Dieter’s leg told me that I would not need rehabilitation therapy, that Dieter would learn on his own, over time, how to do stuff.  I did a little reading today and I learned that Dieter learning how to do stuff on his own does not mean that he will do stuff in the right way, to avoid injuries (either acute, or long term), especially since he is young and has not had a lot of hiking, swimming, etc to help him learn how his body works in a variety of physical situations.  I took my bed off it’s frame to lower it in the hopes that Dieter would be able to get up on the bed more easily and sleep with me, as he’d done before surgery.  The last three nights I’ve been working with him, with treats, to get him to see he can make it up.  He gets up on the sofa all the time and the bed is now the same height as the sofa.  All wrong.  I did some reading today and discovered that the way he does these things now can cause him injury and long-term problems as well.  He needs to learn how to do things in a way that will not hurt him, and I’m now starting to rethink how he does everything from walking, to getting into and out of the car (I basically lift him up, haha).  I realized that I need help.

I’m a student, and don’t have a lot of money, but I’m going to look into getting some help with rehabilitation therapy.  There are a couple of places in town with certified therapists and I’m hoping I can have one of them meet Dieter, and help  me come up with a plan that I can do entirely at home on my own (I can’t afford to take him to therapy sessions).

It just makes sense.  I had a shoulder impingement for *years* and finally had some PT for it a couple of years ago.  No issues since then.  Same with a bum knee I’ve had all my life – periodic PT has helped tremendously.  I now realize this applies to Dieter, too, and am taking the idea very seriously.  I think everyone should, for the long term health of their pet.

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3 thoughts on “The importance of rehabilitation therapy”

  1. You definitely have that right! You might want to search the blogs here, as there are some great suggestions for dog exercises. When Murphy was recuperating from his hip replacement, he went through two months of PT. What a difference it made for him! If you want you can check his story in the Beyond Cancer thread. It is the one about total hip replacement after a rear leg amp. I posted videos from right after his surgery and some from after PT.

    Best of luck to you and Dieter. We look forward to seeing his progress.

    Kathi and Murphy

    PS. I can’t remember if Dieter is a front or rear amp, but either way I would recommend a Ruffwear Float Coat if swimming is to be part of his rehab. We have had other kinds, but this is the best we have ever found.

  2. B R A V O!!!!!

    You are SO RIGHT!!! Yes, it’s amazing how little the vet community knows about rehab therapy. It’s not their fault really, it’s a relatively new field, but yes, just like with people it is SO BENEFICIAL.

    What reading have you been doing? We’d love to share your post with the community. By any chance have you seen our “Loving Life on Three Legs” book? ( We have a lot of insight into the benefits of PT.

    Thanks so much for this great post and the good news about you two. It’s a wonderful way to start the year! Hugs to you and Dieter!

  3. Confession time! It actually *was* your book, Loving Life on Three Legs that I was reading. I read through the section on PT a couple of times and then what I needed to do really hit me.

    I had planned on taking time each day to work with Dieter on my own, but once I realized I was probably letting him do things the wrong way, and connected that to human stuff (like never letting your knee pass over your toes when doing squats), I was on the CCRT website searching for certified therapists in my area. There are two, and one is even mobile, which I thought was clever.

    Since there is so little out there, if I find anything else, I’ll post it to the forums to share with others. In terms of sharing, if you think it’s worthwhile, share away!

    Kathi & Murph, thanks for the suggestion for a swimming aid, I’ll keep it in mind. I am moving this summer to a place that has lakes (yay!) and am planning on teaching both of my dogs how to swim. Yes, I have two labs who don’t know how to swim. Otto is a long story, but Dieter was born and raised in the desert, so he’s never been in water deeper than a puddle.

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