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Canine Rehabilitation is one of the fastest growing fields within the wider field of veterinary medicine nowadays and it is an integrative part of any recovery process when a dog suffers from an injury or illness. For sporting dogs, it makes sense to work with people who have an understanding of the sport involved as well, as this may guide them towards a greater understanding of the dog's problem, too! Vet Peter van Dongen, former GB Team vet, judge and competitor and his partner Rimante Butkute, explain what you need to know before starting down the rehabilitation route.
Agility dogs are proper canine athletes and are highly trained and conditioned to do a specific job, which requires top levels of health, fitness, strength, flexibility, endurance, balance and coordination. It is, therefore, important to look after our dogs the very best we can, which means the very best, at all times, with regard to training and conditioning, exercising, nutrition and healthcare etc.
Rehabilitation encompasses many different elements - from initial diagnosis and assessment. There are manual treatments such as therapeutic massage or manipulation, osteopathy and chiropractic, physical modalities such as laser and ultrasound treatment, TENS, NMES and magnetic field therapy, hydrotherapy in the pool or water treadmill, from acupuncture to herbal medicine, from producing an individualised therapeutic home exercise plan to lifestyle modifications and more.
It is often part of the post-operative care for a patient, say for instance, after cruciate ligament surgery, but sometimes it is performed as an alternative for surgery, such as for mild cases of patella luxation or some shoulder issues.
Why should I consider rehab for my
Definition of rehabilitation
Basically, this means that we try to get a patient performing as well as possible, for whatever the original 'job' was of that patient (e.g. 'pet dog', ‘working dog', ‘performance dog' etc.), as much as the patient's physical make-up allows, at that moment in time. For me personally, the term rehabilitation encompasses more than the often-used term of physiotherapy, as the latter is part of the entire rehabilitation process.
Aims of rehabilitation
Indications for rehabilitation
They also include treatment and management of chronic conditions such as osteo-arthritis, neurological diseases and some medical conditions, as well management for obesity and sporting fitness in addition to specific conditioning for sporting and working dogs.
Who can perform
In general, it makes sense to look for a person with a recognised and accredited qualification, a person who works to the very highest professional standards and ethics, a person who holds professional and personal indemnity insurance and who is committed to minimum levels of continued professional development.
Organisations to look for include:-
For sporting dogs, specifically, it makes sense to work with people who also have an understanding of the sport as this may guide them towards a greater understanding of the dog's problem, too!
What is involved in a rehabilitation consultation?
After a full assessment, a specific programme is designed for individual patients, rather than producing a ‘cook book' programme for a particular condition, as all patients differ in their individual factors. A treatment programme is designed, taking into consideration goals set for progression for that patient. This will then be reviewed at regular intervals and adapted where necessary to ensure that the goals are being met.
Manual therapies may include massage techniques, joint mobilisations, passive range of motion exercises, trigger point release as an example. Therapeutic modalities may include laser treatment, TENS/NMES treatment, heat therapy, cryotherapy, therapeutic ultrasound treatment and hydrotherapy.
A Home Exercise Programme (HEP) is beneficial for patients receiving rehabilitation treatment and will be designed to complement treatment plans. This may include cavaletti walking, three-legged stances, hill walking, balance cushions and boards, sit-to-stand exercises as an example. Sometimes we will work with resistance bands too and other pieces of equipment.
proof do we have for rehabilitation?
To our knowledge, PeRiHab is unique in its set-up, combining a huge body of experience and expertise and a large variety of treatment modalities with the convenience of a home-delivered professional service. Between us, we have some 40 years of clinical veterinary experience with various post-graduate qualifications to make us eminently qualified to offer a unique service to you.
Of course, Pete’s extensive agility experience is an obvious plus point as well!
We offer home visits, several days per week, on a private appointment only basis, when we can treat your dog in the comfort of your own home in order to reduce the stress, time and the cost of visiting a practice. We will bring everything we need to treat your dog with us, like a treatment mattress, vet beds, equipment such as a very powerful laser, acupuncture needles, rehab equipment and more.
We think that PeRiHab is what you get if you combine the knowledge, expertise and experience - well, nearly anyway - of the Supervet with the convenience of Deliveroo!
About the authors...
Dr. Pete van Dongen, DVM, CertVR, MRCVS, CCRT veterinary surgeon, originally from The Netherlands, has over 30 years' experience in small animal practice in the UK, as well as over 15 years of experience in complementary treatments, such as canine hydrotherapy and rehabilitation. He is one of only a dozen veterinary surgeons in the UK with the Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT ) qualification from the US-based Canine Rehabilitation Institute (CRI).
He is also a former dog agility competitor, judge and instructor and a former British Team Vet for the dog Agility World Championships for nine years, for two different organisations.
Pete has been Senior Director at a multi-branch veterinary practice in Kent, Lead Vet in Rehabilitation at the world-renowned Fitzpatrick Referrals, Orthopaedic and Neurology Hospital in Surrey, Lead Vet in a veterinary hospital practice in West Sussex and Clinical Director at a high-quality primary care vet practice in Surrey.
Pete has done many charity treks over the years, all over the world, including trekking the Arctic, desert and jungle, walking the Great Wall of China and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. In his spare time, he enjoys adventures with his fiancée Rimante, travel, cooking, triathlons and hiking in the woods.
Dr. Rimante Butkute, DVM, MRCVS is a veterinary surgeon from Lithuania, with many years of experience in small animal veterinary practice in both Lithuania and the UK. After qualifying as a veterinary surgeon, she starting working in a busy small animal practice in Lithuania. She also did some wildlife work, whilst there.
After a couple of years, she decided to move to the UK. Initially, she worked in multiple large multi-branch veterinary practices in Kent, but after a while, she decided to move to the Surrey countryside.
Rimante has done an internship at the world-renowned Fitzpatrick Referrals, Oncology and Soft Tissue Surgery Hospital in Surrey, and has worked at a high-quality primary care vet practice in Surrey. Over the last few years, she has developed a strong interest in an integrated approach to veterinary medicine.
Recently, she pursued her dream of gaining some unique skills and knowledge in Western herbal medicine. Rimante approaches each patient as a whole, rather than as a patient with a specific disease, to make a plan accordingly. She is also a certified K-LASER technician and is currently working towards a post-graduate qualification in Galen Myotherapy.
She loves travel photography, reading inspirational self-development books, wildlife and conservation.
Rimante not only shares her home with fiancé Pete, but also with a Parson Russell Terrier Spike, and a gorgeous ginger cat called Rocky.
First published 14th December 2021
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