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Fancy Rehab Helps Dogs After Surgery

After surgery, a human typically rehabilitates an injury through physical therapy. But what should a dog do? According to Dr. Dody Tyneway, owner of K9 Gym and Rehabilitation Center in Agoura Hills, man’s best friend should do the same. “When you stop moving is when things fall apart,” said Tyneway. “We help them move safely in a controlled fashion, so they don’t lose the ability to walk.” Launched in 2012, K9 Gym offers an array of canine rehabilitation services that provide patients with a holistic approach to pain management. Whether it’s treating chronic diseases such as arthritis or an injury postsurgery, K9 Gym will create a personalized plan for each pooch that incorporates such treatments as cold laser therapy, acupuncture, therapeutic ultrasound and hydrotherapy. To begin the process, a dog or cat will come in for a physical exam. A specialist will assess heart and lung function, range of motion and muscle girth as well as physical restrictions and atrophy. Then a personalized plan will be created that can include natural supplements and pain medications, stretching and strengthening regimens and resistance training. From there, the physical therapy plan is set in motion and reevaluated every four to eight weeks to measure improvements and adjust the plan until physical rehabilitation is no longer needed. “I just think there is no comparison as far as results go, because you can’t just take an anti-inflammatory for arthritis and expect mobility to be better,” said Tyneway. “You also have to strengthen, stretch, build muscle and condition these dogs.” When a pet has undergone surgery, a veterinarian typically will prescribe a sedative to encourage the animal not to move, as to not damage the surgery. However, when a human has a procedure done, physical therapy and rehabilitation are started almost immediately to prevent further atrophy, which is caused by immobilization. “The idea of integrating canine rehabilitation into veterinary practice is actually behind the times when compared to health care for the human counterpart,” said Kirk Peck, president of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Animal Rehabilitation Special Interest Group of La Crosse, Wis. “The profession of physical therapy … was never intended to ‘replace’ traditional medicine or surgery but rather to complement their use and enhance overall outcomes to restore and improve function.” K9 Gym, located at 28714 Canwood St., contains examination rooms, a gym area, hydrotherapy underwater treadmills and a 15,000-gallon heated salt-water pool. On a busy day, the facility can see up to 30 patients among the three doctors, physical therapist and 15 technicians who work there. Service prices vary, with many in the $50 to $100 range. For example, an underwater treadmill session costs $65 while a cold laser treatment is $55. –Stephanie Henkel

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