Just like us humans, dogs can also greatly benefit from physical therapy while they are healing from an injury.
Usually, these physical therapy sessions will be carried out by a canine physical therapist, but you can also try out a few different exercises from the comfort of your own home, too.
There are plenty of reasons why you might want to try some physical therapy exercises at home. Maybe there aren’t any physical therapists in your local area that are suited for dogs, or maybe you happen to have a nervous dog that only trusts you and doesn’t like to be around people that they don’t know.
Whatever the reason might be for you to want to try some physical therapy at home with your dog – we’re here to help you along the way.
Below, not only are we going to be talking you through some of the most effective physical therapy exercises you can try out, but we are also going to be talking you through how each individual exercise can benefit your dog along its healing journey. Read on.
What Is Canine Physical Therapy?
Canine physical therapy is a type of physical therapy that focuses on helping dogs recover after an injury. It’s usually carried out by a canine professional called a canine physical therapist.
These professionals usually work alongside veterinary surgeons, chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists.
They use techniques such as joint manipulation, laser therapy, electrical stimulation, and more to help improve mobility and function in injured joints.
The best thing about canine physical therapy is that it works very much like human physical therapy. In fact, many of the same principles apply to both types of physical therapy.
For example, both types of physical therapy focus on improving range of motion, flexibility, muscle strength, and stability. Both types of physical therapy also aim to reduce pain and inflammation, which is great news if your dog has been experiencing chronic pain and discomfort.
You should always consult with your vet before beginning any exercise program. Some exercises are safe for most dogs but not all. If you’re unsure about what type of exercise is right for your dog, ask your vet.
9 Physical Therapy Exercises You Can Try With Your Dog
So, now that you know what canine physical therapy is and why it’s such a great treatment for dogs who are recovering from an injury – we are now going to be sharing with you some of the best physical therapy exercises that you can try out with your dog today.
For each exercise, we are going to be sharing with you the various benefits you can expect your dog to experience from each individual one. So, whenever you’re ready, just read on:
One of the best ways that you can help to alleviate any aches and pains while your dog is recovering from an injury is to simply give them a massage.
To do this, as soon as your dog returns from the hospital, we recommend that you carry out regular, gentle massage sessions to help aid your dog as they heal.
Massage is a great way to relax your dog and help them feel better. Not only will massaging your dog help them to relax, but it will also help to relieve stress and tension in their muscles.
This is because massage helps to increase blood flow throughout the body, which will aid in their body’s natural healing process.
2. Back Extension
Another great exercise that you can perform with your dog is back extension. Back extensions are a good way to strengthen the muscles around your dog’s spine.
As well as strengthening these muscles, back extensions can help to prevent future injuries to the area.
In order to perform the back extension physical exercise, all you are going to need to do is simply get your dog to stand up as normal.
Then, once your dog is standing in front of you, you should then go ahead and take a small wedge that you can ask your dog to put their front paws on.
Making sure that your dog isn’t overextending themselves, allow them to hold the position for around 10 seconds, before allowing them to climb back down.
3. Core Training
Core training is another great exercise that you can do with your dog. When performing core training, you’ll want to ensure that your dog is lying down so that they are able to fully stretch their legs.
Once they have stretched their legs, then you can begin to gently move their hips into different positions. You can help your dog to do this, as it might be a little difficult for them to do themselves.
4. “Treat” Stretch
The treat stretch is a great way to improve your dog’s mobility!
They’re also a great way to help them get used to being active again after having been sedentary for quite some time, which also makes this particular physical exercise a great option for older dogs as well as dogs that are currently recovering from an exercise.
To try out the treat stretch, you should take your dog’s favorite treat and begin by luring your dog towards you with the treat.
Allow your dog to stretch forward in order to sniff the treat, and before they take it, gently bring the treat down to their paws, then to each side, and then finally back to the beginning.
Once you have finished the exercise, you can then go ahead and reward your dog with the treat. Regularly doing the treat stretch will help your dog to increase their overall mobility, while also being able to stretch their neck and back area.
5. The Plank
Next up, another great exercise that you can encourage your dog to do is the plank. This is one of the easiest exercises you can ask your dog to do, as all you will need to do is simply ask them to stand still for 10 seconds or so.
This will help to improve their balance, which is something that many dogs struggle with while they are recovering from an injury.
6. Full Body Stretch
If your dog is currently recovering from a back injury, then this stretch can be particularly beneficial to your dog! To perform this stretch, you will first need to take your dog’s favorite treat, as this will encourage them to perform the stretch!
Holding your dog’s favorite treat, lure them towards you, and before they take the treat, immediately bring it downwards so that it is level with the floor.
Hopefully, your dog should form a bow position in order to meet the ground. When done correctly, this will stretch your dog’s back while also stretching their neck and legs – so it’s a great physical therapy exercise for any dog recovering from an injury.
7. The Standing Challenge
Another great physical therapy exercise that you can encourage your dog to try is the standing challenge.
Unlike some of the other physical therapy exercises we have talked you through, this one is great because it won’t require your dog to do anything too complex.
Simply get your dog to stand up for as long as they can, and repeat regularly.
8. Joint Pinch
If your dog is recovering from a serious injury to one part of its body, then a great way you can help to aid the healing journey is by performing the joint pinch exercise.
This essentially consists of applying gentle pressure to the joints of your dog in order to encourage feeling in that area once again.
While doing this, be sure to be very careful and gentle so that you do not hurt your dog.
9. Tail Grab
Last but not least, the final exercise that you can perform on your dog is the tail grab exercise. This essentially consists of gently grabbing your dog’s tail while they walk around you. This will help your dog to become more aware of its body.
There we have it – you made it to the end!
After taking the time to read through the above, we hope that this guide has given you some inspiration for physical therapy that you can do at home with your dog while they are on their recovery journey.
Thank you for reading!