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Frequently Asked Questions

What is physical rehabilitation?

In humans, physical therapy has long been included as part of recovery for patients with orthopedic or neurologic disorders. Veterinary physical rehabilitation is quickly becoming the standard of care with small animal clinicians and specialists as it employs the same medical foundations and therapy techniques used in people. It is becoming an integral part of the overall health plan for our pets to assure they function at their best and are able to participate in their owners' active lives.

What is a veterinary referral center?

Our center's sole focus is physical rehabilitation and/or acupuncture. It is co-operated by a veterinarian with a special interest and certification in these fields and a physical therapist certified in canine rehabilitation. If any other conditions arise in your pet during the course of treatment, or if additional diagnostic tests are necessary, you will be referred back to your regular veterinarian. As a referral center it is our goal to work as a team with you and your primary veterinarian or veterinary specialist to provide the best health program possible. The evaluation, treatment plan and periodic re-assessments will be forwarded to your referring veterinarian to keep them up-to-date on your pet's progress.

What are the benefits of physical rehabilitation?

Faster healing and recovery from injury or surgery, decreased pain, improved mobility and flexibility, reduction and prevention of muscle atrophy and weakness, prevention of further injury, improved circulation and cardiovascular health, improved strength, performance, speed and endurance for athletes or pets, weight reduction and conditioning, and an enhanced quality of life.

What can I expect from an acupuncture treatment?

Some pets will be prescribed an acupuncture-only program and others will have acupuncture incorporated into the rehabilitation plan. Patients usually start with 1-2 treatments per week for 4-6 weeks. Once a maximum response is achieved, treatments are tapered off with the goal of only seeing patients for acupuncture as needed. Most animals relax and tolerate acupuncture very well often falling asleep during treatment. The acupuncture needles are very thin and sterile and most of the time the pet does not even notice their insertion. Acupuncture is used for musculoskeletal and neurologic problems, as well as many systemic diseases. For more information please see our Veterinary Acupuncture section.

How do I know if my pet needs physical rehabilitation?

Any pet recovering from surgery or injury can benefit from a physical rehabilitation program. Patients will become more mobile and recover faster when they can safely exercise in a controlled environment. It is also important in pets with neurologic problems. Muscle loss and a decrease in strength can happen rapidly with neurologic diseases. Rehabilitation programs use exercises specifically designed to strengthen muscle and stimulate proprioception in limbs which can allow those patients to maintain function in the face of a neurologic deficit. Pets that have debilitating metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, Cushing's disease, etc., can benefit from a rehabilitation strengthening and conditioning program. In addition, senior pets suffering from any painful problems, like arthritis, will see great increases in their quality of life when they are able to exercise in a way that allows them to have a normal gait and to bear less weight on their achy limbs, such as is possible in the underwater treadmill.

How do I know if my pet is in pain?

Pets are often very good at hiding their pain. They will continue to exercise and do the things they love well past the point that is normal for a human. Common signs of pain in pets include, a decrease in activity, reluctance to go up/downstairs or jump on bed/in car, difficulty getting up, an abnormal gait, sensitive to touch, panting excessively, restless at night, or a decrease in appetite.

What do I need to bring to the initial evaluation?

Prior to your first appointment, please have any pertinent medical records for your pet faxed to our office at 888-401-2232, as well as a vaccination history. If applicable, please bring your pet's radiographs (x-rays) for review or have them forwarded from your veterinarian. You may also download forms from our New Patient page and complete them prior to your scheduled evaluation.

Can I be with my pet during the sessions?

Yes. We highly encourage owners to have an active role in their pet's rehabilitation program. You are integral part of your pet's success. Pets often feel more comfortable and are more motivated when their owners are present. Though we have treats and toys at the center, feel free to bring your pet's favorites if you think they will feel more at home. In addition to participating in sessions at the center, you will also play an important role in your pet's progress through the home treatment plan that will be prescribed. We will base these plans on your specific lifestyle, time constraints, and your pet's current condition.

What can I expect on my first visit?

During your initial visit, you and your pet will be meeting with a veterinarian and a physical therapist certified in canine rehabilitation. This is a comprehensive evaluation that includes a detailed medical history and review of records, a thorough physical examination, and a rehabilitation evaluation which includes observation of the pet at a stance and during different gaits, measurements of joint range-of-motion and muscle mass, and an overall evaluation of pain and mobility. Please bring all pertinent medical records (or have them faxed to the office) and radiographs (x-rays) for review. This will help us to customize an individual treatment plan best suited for your pet and its situation. This evaluation and plan will be sent to your regular veterinarian. You will also be sent home with a home treatment plan detailing our findings and recommended treatments/exercises/stretches for you to perform at home.

How long will my pet be in therapy?

This, again, is dependent on the individual situation and condition of the pet. Patients usually begin treatments I -2 times a week. Average programs are 6 to 8 weeks but we have many pets on maintenance programs that may see us monthly or once every week or two.

Can you guarantee my dog will improve?

The goals of physical rehabilitation are dependent on the goals of the owner, the condition being treated, and the initial assessment of the animal. We strive to return all pets back to the best possible function and quality of life. Some patients may return to agility competitions, while others may be happy being able to walk around the block again. Expectations and possible outcomes will be discussed with you at the initial evaluation appointment.

Is my pet too old to receive treatment?

We see many senior pets at our center. Senior animals can benefit greatly from increasing their mobility in a safe environment. Most enjoy just standing in the warm water of the underwater treadmill or walking just a few minutes without having to bear their full body weight. Even this small amount of activity can increase their ability levels at home. Their activity and fitness levels are closely monitored as well as heart and respiratory rates. With any pet we begin a program slowly and tailor it to their current ability level with the goal of making them more mobile and comfortable at home.

Do you treat cats too?

Yes! Cats get arthritis and can become overweight too. Although most of our patients are dogs, we do modify treatment plans, often do acupuncture on cats, and even put them in our underwater treadmill!

Do I need a referral from my veterinarian?

While obtaining a referral is preferable, it isn't required as Utah Pet Rehab and Acupuncture Center, LLC is co-operated by a veterinarian. Either way we are in close contact with your regular veterinarian or veterinary specialist to integrate rehabilitation and/or acupuncture into your pet's medical treatment plan and we keep your medical team up-to-date on your pet's progress throughout the rehabilitation program.

How do I schedule an appointment?

Call (435-640-5451) or email (info@utahpetrehab.com) the center to set up your initial evaluation. We highly recommend that you download the New Patient Forms located on our website’s New Patient page to fill out and bring with you to your scheduled appointment.  We also ask that you have your animal hospital fax your pet's records and vaccination history to 888-401-2232 and please bring your pet's radiographs (x-rays) or have them forwarded by your vet, if applicable. We look forward to helping you and your pet!