16904 York Road • Monkton, MD 21111 410-343-0200

Hereford Animal Rehabilitation and Therapy

About HART

Hereford Animal Rehabilitation and Therapy or HART is a division of Mount Carmel Animal Hospital (MCAH) providing rehabilitation and physical therapy services for dogs of all shapes and sizes.

The benefits of physical therapy in human medicine are widely recognized as an aid in recovery from and treatment of a variety of neuromuscular and musculoskeletal conditions. Animals can suffer from similar injuries and conditions, and can benefit from therapeutic treatment as well. Offering a full range of rehabilitation services seemed like a natural fit for MCAH and our mission to provide high quality medicine and comprehensive care to our animal companions. In 2010 we launched HART as a compliment to the care and treatment our veterinarians provide to our patients on a daily basis.


Is Rehabilitation right for your pet?

Rehabilitation and Therapy can improve your pet’s health and well being, mobility and functionality, and overall quality of life. One of our veterinarians can help you determine if Rehabilitation could benefit your pet.

Common conditions treated through Rehabilitation and Therapy:

Canine Rehabilitation
  • Chronic pain due to age or medical issues such as arthritis - pain management
  • Obesity - Weight loss and management
  • Orthopedic injury and/or surgery - swifter and more complete recovery
  • Neurological problems - restoration of functionality
  • Pets susceptible to injury  - increased flexibility and strengthening

What are some common goals of Rehabilitation and Therapy?

  • Faster and more complete recovery from injuries
  • Decreased pain and discomfort from injury, surgery, or chronic conditions
  • Increased strength, and joint flexibility and mobility
  • Maximized recovery from surgery
  • Enhanced conditioning for athletic and performance pets
  • Improved condition and mobility for arthritic pets
  • Minimize the effects of neurological defects with balance and proprioceptive training
  • Achieve healthy weight goals through exercise and mobility

Facilities and Equipment

Heated, Underwater Treadmill

Heated, Under Water Treadmill
The Under Water Treadmill (UWT) dramatically speeds recovery from orthopedic and neurologic surgery. The therapeutic effects of water are combined with exercise to provide a safe and comfortable workout. The resistance of the water and the reduction of weight bearing allows for a more pain-free exercise on arthritic or traumatized joints. Speed, water level, and water temperature can be adjusted to suit the dog’s individual needs. The low impact work is also perfect for beginning a weight loss program.

Laser Treatment
Laser therapy is used to increase the speed, quality and tensile strength of tissue repair, resolve inflammation, and give pain relief. Cold laser therapy is appropriate for both canine and feline patients.

Ultrasound Therapy
Ultrasound therapy is a deep heating unit that can assist with breaking up scar tissue, expedite the healing process, increase blood supply to the affected area and reduces pain and stiffness. Ultrasound therapy is appropriate for both canine and feline patients.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a therapy that uses low-voltage electrical current for pain relief. It can reduce pain and swelling, and increase circulation to the affected area.
Additionally, it can aid in preventing muscle atrophy and increasing range of motion. TENS therapy is appropriate for both canine and feline patients.

Heated, Underwater Treadmill

Exercise Therapy 
An exercise program using a range of equipment such as a Balance board, BOSU Fitness Trainer, or Fitness Ball can be very beneficial. Exercising on this equipment improves a dog’s balance and proprioception, which is the sense of knowing where a body part is in space.  The BOSU Fitness Trainer is used for increasing range of motion and flexibility, improving reflexes and building up muscle tone and endurance.

Stem Cell Therapy
A variety of conditions can be treated with Stem Cell Therapy including Osteoarthritis and tendon and ligament injuries. Stem cells are collected from your pet’s own fat through a minimally invasive procedure. Stem cells are unique in their ability to self-renew and have been found to have great benefit for regenerative medical applications.

Under Water Treadmill

Aquatic therapy is excellent in helping pets get back into or stay in good health. It uses the therapeutic properties of water to improve range of motion, strengthen muscles, and boost endurance, as well as reducing the risk of injury.  Pet water therapy is indicated after soft tissue injuries, post-operative fracture care, neurological impairments, osteoarthritis, muscle weakness, geriatric care, weight loss, and post-operative amputation care.

HART at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital is pleased to be able to offer the Under Water Treadmill (UWT) as part of our comprehensive approach to patient care. It is a terrific option for recovery for surgery or injury, weight management, managing chronic conditions, and making the most of senior years!

Why does UWT hydrotherapy work so well?
The thermal effects of warm water can lessen pain and make connective tissue flexible, thus allowing better range of motion and deeper stretching. The warmth of the water can also increase blood flow and increase the pet’s motivation, speeding up recovery. The water supports a significant portion of the animal’s body weight thereby reducing the impact on bones and joints. The water level can be adjusted to provide additional support as required during a specific phase of your dog’s treatment.

Additionally, the water provides resistance, safely increasing the effort and energy expended during exercise. This helps to restore function, build muscle, burn calories and increase stamina. 10 minutes working on the UWT is similar to walking for 30 minutes!

The speed of the treadmill can be customized to each pet based on the length of the pets’ legs and how much exertion the pet is putting forth. For example, a small breed dog would normally require a slower pace, while faster speeds are better for dogs with longer legs and those advanced in their conditioning – such as with agility or athletic canines. While the size of the pet will help determine the starting speed, the rate of the exercise will be determined by our Rehabilitation Technicians based on your pet’s specific needs and physical condition.

The UWT can help dogs with mobility issues move correctly and increase a dog’s flexion and extension. Arthritic dogs seem to particularly enjoy the soothing warm water and reap the benefits of exercise in loosening up stiff joints and muscles. UWT exercise can be an important component of weight management. We have found many clients are more apt to walk their dogs after seeing them enjoying the treadmill.

Clients usually participate in the UWT sessions by positioning themselves at the end of the treadmill and encouraging their dogs as they exercise. We LOVE to see the interaction between client and patient during the sessions.

Is UWT Therapy right for my dog?
UWT therapy is an effective form of medical treatment for many pets. While water therapy can be beneficial to many pets, it is generally not recommended for pets with respiratory or cardiac disease, or pets that have skin sutures from recent surgeries. As with any new form of treatment, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before undergoing therapy to ensure that your pet is evaluated properly.

We find that most dogs take to UWT right away, while others need to become accustomed to it.  Our Rehabilitation Technicians are skilled at working with your and your dog to help them feel at ease. If you are considering UWT therapy as part of a post-operative recovery program, you may want to consider having your dog participate in a few sessions prior to surgery to overcome that initial adjustment period. At first, water therapy can be slow and your dog may become tired easily. With regular exercise, the pet will be able to increase its stride and exercise better without assistance. Many signs of pain will decrease over time and the pet will most likely obtain better health and wellness.

How long is the treatment? Each session?
Our treatment sessions are each 40 minutes long. The length of your dog’s therapy will be based on the treatment plan our HART team designs for you and your dog based on his or her specific lifestyle, condition, and goals. We offer single sessions as well as packages of 4 and 8 sessions. 

Conditions which can be treated with Rehabilitation

Orthopedic Conditions

  • OsteoArthritis
  • Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia
  • Degenerative Joint Disease
  • Knee Surgery: TPLO, TTA
  • Hip Surgery: Total Hip Replacement, TPO, FHO
  • Fracture Repair and Amputation
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Tendonitis
  • Trauma
  • Athletic Injuries
  • Muscle Tears, Sprains and Strains

Neurologic Conditions

  • Back/Neck Pain
  • Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)
  • Balance/Vestibular Disorders
  • Paralysis
  • Proprioception Deficits
  • Degenerative Myelopathy

Other Conditions

  • Wound Care
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Geriatric Support Care
  • Pain Management
  • Obesity
  • Athletic and Working Dogs - strength, endurance, conditioning

Animal Rehabilitation Frequently Asked Questions