Canine Rehabilitation Exercises and Modalities

Canine rehabilitation exercises are becoming prevalent in veterinary medicine. Rehabilitation tools may be used on many levels for the canine client, beginning with basic rehab practices and for that pet the practice would like to offer. Let’s explore canine rehabilitation exercise types, uses, and benefits.

Range-of-Motion Passive Exercises for Dogs

Passive range-of-motions exercises, such as extensions and bicycle motions, are those that are performed by either the owner or veterinary professions. Typically, the pet’s owner or veterinary professional moves the pet’s joint to the available range, pauses the motion, and returns the joint to a normal position.

Moreover, these exercises aim to gradually and carefully direct the impacted joint via the available pain-free range of motion. Ideally, the range of motion increases with these exercises and eventually is restored as much range of motion as possible. These exercises help provide orthopedic assistance for recovery and chronic conditions in dogs, such as femoral head and arthritis.

Range-of-Motion Active Exercises for Canines

The patient completes active range-of-motion exercises. This typically follows passive range-of-motion exercises. In general, range-of-motion exercises must be pain-free as possible. A professional should address inflammation and pain through canine rehabilitation exercises or modalities. For example, moist heat, massage, cryotherapy, laser, or electrical stimulation can minimize pain and inflammation before completing range-of-motion activities.

Consequently, the range of motion should improve once the pain and inflammation are reduced. While it’s not always possible to obtain a full range of motion due to arthritic changes, the goal is to regain as much functional range of motion as possible.

Underwater Treadmill

For dogs, hydrotherapy typically refers to either swimming or walking in water, whether on an underwater treadmill or in shallow water along the beach. Although swimming provides an excellent cardio workout and helps increase the overall burn of calories, it’s generally difficult to modify swimming as an exercise. It can be hard to regulate your pet’s stride and speed. This can put them at risk of overexerting themselves and inadvertently causing further damage to the affected joints.

However, the underwater treadmill offers enhanced “on-demand” control of an exercise plan. It also enables modifications to be made more specific. So, you can quickly adjust the water’s depth and the treadmill’s speed to provide different experiences for the pet. Please visit our Rehabilitation Therapy page for more details!

Overall, many canine rehabilitation exercises can be completed in the early phases and as part of a continuous program for patients with chronic conditions. Contact one of our veterinarians to help determine if rehabilitation benefits your pet.


Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!

This entry was posted on Friday, April 14th, 2023 at 10:49 am. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.