Acupuncture is based on concepts from traditional Asian medicine. Specifically, that the body has a vital energy, called chi (qi), which flows through channels called meridians. Practitioners claim that creating a harmonious flow in the body’s chi by unblocking disruptions leads to improved relaxation and functioning.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles into body tissue at points along the body’s meridians. Holistic veterinarians and other practitioners can use acupuncture as part of rehabilitation after illness, injury, or surgery, or with the aim of reducing pain from an ongoing condition, among other things.
Practitioners can be certified through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.
A way to measure the body condition of a dog. A dog’s body condition score is evaluated by observing and sometimes touching his body, and then comparing him to examples in five categories, labeled 1-5.
Healthy dogs can range between 2 and 4, depending on the breed and level of activity. 1 and 5 are both cause for concern, as they can lead to medical complications.
University of Ohio Veterinary Medical Center website.
A kind of massage therapy for dogs, used as part of rehabilitation, to help reduce the risk of injury after exertion, and to promote relaxation. Massage therapists use the same strokes on dogs as they do on humans, although in different locations because of the differences in canine and human anatomy. Some canine massage therapists use exclusively Western techniques, whereas others incorporate techniques like acupressure into their practice.
Although not all states require licensing or certification, the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage offers certifications for professional canine masseuses.
Paw pods are small platforms that are designed for a dog to place one paw on. They are made to be stable enough that a dog can target and balance with their paws on one, two, three, or four pods. Use of paw pods is said to improve a dog’s balance and rear end awareness. They are used for rehabilitation and in training dogs for sports like agility.
When a dog sits, and then raises his front paws and head up until his spine is vertical and straight, and he is balancing in a column from his hind end upwards.
This exercise can be used in rehabilitation and conditioning, because it strengthens the dog’s core muscles when it is held for a duration.
A large wheel, covered inside with a mat or padded surface, that a dog can run in like a hamster wheel. Treadwheels are used for conditioning and rehabilitation. They can be sized for any breed of dog. Dogs can be trained to get in, use, and get off the treadwheel by themselves, although manufacturers guidelines state that they should not use the equipment unattended.
When a dog is injured, he may be prescribed various different kinds of therapy for rehabilitation. Some of these therapies are classed as veterinary physical rehabilitation, and others are classed as complementary and alternative veterinary medicine.
Veterinary physical rehabilitation can be performed by a veterinarian, or by a licensed non-veterinarian, ideally under the supervision of the canine patient’s vet. Techniques include stretching, massage, hydrotherapy, application of heat and cooling, electrical stimulation, low-level lasers, exercises, ultrasound, and magnetic field therapies. The American Veterinary Medical Association does not count veterinary chiropractic as part of veterinary physical rehabilitation.
Mills, D. and D. Levine (2013) Canine Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy. MA: Elsevier Saunders