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Physical therapy for dogs?! That’s right! Physical therapy for dogs is our topic today, and we’re excited to share how it’s not only improving the lives of One Tail at a Time’s adoptable dogs, but how it can improve your dog’s quality of life, too. 

Injury, illness, and aging are three things we see a lot of here at OTAT. Is there anything you can do when your dog tears a ligament, pulls a muscle, or starts slowing down in their golden years? There sure is, and Sapphire’s story is a great example of it! 

Sapphire had been in foster care with us for several months when her foster mom realized a sudden limp. She wasn’t putting weight on one of her hind legs, and sure enough, X-rays confirmed that our favorite, blocky headed lady had torn her Cranial Cruciate Ligaments in both back legs…ouch!

Ashleigh carried Sapphy up and down two flights of stairs for weeks!

That kind of prognosis would be tough for any dog, but Sapphy is a city girl living in a second-floor walk-up. Just imagine her face when we told her the news! Sapphire’s first step in the healing process was surgery, followed by physical therapy for a little over a month. Her foster (now forever!) mom and our friend Dr. Francisco Maia of TheK9PT couldn’t have been more supportive.

Sapphire’s first day PT

With Francisco, Sapphire focused on exercises to strengthen the muscles in her hind legs. She did exercises where her front legs were elevated so her back legs had to work hard, as well as exercises on an unstable surface to challenge her core and legs.

Sapphire loved therapy, because she received so…many…treats. She also bonded with Francisco, as so many of our adoptable dogs with injuries or weaknesses do! If you are looking to improve your dog’s overall wellness, and especially if your pup is slowing down in their golden years, physical therapy might be a helpful option.

Sapphire and Dr. Francisco celebrating a successful recovery!

If you’re living in Chicago, Dr. Francisco travels throughout the city and the nearby suburbs, helping dogs who have undergone surgery,are hoping they can prevent surgery, and those are slowing down a bit as senior dogs. Many senior dogs have arthritis and are likely having a harder time moving, feeling stiff, and missing the energy they once had. Canine physical therapists can work with your dog to get them “back to old routine(s).”

Being a pet parent is one of the most wonderful things in the world. But, it can be tough. It’s sometimes hard to know what our dogs need. TheK9PT recommends to watch out for a dog slowing down. If your best bud isn’t walking as fast or for as long, if he or she has trouble jumping onto the couch or into the car, or if stairs have become a pain, you may need to work with a physical therapist. While these are signs of aging, and arthritis is normal for humans and our dogs, we can still take steps to mitigate time’s nasty effects.

A physical therapist can help an aging dog stay safe. Working with an expert can prevent weakness and stiffness and allow the dog to continue walking, breaking into those off-limits rooms, and running to see you when you get home from work.

Sapphire and Aslheigh on their adoption day!

One Tail at a Time Sapphire

Today, Sapphire is doing remarkably well and wants to walk for hours every day. Her mom Ashleigh sometimes forgets about the surgery because Sapphire, affectionately compared to a hippopotamus, is doing so well. “She has a lot of energy, but then can be the laziest. She is the happiest, goofiest, most lovable pup ever,” Ashleigh said. “Therapy was essential to get back to her normal life.” 

-Alissa, One Tail at a Time volunteer