Boulder Lifestyle January 2014

Page 26




Rehab isn’t just for humans

Words Ellen Nordberg


uman Coloradans make an aggressive effort after New Year’s to get healthy: joining health clubs, initiating diets, quitting smoking and finally doing something about that old nagging knee injury. But what about their pets? Increasing numbers of pet rehab centers are cropping up in Colorado to help owners manage their pets’ injuries, health issues, weight and life expectancy. Why now? Pets have become family members, and many owners will spare no expense to help their dogs or cats live longer or have less pain. Many fit owners want their pets to keep up on walks and hikes. Plus, they see the benefits that personal training and physical therapy offer in their own lives. “Of course you’d do therapy for a human,” says Tammy Wolfe, PT, DPT and owner of the K9 Body Shop in Arvada. “Why wouldn’t you do it for your pet?”

Your furriest family member

Dr. Kristyn Richardson, DVM, CCRT and co-owner of Canine Rehabilitation and Conditioning Group (CRCG) in Broomfield and Longmont, attributes this growing trend to pets’ increasingly integral role in families. “As we become more bonded with our animal companions, the 26 Boulder Lifestyle | January 2014

search for high-quality care similar to our own is increasing,” she says. “We would not think to have a surgery performed without the discussion of rehabilitation after the procedure. The field of animal rehabilitation is growing exponentially because pet owners are seeing their pets as part of their lives and would like them to have as high a quality of life for as long as possible.” Within this new field lies a wide range of modalities designed to help animals gain strength and flexibility, lose weight and improve joint mobilization, among other benefits. Water therapies are among the most popular amongst therapists and pets. Dogs and cats run or walk on underwater treadmills to aid recovery from surgery or strengthen joints. Many facilities also have larger pools which offer recreational open swim time. “Water is great exercise,” says Wolfe. “Labs and Goldens are the number one and number three most popular breeds, and they love the water. Plus, its good cardio, good endurance and it’s excellent for the joints. Swimming is one of the healthiest exercises for people, so it makes sense that it’s good for dogs.” Walking or trotting on an underwater treadmill can help strengthen muscles around the joints while minimizing pain. Practitioners often put life jackets on the animals and hold onto them while in the