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What is Prehab and is it important?

Prehab refers to vet physio or hydro where there is no diagnosed condition

But why is it important?

Changes in behaviour linked to pain/discomfort

Your dog can experience pain or discomfort in many ways and for many reasons. They can have an injury, be overusing or underusing a part of their body or even just have a posture or conformation predisposing them to areas of tension or decreased strength.

You might not be able to see any changes in how your dog is moving on their walks but you might notice some changes in their behaviour that can indicate they are uncomfortable such as altering how they stand/sit/lay, becoming more withdrawn or hyper, not wanting to join in activities they used to or even becoming more reactive or nervous of situations they used to be okay with such as becoming more sensitive to loud noises or other dogs in their space. Your dog may also start licking or chewing more.

You might notice changes in your dog's muscle mass, joint range of motion or stride length even without any other more noticeable signs of discomfort like a limp or crying out in pain which is actually very rare. You may notice a change in muscle tension or your dog may stretch more/less than usual.

So the signs your pet could not be in optimal condition can be very subtle unless you know what you’re looking for so for that reason I always advise you seek a professional opinion. As a physio specialising in sporting/working dogs or those without a diagnosable condition such as those with behavioural changes or reactivity I always recommend 3-6monthly physio sessions for all dogs as not only do we notice any little changes in your dogs we can improve their strength and fitness now to help prevent injuries in the future or diseases like OA.

- benefits of prehab/fitness sessions

Prehab or fitness sessions are a huge part of what I do and are so important for preventing future injuries and conditions like OA. Ensuring your dog has good core strength helps to prevent back pain (the most common thing I see) and helps to improve their proprioception (the awareness of where their feet are in space) meaning they are less likely to have accidents and are more likely to have the correct gait thus decreasing the risk of tightness developing.

Regular sessions ensure we can treat any areas of tension that do arise through hard work, slight changes in gait or uneven use of a limb this is particularly common in dogs who are always walked on the same side or who train/compete in sports.

Prehab improves-

  1. Joint lubrication and health, preventing OA

  2. Proprioception

  3. Core strength

  4. Muscle strength and mass

  5. Reduce tension

  6. Improve natural gait preventing any stress/injury

  7. Quality of life

  8. Performance and fitness

  9. Recovery after exercise

  10. Stride length and stamina

- What physio/hydro is and how it helps

So what is physio/hydro and how can it help?

In a physio or hydro session we take a look at how your dog moves and stands and assess all their joints and muscles. During a physio session, we would then treat any areas of weakness or tightness via the use of manual therapies such as massage, electrotherapies such as PEMF and laser and remedial exercises which is where hydro comes in.

Hydro is a form of remedial exercise in which we aim to improve gait, muscle mass and joint range of motion to help improve joint health and prevent future injury.

Hydro can be in the form of UWTM or pool and other remedial exercises include core exercises, cavaletti and skills training.

- How to access support regarding vet consent and insurance coverage

If you would like to go down the physio/hydro route you would need to complete a vet consent form as this is a legal requirement under the veterinary surgeon's act. If the provider you choose does not ask for this stay away! This is also a great time to get your vet to check for any obvious course of discomfort.

You can then book your first appointment which will include a full assessment and treatment. From there

we will be able to advise you better on what is the best course of action for your dog.

If your dog has a condition diagnosed by the vet or an undiagnosed condition that is under investigation by the vet your insurance company will usually cover the cost of some or all of your physiotherapy or hydrotherapy treatment, however, this does depend on your level of cover and any exclusions on your policy.

If your dog just needs regular maintenance sessions this is unlikely to be covered by your insurance.

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