Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals, A Book Review.

I was given and asked to write a review for the book, "Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals," by Susan E. Davis, PT.

Ms. Davis has roots on the human side of physical therapy but transitioned to the four legged side after many years of helping people recover from many of the same injuries and ailments that our pets share. Although veterinary practice offers many of the same treatment options we have been slow to embrace the concept of PT and rehab as well as our human counter parts have. Ms. Davis's book is an invaluable resource in helping to bridge this gap.

Written with a full understanding of the topic, using basic terms and easy to follow guidelines, great care is taken to enlighten the reader on the place for PT and rehab. After a brief introduction into the history and benefits available through the successful incorporation of  PT to the rehabilitation process the book is divided into chapters based on type of ailments. injuries, modalities available for incorporation, healing benefits,  and provides the instructions to follow each.

As a practicing veterinarian who performs a large number of orthopedic surgeries I understand the tremendous positive impact physical therapy can have on the healing and recovery process. Of particular interest to me was her excerpt on what PT is NOT. "It is not and never should be used as a substitute for primary veterinary care. The best practice is to provide physical therapy concurrently with veterinary care, along with good communication." Ms. Davis excels is in putting her real-life experience into the team work approach of providing optimal care for our pets. She provides a personal, in-depth, credible side to help resolve many of the debilitating, quality of life issues many of our companions are faced with.

But my favorite part of the book is the last section of  the last chapter. For those of you who know me you know that I appreciate and whole-heartedly support an open dialogue built on pure unadulterated honesty, (and a sprinkle of opinion).

Her last section is titled "I Might Have No Business Saying This But..." where she states, "I hope that by this point in the book I have earned the right to speak my mind about a few things that might help. Well, here goes:

  1. Euthanasia: When it is your pet's "time" and the decision is made to euthanize, please, please summon all of your strength and courage to be present for the event. You will never regret it..."
  2. On the afterlife: Do I think animals go to heaven, or have a soul, or that we will see them in another life? Yes.
  3. Don't create a sick pet: ..It is best to focus our time and energy on keeping a positive approach to their health care: being proactive, practicing preventative measures, and staying focused on moving quickly from sick mode to recovery mode when illness or injury occurs.
  4. On visiting animal shelters: Unless you are actively looking for a pet to adopt, a visit to the animal shelter is not easy but important. Please don't use the excuse: "I can't go because I would want to bring all of them home with me."...It is good to visit your local shelter and bring along a donation, see the animals, and show your support. It also keeps the staff and management on their toes..The animals in the shelter do not want to be pitied; they want you to acknowledge them.
  5. On groomers: ..A good groomer who is an expert and passionate about his or her craft will take the necessary time and attention to ensure your pet stays safe and comfortable.
  6. On pet massage, and the like: they can be helpful and effective, but are not substitutes for the skills and education of a physical therapist."
I applaud, and highly recommend her book as an invaluable resource to arguably the most over looked and under appreciated aspect of pet care, physical therapy and rehabilitation. 

On a more personal note, every Monday you can find me in the Jarrettsville Vet surgical suite performing cranial cruciate repairs. These days I am doing about two a week. Every cruciate repair goes home with adequate pain management, four pages of written PT and post-op care instructions, a 24 and 72 hour post-op recheck. I also see the patients again in two weeks. These re-checks are absorbed inn the cost of the surgery and compliance is almost 100% with this approach. To learn more about cruciate repairs that I have done please see,

Kelso's Christmas Wish.

Pogo's story,

You can find Ms. Davis book, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals, A Guide for the Consumer, on

As for me, I am at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet, on Twitter @FreePetAdvice, and always answering questions on Please stop in and say hello, or pass along a few words of wisdom to fellow pet parents. Pawbly is a place that assists in building more meaningful relationships between all of us pet lovers.


  1. I'm a student and I've put in over 100 hours this year working with my vet and her colleagues and learning from them. It has honestly been some of the best experiences of my life. There's not a harder working group of people around.

    1. Hello Elisse,

      Many Thanks for reading and for your dedication and enthusiasm to helping us take care of our beloved family members, and I agree they are a hard working group of compassionate and generous people!