Odin in swim tank-flatSpinal Surgeries

Dogs that have undergone spinal surgery commonly have limited mobility and even paralysis. It is critical to the recovery of the pet that they receive rehabilitation in the early post-operative period as neurological recovery is time sensitive.


Arthritis is inflammation of any joint in the body. Inflammation may have many causes. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis which can be due to wear and tear on joints from overuse, aging, and injury or from an unstable joint as which occurs with a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) in the knees. The chronic form of arthritis is termed degenerative joint disease (DJD).

It is estimated that 20% of dogs older than one year of age have some form of DJD. One study showed that 90% of cats over 12 years of age had evidence of DJD on x-rays. Infection can be another cause of joint inflammation. Septic arthritis is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. Tick-borne rickettsial diseases, such as Lyme, Ehrlichia or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can also cause arthritis. Auto-immune diseases, more commonly known as immune-mediated diseases, such as Rheumatoid arthritis can cause swollen, painful and inflamed joints. More rarely, tumors can cause arthritis.

Treatment for arthritis should target the inciting cause, if possible. Surgery may be necessary to stabilize an affected joint. DJD may be treated with cartilage protective agents such as glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM or Adequan, regenerative stem cells, low level laser therapy, non-steroridal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), pain medication such as Tramadol or as a last resort, steroids. NSAIDs come in many forms.

In general, it is recommended to use NSAIDs developed for pets, and not those used for people as those are highly likely to cause ulcers in dogs, and most NSAIDs can't be used in cats. Even "safe" NSAIDs can have dangerous side effects and should not be used without concern.

Click here to learn more about NSAIDS.

Stem Cell and other Regenerative Therapies

Canine stem cell and other regenerative therapies are an exciting new area of veterinary medicine and is offered at Central Animal Hospital, an affiliate of Tampa Bay K9 Rehabilitation Center. Mark C. Brown, DVM, CCRP was the first veterinarian in Pinellas County to become credentialed for harvesting and administering stem cells to aid in the treatment of canine osteoarthritis.

To learn more about our stem cell and other regenerative therapies, feel free to call our office.

Knee Injuries and Knee Conditions

CCL Rupture - In dogs and cats the stifle (knee) is in a constant state of partial flexion. It is stabilized by several ligaments but the most common ligament that becomes injured is the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), which correlates to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in humans. If the CCL completely ruptures, it is typically diagnosed during a physical exam. It is common that during the complete tear of the CCL, the medial meniscus can also be damaged. The medial meniscus is a "C" shaped cartilage stabilizing cushion that the bottom of thigh bone rests on primarily.

Partial Knee Ligament Tear – Sometime the CCL doesn't completely rupture and only a percent of the ligament tears. This can be diagnosed definitely only by an MRI or surgery. Partial tears are common, and a new procedure using Regenerative Stromal Stem Cells and Patelet Rich Plasma (PRP) with a stabilizing orthotic may be a non-surgical treatment alternative. This new procedure is available at Central Animal Hospital and Tampa Bay K9 Rehab Center. Traditional repair is also an option. Rehabilitation following any of these knee treatment procedure speeds healing and increases mobility with less pain.

Senior Pets

Geriatric Neurological Conditions - Degenerative Spinal Disease such as intervertebral disc rupture or bulge, spondylosisdeformans, vertebral instability, lumbo sacral stenosis, and degenerative myetopathy are conditions seen in various frequencies. Large breed dogs are more frequently affected by the majority of these conditions which may or may not be accompanied by pain. Neurological presentations such as weakness from lying to standing, an unsure gait, dragging toenail sounds, fecal and or urinary incontinence, and partial to complete paralysis. Treatment ranges from surgery to extensive rehabilitation. A definitive diagnosis may require X-rays or an MRI.

Orthopedic Conditions - Considered to the most common ailment of geriatric dogs, orthopedic conditions are significantly helped through the use of veterinary rehabilitation. In addition to targeting muscle strengthening and increase range of motion, we focus heavily on reducing or eliminating pain. Until recently, senior and geriatric dogs that didn't respond to drugs and supplements had very little recourse. Veterinary rehabilitation is a wonderful treatment to target a condition rather than treating just the symptoms.

  • Hip Displasia Hip dysplasia is a congenital disease that, in its more severe form, can eventually cause lameness and painful arthritis of the joints. It is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It can be found in many animals and, rarely, humans, but is common in many dog breeds, particularly the larger breeds. In the normal anatomy of the hip join, the thigh bone (femur) joins the hip in the hip joint, specifically the caput ossisfemoris. The almost spherical end of the femur articulates with the hip bone acelabulum, a partly cartilaginous mold into which the capul neatly fits. It is important that the weight of the body is carried on the bony part of the acetabulum, not on the cartilage part, because, otherwise the caput can glide out of the acelabulum, which is very painful. Such a condition also may lead to maladaptation of the respective bones and poor articulation of the joint. In dogs, the problem almost always appears by the time the dog is 18 months old. The defect can be anywhere from mild to severely crippling. It can cause severe osteoarthritis eventually as well as compensatory injury to other areas of the body.
  • Lameness habilitation treatment plan. Sometimes even an MRI may be necessary to establish a definitive diagnosis. There are many causes of lameness ranging from soft tissue injury and bone fractures to osteoarthritis, cancer, immune mediated disease, and neurological conditions.
  • Luxating Patella Luxating patella, or trick knee, is a condition in which the patella, or kneecap, dislocates or moves out of its normal location. This can be caused by some form of blunt trauma, or may be a congenital defect. Patellar luxation is a common condition in dogs, particularly small and miniature breeds. There are several stages in patellar luxation, ranging from minor to very serious. When a luxating patella is accompanied by lameness in the same hind limb, even if only a few steps, surgery may be the best option. The surgery involves deepening the groove that the patella sits in. Weight management is essential to keep low grade luxatingpatellas from worsening. Sometimes surgery can be avoided if the pet shows no signs of lameness with low grade luxations.
  • Muscle Spasms - Commonly under-diagnosed, muscle spasms can be extremely debilitating. In many cases when muscle spasms are appropriately treated, a pet's clinical condition can improve significantly.

Orthotics & Cart Fittings

The Tampa Bay K9 Rehabilitation Center can measure, fit, order, apply, and educate clients regarding canine orthopedics. Specialists around the country are at our disposal.

Orthopedic Post Operative Recovery Therapy

As in humans, post-operative rehabilitation allows the patient to heal faster and more complete with less pain and greater long standing beneficial effects. Typical post-operative sessions last from 3-12 visits.


Obesity is a condition in which the natural energy reserve of mammals, which is stored in fat tissue, is expanded far beyond usual levels to the point where it impairs health. Obesity in wild animals is relatively rare, but is common in domestic animals like pigs and household pets that may be overfed and under-exercised.

While cultural and scientific definitions of obesity are subject to change, it is accepted that excessive body weight predisposes to various forms of disease, particularly cardiovascular disease. Interventions, such as weight loss and medications, are frequently recommended to reduce this risk, and many pet owners undertake weight loss regimens for their pets' health as well as aesthetic reasons.

Our rehabilitation center will tailor a weight loss program that may include, but not be limited to, dietary counseling, pharmacological management, and physical conditioning such as underwater treadmill exercises.

Stem Cell / PRP

Regenerative Medicine has arrived as a revolutionary approach to treating animal injuries and diseases. We use Stemlogix processes and kits to isolate stem and regenerative cells from a patient’s adipose (fat) tissue. Studies have shown a clinical benefit in utilizing stem and regenerative cells to treat conditions such as arthritis, joint pain, and cartilage damage in both small and large animals.

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