Tampa Bay K9 Rehab - Water Treadmill Therapy

Spinal Surgery Rehabilitation

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. This is due to the fact that neurological recovery is a time-sensitive matter.


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).

Estimates show 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. Bacterial or fungal infections cause septic arthritis. 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. In fact, human NSAIDs are highly likely to cause ulcers in dogs, and most NSAIDs are unsafe for cats. Even “safe” NSAIDs can have dangerous side effects and should not be used without concern.

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 ruptures completely, it will receive diagnosis during a physical exam. It is common that during the complete tear of the CCL, damage also occurs to the medial meniscus. The medial meniscus is a 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. Definite diagnosis requires 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

Although senior pets may develop age-related conditions, with the proper care and the right veterinary treatment, aging pets can live a happy, healthy and active life.

Geriatric Neurological Conditions – Degenerative Spinal Disease such as intervertebral disc rupture or bulge, spondylosisdeformans, vertebral instability, lumbo sacral stenosis, and degenerative myetopathy are conditions that vary in frequency. Large breed dogs are more often 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 receive significant help 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 Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a congenital disease that, in its more severe form, can eventually cause lameness and painful arthritis of the joints. A combination of genetic and environmental factors cause arthritis and hip dysplasia. 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 ossis femoris. The almost spherical end of the femur articulates with the hip bone acelabulum, a partly cartilaginous mold into which the caput neatly fits.

It is important that he bony part of the acetabulum carries the weight of the body, not on the cartilage part because otherwise, the caput can glide out of the acetabulum, 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 Rehabilitation

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 (kneecap) dislocates or moves out of place. Causes for this may include some form of blunt trauma, or possibly 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, 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 luxating patellas from worsening. Sometimes surgery is avoidable 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 receive appropriate treatment, 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 expands far beyond usual levels to the point where it impairs health. In wild animals, obesity is relatively rare, but is common in domestic animals like dogs and other household pets that get too much food and not enough exercise.

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. Professionals frequently recommend interventions, such as weight loss and medications, to reduce this risk. In addition, 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.