Physical therapy has always been a huge part of successful orthopedic surgery recovery in humans, and yet we struggle to provide that level of recovery care to our animals. One of my dogs, Mercury, was born with a bad hip (hip dysplasia). It affected one side more than the other, and despite all of the medical options we tried, he was still experiencing discomfort. I consulted with a local surgeon, Dr. Jack Gallagher, to review all of our options for providing Mercury with a pain free future.
The two options we discussed at some length were the total hip replacement and a procedure called FHO (femoral head ostectomy). Given our lifestyle and home – 2 teenagers, 2 dogs, 2 cats, split level home with all hard wood floors – we decided that the FHO would be the best option for our family and our goal of him being pain free.
Surgery went well, but he was pretty painful after the procedure, and I have to admit that I hated doing physical therapy with him because it was uncomfortable, and he did not like it. We did some, but it was clearly not enough. Six weeks after surgery, his preference was to walk on three legs instead of four legs, and his “bad" leg was becoming more and more atrophied.
Finally, I decided that we needed professional help and went to see Dr. Lauren Whitley at Go! Vet Rehab. We came up with a plan of exercises, different medications, massage, swimming, laser and Assisi Loop therapies, and a diet change to incorporate more fish oils and glucosamine. Within the first week, Mercury started putting the foot on the ground when he was walking. We continue to visit Dr. Whitley weekly, and Mercury continues to make slow and steady improvements. We expect it to take four to six months to get him where we want him to be.
His first visit to the pool was quite amusing, as he was not so excited. For the first lap, he was a willing participant. The second lap was questionable, and the third lap was not going to happen. J
After a few more visits, the pool got better and better (along with the treats), and he now enjoys going to the pool.
It is still very challenging to get all of his exercises done in a day, but we have made it a team effort with my children, my husband, and myself all taking turns getting it done throughout the day.
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