Westside Animal Hospital
Westside Animal Hospital

Alternative & Veterinary Rehabilitative Medicine

What is veterinary rehabilitation and sports medicine?

Veterinary rehabilitation uses non-invasive techniques or modalities to return your pet to their best physical condition, restoring confidence and mental health, and thus maximizing quality of life. This is accomplished by decreasing pain, increasing muscle strength and tone, and improving joint range of motion. Rehabilitation is a particularly important component of recovery from orthopedic surgery to ensure your pet has the best possible outcome.

Here at Westside Animal Hospital treatments may include:

  • Therapeutic Laser
  • Medical Acupuncture
  • Massage Therapy
  • Joint Mobilizations
  • Spinal Traction
  • Cryotherapy
  • Therapeutic Exercise
  • Stretching

If appropriate we will create a unique at home exercise plan that will allow you to participate in your pet’s recovery.

What does it mean to be a CCRT (Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist)?

A certified rehabilitation therapist is a veterinarian who has gone through specialized training focusing on:

A thorough understanding of the unique biomechanics of our companion animals as well as the types of injuries to which your pet may be prone.

Knowledge of how to use a variety of both traditional and non-traditional modalities to help the body heal itself and recover from a wide variety of injuries and conditions.

What is the benefit of keeping your pet’s rehabilitation in-house?

As your primary veterinary care facility, we have seamless access to your pet’s medical history, including blood work, radiographs and ultrasounds, better enabling the treatment of the whole patient. Our continuous relationship aids in elevating the quality of medicine performed while decreasing your pet’s stress level.

Can rehabilitation therapy help my dog or cat?

Rehabilitation therapy can be utilized to help a pet recover from a variety of injuries, but it can also be used preventatively to address areas of weakness with the goal of preventing injury. Some conditions that may benefit from rehabilitation treatments include:

  • Orthopedic surgical recovery and conditions
  • Soft tissue injury
  • Geriatric conditions
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Muscle weakness
  • Imbalance
  • Pain
  • Neurologic conditions
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Wobblers Syndrome
  • Vestibular disease
  • Preventative medicine
  • Muscle strengthening
  • Weight loss

How often and how long?

Each rehabilitation plan is uniquely tailored to the individual patient. Rehabilitation begins with a preliminary, hour-long session comprised of an initial assessment, treatment and creation of a rehabilitation plan. Follow-up treatments last 30-40 minutes. Weekly treatments are common in the beginning with the goal of decreasing the treatment frequency as the patient heals. In some cases, session frequency may further be decreased through home treatment plans. However, rehabilitation patients must be reassessed periodically so that their treatment plan can be adjusted as they heal.

Who might benefit from rehabilitation therapy?

Dogs and cats of any age, size or activity level can benefit from rehabilitation therapy.


Acupuncture, the placement of small, sterile needles into specific points on the body, can be an invaluable treatment for healing, pain management, and overall wellness for pets of all ages. In the hands of an experienced, licensed veterinarian, acupuncture is a very safe treatment option, with almost no side effects and no drug interactions. For more in depth information, see our acupuncture page.

Therapeutic Pet Laser Therapy

Therapeutic laser therapy is a cutting-edge technology that is a non-invasive treatment option for reducing pain and inflammation in your pet.

Uses for Pet Laser Therapy

Laser therapy has demonstrated success in the treatment of post-surgical pain and many acute and chronic conditions, such as:

  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Cuts/bites
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Feline acne
  • Geriatric care
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Infections
  • Inflammations
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Lick granulomas
  • Ear hematomas
  • Periodontal disease
  • Sprains, strains, and fractures
  • Tendonitis
  • Tooth extraction healing and pain relief
  • Wounds

What to Expect During Laser Therapy

Rehabilitation veterinarians examining dog

Laser therapy treatments are very soothing. A therapeutic laser is emitted from a handheld wand that’s held gently to the treatment area. Your pet will feel a warm, gentle sensation as the treatment is administered.

The number of treatments required and the time of each session will vary according to the desired treatment outcome. We customize a unique treatment protocol specific to your pet’s condition. We will thoroughly discuss the treatment plan with you before administering the session.

Laser therapy can be administered as a stand-alone treatment, or it can be used to enhance other treatment plans. Please contact us to schedule your pet’s laser therapy evaluation. We are pleased to offer this non-invasive, drug-free pain management option for your pet. We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding the laser or treatment procedure.

Massage Therapy

Dog massage

Anyone who has personally experienced a therapeutic massage is likely aware of the many health advantages it provides. Imagine those same benefits for your dog!  As an adjunct to rehabilitation, treatment for a number of maladies, or to enhance overall wellness, Westside Animal Hospital offers therapeutic canine massage, performed by our Certified Canine Massage Therapist. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Dog massage provides chronic pain relief from arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other orthopedic issues through the release of endorphins
  • It improves flexibility in joints; helps relieve muscle soreness and tension
  • Canine massage addresses and relieves common myofascial pain patterns associated with abnormal weight bearing secondary to injury or chronic arthritis pain, especially in geriatric dogs
  • It can help calm hyperactivity, separation and other anxieties, as well as provide emotional wellbeing for your dog
  • Dog massage can increase confidence, socialization, and bonding with humans
  • Therapeutic massage helps your young or adult dog become familiar with touch, making visits to your veterinarian or groomer much more pleasant and comfortable for your dog - and you!
  • It triggers your dog's natural ability to heal from injury, strain, surgery, and exhaustion; increases immune system activity

Advanced Stem Cell Regenerative Therapy

Westside Animal Hospital is pleased to offer vet-stem regenerative therapy for your pet. Vet-stem regenerative cells (VSRC’s) are your pet’s natural healing cells that help regenerate injured tissues. This safe and effective therapy can enhance your pet’s health.

Benefits of Vet-Stem Regenerative Therapy

There are many benefits to vet-stem regenerative therapy. This novel treatment signals your pet’s healing cells to injured tissues. It has been shown to:

  • Improve quality of life
  • Regenerate healthy tissue
  • Improve healing

Vet-Stem Regenerative Therapy Uses

Stem cell therapy has been used for the treatment of many pet ailments, including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Soft tissue orthopedic issues
  • Treatment for liver, renal, and autoimmune disease

Vet-Stem Regenerative Therapy Procedure

Veterinary rehabilitation doctors examining chart

Vet-stem regenerative therapy is typically a two-day procedure performed under anesthesia. This minimally invasive technique involves the following steps:

  • Harvesting fat tissue from your pet’s abdomen from a small incision
  • The fat tissue is processed to collect regenerative stem cells
  • The stem cells are injected into the affected treatment area

We carefully monitor your pet during the procedure. Your pet’s safety and comfort are important to us, and our compassionate veterinary team will care for your pet throughout recovery.

Your pet’s health is our top priority. Westside Animal Hospital utilizes the latest tools and techniques to diagnose and treat your pet. Please contact us to schedule an appointment or to discuss the benefits of vet-stem regenerative therapy.

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