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Therapeutic exercises – proprioception and flexibility

Depending on the injury and patients condition, we will often recommend proprioception exercises, which can be done with the patient standing independently or assisted using a sling or physio-roll.

They should only be done on recommendation of the veterinary surgeon or suitably qualified veterinary nurse.

Canine Single Leg Lifts.         

Place your dog in a standing position, with all four feet square underneath them, and with a flat, straight back. Begin by lifting the front left leg. Then rotate round each leg. Initially each leg should only be lifted for 5 seconds then increase time as recommended. This will help strengthen not only the limbs, but the core stability muscles.

 Wobble Board.

This is used to increase proprioception, balance and co-ordination, but can also improve strength. The balance cushion or board has a flat or raised side. Stand the dog square, with all four feet underneath them. Use the board on the ‘healthy’ part of the dog. Lift the end of the animal and place the wobble cushion underneath the required limb/limbs. Stand the dog squarely down again. The wobble board actively destabilises the floor, causing the dog to use its other limbs to stabilise itself.

ONLY EVER  do this on recommendation and following demonstration.

Food Stretches..

These are used to improve flexibility, core strength and balance. There are several different options as listed below. For each, the patient should be stood square, with all four feet underneath them, with a flat, straight back. A treat is used to encourage the dog to follow the treat and move the neck and head around, this helps with many muscles including the core and spinal muscles. Only attempt the exercises recommended by your veterinary surgeon or rehabilitation advisor.

  1. Sidewards – slowly move the treat to the right side of the body then the left side, starting with just a short distance, gradually progressing so the head is able to nearly touch the chest wall on each side.
  2. Upwards – using the treat, move it upwards slightly to encourage the dog to lift the head and therefore extend the neck.
  3. Downwards – move the treat downwards, to encourage the dog to look dog and extend its spinal muscles, gradually increase the level. Eventually you can move to have the treat held from behind, between the front legs, encouraging the head to draw right down.