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Hi everyone, Winston is having issues with muscle weakness likely due to being so sick, inactive and being on prednisone for so long. Now that he's feeling a bit better and we're starting to taper off medication I'd like to work on his mobility because he is stumbling on stairs and can only walk for a short time. Any tips or advice on doing this? I am taking him on short walks again, after months of no walking, and I encourage him to do the stairs while I stand behind him so I can catch him if he stumbles. Any other ideas? Is there such thing as physiotherapy or personal training (lol!!) for dogs?

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There is indeed such a thing as physical therapy/physiotherapy for dogs. We actually have a member here, Stella, who is a certified canine physiotherapist in Canada, and I expect she will chime in here.

Jack has the same issues with muscle weakness/wasting from long term prednisone use as well as not being able to run & exercise as much as he used to, due to his disc disease. We did physical therapy sessions for several months. Unfortunately, the cost was prohibitive, so we had to discontinue them. One 15 minute session per week was $52, and that wasn't really enough to do much good. If you have pet insurance, you might check if this kind of thing is covered. 

Some photos of Jack at physical therapy last year:

awe, thanks Karen. I will have to do some research for local physiotherapists. The photos of jack are adorable. He looks like he enjoyed it at least.

He enjoyed the treats he got continuously throughout the sessions, lol. 

Holy cow Karen, that is so expensive!! I charge $30 per 15mins and most of my appointments are 30-45mins. I also make sure everyone has a home exercise programme to do. I live in a rural area and most of my clients can only come every couple of weeks or so.

And it would have been one thing if had been post-surgical rehab, where it was for a limited number of weeks, but this was ongoing for months, maybe years. And they said once a week was not enough. 

Ugh, that sucks. I try to work with my owners and what they can afford, and I really push the home exercises if they can't come to see me as often as I would like.

Although we didn't use them, one of the best forms of exercise to rebuild muscle is the underwater treadmills. So look for a facility that has those. I know a lot of people here whose dogs have undergone knee and other orthopedic surgeries have used them for rehab. 

This reminds me that the dog I used to foster, Sam, used water therapy to rebuild after two knee surgeries. They swore by it. I'll find out where they went.

Perfect! 

We don't have any water therapy in our area, but I've seen the wonderful benefits that other members have had when their dogs participated in it.  When our Springer had CCL surgery, the rehab consisted of increasing walks.  It was suggested that walking on a hill was better than flat areas.  We have curbs on our streets and we walked so that Gordie had to go up on the curb and down off of it to strengthen his legs.

Thanks Nancy. These are great ideas. I am trying to increase his walks but he gets tired pretty quick and wants to lie down on the sidewalk. I live in a rather hill-y area so this is a good idea too. Once I can get him to walk for maybe 15 minutes then I will try him on small hills. I also try to encourage him up and down the stairs once or twice a day, while I go behind him. He's getting a bit better at it but is still stumbling a lot.

Hi Sherri, where are you based? There are canine rehab professionals. I'm in Canada, where even though I am a human Physio with post grad training in canine rehab, I'm not allowed to call myself a canine Physio. The main thing you are looking for is CCRT or CCRP credentials, or a human Physio with a post-grad diploma. There is a great variety of quality in training and services offered by canine rehab professionals, so do your research!

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