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April 08, 2024

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals: Book Review

By Wendy Robards

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals, by Susan Davis.

Knowledge is power. Animals deserve all we can give them. - from the Introduction -

Physical Therapist Susan E. Davis spent more than thirty years using her skills to treat human patients, and then decided to funnel her love for animals into her career. She trained at the University of Tennessee's Veterinary School and opened a canine and small animal practice in 2008. Her book -- Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals -- focuses on physical therapy for canines, although she does talk a bit about other species.

I was particularly interested in reading this book as I am also a licensed physical therapist, having worked twenty-five years in the field, mostly in geriatrics, neurological disability and with adults with developmental delay. Anyone who comes to my blog also knows how much I love animals, especially dogs. When I was training my dog, Caribou, for search and rescue I found myself in the unique position to offer her some physical therapy. After all, despite differences in anatomy, much of what I have learned treating humans can be used to treat our four legged friends. Caribou suffered from elbow dysplasia (an Ununited Anconeal Process) and underwent surgery for this condition. Following the surgery, I provided ultra sound treatment, massage and range of motion exercises and used my knowledge as a physical therapist to gradually increase her exercise under the guidance of the surgeon and my veterinarian. Caribou went on to become a certified search and rescue dog in three disciplines and worked until she was nine years old going on multiple searches in and around California.

Susan Davis is doing pet owners, and also those with working dogs, a great service in sharing her knowledge of the field of physical therapy for animals. Although I provided PT for Caribou, I was not specifically trained in working with animals ... and I would encourage pet owners to seek the skills of someone who has gone through that specialty training and received the appropriate certification. At the time I was working my dog, there were very few practitioners in this field ... but that is changing now.

Davis's book is written so that anyone can understand it. There are helpful chapter divisions including how the field has emerged and developed, how to choose a therapist (and what to expect), various forms of treatment, use of therapeutic exercise, use of equipment, explanation of various orthopedic and neurological conditions and how to treat them, rehabilitation of medical conditions and a special section on performance enhancement for show, agility, sport, and working dogs. Davis spends some time educating the pet owner on expectations of therapy and provides an appendix of helpful resources.

I found the book well organized, well written and a great resource for my library on care for my dog. Pet owners, as well as those who have working or agility/sport dogs, will find Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals an essential reference book.

Highly recommended.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

  • Rating System

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Excellent
★ ★ ★ ★ = Good/Very Good
★ ★ ★ = Okay read
★ ★ = Not recommended
★ = Ugh! Don't waste your time.

Catch all of Wendy Robard's reviews in her fabulous blog, "Caribousmom".


Article © Wendy Robards. All rights reserved.
Published on 2014-06-30
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