Physical Rehabilitation and Acupuncture



The physical rehabilitation program at AVS features a Ferno Underwater Treadmill. This technology, originally developed for people, then horses, allows a dog to walk on a treadmill that is submerged in chlorinated, warm water. The tank’s water level is adjusted depending on the size of the dog and the focus of the treatment. By increasing the water level, the therapist can reduce the amount of body weight the dog must carry as it walks on the treadmill. As the dog gains strength, it can walk in a shallower depth, against a current, or at a faster speed. The water can also be raised high enough so that the dog can swim. Whether walking or swimming, the dog benefits from the added buoyancy and resistance the warm water provides. Depending on the type of surgery, a patient can begin aquatherapy as soon as 10 to 14 days after surgery, once the incision has healed.


Physical rehabilitation sessions range from 30-45 minutes. AVS veterinarians and veterinary technicians work closely together to evaluate each pet and determine the specific treatment plan and number of visits required for optimal recovery. You can be assured that AVS’ physical rehabilitation team provides their patients with the highest level of medical care and personal attention. For more information, call 407-644-1287.


Meet Blue, a 3-year-old Labrador retriever who competes in field trials in the United States and Canada. In October 2004, he suffered fibrocartilagenous embolus, a stroke-type incident that left him paralyzed in his two back legs. His owner, Chris Parkinson, was devastated and afraid Blue’s short life was coming to an end. However, after just two weeks of physical rehabilitation, Blue regained 100 percent use of his left rear leg and 20 percent use of his right rear leg.

“He is making remarkable progress,” said Parkinson. “He can already walk fine on three legs, and I’m convinced the fourth will be better soon. His spirits are higher, and he’s much happier. Blue’s a great dog and we’re thrilled with the physical rehabilitation services at AVS.”

While results vary for each dog, the physical rehabilitation program allows dogs to recover quicker and at a higher level than AVS was previously able to achieve.


If you experience an injury or undergo joint replacement surgery, you would probably receive extensive physical rehabilitation to restore your mobility and speed your recovery. Affiliated Veterinary Specialists® (AVS) physical rehabilitation program allows dogs to receive the same beneficial treatment and medical care. Physical rehabilitation focuses on alleviating pain and restoring a dog back to its highest possible level of function and activities after an injury, surgery or other medical problem. It includes both passive and active exercises.


  • Cavaletti Rails
  • Inclines / Declines
  • Steps
  • Resistance Movements
  • Figure 8’s
  • Assisted Standing


  • Massage
  • Range of Motion
  • Heat/Ice Therapy
  • Stretching


Prior to AVS’ physical rehabilitation program, there was very little concentrated rehabilitation that could be done with dogs after an injury or surgery. A dog was simply sent home with instructions for its owner to gradually increase the animal’s frequency and duration of movement. Now, through physical rehabilitation, dogs often experience:

  • More rapid recovery
  • More complete return of function
  • Decreased swelling
  • Increased flexibility and range of motion
  • Reduced pain and inflammation
  • Reduced muscle loss
  • Increased muscle mass and strength

Physical rehabilitation through conditioning can also enhance the performance of the canine athlete.


Acupuncture operates on the concept that there are pathways in the body, called meridians that have access points. These are the points used for acupuncture. From a Western Veterinary point of view, acupuncture stimulates nerves, increases blood circulation, and relieves muscle spasms. It can also stimulate the immune system, and cause endorphins (one of the body’s pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid). Although many of acupuncture’s physiological effects have been studied, many more are still unknown. From a TCVM point of view, acupuncture helps return the body’s balance of Qi and blood flow to normal, so the body can heal itself. When an acupuncture point is stimulated, normal flow of energy and blood can be restored. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are safe and effective complementary therapies for many conditions such as back pain, arthritis, nerve damage, chronic gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders, behavior issues, endocrine disorders, anhydrosis, immune disorders, performance issues, geriatrics, and many more.