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Canine Rehab - Thoughts From A Human PT

Finn is working hard at rehab.

Recently, Dr. Hougentogler did surgery on Finn's hip.

Now, he is in rehab to get a full recovery.

Finn's mom, Joni, is a physical therapist (for people).

Since she is so excited about our rehab practice, I asked her if she would share her perspective on Finn's rehab experience.

I certainly appreciate that she was willing to take the time to share this with us.

The rest of this post is what she wrote.

Canine Rehab – Thoughts from a Human PT

Joni DiFonso, PT, DPT, M Ed.

I remember when I first heard about canine or dog physical therapy (PT). At first, I was caught off guard at the idea, who had heard of such a thing?  After hearing my mother in law, Wendy, describe the rehabilitative services that KVet was providing for their animal clients it seemed to make more sense. People have injuries and surgeries and do far worse off if they are told to rest for 6 to 8 weeks and then go back to their day to day activities that they clearly aren’t ready to resume.  Why wouldn’t it be the same for dogs and other animals?

A little background information about myself.  I have been a physical therapist (for humans) for a little over 6 years now. Prior to that, I have experience in Cardiac Rehabilitation following cardiac surgeries such as catheterizations, valve replacements, bypass grafts, and more. In both cases, I have been educated that people do better if they are guided in a skilled manner to return to their prior level of function.  Better meaning improved quality of life, better outcomes, more independence, less pain, and significant recovery of function overall.  We can’t just throw them back into the world  “cold turkey” and hope for the best.  Our four legged friends certainly don’t deserve that either.

So where does my story begin? Well, in November of 2017, my husband,  Andy and I rescued our chocolate Labrador retriever, Finn. We fell in love with him instantly! (I mean, who wouldn’t?) However, I noticed a little limp when he jumped  or ran really hard while playing. He’s only two, so we knew we couldn’t chalk it up to age. We later found out that he had a broken hip and required a Femoral  Head Osteotomy (FHO). This meant he had to have the broken part of his hip removed. Nothing is put in to replace it, they just take it out. Being a “crazy puppy mom” I quickly started doing some research. It all lead me to the same answer, do it – it will be what is best for him. This is still such a crazy concept for me to understand, but it just WORKS in animals. And just as in humans, Finn was going to need PT after.

Interestingly, his care is not that much different from humans. He was going to receive an assessment to analyze his range of motion, flexibility, and strength as well as to look at his function mobility – his ability to walk, move from sitting to standing and vice versa, negotiate stairs, and so on. Then, he had an individualized exercise program designed for him to address these areas. Each session, he receives a progression of balancing activities, strengthening exercises, and functionally based treatments to help him put weight through his injured leg to get him walking better, faster.  They tailor his treatment depending on his response, too. Just like humans!  He also gets home exercises and assignments to work on so that we can continue to help him achieve his goals

Finn is continuing to make great strides in his care while undergoing Canine Rehab at KVet. We look forward to all of the progress he will make and appreciate the superb care his rehabilitation team has given him!


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