Just to wrap up Orthopedic Month at Embrace, we another guest post from Dr St Clair talking about the importance of rehab in recovering from orthopedic surgeries.
Canine Rehabilitation has roots that extend greater than 20 years ago. Yet even after 20 years, the vast majority of veterinary hospitals in the USA are still falling short in terms of educating clients about the importance of post-surgical physical rehabilitation. In fact, most hospitals don’t even give their clients even the basics in their hospital discharge instructions, nor are they even educating their clients about the benefits and available resources.
The question is why? Do they not believe in it? Are they just not informed about it? Or is it simply impossible to teach an old dog new tricks and it is going to take more time as newer younger doctors arrive, who have been trained on the benefits of canine rehabilitation?
Whatever the case is, you as the pet owner, as the primary care giver, need to take your dog’s health into you own hands. Well, at least to some degree. With the power of the internet, more and more pet owners are going online to learn about their dog’s condition and what their options are to assist them in their recovery. This is fantastic, because I truly believe that an educated/informed client is a much better client overall and a better caregiver.
Here is a shocking statistic for you. In 2003, it was estimated that dog owners spent over 1.3 billion dollars for surgical repair of ruptured cruciate ligaments, most commonly the ACL. To make it even more shocking, in 2003 the total money spent in veterinary medicine was less than 10 billion dollars. Therefore, approximately 10% of all money spent on veterinary care was spent on this one injury. Shocking right?
Though it is incredible how many dogs suffer from this unfortunate injury, what I personally find even is more disturbing is how every veterinarian who diagnoses or performs this surgery will tell you that statistically your dog has anywhere from a 30-50% chance of rupturing the opposite legs ACL within a 1 year period of time. Seriously? This is not good?
I can tell you this. In the 7 years that we have been helping dogs recover from ACL surgery, we have only had 6 dogs that have ruptured the other leg and we have rehabilitated hundreds. Why have we been so successful? The simple reason is this. We educate our clients about how to evaluate their dogs throughout the recovery process, from range of motion to evaluating muscle size by comparing one leg to the other. In addition, we spend a tremendous amount of time educating them on how to perform strengthening exercises during the recovery process, to help their dogs get back to 100 % before they are ever allowed to run and play off leash. If you truly focus on full recovery than you will significantly decrease the incidence of future injury.
Now obviously this does not only apply to ACL injuries in dogs. The same holds true for all orthopedic injuries, from total hip replacements (THR), to femoral head osteotomies (FHO), to medial patellar luxation (MPL) surgery to back surgery for intervertebral disk disease (IVDD). No matter what the injury or surgery, you have to learn how you are going to help your dog recover, because at the end of the day the person who cares the most about your dog is you.
Dr. James St.Clair is one of the nations leading veterinarians and expert in the fields of dog arthritis and canine rehabilitation. He is also the founder of TopDog Rehabilitation and TopDog Animal Health. Dr. James is also the author of the Home Rehabilitation Guide series. These booklets provide step-by-step instruction to pet owners to help their pets heal after major orthopedic surgery.
October is Orthopedic Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
The Embrace Orthopedic Waiting Period: what is it and how do I reduce it?
Guest Post: Cruciate Ligament Rupture in dogs - treatment options
Guest Post: Rebecca Rose on preventing arthritis in dogs
Guest Post: Dr James St Clair - Is Your Dog In Pain? Are you listening closely enough?
Guest Post: Recovering from Cruciate Ligament and Other Orthopedic Surgeries in Dogs