VCA Veterinary Specialists of Northern Colorado


What is Animal Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation?
Physical rehabilitation for pets applies 100 years of human evidence-based therapy techniques to our animal patients to restore optimal function after injury or disease. Our physical therapists have pioneered the use of physical therapy methods to help minimize disability and prevent further deterioration by providing client education and individualized home-care programs, neurological rehabilitation, orthopedic injury treatment, pain management, sports medicine for the animal athlete, wound care, weight loss, wellness and prevention programs, and non-surgical options.

How Will My Pet Benefit From Physical Rehabilitation?
Physical rehabilitation can restore, maintain, and promote proper function and mobility for your pet. It can enhance recovery after surgery or illness, reduce pain, increase circulation, and improve coordination and range of motion. Rehabilitation keeps geriatric patients more comfortable by easing the aches and pains associated with the golden years (aging). Individualized and professionally guided treatment programs are developed to address your pet’s specific needs.

Is My Pet A Candidate For Physical Rehabilitation?
Pets of all ages, sizes, and breeds can benefit from physical rehabilitation. Physical rehabilitation can help improve the quality of life for any animal suffering from chronic pain, arthritis, obesity, poor health, or muscle weakness. We can advise you on when to start a rehabilitation program and will develop a customized program for your pet.

Who Should Perform Physical Rehabilitation?
Ideally, physical rehabilitation on pets should be performed by a qualified physical therapist or veterinarian who has additional training in animal rehabilitation. Our doctors and therapists work in collaboration with VCA board certified specialists and/or your family veterinarian to provide preventive care and rehabilitation for your best friend.

The benefits of physical rehabilitation include:

  • Decreasing pain
  • Improving circulation, strength and endurance
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Enhancing post-surgical or post-illness recovery
  • Improving function of weak or paralyzed limbs
  • Promoting healing of injured or inflamed tissues
  • Restoring joint range of motion
  • Preventing muscle atrophy
  • Early return to functional activities
  • Improving quality of life
  • Positive psychological effect (for pet and owner)

Services Offered:

  • Client Education
  • Custom Home Care Programs and appropriate progression of activities
  • Custom Orthotics and Prosthetics
  • Cart Fittings / Assistive Devices
  • Cold / Heat Applications
  • Conformation Assessments
  • Athletic Injury Screens and Preventative Fitness Programs
  • Manual Therapy
  • Neuromuscular Re-Education
  • Gait Analysis and Training
  • Pain Management
  • Hydrotherapy (Underwater Treadmill)
  • Therapeutic Exercise, such as Spinal Stabilization Techniques, Proprioception, Balance and Coordination
  • Strengthening and Appropriate Progression of Exercise Plan
  • Modalities: Laser Therapy, Ultrasound, Electrical Stimulation

Conditions That Respond To Rehabilitation
While physical rehabilitation is most often thought of in conjunction with recovery from a muscle, bone, or joint injury, there are many conditions that respond well to physical rehabilitation therapy:

Orthopedic Conditions

  • Arthritis
  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears/Rupture
  • Hip/Elbow Dysplasia
  • Patellar Luxations
  • Osteochrondritis Dissecans
  • Soft Tissue Injuries (e.g., bicipital tendonitis, iliopsoas strains, carpal hyperextension)
  • Post-Surgical and Fracture Recovery
  • Amputations

Neurologic Conditions

  • Intervertebral Disk and Wobbler’s Disease
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Lumbosacral Disease
  • Brain Injuries
  • FCE (fibrocartilagenous embolism)
  • Back and Neck Pain
  • Vestibular Disease
  • Nerve Injuries

General Health/Wellness/Other

  • Obesity/Weight Loss
  • Post-Disease/Injury Reconditioning
  • Cardiovascular Fitness
  • Athletic Conditioning/Performance Problems
  • Gait Abnormalities
  • Wound Care (e.g., lick granulomas, degloving injuries and decubitus ulcers)
  • Geriatric Support Care
  • Non-Surgical Options
  • Critical (or Intensive) Care Patients

Documents and Case Studies:

Physical therapy can help with athletic conditioning and improve performance.

Stifle orthosis as a non-surgical option for cranial cruciate rupture.

Electrical stimulation applied to quadriceps muscles.

Ruby post amputation and donning her prosthetic

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make payments instead of having to pay all at once?

Unfortunately, we do not offer payment plans. Payment is due at the time of service. We do offer Care Credit, a medical credit card, that offers a number of interest free and extended payment options.

You may apply at or in person at our hospital.

We also encourage you to explore the option of pet insurance or a medical savings account for your pet. Pet insurance plans still require you to pay the hospital up front and wait for reimbursement, so being prepared is key.

Do I need a referral from my regular veterinarian to see a specialist?

While we encourage you to always involve your regular veterinarian in the decision to seek specialty care, you are not required to have a referral in order to make an appointment. We will contact your veterinarian to obtain your pets recent medical records.

Whether you have been referred, are seeking a second opinion or need services your regular veterinarian doesn't provide, we would be happy to help.

Services Offered in Rehabilitation

Veterinarians in Rehabilitation


General Practice

We have over 600 animal hospitals in 41 states and 4 Canadian provinces that are staffed by more than 3,000 fully-qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 400 being board-certified specialists.

The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments such as wellness, spay/neuter, advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, boarding, and grooming. Services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

Find a VCA General Care Animal Hospital near you:


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Emergency Care

We are available 24/7 for emergencies.

Please remain calm and call (970) 278-0668 to get advice on your pet's particular situation. We will give you instructions on how to handle your pet while enroute and give you directions to the hospital. Be aware that even a loving pet, when injured and scared, may try to bite. If in doubt, gently place a towel or blanket over the head making sure to provide good air circulation for breathing. This will help settle the animal.

What Is An Emergency?

Bring your pet in to see us if any of the following occur:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unstoppable bleeding
  • Inability to urinate/defecate
  • Heatstroke
  • Bloated/distended abdomen
  • Inability to deliver kittens or puppies
  • Loss of balance, unconsciousness, or seizure
  • Pain
  • Major trauma/Injury
  • Shock
  • Poisoning
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Lameness
  • Eye injuries, sudden blindness, cloudiness or abnormal discharge.
  • Allergic reactions
  • Diabetic issues
  • Severe lethargy
  • Temperature greater than 104�F
  • Anything else that concerns you