Frequently Asked Questions


How is GVR’s medical team different?

Our medical team has the training, experience, knowledge and desire to deliver the best in veterinary rehabilitation.

Our treatment philosophy is to first understand the patient as a whole, then tailor a rehabilitation plan with the right combination of treatment options for your pet, as well as for you.

Our ability to help your pet is the result of GVR’s team of certified veterinarians and therapists, who collectively have over twenty-five years of rehabilitation-specific experience and numerous advanced certifications in rehabilitation and pain management.

When conducting your pet’s treatment plan, we take a hands-on approach, including having our certified therapists in the underwater treadmill or pool with your pet. This direct contact allows us to monitor safety and progress, adjust equipment settings, motivate the patient, and perform passive range of motion movements and massage (while your pet rests between sets).

Our expertise is widely recognized; as a model practice in the field of veterinary physical rehabilitation, GVR often hosts internships of other veterinarians, therapists and students wanting to improve their skills and understanding of small animal rehabilitation.

What is rehabilitation?

Physical rehabilitation is the treatment of injury or physical illness to reduce pain, improve mobility and flexibility and restore function. A rehabilitation veterinarian treats acute injuries soon after they have occurred and chronic injuries or diseases that have been affecting your pet for a long time.

Is what you do physical therapy for pets?

Yes! But the term “physical therapy” is, in most places within the U.S., a protected term that can only be used by a person who is a licensed human physical therapist. So we use the term veterinary rehabilitation or veterinary physical rehabilitation to describe what we do.

How do I choose who to go to for veterinary rehabilitation?

We recommend that veterinary rehabilitation be overseen by a certified rehabilitation veterinarian and performed by a certified rehabilitation therapist or rehabilitation assistant..

We believe your pet will have the best outcomes when your pet’s rehabilitation is performed by veterinarians and technicians who have the training, expertise and experience needed to be certified in the field.

To find a rehab veterinarian in your area, click here.

Why choose a certified rehabilitation veterinarian?

A rehabilitation veterinarian is a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) who is also a muscle, tendon, ligament, nerve and bone expert.  A certified rehab veterinarian has advanced training, expertise, and most importantly, experience in the management of pain and loss of function through injury and illness.

Many rehab veterinarians have post-doctorate training in the areas of orthopedic surgery, pain management, acupuncture, chiropractic and/or rehabilitation that has led to specialization and/or certification in these fields.

People who are not veterinarians can also perform some forms of physical rehabilitation on animals; these people include PTs, PTAs, and veterinary technicians and assistants who have been trained in animal rehabilitation. However, only a veterinarian can provide whole body care, prescribe needed medicines, and perform a veterinary diagnostic evaluation prior to designing a treatment plan. Your pet will benefit from a close team of clinicians with his or her best interests at heart.

Why can’t my vet do the rehab?

The best rehabilitation results are achieved through a combination of experience, skills, techniques, and tools, which GVR is well positioned to provide.

GVR’s veterinarians have significant experience and post graduate training in soft tissue and neurologic condition diagnosis, rehabilitation and pain management. While many general veterinarians are great diagnosticians, their skills are often focused in other areas such as internal and preventive medicine. Effective soft tissue diagnosis, rehabilitation and pain management are skills developed through a great deal of experience and specialized training.

After diagnosis, the ability to address your pet’s issue with multiple techniques, medications and/or supplements is important to success. Medicine is an art. Across patients, the same issue does not always respond to the same technique, modality or medication. Being able to bring multiple techniques to any condition maximizes the likelihood of a favorable outcome.  At GVR, our veterinarians and therapists are uniquely skilled through specialized training and experience to bring multiple techniques to any rehabilitation issue.

Often, specialized equipment and training is needed for utilizing many of the tools, techniques and modalities available to the rehabilitation veterinarian. Our techniques and modalities include therapeutic exercises, range of motion and stretching exercises, therapeutic lasers, underwater treadmills, swimming pools, carts, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, herbal therapies, and nutritional supplements.

It would be impractical for the general veterinarian to have the experience, skills, training and equipment available for the occasional rehabilitation patient, which is why GVR is such a great partner to your regular or specialist veterinarian.

What should I expect at the initial appointment?

Our initial evaluation appointments are usually 60-90 minutes but can be up to 2 hours if we are examining a very intense case such as a paralyzed dog. All first-time patients receive this thorough ‘nose to tail’ examination from one of our experienced and certified veterinarians.  This evaluation assesses for structural abnormalities, strength imbalances and loss, connective tissue weaknesses, loss of flexibility, loss of feeling and hidden pain.

Based upon on the findings of the initial exam, the doctor will develop a thorough treatment plan, which may include veterinary chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, laser therapy, underwater treadmill, therapeutic stretches or exercises. Some of these treatments may be performed at the initial appointment.

Our treatment plans often include stretching and strengthening exercises you can perform at home. We demonstrate these exercises for you as well as send you home with specific instructions and access to our online video library of our therapeutic exercises.

By the end of your initial appointment, you will understand the overall diagnosis of the condition, have a thorough treatment plan, understand the reason for the modalities included in the treatment plan, and have specific exercises you can do at home which have been demonstrated to you and which you can re-review online through our website.

How do I schedule my pet’s initial appointment?

To schedule an initial appointment, call us at 678-803-2626.  Our initial appointment phone calls can take up to 20 minutes, as we need to collect information about you, your pet and their medical history.

To expedite the process of scheduling your pet’s initial appointment, we welcome you to complete our short online form or print out the form as a PDF and either email it to info@gavetrehab.com or fax it to 678-803-2646.

A customer service representative will then follow up with you by phone to collect additional information and schedule the initial appointment.

If your dog is “down,” (paralyzed and unable to walk), phone our office immediately at 678-803-2626 and be sure that our Customer Service Representative understands that your dog is “down”.  The sooner we begin working with a neurologically compromised animal, the better his/her chances are for full recovery. 

How long will my pet need rehab?

At GVR, we are dedicated to making sure each patient gets individual attention and individual treatment.  This means that we cannot predict exactly what treatments a rehabilitation plan will include or how long your pet will need to receive rehabilitation. However, we are dedicated to developing a plan appropriate for you and that will give your pet the most successful outcome.

To help you understand our treatment plans better, some typical cases are described here:

Post-op Cruciate surgery (TPLO, TTA, Lateral Suture, etc): 

We start with an initial evaluation, preferably 3-5 days post-op.  At the initial exam we will teach you techniques for reducing pain and swelling. We also may show you how to do some basic early light weight bearing exercises. We often recommend laser and acupuncture at the initial visit as this will dramatically reduce the pain and swelling and get your dog back on all four feet sooner. Depending upon the case, we may recommend a routine of twice weekly visits for laser therapy and land sessions in the gym. Once the sutures are out, hydrotherapy in the underwater treadmill or pool may be indicated. This treatment plan is typically 6-8 weeks long with an evaluation every 2-3 weeks from your GVR veterinarian. Evluations assess progress and may include acupuncture or chiropractic to address imbalances that could be developing from the asymmetric gait.

IVDD (intervertebral disc disease) or FCE (fibrocartilagenous embolism): 

Every patient with IVDD or FCE is very different, which will affect treatment plans as well as patient progress. Your pet may be only mildly ataxic (wobbly) but still have use of his/her legs. Or, a more severe case might have paralysis of the hind legs or even of all four limbs. 

We know from direct experience as well as from the veterinary medical studies that electro-acupuncture and class IV laser therapy are very helpful for these patients.  After a thorough initial evaluation, we often begin with electro-acupuncture and laser therapy at the first appointment and continue treatments 1-2x per week, continually evaluating for a certain level of improvement. 

Given the intensity of some of these cases, some owners opt to have their dog boarded at GVR during intense parts of their treatment. While in our care, we can ensure they have several rehabilitation sessions each day in addition to the nursing care they will receive from our very experienced staff.

Many owners choose to manage their dog at home. If so, we will teach you exercises you can do to stimulate your pet’s nerves.  It is important to stimulate these nerves to keep them as active as possible and to encourage them to heal and recover function. 

Contrary to previously held ideas, research has shown that the nervous system can change, regenerate and grow to recover from injury.  However, these pathways will not be created or repaired if they are not stimulated to do so.  It requires more than just bicycling a leg to teach a dog to walk again; we must teach the nerves how to create a walking pattern.  This neurologic rehabilitation is a major focus at GVR and something we have been very successful with. 

The overall progress of each pet’s healing is very individual. You can count on GVR to recommend a variety of options and to tailor a rehabilitation program specific for your pet and their situation.

My pet is having surgery, how long should I wait to start rehab?

Rehab is best started within 3-5 days of being discharged from the hospital (sooner in some cases). Due to the amount of time we dedicate to initial evaluations, their appointment availability can be limited in any week. We recommend that you call GVR before your pet’s surgery so that our Customer Service Representatives can coordinate our initial evaluation appointment with the scheduled surgery date.  By scheduling early, you will be assured of having an initial evaluation appointment in place.

If your pet’s surgery date changes, please call us at least 24 hours before the scheduled initial evaluation appointment to reschedule.

My pet’s surgeon has recommended rehab, why do I need an initial evaluation?

An initial evaluation by a rehabilitation veterinarian is important to the success of rehabilitation in many ways.  Without a thorough initial evaluation, our doctors won’t be able to craft a customized treatment plan for your pet’s specific situation or know how well your pet is doing after surgery. The initial evaluation allows us to determine your pet’s stage of healing and best customize a treatment and rehabilitation plan.

Some rehab activities could exacerbate your pet’s injury.  Without a thorough initial evaluation and appropriate recommendations for home exercises, you may injure your pet by asking them to do too much too early or in an uncontrolled way. Although your pet’s surgeon may have some knowledge about veterinary rehabilitation, the focus of their practice is surgery. At GVR, rehabilitation, fitness and pain management are our focus.  While your surgeon may be able to make some initial suggestions to begin rehabilitation, our initial evaluations are rehab-specific and key to the success of our patients.

When is rehab indicated?

Many dogs will benefit from the services GVR can provide. 

For healthy active family dogs to sports performance dogs, GVR’s services can improve conditioning, strength and flexibility, helping to improve performance while preventing potential injuries from hard play or hard work.

For dogs that are showing signs of pain or muscle weakness (often older dogs) such as difficulty getting up or climbing stairs, unwillingness to jump, limping, or sensitivity to touch, GVR’s services can reduce pain and increase strength, improving your pet’s quality of life.

For dogs with neurologic conditions such as IVDD (InterVertebral Disc Disease), nerve impingement, or FCE (FibroCartilagenous Embolism), GVR’s services can speed recovery and function, and thus improve quality of life.

For dogs with degenerative conditions such as: Osteoarthritis or degenerative myelopathy, GVR’s services can slow the progression, improve quality of life, reduce pain, and improve strength.

For dogs that are post surgery, such as a typical knee repair (TPLO, TTA or lateral suture), GVR’s services can speed recovery and help ensure muscle strength and balance in order to regain full function and thus prevent alternate leg injury.

For long-back dog breeds that are prone to back problem such as the Dachshund or Basset Hound, GVR’s services can help strengthen supporting muscles and maintain flexibility, helping to prevent disc injuries.

Can rehab replace surgery?

When making a medical decision about your pet, it is best to get a surgical as well as a rehabilitation evaluation.  In some cases, the most conservative approach to treatment is the better option. Rehab is a more conservative approach than surgery. 

In some knee and back cases, effective rehab can be an option to surgery. We have found this true especially for dogs diagnosed with intervertebral disc disease.  However, the only way to understand if rehab will be effective in your dog’s case is to have an evaluation. This will allow us to understand the case so we can lay out all your options,, including surgery if indicated.

We know that surgery is expensive, and in some cases, it is the best option.  However, physical rehabilitation can often be an effective, less expensive (although longer) treatment. 

My dog doesn’t seem to have any problems; why would I bring him/her to GVR?

The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds true in veterinary physical rehabilitation. An evaluation can help us pinpoint, early on, any structural problems or neuromuscular imbalances and address them before they become an issue. Preventive care can help your pet with the daily demands of play, exercise, minor accidents, and aging with greater success.

When are appointments available?

For your convenience, GVR is open Monday through Thursday from 8am to 8pm, and Fridays from 8am to 4pm. We are also open every other Saturday from 9am to 2pm.

There are relatively few options in the Atlanta area for the quality of veterinary physical rehabilitation services we offer. As such, our caseload can be heavy.We ask for your patience and cooperation when booking appointments. We encourage you to make subsequent appointments as soon as possible to avoid difficulty in obtaining a desired time slot; in turn, we will do all that we can to schedule your pet in a timely manner.

Initial evaluation appointments require a nominal credit card deposit of $45, collected when we schedule your pet’s appointment. This deposit is applied as a credit to the invoice at your pet’s initial appointment. If you cancel your pet’s initial evaluation appointment with less than 24 hours’ notice, or fail to show up for the appointment, the $45 deposit will not be refunded. If you cancel with more than 24 hours' notice, GVR will happily refund this deposit.

How much does an initial appointment cost?

The fee for an in-depth initial evaluation by one of our rehabilitation-certified veterinarians is $133.

Based upon the initial evaluation findings, a thorough treatment plan will be developed and discussed with you. Therapeutic modalities, such as acupuncture, chiropractic, massage or laser therapy may be indicated and can be started, with your consent, at the initial visit. Since these therapies may be provided at the same time as the initial evaluation, an average cost for a pet’s first visit typically ranges from $150 to $200.

As part of your pet’s treatment plan, a program of at-home stretching and strengthening exercises will be prescribed and demonstrated to you. You will also be given access to GVR’s online video library of exercises so that you can refresh yourself on exercise specifics while at home.

How much should I budget for my pet’s treatment plan?

Our goal is to create a plan that meets your expectations as well as your pet’s needs.

Recovery, strengthening, improving flexibility, and decreasing pain are highly variable processes, making it difficult for us to determine which type of rehabilitation services and care your pet will benefit most from, before we perform an initial evaluation.  Treatment plans, and therefore cost, can vary greatly depending on your pet’s diagnosis and health condition. Some cases can require intensive care, best served with 2-3 appointments per week. Meanwhile, other cases are best served by bi-weekly or monthly visits.

We treat each case individually, with an individualized treatment plan. However, we strive to create a plan that will work for you, your schedule and your budget while maximizing the therapeutic outcomes for your pet.

Does pet insurance cover veterinary rehab?

Most pet insurance companies cover veterinary rehabilitation performed at GVR, as our services are performed in a veterinary clinical setting and prescribed by our veterinarians.  The American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians (AARV) lists the pet insurance companies and how they treat rehabilitation services, including physical exercises, hydrotherapy, chiropractic, acupuncture and laser.  You can find this information, as well as much more about animal rehabilitation, here.

How does GVR work with pet insurance?

In general, pet insurance reimburses the owner after payment to the veterinarian. We provide you the supporting paperwork you need to file for reimbursement from your pet insurance company.

Do you give vaccines? Do X-rays? Perform surgery?

GVR is part of a team partnering with you and your pet’s primary care veterinarian. As part of that partnership, we specialize in veterinary rehab services. Vaccines, surgery and X-ray services are part of the partnership provided by your primary care veterinarian and veterinary specialists; we do not provide them at GVR.   If you are looking for a surgical specialist we would be happy to discuss the options available to you.

Will you tell my pet’s primary care veterinarian about our visit?

Yes. We take a team approach to the health and well-being of your pet.  We will send your primary care veterinarian and your pet’s surgeon (if applicable) a letter explaining our initial findings, our recommendations, our rehab prognosis and treatment plan going forward.  We are happy to communicate with your pet’s veterinarians as we continue care if they request this.

What else should I know about taking my pet to GVR?

You may want to review our policies about client responsibilities: Policies and Client Responsibilities.

There may be additional questions / answers on our other FAQ page. We also encourage you to visit the Services and Conditions We Treat sections of our website.

What methods of payment does GVR accept?

GVR accepts MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express, cash, and personal checks.  Full payment is required at the time of treatment.

*Pricing information is as of December 2015, and is subject to change without notice.