GVR offers a wide range of rehabilitative, fitness and pain management services to treat canines, felines, and other small animals ranging from the canine athlete to the senior citizen.
Animals are good at hiding discomfort and pain as part of their innate ‘pack’ behavior. The source of that “limp, slowing down, not wanting to jump up” may not be obvious.
Our philosophy of treatment balances the best of Western and Eastern medical approaches to address the ‘whole’ animal. We specialize in hands-on “nose to tail” evaluations performed by highly trained and experienced rehabilitation veterinarians. By assessing your pet’s entire body as well as their experience, environment and everyday demands, we can pinpoint areas of physical weakness and injury and integrate them into a whole animal perspective.
Our holistic ‘whole animal’ approach allows us to select appropriate targeted treatments, including pain management strategies, that will address the immediate issue but also help prevent futu
re issues. At GVR, we help your pet regain full or near full function after injury as well as keep them healthy over the long term. We are proud of the comprehensive treatment plans and modalities we bring to a diverse patient population. Our success with treatment, rehabilitation, and pain management comes from extensive experience in selecting the optimal combination of modalities to best target each animal’s specific needs.
Our patients come to GVR for many reasons. Some come after surgery for relief from pain and to speed recovery, while others come to lose weight, work on conditioning, build muscle mass, regain mobility or improve balance. Still others come to GVR to minimize pain and retain mobility due to degenerative diseases or advancing age. At GVR, we have the proper training, experience, and skills to address a wide range of neurologic and musculoskeletal conditions.
Many animals we see are in pain, whether the result of injury, surgery, or a degenerative condition such as arthritis. In some cases, rehabilitation can provide an alternative to surgery, or reduce or even eliminate the need for prescription pain medication.
Typically, the goals of our treatment plans are to increase your pet’s mobility and functionality. We accomplish these through treatments, exercises, medications and supplements which:
- Decrease pain
- Increase the range of motion of joints and the spine
- Increase flexibility of muscles, ligaments, and tendons
- Increase strength of muscles, ligaments, and tendons
- Improve proprioception and balance
- Promote and support healing
Just as in human medicine, adequate pain management in animals is necessary to enhance healing. We know that pain impedes healing—if the body is in a constant state of pain, the healing process becomes compromised. At GVR, managing your pet’s pain goes hand in hand with our veterinary rehabilitation protocols. Reducing your pet’s pain is often the first step toward increasing mobility.
Traditional veterinary approaches to injury or post-surgical recovery often focus on strict cage rest, and may ignore pain management. Advances in physical rehabilitation techniques in both human and veterinary medicine, additional tools and approaches such as acupuncture, chiropractic, laser, and structured, controlled exercise plans are accepted—and proven—means of helping pets more fully and quickly recover from injury or surgery.
Our team of rehabilitation-certified veterinarians and therapists collectively have over 20 years of rehabilitation experience, and hold advanced certifications and training in: Rehabilitation; Acupuncture; Animal Chiropractic; Chinese herbal and food therapies.
As a model practice in the expanding field of veterinary physical rehabilitation, GVR is a sought-after internship facility for veterinary students, graduates of the Canine Rehabilitation Institute and Northeast Seminars’ Canine Rehabilitation program at the University of Tennessee. GVR has hosted over 50 veterinary and therapist interns. It is not unusual to meet an intern in an exam room observing and learning from our veterinary and therapy team.
Our treatment philosophy balances the best of Western and Eastern medical approaches to address the ‘whole’ animal. Our wide range of treatment options include:
Acupuncture (including electro-acupuncture, B-12 aqua-puncture, and moxibustion)
Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on your pet to treat a diagnosed condition. These specific points are called acupuncture points and are mapped and diagramed for each species. The National Institutes of Health has found acupuncture effective for treatment of pain and osteoarthritis in humans. In veterinary practice, acupuncture may be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has used acupuncture for over 4,000 years. It is accepted by the American Veterinary Medical Association as an effective and safe treatment technique. GVR’s veterinarians have extensive training, experience and certifications in veterinary acupuncture, especially in its application to veterinary rehabilitation.
Electro-acupuncture applies mild specific frequency electrical current across acupuncture needles that are inserted into specific acupuncture points. The application of the current increases the effect of the acupuncture needles and stimulates nerve conduction. Electro-acupuncture is often applied in neurologic cases and to treat significant pain. However, it can also be applied to good effect in more standard rehabilitation cases.
B-12 aqua-puncture is the injection of the vitamin B-12 into specific acupuncture points. B-12 is a vitamin important to basic cell function. We use B-12 due to its anti-inflammatory properties and the way it is absorbed by the body. Aqua-puncture can extend the effectiveness of a standard acupuncture session by stimulating the acupuncture points over a longer period of time as the body absorbs the B-12. Aqua-puncture can also be used when dogs are more reluctant to lie still for traditional acupuncture. It also can allow us to acupuncture points that would not normally be accessible if a dog likes to lie on its side. Unfortunately, aqua-puncture can be slightly more painful to the animal as the injection needle is slightly larger than an uncture needle. We are careful to make sure that your pets enjoy their visit to GVR, so we only use aqua-puncture in cases were it is well-tolerated.
Chiropractic manipulation gently realigns the spine, corrects chiropractic subluxations, relaxes the surrounding muscles, and allows the gradual restoration of neurologic and biomechanical function. The National Institutes of Health has found chiropractic manipulation in humans helpful in many conditions, including back pain, neck pain, upper and lower extremity joint conditions, and migraines. Veterinary chiropractic is used to treat similar conditions and can also be used to help prevent compensatory injuries, such as injuring one leg as a result of weight shifting off of another leg.
All of GVR’s veterinarians have received extensive training in veterinary chiropractic care and are certified in veterinary chiropractic by either the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) or the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA). Our extensive experience in chiropractic care and rehabilitation allows us to effectively integrate chiropractic manipulation into our multimodal approach to your pet’s health and recovery.
Laser therapy is proven to relieve pain from muscle and joint soreness, relieve symptoms of arthritis, relax muscle spasms, increase blood flow to a treated area, and speed wound healing. Laser therapy uses specific frequency LASER light to penetrate tissues and enhance healing through photobiomodulation, which is the application of light to modify a biologic process. The cells in the injured areas absorb the energy of the laser and then can facilitate local healing. Read more about Therapeutic Laser therapy
At GVR, we use two Class IV lasers “LiteCure Companion Lasers”. These lasers allow us to adjust the level of light energy output so the treatment meets the need. Their output can be as low as 500mW or as high as 12 Watts. The dosage and frequency of application is determined by the overseeing veterinarian and applied by the therapist. GVR’s doctors and therapists have undergone extensive training in laser use and application.Lasers have been proven to help regenerate nerve tissue, increase the number of blood vessels in an area, decrease pain and increase the speed of healing of any inflamed tissue.
Chinese herbal medicine
GVR’s veterinarians are trained and experienced in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), which includes use of herbals. Oftentimes Chinese herbs can be introduced into a treatment plan to help with a variety of conditions. Herbal treatments have supplemented, reduced or eliminated the need for some prescription medications. TCVM is increasing in recognition by traditional veterinary professionals and a number of veterinary schools such as Colorado State University, Louisiana State University, Tufts University and the University of Florida now offer acupuncture courses, as well as other TCVM courses for veterinary students
Weight bearing water resistance therapy (Underwater treadmill)
Weight bearing water resistance therapy in one of our two underwater treadmills uses the buoyancy of water to support your pet's weight while they walk (or jog) on a treadmill. The water provides greater resistance to limb movement than air for a therapeutic effect.
The higher the water level, the more your pet's weight is supported and the greater the resistance they feel. For pets that need almost complete support, our treadmills use a four point sling system that is adjustable to your pet’s specific needs.
Used properly, underwater treadmills can decrease recovery time from surgery, improve arthritis through low impact exercise, improve neurologic conditions and increase cardiovascular fitness.
While a treadmill is an important rehabilitation tool, more important is the experience and certification of the therapist operating it and how they use it. At GVR, all our doctors and therapists have extensive experience with treadmill therapy as well as certifications and training in veterinary rehabilitation.
Importantly, our therapists are always in the treadmill with your pet, our patient. This direct contact allows the therapist to monitor your pet’s safety and progress, support them, motivate them, perform passive and active range of motion therapy, stimulate normal gait when needed as well as massage while your pet rests between sets. You can often see therapists working with neurologic patients on motor control and gait retraining by gently moving the animal’s legs in a walking motion. From the weakest neurologic patient to the most fit athletic competitor, our therapists in the treadmill with your pet is the standard of care you want.
Swim Therapy (Indoor SwimEx resistance pool)
When dogs swim, they are not weight bearing and use their legs differently than when they walk, moving through a greater range of motion. A resistance therapy pool is an important tool that complements the weight bearing water resistance of the underwater treadmill. Both are important tools of the veterinary rehabilitation therapist. The pool also allows us to do more on core strength, overall stamina and conditioning.
Many veterinary rehabilitation facilities don’t have the room for a pool. We think it is important to have one. To ensure the best outcomes of the therapy, our rehab-certified veterinarians and therapists actively facilitate the session, remaining in the pool with your pet throughout the therapy
GVR is the first veterinary rehab center in the southeast, and one of only a few in the country, to house an indoor, heated SwimEx resistance pool. The SwimEx pool represents the gold standard in human physical therapy and sports training facilities, and is the same kind of pool used at the University of Florida’s Small Animal Hospital.
While most resistance pools are powered by individual jets, the SwimEx uses a paddlewheel technology to create a powerful, consistent wall-of-water, which means no “dead” spots in current. This translates into a more effective, consistent experience for your pet. Our pool is heated to 90-92 degrees to ensure your pet’s comfort and utilizes a state of the art bromine system to maintain water quality.
The buoyancy of water supports and lessons stress on the joints, encourages freer movement and provides a safe environment for exercise. Using aquatic therapy allows the injured body part to actively “rest” while the animal maintains—and builds— fitness. The warm temperature of the pool also makes it an effective environment for stretching and massage of physically compromised animals.
We recommend pool-based hydrotherapy for reasons such as arthritis; paralysis and other mobility issues; pre and post-surgical rehabilitation; injury prevention and rehabilitation; weight loss; dysplasia; increasing body awareness, balance, and coordination; and fitness.
Massage increases circulation to improve healing, decrease pain and reduce swelling. Massage can be used for acute or chronic problems; it increases blood flow, which improves oxygen delivery to tissues, and breaks down scar tissue. Massage also promotes mental and physical relaxation.
At GVR, we integrate massage into our treatment plans when indicated. For instance, It is often, very beneficial for older pets who have become stiff over many years of pain and arthritis. It can also be effective in highly athletic dogs to keep them in top shape or who have suffered a muscle stain All our veterinarians and therapists are trained in therapeutic massage.
Therapeutic exercise can be passive, where we move the animal’s body to manipulate their joints, or active, where we guide the animal through specific movements with positive reinforcement techniques.
Passive exercise consists of passive range of motion (PROM) and stretching exercises. These exercises help maintain or improve flexion and extension of joints, help the body's awareness of neuromuscular structure and function, and improve flexibility of muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Passive movements through the range of motion by a rehab-trained therapist are very important if the patient is not using a body part or has limited movement of a body part. GVR’s skilled staff understands how to properly use passive range of motion exercises. Understanding just how far to manipulate an animal with restricted movement is a skill only developed through extensive training and experience.
Active exercise uses positive reinforcement to guide your pet through specific exercises they do themselves. Our positive reward techniques mean that our patients (your pet) want to do these exercises! In one of our two gyms, we work with your pet on many different exercises, as well as instruct you how to perform many of the same exercises at home. Some of the exercises that we use to help our patients gain strength, balance, and flexibility are:
- Balance board/BOSU
- Weight shifting
- Stair climbing
- Cookie stretches
- And many more….
Assistive equipment (carts, orthotics and prosthetics)
Unfortunately some pets may not be able to return to full function due to nerve damage, spinal injury or some other permanent condition. However, they may be able to live a healthy and happy life with the correct assistive equipment.
Orthotics (splints and braces) are used to support an injured limb while it heals, to correct a deformity or to encourage correct limb use.
Prosthetics replace a lost limb or one that was stunted as a birth defect.
Carts are fitted to patients that are paralyzed or unable to walk without support. Patients with hind leg immobility when fitted to the right cart can often return to a high level of freedom and mobility.
At GVR we have the expertise and experience to ensure that if your pet can benefit from assistive equipment, it is measured, ordered and fit expertly. We only work with the industry leaders in veterinary assistive equipment to ensure the highest quality outcome.
If needed, our specially trained veterinarians will evaluate your pet to help you determine whether they could benefit from custom fitted splints, braces, carts and even prosthetic limbs. We will then measure or cast the limb to create a mold. The cast and/or measurements are then used by one of our assistive device partners to custom build the cart, brace or prosthetic. At the initial fitting, we make any needed adjustments to the device as well as work with your pet (and you) so that your pet has the best mobility possible.
We prefer to have the owner present for evaluation and therapy appointments but understand that it is not always convenient or possible. To assist in your busy schedule, we offer day boarding for therapy clients in our spacious, modern kennels. When dropping your pet off, our staff will collect the information about your pet’s progress so that our veterinarian or therapist can customize that day’s treatment.
Intensive Rehab & Board
Some patients with advanced orthopedic or neurologic conditions, or those recovering from surgery, benefit most from multiple, short rehab sessions per day. For these patients, we offer the convenience of day or overnight boarding in our spacious, modern kennels. Please contact us for more information about intensive rehabilitation treatment and day or overnight boarding.