Rehabilitation at Safari is different than many other pet rehabilitation facilities. At Safari we have “fear free rehabilitation” this means that we do not force your pet to perform exercises. When you force a pet, you cause emotional harm and fear.
We teach the pet with rewards how to use our rehabilitation tools to properly exercise. These lessons are designed to strengthen core muscle strength as well as to work on specific leg muscles. Proprioception is the ability to know where your feet are without looking. The nerves responsible for proprioception are located in the joints and may be damaged by surgery. These nerves are the first to be damaged in spinal injuries. Proprioception training involves getting the pet to stand on surfaces that give tactile stimulation. This stimulation helps the pet relearn how to properly stand and how to properly move on an injured limb.
We set up obstacles of foam rubber blocks, peanuts and discs and encourage the pets to climb them in a fear free manner. This builds coordination and proprioception skills. We use water treadmills for the water buoyancy that helps to support the weight of the pet while the pet uses its limbs more naturally.
The water treadmill is used mainly to build strength while the Pilates are used to build skills. Land or dry treadmills are an advancement for the pet that can use and bear weight but still needs to work on coordination.
Opal is a pet that is undergoing “fear free” rehabilitation training. You can see that we are using treats to get her to turn in tight circles and to climb up on objects that are mildly unstable. Opal has had TTA surgery for a ruptured cruciate ligament on her left leg. You can see how much fun she is having learning to back up and to play with the rehabilitation specialist. The water treadmill is used for strength straining with the lever of water right at the middle of her stifle joint to maximize the weight reduction with the buoyancy of the water.
This treadmill is used to both build stamina as well as to enhance coordination and normal gait development. Our swimming pool is for more advanced needs. In some cases the pet may be quadriplegic and unable to stand at all. The swimming pool is best for building strength where there is none. Other modalities include heat, cold, cold laser, electrostimulation and massage therapy. Your pet’s case will be managed so that the proper modality and therapy will be applied in a fear free manner.