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PT for Pets? Vets Prescribing Physical Therapy

When Ronna Kelly's dog, Cici, made little progress following knee surgery, Kelly decided the athletic Australian shepherd mix should try treatment usually reserved for humans: physical therapy.
 
So for the next several months, Cici underwent a personalized exercise program - including running on an underwater treadmill - up to twice weekly at about $60 a pop. "At first she was confused," says Kelly, of Piedmont, Calif. "But after a few times she learned the routine."
 
A year later - and after a rigorous treatment program that included home exercise, vitamins and painkillers - Cici is back in action. "She's running like crazy after squirrels at the local dog park, and jumping up and down steep hills with amazing agility. She looks like a deer sometimes," Kelly says.
 
Physical therapy for pets is one of the fastest growing areas of veterinary medicine, aimed at helping achy, injured or post-operative animals feel better.
 
"In the past, we didn't know what to do with them and put them in a crate for six weeks," says Kirk Peck, a physical therapy professor at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and president of the American Physical Therapy Association's animal rehabilitation group.

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