I am a human physical therapist assistant that has ventured off into the world of animal rehabilitation. Through this process, I have learned so much in such a short period of time and I decided I’d like to share with all of you a few things that I didn’t know prior to choosing this career path.

  • An ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in a human is equivalent to a CCL (cranial cruciate ligament) in a dog. The ACL/CCL prevents the tibia from sliding too far forward by its attachments to the femur on one end and to the tibia on the other.
  • Animals recover from surgery/injuries quicker than humans. A dog with a torn CCL is walking soon after/right after surgery where humans have to have certain weight bearing precautions and restrictions. Dogs don’t know the extent of their injuries so they are not psychologically affected as humans are.
  • A 10-minute walk in the underwater treadmill is equivalent to a 30-minute walk on land when referring to exercise performance. The buoyancy provided by water reduces musculoskeletal impact while allowing combined aerobic and resistance exercise. This is what makes the underwater treadmill exercise “joint friendly.”
  • Dogs can “spinal walk” after becoming paralyzed. Dogs who sustain injury to the spine (herniated discs, broken backs) do not have deep pain sensation or proprioception in their rear legs in most cases. In many cases, the dogs can still walk by using their reflexes. So his is called reflex or spinal walking. They have no idea where their legs are but they are able to walk.
  • IVDD in a dog is much different than in humans. With humans, the spinal cord ends in the mid back where in dogs the spinal cord ends in the low back. When disc herniation occurs in humans, the herniated disc material presses on the nerve roots and not the spinal cord, which can lead to severe pain but rarely does it result in paralysis. With dogs a herniation compresses the actual spinal cord and can cause paralysis.

Thanks for reading!
-Ashley, PTA