Canine Health Conditions

There are a range of canine conditions which can benefit from therapy.

These can range from degenerative conditions, developmental conditions, surgical cases (pre and post-surgery), soft tissue injuries, neurological conditions and obesity.

Canine Physical Health Therapy

Hip Dysplasia

This is a genetic condition and is the incorrect development of the hip joint which is commonly described as a ball and socket joint, the ball of the femur or thigh bone sits in a socket within the pelvis, if either is misshaped the ‘fit’ is not good and this causes pressure to be applied in the incorrect areas of the joint which will lead to pain and osteoarthritis.

In some cases, the joint does not fit together at all and this causes increased weakness within the joint. In milder cases this can be managed without surgery, other more severely affected joints are often managed surgically with a variety of techniques such as Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO), Total Hip replacement (THR), Femoral Head and Neck Excision (FHNE).

Canine Physical Health Therapy

Elbow Dysplasia

This is a condition where the elbow joint does not develop normally and this causes pressure to be applied to areas of the joint and other aspects of the forelimb incorrectly which leads to eventual pain and further damage to the joint with associated osteoarthritis.

This condition is the most common cause of front limb lameness. The elbow is a complex joint where three bones; the ulna, radius and humerus bones, meet, and there are several things which can develop incorrectly which all come under the umbrella of elbow dysplasia. These include differences in growth rate between the radius and ulna bones, coronoid process overload, and ulnar notch incongruity.

Treatment often includes corrective surgery to reduce the likely progression of osteoarthritis. Some of the surgical procedures include Subtotal Coronoid Ostectomy (SCO), Proximal Ulnar Osteotomy (PUO), Biceps Ulnar Release (BURP), Sliding Humeral Osteotomy (SHO), Canine Unicompartmental Elbow Replacement (CUE), and Total Elbow Replacement (TER).

More conservative management includes pain control and to try and maintain mobility as much as possible. Hydrotherapy is beneficial in both surgical and non-surgical management of this condition.

Canine Physical Health Therapy

Elbow Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)

A developmental condition caused by a problem with the development of cartilage which causes pain and osteoarthritis to develop within the joint, in some cases loose flaps of cartilage can separate from the surface. Treatment depends on the level of cartilage involvement and often includes surgery.

Canine Physical Health Therapy

Luxating Patella

The patella or knee cap is a small bone which acts as a fulcrum when the knee extends and sits just above the tendon insertion of the quadriceps muscle group. It normally glides up and down in a groove at the front of the knee joint and it can luxate or dislocate out of this groove causing pain and difficulty extending the knee fully, it is more common in smaller dogs but can occur in any dog. As the patella moves in and out of the groove, this causes wear to the joint and will eventually lead to osteoarthritis.

Depending on the degree of luxation this can be treated conservatively with pain control, weight management and modified exercise. There are also several surgical procedures which are used to correct the problem and these include Tibial Tuberosity Transposition, Recession Sulcoplasty, Femoral Varus Osteotomy and some soft tissue reconstruction may also be required.

Canine Physical Health Therapy


This is a non-inflammatory, degenerative condition of the spinal column, which generally produces bone spurs on the vertebrae, older and large breed dogs seem to be the most affected.

Canine Physical Health Therapy

Neuromuscular Disease

The nervous system is generally divided into two parts; the Central Nervous System consisting of the brain and spinal cord, and the Peripheral Nervous System which consists of all the nerves throughout the rest of the body. The two systems work together to provide all the body’s functions.

There are several diseases which can affect either or both systems and accurate diagnosis is essential. The prognosis depends on the type of disease and rehabilitation therapies such as physical and hydrotherapy are used to maintain and increase bodily functions.

Canine Physical Health Therapy

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

This is usually a non-painful disease which is progressive and eventually causes hind-limb paralysis. It is a distressing condition which is most common in German Shepherds and is a genetic condition. It is also found in other breeds.

Unfortunately, the disease will lead to paralysis of the hind limbs, affect urinary and faecal continence and may eventually spread throughout the spinal cord leading to forelimb paralysis.

There remains no specific treatment for this disease and management is by physical and hydrotherapy and the use of slings and other supports depending on the progression of the disease and the dog and owner’s ability to cope with such a distressing condition.

Canine Physical Health Therapy

Carpal Hyperextension

Abnormal development of the ligaments which allows the joint to over-extend. Injury to the carpus and degenerative changes are the three main causes of this problem.

Canine Physical Health Therapy

Degenerative Disc Disease & Disc Protrusion, Spinal Stenosis

This can occur in the spine for a number of reasons and is often associated with injury, it can also occur at the lumbosacral segment of the spine as a result of Lumbosacral Disease.

The lumbar spine is very mobile whereas the sacrum is not so this junction in the spine is susceptible to wear and tear and stress, this can lead to disc protrusion and tearing which can cause compression of the nerves.

This condition usually occurs in middle-aged, larger breed dogs. This can be treated non-surgically with physio and hydrotherapy, exercise modification and anti-inflammatory medication.

Surgery can also be used with procedures which include Laminectomy and Stabilisation surgery.

Canine Physical Health Therapy

Cervical Spondylomelopathy

Also known as Wobbler Syndrome and is a disease of the spine in the neck area which causes a problem with the nerves and the signals they send and receive from the brain and the rest of the body and as the name suggests causes a wobbly uncoordinated gait.

This can be managed non-surgically with exercise modification, anti-inflammatory medications and physical and hydrotherapy. Surgery can also be used and methods vary depending on the severity of the condition.

Canine Physical Health Therapy

Vestibular Disease

This affects the dog’s balance, posture and orientation to space; this is usually sudden onset but can also be caused by infection within the ear. This is usually treated non-surgically with medication, physio and hydrotherapy.

Canine Physical Health Therapy

Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE)

This is a disease of the spinal cord and is managed by physio and hydrotherapy.