Pre-habilitation: the benefits for animals before surgery

Pre-habilitation is a proactive approach to healthcare that involves preparing the body for an upcoming surgical procedure. This approach can be particularly effective for dogs and horses who may require extensive rehabilitation following surgical procedures. Pre-habilitation focuses on improving strength, co-ordination, proprioception, range of motion, and other essential functions, enabling pets to recover faster and more efficiently after surgery.

Pre-habilitation is an aspect of veterinary care that has gained significant popularity over the years. Many veterinary professionals and pet owners are now realising the importance of this technique in ensuring better post-surgical outcomes for their pets. The goal of pre-habilitation is to improve the animal’s physical condition before surgery, reducing the risks of complications and improving the likelihood of a full recovery.

Pre-habilitation can be used before surgery to help dogs and horses recover faster by focusing on specific exercises and activities that improve the animal’s physical fitness. The primary goal of pre-habilitation is to increase the animal’s muscle mass, range of motion, balance, and proprioception. These improvements help the pet prepare for the surgical procedure, reducing the risk of post-surgical complications, and improving overall rehabilitation outcomes.

Strength training is an essential component of pre-habilitation. This involves targeted exercises aimed at building muscle mass and increasing the animal’s physical strength. Strength training can include exercises such as resistance band training and weight-shifting exercises, all of which improve the animal’s physical fitness and help prepare them for the stresses of surgery.

Co-ordination and proprioception are also essential components of pre-habilitation. These skills involve the animal’s ability to maintain balance, coordinate movements, and maintain their body’s position in space. Pre-habilitation exercises such as unstable surfaces and polework can all improve co-ordination and proprioception, reducing the risk of re-injury after surgery.

Range of motion is another critical aspect of pre-habilitation. This involves the animal’s ability to move their joints through a full range of motion, ensuring they remain flexible and mobile. Range of motion exercises can include stretches, hydrotherapy, and other gentle exercises that promote flexibility and mobility.

Pre-habilitation can also improve the animal’s post-surgical rehabilitation outcomes. By improving the animal’s physical condition before surgery, pre-habilitation can reduce the amount of time it takes for the animal to recover fully after the procedure. This can reduce the need for extended hospital stays and post-surgical rehabilitation, reducing the overall cost of veterinary care and reducing stress for the animal.

Importantly, pre-habilitation enables the owner and dog or horse to become familiar with the rehab therapist and the techniques, exercises and equipemtn used. This should help reduce stress and anxiety in the post-operative rehabilitation period, especially for fearful animals.

Finally, pre-habilitation can improve the animal’s quality of life after surgery. By improving the animal’s physical abilities, pre-habilitation can improve their ability to move, play, and enjoy life after surgery. This can improve the animal’s overall wellbeing, reducing the risk of boredom, anxiety, and other emotional issues that can arise after surgery.

Before any surgery, it is crucial to have a thorough consultation with a veterinary rehabilitation professional such as a veterinary physiotherapist and/or hydrotherapist. This will help to determine the specific requirements for your pet’s pre-habilitation plan. They may recommend exercises that target specific areas of your pet’s body, such as legs, hips or back, to help build strength and improve flexibility.

It’s essential to note that pre-habilitation exercises should never be too strenuous or cause any discomfort to your pet. It is always best to start slow and gradually increase the intensity of the exercises. Your therapist will provide guidance on the frequency and duration of the exercises to ensure that they are safe and effective.

In conclusion, pre-habilitation is a proactive approach to healthcare that can significantly improve the outcome of surgical procedures for pets such as dogs and horses. By improving the animal’s physical condition before surgery, pre-habilitation can reduce the risk of post-surgical complications, improve rehabilitation outcomes, and enhance the animal’s quality of life after surgery.