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Owners are turning to canine rehab to help pets

Hartley does balancing exercises and gets a massage as part of her physical therapy at River Canine Rehabilitation in Springfield, Missouri. Canine rehabilitation is a growing field that, in cases like Hartley's, can be used as an alternative to surgery.

When Bryan Lindsay’s miniature dachshund ruptured a vertebral disc that paralyzed her hind end last April, he faced a choice: pay $7,500 for an operation to remove pressure from her spinal cord, with no guarantee that she would ever walk again, or try twice-weekly rehab for $80 a session.

He and his wife, Stephanie, opted for the rehab, which included laser treatments to stimulate healing, workouts on an underwater treadmill and acupuncture.

“I was really skeptical at first, but to see her progress over those next six weeks was astonishing,” says Bryan, who lives in Willard, Missouri. “The first time, they had to support her back end on the treadmill. A week or so later, she was walking but limping. The last time, she was just trotting along.” The 3-year-old dachshund, Hartley, suffered from intervertebral disc disease, a common, hereditary disease in dachshunds. She is now nearly normal, with only a slight “swagger” to remind Bryan of the trauma she endured.


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