By Heather Lusk
Most physical therapy offices have treadmills, balance boards and exercise machines. But one particular office motivates patients with toys and peanut butter.
Indy Pet Core, Indiana’s first stand-alone physical therapy facility for pets, is designed to get canines back on all four feet after surgery or while battling arthritis.
The business moved in December after launching at Community Pet Healthcare, owned by Megan Cantrell and her veterinarian husband. Physical therapy was offered at the veterinary office several years ago with limited tools. As it grew, the business needed its own space. Cantrell found an ideal location on Main Street in downtown Whitestown.
Staff members see patients three days a week. Sessions usually last an hour and may utilize procedures like laser therapy to stimulate healing, electrical stimulation to build muscle and hydrotherapy with an underwater treadmill to relieve the weight on a dog’s joints. Progress is tracked by measuring muscles and the amount of weight dogs put on each foot.
“You can visually watch them progress, but sometimes you need a numbers aspect,” Cantrell said.
Patients come from a variety of veterinary clinics. Post-surgery, most dogs are prescribed a six-week therapy plan with additional sessions as necessary.
Physical therapy after surgery is important to build muscle in a safe pinpointed way, according to Cantrell.
“That way they can get back to their exercises in a safe manner,” she said. “We can put them on the treadmill and do it in a protected way.”
Several staff members are canine-certified rehabilitation practitioners and work with veterinary assistants to treat pets.
Soon, Cantrell plans to add training classes and regards the new location as a “stepping stone” to eventually ad a rehabilitation pool and artificial turg for therapy, training and agility.
“Our big dream is to have a bigger facility,” she said.