What are stretching exercises?
Stretching exercises provide passive therapy. They also help improve range of motion by expanding tight muscles and tissues.
Why were stretching exercises prescribed for my pet?
Stretching exercises improve joint flexibility. The exercises are commonly performed with range of motion exercises to warm up before strenuous exercises or to help decrease stiffness.
When are stretching exercises recommended?
Stretching exercises are usually recommended when decreased range of motion is detected by your veterinarian or when they feel like stretching would be beneficial for your pet prior to and/or post exercise.
What are the exercise guidelines?
Check with your veterinarian on when and at what level you should start your pet with these exercises depending on their health status and stage of OA. It is best to carefully have the pet lay down before stretching. Gently bend or flex the joint then slowly extend the joint until either full extension or until the pet starts to feel discomfort. You can hold the extension for a sustained stretch. Depending on your veterinarian's instructions you will want to repeat this movement 10 - 20 times.
What are the safety considerations?
Do not force the joints beyond the pet's comfort level. If your pet is feeling uncomfortable, he or she may tighten the limb, turn his or her head, or try to push away. Do not let the pet reach the point of vocalizing pain or trying to bite.
Millis DL, Levine D, Taylor RA. Canine Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy. St. Louis. 2004
Saunders. pp 236-242.
Bockstahler B, Levine D, Millis D. Essential Facts of Physiotherapy in Dogs and Cats:
Rehabilitation and Pain Management. Babenhausen, Germany. 2004. BE VetVerlag. p 58.