DogTo.ca recently interviewed Pet Massage Therapist Pamela van der Merwe (RVT, CAPR) about her specialized services for treating your dog various conditions through massage and rehabilitation.
Dogto.ca: What exact services /treatments do you provide Pamela?
PvdM: I provide massage therapy services as well as physical rehabilitation. These services are performed either in the client’s homes or veterinary clinics (if applicable).
What exactly is physical rehabilitation?
It is the application of physical intervention to specific parts of the body to improve mobility, physiological functionality due to impairments, disabilities and pain. These are treatments chosen based on examination findings, diagnoses and diagnostic tests performed by veterinarians, rehabists and rehab assistants.
What conditions are there where the dog owner really should consider pet
massage and treatments?
A few examples of conditions that would benefit from pet massage and/or physical rehabilitation are:
- Muscle soreness
- Cruciate rupture (torn knee ligament)
- Hip or elbow dysplasia
- Disc disease
- Slipped disc
- Masticatory muscle myositis
- Luxating patella
- Degenerative myelopathy
- Post surgery
- Broken bone repair
- Ruptured ligament/tendon repair
- Femoral head osteotomy
- Luxating patella
- Slipped disc repair
and much more
What are some of the expected timelines, and possible results to look for?
Timelines can be difficult to predict as it depends on the condition being treated, the age of the patient, if surgery was performed, the type of surgery was performed, and how often rehab/massage is being performed. It could be anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months to longer.
Why did you get into this area of pet care?
It was through working in general practice for a few years that I discovered my passion for Pet Rehabilitation and massage. I recognized that many dogs and cats could have happier and healthier lives than current veterinary practices were offering for post-surgery recovery and older patients. After returning to school and receiving my additional qualifications in Companion Animal Physical Rehabilitation, I honed my skills in a small animal practice in the east-end of Toronto.
Now, having branched out on my own, I am offering my services to the pet parents of Toronto and the GTA. I witnessed the special bond between pet parents and their fur babies throughout my career; my goal is to ensure those pets will maintain their health and happiness regardless of age or medical obstacles in their life.
What is a good “case study” that you feel best explains the benefits of your treatments?
One of my first and current patients, Molly, was referred to me a few years ago for hip dysplasia. She is a golden retriever who was adopted when she was a puppy; and unfortunately, she was born with hip dysplasia that started to affect Molly’s mobility as she got older. After 4 months of starting physical rehabilitation, Molly’s mobility improved, to the point that her pet parent was able to reduce her pain medication! Unfortunately, because of the degree of her hip dysplasia, her physical rehabilitation and massage sessions will continue indefinitely. However, because of her pet parent’s diligence with continuing treatment with me, her quality of life has significantly improved, as well as increasing her longevity!
What are most common conditions currently that you see/treat?
The most common conditions I see tend to be; hip dysplasia, arthritis, disc disease, and ruptured cruciate ligament.
Obviously it depends on the pet’s specific situation, but about how long is treatment usually required for, and at about what cost range?
It is very patient-condition specific, however treatment could be recommended anywhere from 3 months to lifetime. Cost is dependent on location of client’s homes or veterinary clinic and time of appointment.
Base prices are as follows, tax not included:
Initial Rehabilitation Assessment: $110
Takes about an hour
- goniometry assessments,
- circumference measurements,
- physical examination (orthopedic exam, neurological exam etc),
- gait analysis,
- customized exercise plan.
Initial Massage Assessment: $80
– Takes about 45 minutes
– Includes a 15 minute introduction massage
Physical Rehabilitation Progress Assessment: $50
Physical Rehabilitation Session (1 hour): $60
Massage Therapy Session 30 minutes: $45
Massage Therapy Session 60 minutes: $75
Are your services covered by most of the pet health insurance policies out there?
Yes, depending on the client’s coverage with their insurance company. I have a few clients that use their pet insurance.
Pamela van der Merwe, RVT, CAPR
Springbok Pet Wellness
P: (416) 451-4490