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Weight loss has gone to the dogs - October is National Pet Wellness Month

Picture of a dog on a underwater treadmill

Tessa, a Labrador retreiver, enjoys the
water treadmill

The Canine Rehabilitation Service* has taken on a new challenge – helping dogs lose weight. This service, which started in 2008, sees a wide variety of canine patients including those recovering from injury, surgery (orthopedic and neurosurgery) and those who need to shed a few pounds. Patients are evaluated and then a specific and customized plan is developed for each patient. Two and a half years ago the service was drastically improved through the generous donations of clients. One of the items purchased was an underwater treadmill. Prior to these donations, the service only had exercise balls, ice packs and hand techniques to use when working with clients.

For Sandy, a five-and-a-half-year-old Golden Retriever, the underwater treadmill changed her life. Referred to the Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center in March 2010 for rehabilitation after surgery, she was also extremely overweight, at 103 pounds. When she was first seen for an evaluation she could hardly walk on the treadmill for more than a minute at a time. The challenge: strengthen Sandy’s legs and decrease her weight to 77 pounds. The plan for Sandy included weekly visits and by the end of August Sandy weight had dropped to 88 pounds! 

She continued to come in for conditioning and weight loss therapy and is now able to walk 30 minutes on the underwater treadmill without a break. As of early October, she weighed 84 pounds. Certified canine rehabilitation practitioner Tracy Marsh, said Sandy isn’t the same dog she was six months ago. “The change is amazing,” said Tracy. “She has a higher energy level and better quality of life. Getting to the goal weight of 77 pounds is easily achievable.”Our rehabilitation program was made possible through the generous support of grateful client donors. Our services now include an underwater treadmill, terrestrial treadmill, low-level laser, therapeutic ultrasound, massage therapy, heat and cold therapy as well as strength, balance and coordination training. We are able to provide services to a wide variety of patients from cats and small dogs to English Mastiffs. “Without the help of donors we wouldn’t be able to provide such a high level of service to our patients,” said Tracy.

Picture of dog on a couch

December, 2009:
An overweight Sandy plays with a toy on the couch

New Physique

October, 2010:
Sandy Shows off her new physique

The program continues to grow as more clients realize the benefit of conditioning or weight loss therapy for their animals. As with any program, funds are needed to continue to maintain and improve the service and quality of care for our patients. Here are some examples of items needed:

  • Non-digital scales
  • Photo Printer
  • Laser Therapy Unit
  • Wobble board
  • 2nd Underwater Treadmill
  • Extension cords 
  • Stackable fitness steps
  • Life Jackets
  • Primo pads

If you are interested in donating to the Canine Rehabilitation Service, please contact the College of Veterinary Medicine Development Office at 614-688-8433. You can also click on this link ( where you will find a listing of a variety of funds within the College of Veterinary Medicine.

*The American Veterinary Medical Association recognizes more than 40 specialties and The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center has board-certified specialists in 20 or more of these specialties. In addition, the Canine Rehabilitation Institute offers two certification programs – one for veterinarians (Canine Rehabilitation Therapists Certification; CCRT) and one for veterinary technicians (Canine Rehabilitation Assistant Certification; CCRA). The Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center has one veterinarian (also board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons) with CCRT certification and two registered veterinary technicians with CCRA certification.

Learn more about the rehabilitation service >>

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Last updated: 

Monday, April 23, 2012 - 1:52pm