Do cats love Rehab and water? You bet!

O’Malley getting Rehab in our Underwater Treadmill

O’Malley loved getting rehab in our Underwater Treadmill. Watch the video and see for yourself! O’Malley3UWTMvid

Historically, rehabilitation therapy in veterinary medicine (similar to physical therapy for humans) has been limited to dogs. But there are many examples of cats receiving rehabilitation therapy. Check out our web page to learn more: ( )

While some cats may not tolerate water like he did, many will tolerate other forms of rehab: manual therapy, massage, LASER treatment, acupuncture, etc. If you think your cat could benefit from this therapy, call us today at 704-786-0104.


All the best,

Stephen E. Foster, DVM, CCRT

Foster Animal Hospital, P.A.

Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center

730 Concord Parkway North

Concord, NC 28027







Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center

PIM Logo

Canine Rehab, similar to physical therapy in human medicine, is ideal for dogs that have been injured, undergone surgery or who suffer from arthritis, obesity, or neurological disease. By using Rehabilitation techniques and modalities we can maximize your pet’s ability to recover physically while minimizing his/her pain. Some signs of pain and discomfort are as follows: Sleeps more/ Restlessness, especially at night Lethargic, doesn’t want to walk as much or at all, Cannot jump onto bed or sofa, Pants more, Lameness, Stiffness, Whines or moans for no apparent reason, Irritability or personality changes, any or all of the above but doesn’t seem or act painful. Below is a list of services that we offer.

  • Weave Cones
    • When walking through vertical weave cones it helps develop coordination and balance while learning to turn and pivot.
  • Initial Assessment
    • To begin an assessment, the patient is observed at rest and at several gaits. General palpation is performed to determine proper symmetry and muscle atrophy. Postural reflexes, ROM measurements and proprioception testing are performed. Every tendon, ligament, muscle and joint from the tip of the nose to the tail is assessed.
  • Cavaletti Rails
    • Helps dogs learn how to negotiate obstacles and walk over them by lifting their limbs to the appropriate height.
  • Underwater Treadmill
    • This is effective for improving strength, muscular endurance, cardio respiratory endurance, ROM, agility, psychological well-being, while minimizing pain; beneficial for post-op fractures, Cranial Cruciate Ligament stabilization, neurological conditions, tendinitis, and conditioning.
  • LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation)
    • LASER is used to accelerate wound and joint healing, to promote muscle regeneration, acute and chronic pain control, decrease edema (swelling), neurological conditions, and post–op care. It is measured in Joules/cm² (dose of laser energy).
  • Dry Needling
    • Dry Needling is the use of either solid filiform needles (acupuncture needles) or hollow-core hypodermic needles for muscle pain from trigger points (knots); sometimes known as intramuscular stimulation.
  • Gulick
    • A measuring tape with a spring tension device used to measure limb circumference. Measures muscle mass around thigh.
  • Goniometer
    • Device measures joint angles of flexion and extension. The measurements are given in degrees.
  • ESTIM (Electrical Stimulation)
    • Helps to increase muscle strength, muscle re-education, increasing ROM, correction of structural abnormalities, improving muscle tone, accelerating wound healing, edema (swelling) reduction, muscle spasm reduction, and enhancing trans dermal administration of medication.
  • TENS (Trans cutaneous Electrical Stimulation Nerve Stimulation)
    • TENS works transcutaneously (through the skin) through surface electrodes to excite nerves
  • Massage
    • Is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body, helps to relieve stress, anxiety and discomfort, helps to reduce muscle spasms and soft tissue discomfort, relief from pain, reduce tension, and help to sedate the nervous system
    • Techniques: Stroking, Effleurage, Petrissage, Compressions
  • Stretching
    • Improves flexibility of the joints and extensibility of periarticular tissues (tissues around a joint), muscles and tendons; beneficial with conditions like shortening of tissues, reduced mobility, injury and neurological conditions.
  • PROM (Passive Range of Motion)
    • Is useful to diminish the effects of disuse and immobilization. There is no muscle contraction performed, helps to decrease pain and improves rate of recovery.
  • Balance Board
    • Is used to provide balance and proprioceptive training from the forelimbs or side to side

Here is a link to our Rehabilitation website page


Obesity and Canine Rehabilitation Part 3 – The End

First we discussed the effects obesity can have on your furry family member and second we discussed diet changes to help with weight loss and control weight gain. So, for the last part of this series we are going to discuss the benefits of starting and continuing canine rehabilitation using the underwater treadmill.

Underwater treadmill is used for post-surgical and non-surgical orthopedic conditions, osteoarthritis in older patients, athlete conditioning and weight loss. For patients that are overweight or obese there is a risk of doing land exercises because of the stress that is applied to all the joints during the performing of these exercises. With the underwater treadmill these patients can exercise more safely because of the buoyant environment the water provides. The water’s buoyancy reduces weight bearing while at the same time it increases metabolic demand and improves muscle strengthening because of the resistance present while walking on the underwater treadmill. With the underwater treadmill you can also raise the water high enough for the patient to perform some swimming (be sure to have a life jacket for the patient).

amadeus swimming amadeus Luke

The water levels and speed of the underwater treadmill can alter the patients motion and exercises exertion level. Each patient is different in what their needs are going to be so you want to be sure and have a certified canine rehabilitation therapist examine the patient before pursuing any rehabilitation treatment.

Here at Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center we have two Conditioning Plans pre-packaged for your weight loss needs. Conditioning Plan 1 has the first bag of metabolic + mobility dry food along with sessions of underwater treadmill therapy. Conditioning Plan 2 has underwater treadmill sessions. By giving a weight loss food along with the underwater treadmill sessions is more beneficial than just doing one or the other. When both the diet plan and exercise plan are being met you know that there are no exceptions in their diet because they can only have that food and with the exercise plan they have their own personal weight loss trainer along the way until they reach their goal. There is also exercises sent home for you to complete throughout their plan and beyond. Once they reach their target weight we will help you to maintain their target weight so they don’t become overweight or obese later.



Obesity and Canine Rehabilitation Part 2

We are going to talk about diet today. Sometimes it can be difficult to stick to a diet for ourselves much less for our canine or feline companions. There is a food through Hill’s Science Diet that increases metabolism to aid in losing weight. It is called Prescription Diet Metabolic for cats and dogs, Prescription Diet Metabolic + Mobility for dogs, and Prescription Diet Metabolic + Urinary for cats.

The Prescription Diet Metabolic for dogs and cats is formulated to support your pet’s weight management. In fact, 88% of pets lost weight at home in two months with the nutrition of Metabolic. Metabolic naturally works with your pet’s unique metabolism. Helps avoid weight regain after weight loss. Also helps your pet fill full and satisfied between meals. Along with that it supports vitality and holistic health. It works because it contains a synergistic blend of ingredients including fiber from fruits and vegetables along with powerful antioxidants.

The Prescription Diet Metabolic + Mobility for dogs is especially formulated to help manage your dog’s weight and joint health. It has clinically proven nutrition to improve mobility in as little as twenty-one days and reduce body weight by 13% in sixty days. Improves your dog’s ability to run, walk, and jump along with doing the same that regular Prescription Diet Metabolic does. Prescription Diet Metabolic + Mobility contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

The Prescription Diet Metabolic + Urinary is formulated to help with your cat’s weight and urinary health. It has clinically tested nutrition to reduce the most common urinary signs by 89% and proven to reduce body weight by 11% in 60 days. Prescription Diet Metabolic + Urinary has the ability to dissolves struvite stones in as little as seven days (average is twenty-seven days) along with the same helpful aids Prescription Diet Metabolic provides. There are also controlled levels of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous.

Be sure if you decide you want to switch your pet to a weight loss diet please discuss this with your veterinarian to be sure there are no health issues or risks of making exercise and diet changes. Also when switching your pet to a new food you need to be sure and mix with the old food to do a slow transition in order to prevent GI upset like vomiting and diarrhea. Also when a pet is on a prescription diet be sure not to give anything else because that also will add into the calorie count for the day. These Prescription Diet foods come in dry and canned (pate and stew provided). Also has Prescription Diet Metabolic treats to come along if need be. If this diet does become recommended to your dog or cat there are measurements that are taken on your pet to calculate a weight loss plan. It will tell us how much of dry, canned, and treats to feed per day. This helps to stick with the diet plan when there is a goal in sight. Below is one of the proper ways to transition a pet over to a different/ new food.

feeding transition guide


Obesity and Canine Rehabilitation Part 1

Pets that are at an ideal body condition helps promote a leaner, longer, healthier life. It also reduces potential for developing weight-related health conditions. Helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, healthy blood pressure and heart rate. The ideal body weight is considered where the ribs are palpable, but not visible, slight waist observed behind ribs when viewed from above, and abdomen tucked up, flank fold present. Obese is defined as being 30% above normal weight.

Below are some reasons why pets are obese/ overweight. One of the reasons, which I am guilty of, is leaving out full bowls of food for pets to graze. By doing this just ten extra kibbles of a typical dry cat food could add up to one pound of weight gain annually. When measuring the amount of food being given be sure to use an actual measuring cup not a coffee cup. This can lead to over feeding or under feeding if not sure of the amounts given. The graph on the side of the food bag is just a guideline. You want to be sure you are feeding the amount for the weight the pet should be at not the weight they are at unless it is their ideal weight. A couple of basic reasons that carry a role in pet obesity is children at home sharing their food, genetics (obese prone breeds), and not taking into account the calorie amount when it comes to treat giving. The last reason is possibly slow metabolism which could be genetic as mentioned earlier or it might be the result of a disease such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease.

There are some health problems that can occur from patients being obese/ overweight also. With arthritis the over-weight animal has extra unneeded stress on joints, including the discs of the vertebrae. This extra stress leads to the progression of joint degeneration and creates more pain. The problem is compounded as joint pain leads to poorer mobility, which in turn leads to greater obesity. Respiratory compromise is a large problem because the obese pet has a good inch or two of fat forming a constricting jacket around the chest. This makes the pet less able to take deep breaths as more work is required to move the respiratory muscles. Areas of the lung cannot fully inflate, so coughing results. The pet also overheats more easily. Many cases of tracheal collapse can be managed with only weight loss. Diabetes Mellitus is caused by extra body fat leading to insulin resistance in cats just as it does in humans. Hepatic Lipidosis is when an overweight cat goes off food or partially off food because of illness or psychological stress, body fat is mobilized to provide calories. Unfortunately, the cat’s liver was not designed to process a large amount of body fat. The liver becomes infiltrated with fat and then fails. A study of age-matched Labrador retrievers found that dogs kept on the slender side of normal lived an average of 2.5 years longer than their overweight counterparts. If a pet should develop a condition where a therapeutic diet is of great benefit, the pet that has been maintained primarily on a diet of table scraps may be unwilling to accept commercial pet food of any kind, much less a food modified to be beneficial for a specific disease process. Obesity poses an extra anesthetic risk because the drug dosing becomes less accurate. Furthermore, anesthesia is inherently suppressive to respiration and adding a constrictive jacket of fat only serves to make proper air exchange more challenging. Also, surgery in the abdomen is hampered by the slippery nature of the extra fat as well as difficulty visualizing all the normal structures through the copious fat deposit. Overweight cats can even develop skin problems from not being able to groom themselves properly.

With these four steps we can solve the problem with obese/ overweight pets. Step 1: Veterinarian Visit – you’ll want to make sure your pet doesn’t have any problems that might make lifestyle changes difficult or dangerous. Step 2: Carve some time out of your schedule to walk your dog or play with your cat 3 times a week at least. Be sure to work in some aerobic exercise, anything that gets a cat or dog running. For dogs, 20-30 minute brisk walking or play time is recommended. With cats, try several short bursts 5-15 minutes of activity chasing toys or a laser pointer. Hiding food will trigger a cat’s natural hunting instinct. Also Canine Rehabilitation is an option for those that have those busy schedules and need a personal trainer for their canine companion (will be discussed further in Part 3). Step 3: Calculate calories – check with your vet for proper amount, any food given extra from meal time adds in as well, including treats. Step 4: Measure meals – don’t just fill the bowl. Try small high-protein, low carbohydrate meals 2-3 times daily. Look for low-calorie, no sugar treats or substitute vegetables and fruits, such as sliced carrots and apples for dogs, or salmon flakes for cats.


“When Man’s Best Friend Is Obese”, by Gwendolyn Bounds, the Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2011


My Beginning


My name is Candace Lafond and I have worked at Foster Animal Hospital for over 7 years. When i began at Foster Animal hospital I was in school pursuing my Veterinary Assistant Degree. I started out as an assistant in the boarding facility feeding, watering, and loving on the cats and dogs. As time went on I was checking clients in and out and giving medications to the dogs and cats. I have always loved animals so much and wanted to work with them.


Some time later I was training on the exam room hallway with the doctors to be an EXRA  (Exam Room Assistant). During this time I was still in school but pursuing my Veterinary Technician Associate’s Degree. Being an EXRA I would restrain the patients for the doctors to perform their exams and for the technicians to perform treatments. I learned how to draw and prepare vaccines as well as administer the vaccines. There were lots of medications I became familiar with while being an EXRA.

I was then trained in the pharmacy department to learn how to fill medications, make compounds and call in prescriptions to pharmacies. You always wanted to be sure and check the bottle of medication with the label to make sure type and milligram was identical. There were liquid, tablet, capsule, chews, and topical medications. Some kinds of medications had the same name but 2 different forms like liquid and tablet. Some foods are considered prescription medications also.


The next step in my future was learning being a laboratory associate. This is where I learned to run the blood machines, ultrasound, and x-ray. I also was trained on how to draw blood from cats and dogs, place catheters, and monitor hospitalized patients. Dealing with emergencies was also important to save a life in this department. Emergencies would include seizures, trauma of some sort, toxicities,  and respiratory difficulty.

Being a surgery associate was what was next on my agenda. This included preparing for surgeries, placing catheters, placing endotracheal tubes, and monitoring anesthesia. There are many surges that can take place from normal spay and neuters to eye enucleation and cruciate ligament surgeries. When monitoring the patient under anesthesia you are watching the HR (heart rate), RR  (respiratory rate), Oxygen level, BP (blood pressure), and body temperature. Recover of the surgery patient is very important as well to be sure the patient is alert in order to breath and swallow on their on before the endotracheal tube is removed. By this point in my time at Foster Animal Hospital I was thinking about what my goals were and thought it would be great to do some type of rehabilitation with animals. Whether it be exotics or domestics didn’t matter.


I was very excited because in 2013 I got the opportunity to pursue a certification as an assistant in Canine rehabilitation. Dr. Plott and Dr. Foster are both CCRTS  (Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapists). I began my Introduction course through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute in November 2013. I had an exam to take at the end of each course and then a 40 hour internship to complete. The other 2 courses I had to complete for my certification was the Canine Sports Medicine and Canine Rehabilitation Assistant. It was so much fun learning such a wonderful option to treat dogs with lameness whether it be acute or a chronic condition. I also got to meet other veterinarians, technicians, and physical therapists. I have been performing Canine Rehabilitation full time at Foster Animal Hospital known as Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center since Fall 2014.



The Story of Clarence Part 3

Clarence continued to improve. He became stronger with each rehabilitation session. He is now able to trot up and down the exercise room. Performing sideways and backwards walking. I would also have him trotting in circles and going through weave cones. These exercises improved his ability to balance and improved use of the left rear leg by weight shifting. We still continued manual therapies and LASER treatment along with the therapeutic exercises. Mr. and Mrs. Wines, Clarence’s owners, have exercises they are performing with Clarence at home daily.


The Underwater Treadmill was the next challenging exercise for Clarence to begin. His rear legs were finally strong enough to go against the tension of the water. He started out doing underwater treadmill once a week. Clarence really enjoyed the water to the point he would dunk his whole nose under the water before the treadmill feature began. The settings for Clarence were set at 1.3 miles per hour for five minutes. The depth of the water was marked at fifteen inches. By the time of his last underwater treadmill session his settings were 1.3-1.5 miles per hour for eight minutes. The water depth was set at sixteen inches. Sessions in the underwater treadmill helped to improve his strength and gait even more.

The day came for Clarence’s last rehabilitation session. Everyone was so happy to see how well he had progressed in his recovery, but also sad to see him go. We will never forget his wonderful story, and I want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Wines for allowing us to share Clarence’s story. You can check out Clarence’s Rehabilitation Journey video below.





Watch Me Rehab!

Hello Friends!

I’m excited to show you my newest Canine Rehabilitation Therapy video!

Have you ever wondered what I do during my rehab sessions at Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center? Well, Candace (my Certified Canine Rehabilitation Assistant) doesn’t just massage knots out of my muscles, she makes me work hard! But it’s ok, because that’s what makes my knees strong.

Here’s a video of one of the exercises I do called ‘Sit to Stand’. I have to balance on an inflated ball called a ‘peanut’ while I repeatedly sit and stand (for treats, of course).

This exercise helps strengthen the muscles in my legs, especially the ones around my knees. My knees sometimes pop in and out of place which hurts and makes me skip a few steps. Once my muscles get stronger, they will hold my knee joint in place better and they won’t pop out of place anymore.

That’s good news because if I can make my joints stronger now, I won’t have lots of joint issues when I get to be a lot older. Well, I better go now, I hear Candace calling me for my next canine rehab session.

Until Next Time,


Clarence’s Rehabilitation Journey Part 2

Video: clarence 6-1-15

Clarence came in for his first Rehabilitation session at Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center. The owners were continuing to perform reverse hair brushing on Clarence’s rear legs and back. Candace Lafond, CCRA also performed reverse hair brushing during his rehabilitation session. Simulation walking was performed, while Clarence was in a standing position, on the left rear leg and on both rear legs when he was in a laying position. He had started to show improvement by seeing movement in his left rear leg and some muscle tightness. Clarence still did not have enough strength to walk without assistance. Simulation walking is done by moving the limb(s) in their normal walking range of motion. Reverse hair brushing and simulation walking help in triggering nerve stimulation to promote feeling/ movement. Candace Lafond, CCRA also conducted some weight bearing exercises to strengthen Clarence’s muscles. The other common therapies performed on Clarence were Passive Range Of Motion (PROM), stretching, soft tissue massage, and LASER treatment. The CCRTs and CCRA continued these therapies through the next few sessions. Clarence continued to gain strength/ function in his rear legs from session to session.

Progression Video: Clarence 6-3-15 below

Since Clarence was becoming stronger the exercises became more challenging. The CCRA had him doing sit to stands, foot placing on steps, and going up and down the ramp.

Progression Video: Clarence 6/5/15




To Flex or Not to Flex?

To flex or not to flex? That was the question I asked myself during my canine rehabilitation therapy this week. Candace, my certified canine rehabilitation assistant, was making me do all sorts of yoga poses today!

Yoga 3


I have to say that it does feel really good! It helps take away all my tension.

Yoga 2

It also makes me limber so I can do more exercising on the treadmill to help build up the muscle around my knees. I have to admit, I used to think that canine rehabilitation wouldn’t help me feel better, but wow, was I ever wrong!

Yoga 1


All of this therapy is making me feel great! I may be 8 human years old, but you would never know it! I bounce around like a puppy again! I can’t wait for my next canine rehabilitation therapy session!

Until next time,