The Patient-Technician Bond

By Angelia Oliverei LVT, CVMRT

As a rehabilitation certified licensed veterinary technician working at Pawsitive Steps I typically see on average 6 patients a day and spend around 50 minutes with each patient. We see most of our patients once weekly for the first month and then space out their visits over the course of their rehabilitation.  During this time, we develop a relationship and understanding of one another and our patient-technician bond blossoms.

First Day Jitters

Bruno enjoyed his music and when Angelia sang to him.

When our patients first start attending rehabilitation it can be a new and scary experience for them, like starting your first day at a new school or job. My job is to try to make my patients experience as stress-free as possible.  Making our patients feel at ease and as comfortable as possible during their visit is a huge part of our job.

To start, our treatment rooms are all equipped with orthopedic mats and physical therapy mat platforms, which provide added comfort for patients as they will not have to lie down on the hard floor.  We use aromatherapy, for example: diffusing calming essential oil blends, Adaptil/Feliway products, and flower essences. Sometimes we will play music for our patients and keep the lights dimmed as well. Lastly we have their favorite treats brought from home for them to enjoy here!

Becoming Friends

Sometimes it takes a few visits before some of our patients open up to us and then we really get to experience their true personalities.  It is always very rewarding once our patients are comfortable working with us and enjoy their visits with us.

Scout loves his hugs!

As technicians, working with our patients at least once weekly, we tend to develop a relationship that sometimes turns into a strong bond. We learn their likes and dislikes and really what makes them tick. For example, after about 2 months of working with one of my previous patients (who has gone over the Rainbow Bridge, rest in peace Bruno) I learned that he loved listening to music and he loved to sing with me during his laser and massage therapy.

Cherished Moments

I love when my clients tell me how excited their dog gets when they tell them they are going to therapy and watching them run into the building with joy! It’s the little things that make the patient-technician bond so very special and I cherish them every day.  

Warm-Ups; Not Just for Canine Athletes

By Cathryn Adolph, LVT, CCRP, CCFT

When we think of warm-up routines, we often picture top level human athletes.  I personally think back to the Olympic coverage showing Michael Phelps waiting on the side lines doing full range of motion with his arms.  But did you know warm-ups can benefit our dogs as well?  And its not just for canine athletes, warm-ups can help any dog that participates in high energy activities.  

My dog is not an athlete…

Let’s look at the game of fetch for an average pet dog.  A ball is thrown and the dog explodes quickly to chase the ball.  When they catch up to the ball, they may or may not dive onto the ball.  Occasionally they may miss and dig into a sliding turn.  And often they trot back to repeat.  If we compare this to a human athlete, it truly reminds me of a soccer player.  Players drive the ball hard towards the goals, makes quick turns, with fast acceleration. 

Benefits of Warm-Ups

Simply, warming-up can prevent injuries when we are performing activity.  Other benefits include:

  • Warm muscles have greater elasticity and range of motion, which decreases the chances of strains.
  • Gradually increases heart rate and breathing rate before heavy activity.
  • Increases rate of muscle contraction and nerve impulses which will allow the dog to quickly catch themselves is they fall.
  • A quick warm-up can create mental focus before training.   
  • A warm-up routine allows us to get to know how our dogs move and if it changes, allow us to potentially detect injuries sooner. 
  • And more….

Warm-Up Activities

When compared to strength training, warm-up exercises should not cause fatigue. By keeping repetitions low but at a brisk pace we can meet our warm-up goals. These exercises should be include dynamic stretching and range of motion exercises for the major joints, spine, and even the tail.  Dynamic means the dog actively performs the motion themselves.  An example of a dynamic range of motion exercise is a dog performing a sit to stand which flexes the stifle, hock, and hip.  If we compare this compare this to an owner or handler bending these same joints (passive range of motion), there is no muscle engagement and studies in human medicine have shown no benefit.

When Should We Warm-up Ours Dogs

Ideally, we should warm up our dogs before any physical activity that will elevate their heart rate.  For pet dogs some examples include:        

  • Playing fetch
  • Going for a hike
  • Swimming
  • Sprint work, including leashed run/jog with owners
  • Fitness or conditioning work

At home

Warm-ups should be fast and easy.  The routine should be no more than 5-10 minutes in total and begins with a quick walk or trot to engage major muscle groups.  Specific warm-up exercises will be based on the activity your pet will participate in.  For our patients at Pawsitive Steps, previous orthopedic and medical history is taken into account before a warm-up plan is created.