Covid-19 has thrown a lot of different challenges at all sorts of businesses and we were no exception!  It forced us to think about different ways to try and support our owners and their dogs when we were not able to see them in clinic.  As a result, we developed a new service of remote consultations via phone or Zoom. With physiotherapy and hydrotherapy being very much a “hands-on” treatment this may seem like a bit of a non-starter.  However, we have found that we can build up a really good picture of how a dog is doing with their clinical notes, veterinary referral, some video footage provided by their owner and good old chat about how their dog manages day to day.  Having completed a number of these over the past few weeks, we are thrilled to say that we have had some great feedback and positive changes in the dogs in response to our advice regarding home adjustments, appropriate exercise regimes and home physio exercises we have recommended.

So how does it work?  Once we have the dog’s referral and clinical notes from their vet, we provide instructions on what sort of video footage would be helpful to see in advance of the consultation.  From these videos we can assess the dog’s ability to load their limbs and potentially how they compensate for areas that are uncomfortable or restricted.  We can do a visual assessment of muscle mass and development to start identifying areas that may be weak or other areas that may be overdeveloped.  We evaluate all the footage prior to having the consultation so we have started to build a picture of how the dog is managing in terms of comfort and mobility.

On the call or Zoom consultation, we will ask questions about the dog’s daily routine and discuss anything their owners notice they struggle with.  In combination with the vet’s clinical notes, we can also answer questions about the dog’s diagnosis and discuss basic nutrition and body condition.

Once we have gathered all this information, we can start to make suggestions for things that can be done to help improve the dog’s comfort and mobility. This can include small changes in the home environment, to make it as mobility friendly as possible. There may be activities which would be better avoided, and we can make suggestions for alternatives that are potentially less demanding on the musculoskeletal system. We can provide support and advice on exercise levels, and how to recognise signs of fatigue or discomfort.

Finally, if appropriate, we will make suggestions of physio exercises that can be completed at home.  These are basic exercises that can be safely recommended having done this level of assessment but can be very effective to start improving things like limb loading patterns, muscle recruitment and posture.  They often involve minimal equipment or items readily available in the home.

Further to all this, we provide resources based on the information and feedback we have discussed.  This may include more information about the dog’s condition, support groups, useful websites or blogs and, if we have recommended getting hold of any other equipment, where you can source these.

We are working on rebuilding the number of appointments we can offer per day whilst still maintaining social distancing and necessary sanitisation protocols.  Having not been able to book any new clients since lockdown in March we currently have a bit of a waiting list for appointments in clinic.  However, we hope that by providing remote consultations we will be able to support some of those clients that we are not able to book in clinic straight away and get their dogs started on the road to improved mobility and comfort.

If you have any queries about our remote consultation service, please do get in touch by phone or email and we will be very happy to talk through the options available.