Stop your animal from being a couch potato
FUNKSTOWN — Like humans, animals can experience debilitating effects if their bodies don’t receive enough physical activity.
Kimberly Stouffer, 43, a veterinary rehabilitation technician for Animal Rehab & Pain Center in Funkstown, assists pets who suffer from symptoms because of a sedentary lifestyle.
“What we see here — because again we’re getting the dogs that are uncomfortable that are already having issues — is we see a lot of couch potatoes just like people, and we have dogs that come in at 8 years old that have just been overweight their whole life that are riddled with arthritis and are uncomfortable,” Stouffer said.
To help the owners of these dogs regain their vitality, Animal Rehab & Pain Center invite these owners to a free seminar, “Fitness for our Furry Friends” at 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the center.
The seminar will begin with an introduction of the different type of exercises owners can help their pets practice followed by live demonstrations.
Pet owners will also have the opportunity to ask questions and inquire about the facility’s services.
After the seminar, attendees can receive a complimentary fitness assessment for their pets and have them get acquainted with the equipment and more exercises.
Animal Rehab & Pain Center also works with animals who have either injured themselves and are recovering from an injury or surgery and older dogs that have developed arthritis.
“We deal with pets that are not comfortable and we try to make them more comfortable. What our big-picture goal is, we want to see these pets before they injure themselves and before they are suffering from arthritis and try to prevent those things or to delay them as long as possible by creating a dog that is more fit,” Stouffer said.
Aside from the goal of helping animals become fit, Stouffer said the facility’s team aims to provide services that pet owners are not able to supply at their home.
Additional services offered to keep animals fit includes laser therapy that helps to reduce inflammation and acupuncture meant to heal on a physiological level.
Water therapy is also offered through an underwater treadmill that animals can try.
For older dogs that suffer from arthritis but are also uncomfortable to walk for long periods, the exercise device will take the weight off their joints and help make exercise comfortable.
Once an animal’s comfort and pain becomes controlled, the team will then transition the animal to fitness and strength-building exercises.
“People are finding that their dogs are regaining some of their life back because they’re much more comfortable and they’re becoming stronger,” Stouffer said.
One of the main ways the center achieves this physical state in animals is through weight loss.
“We want these dogs to be skinny and healthy and not overweight,” Stouffer said.
Animals with different fitness levels come to visit the center, too.
“On the flip side of that is we see a hunting dog that’s been kept in top shape and is 8 years old, that dog is still running circles around some of these younger dogs, so it’s made enough of an impression on us that we really want to be proactive in teaching owners how important it is to keep our dogs, fit, healthy, and strong,” Stouffer said.
To help maintain an animal’s lifestyle changes, the center offers a fitness program that serves as a gym membership for pets.
“The Balanced Paw” is a 30-day membership that includes six 45-minute sessions which focuses on proper exercise forms.
The cost of this membership is a flat fee of $180.
“It’s making it really affordable for them to get their dogs in here in the winter. If their dogs are going crazy at home, come bring them on the treadmill, let’s run them, and get some exercise out,” Stouffer said.
As the quality of life improves for these animals, Stouffer said that the team continues to strive to be the premier animal rehabilitation referral service for veterinarians in the area.
“We take great pride in being a part of the veterinary healthcare team,” Stouffer said.
Top photo: Waylon stands on some balancing gear at Animal Rehab & Pain Center in Funkstown. The center encourages people to work with their animals because just like people they can become couch potatoes, too. (Submitted photo)