Teaching old dogs new tricks at Midlothian vet clinic

Pictured with Calvin are owner Joanna, vet physiotherapist Helena Carruthers (purple) and Vet Specialist John Ryan. Photo: Norrie Russell.
Pictured with Calvin are owner Joanna, vet physiotherapist Helena Carruthers (purple) and Vet Specialist John Ryan. Photo: Norrie Russell.

The new vet physio clinic at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is helping lame dogs find their feet again.

Cross-breed Staffordshire Bull Terrier Calvin was paralysed in his hind limbs, but is walking again thanks to physiotherapy treatment at the new dedicated clinic at Easter Bush, which was opened in February.

Pictured with Calvin are owner Joanna, vet physiotherapist Helena Carruthers (purple) and Vet Specialist John Ryan. Photo: Norrie Russell.

Pictured with Calvin are owner Joanna, vet physiotherapist Helena Carruthers (purple) and Vet Specialist John Ryan. Photo: Norrie Russell.

In Calvin’s case, vets suspected a sudden blockage of the blood vessels supplying the spinal cord to be responsible, a condition called fibrocartilaginous embolism, similar to a stroke seen in people.

As part of his treatment at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies,Calvin was referred to the new physiotherapy service at its Hospital for Small Animals.

The Royal (Dick) Edinburgh Physiotherapy Assessment & Intensive Rehabilitation (REPAIR) Centre offers cutting edge services, including hydrotherapy and sensory testing, alongside traditional physiotherapy treatments.

Hydrotherapy takes place in an underwater treadmill housed in a glass tank.

It has a walk-through design and is slowly filled with water until the animals’ legs are submerged.

Water may be used to support some of the pets’ bodyweight to facilitate movement, or to provide resistance to help promote strength and encourage muscle development. Life jackets are worn at all times to ensure safety.

At first, Calvin was afraid of water and his owner feared he would not tolerate hydrotherapy.

However, working with a specialist team, Calvin was gradually introduced to the tank and was soon plodding away on the underwater treadmill. At his last appointment, Calvin was walking unaided.

Calvin’s owner Joanna is delighted with the progress he has made at the new Midlothian clinic.

She said: “I can’t thank the vet school enough for all the hard work and care they have put into helping Calvin get better.

“The recovery he has made over the last few months is incredible. He’s pushed himself from day one with constant determination.”

Helena Carruthers, a Veterinary Physiotherapist at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies revealed how happy she and her team have been with Calvin’s progress.

She said: “Calvin is fortunate to have an extremely dedicated owner, who has been working hard to follow bespoke daily physiotherapy plans with him at home in addition to the expert treatment he has received from us.

“We are thrilled with the progress Calvin has made.”

The REPAIR Centre brings together specialists in orthopaedics, neurology and anaesthesia.

It also provides experts in nutrition and internal medicine, to ensure a holistic approach to animals’ rehabilitation after injury or illness.

John Ryan, a specialist in small animal surgery and lecturer in small animal orthopaedics at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, is delighted with the impact made already at the new vet clinic.

He said: “By optimising outcomes for pets with difficulty walking, we are restoring and maintaining the quality of life for both pets and their owners.”