What is your dog’s collar doing to their neck?


Don’t let your dog’s collar be a pain in their neck.  

  We’ve all seen it. Most of us have probably done it too. The dog is pulling forward and we’re pulling backwards trying to get them to stop. Sometimes we give a quick yank on their leash to try and correct their behavior, then we hear that sound- a sharp cough from the pressure of the collar pulling back on their throat. 

Now imagine this. You’re in a good ol’fashion game of tug-o-war. Your opponent has their rope secured to a harness strapped to their upper body, while your rope is attached to a collar around your neck. How long do you think you would be able to tolerate the pressure around your neck, or worse, endure pain? Our neck is fragile and vulnerable to damage, just like our dog’s.


The Neck is a VITAL part of a dog’s anatomy. The neck houses:

  • vertebrae of spine
  • veins & arteries 
  • thyroid gland
  • nerves that carry signals throughout the body

 Collar Pulling Risks:

  • coughing 
  • headaches
  • issues with sight
  • damage to trachea & thyroid
  • neck injury
  • spine injury
  • induce respiratory issues

Prevention Methods for Neck Injury:

  • use a well fitted harness, like the freedom-no-pull harness. 
  • help train your dog to walk loosely on leash. This comes down to basic training. Talk to your dog trainer about how to loose-leash walk with your dog.
  • gently massage your dog’s neck to alleviate any discomfort they may have. 
  • Seek a professional: book an appointment with a canine chiropractor or animal massage therapist.
  • provide your furry friend a pillow or cushion to help support their neck while they are sleeping.

Opting to use a well-fitted harness instead of a collar to walk your dog is a simple preventative method to save your dog from injury. We are fortunate to have a variety of harnesses out there now, it will be easy to find one to fit any dog’s needs.

Visit us for your freedom-no-pull harness!

-K9 Rehab.


Five Reasons Why Dogs Love to Swim

Five Reasons Why Dogs

Love to Swim


             Dogs love to run, chase, and fetch. But what about swimming?
 We have all seen those big dogs swimming in the lakes, ponds, and oceans.
 We have also all seen the owners of these dogs fighting to get them out of the water only   for the dogs to run back in. Though it is not only big dogs who love the water! The love   for swimming is not only for the big dogs, but dogs of all sizes. Here are five reasons why
 your dog loves the water. 



     That’s right, just likes us our pets love the weightlessness of being in the water. The buoyancy of the water diminishes the effects of gravity allowing the body to be supported in the water. Swimming is a great exercise as it places less stress on joints, bones and muscles, and increases independence of movement. Dogs are able to move more freely in the water, enabling weightless exercise they cannot achieve with being on land. 



It is common for one to think that dog breeds such as Retrievers, Spaniels, and
Newfoundlands are innate water lovers. While there are dog breeds that are
genetically built to be better swimmers than others, a dog’s love for water comes from positive association. Similar to children, dogs need to know they are safe and can trust their ability to swim in the water before they can enjoy the fun of swimming. This couldn’t be any more apparent than when you see a bichon frise swimming out to fetch a toy while a Labrador stays wading in the water. 



     The most obvious reasons why dogs love to swim is exercise! Once a dog knows how to swim they become naturals and adapt very quickly. This low-impact exercise does wonders for your dog. The resistance of the water activates muscles to work harder while giving the feeling of being weightless. It is the perfect exercise for your dog to get a good work-out while protecting their joints. Guaranteed your dog will sleep like a log after a good swim session.



Dogs become bored very easily, any dog owner can attest to this. Swimming is not only a great form of physical stimulation but also is great for a dog’s mental well-being. While swimming a dog modifies their walking movement from a trot, to a paddle. Many of us started our first swimming lesson learning what is called the ‘doggy paddle.’ Although a dog swimming looks as natural as a fish in water, there is more focus on what their body is doing than we realize. Much like us, their brain is assessing the activity and the surroundings while they are swimming. With the brain and the body working at the same time, the increase in focus and drive keeps the dog engaged in this fun activity.


5. FUN! 

The fifth, final, and most simple reason why dogs love to swim is because it is fun! Dogs who love swimming are like kids in a swimming pool, it’s hard to get them out. One minute of swimming is equivalent to four minutes of land exercise. The feeling of being weightless while getting a full body workout is hard to beat.

Not only is swimming fun for dogs, it also provides pain relief from arthritis, inflammation, and mobility issues. At our warm water, salt-based pool your dog can enjoy the fun benefits of swimming all year round in a safe controlled environment.

-K9 Rehab Wellness Centre





This Christmas give your beloved dog a gift of wellness, exercise, and fun. For a limited time, K9 Rehab is offering 5 package hydrotherapy swims, originally priced at $310.45,  for only $275.00! Offer ends on December 31, 2017.


  Canine Hydrotherapy Benefits

Canine Hydrotherapy is versatile in treating numerous conditions in dogs.


These conditions can include but are not limited to:


– Cruciate Ligament Rupture (conservative management and post operative)

– Arthritis

– Hip Dysplasia

– Elbow Dysplasia

– Spinal Injuries and Recovery (ie. slipped disc)

– Spondylosis (Spinal Arthritis)

– Patella Luxation (conservative management and post operative)

– Neurological Disorders, such as Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

– Weight Control

Using jets in the pool

At K9 Rehab we have the advantage of having a pool with jets. The jets are used to increase the endurance of the dog by having them swim towards the jet and having the fun of riding them back to the platform area for a break.  Once a dog is rehabilitated to the stage where jets can be incorporated into the swim protocol we start out slowly and increase time and laps accordingly.  We have a few fitness dogs that are currently using the jets as a form of cross training for their particular sport to increase endurance, cardiovascular stamina and increase muscle.

Our warm water pool isn’t just for rehabilitation it’s fun for cross training athletes, allowing dog reactive dogs to have fun off leash time swimming and playing with toys and we also teach dogs how to swim.

If you would like more information about our pool please call or email Clo and she will answer any of your questions.



Injury and Post Surgical Recovery Therapies

Leni - Labrador Retriever

Having a sick dog is one the worst things. You have taken your pet through the process of surgical correction for an injury or orthopedic or soft tissue ailment and they have survived and come out the other side and had the stiches removed – what next. They have survived surgery and now the road to recovery begins.   Your pet will need to recover strength,  muscle mass, balance, range of motion and general well-being.

K9 Rehab staff are experienced  professionals with certification  in small animal rehabilitation massage therapy, diploma qualified canine hydro-therapists with studies with experience in functional rehabilitation and  pet first aid.

Once your veterinarian has deemed your dog past the initial healing phase of their recovery and has agreed to the use of physical therapies to help your dog regain strength and mobility a treatment plan will need to be developed. Your dog’s treatment will focus on improving muscle strength, physical conditioning, addressing dietary changes to improve body conditioning and health. Our activities are designed to engage your dog’s brain in addition to his body.  Fun activities that  serve two purposes are important, building muscles while engaging a dog’s mind can really make a difference in their will to get better. Professionals know how to address both mind and body and keep the therapy sessions to a length that helps the animal without over-stressing or boring them.  Quality of work and setting the proper amount of sessions is also important, K9-rehab will liaze with your Veterinarian to develop session protocols and discuss therapy exercises which best address your dog’s needs and progress.

Canine Recovery Therapies

We will select from a variety of therapeutic exercises to help your pet regain strength, endurance and balance. A qualified therapist will evaluate your dog using gait analysis, range of motion tests, and body measurements  to  assess your dog’s current physical condition and based upon that develop a plan of action to strengthen weakened limbs and mark progress. The Treament Plan may include some or all of the following therapies:

  • Canine swim therapy allows the dog to work muscles in a non-weight bearing environment  while the hydrostatic pressure of the water helps to reduce swelling  most importantly the water encourages muscle use and a greater range of motion.
  • Strength and balance exercises – using therapy equipment such as wobble boards, cavaletti poles and therapy balls may be used to help engage muscles the dog does not necessarily want to use after surgery.  Dogs often need proper encouragement to start using a previously compromised limb.
  • Rehabilitation massage therapy –  helps engage underutilized muscles, gets blood flowing to the area of the injury and reduces swelling through lymphatic draining.

K9-rehab will help your pet regain their strength, mobility and well being.

greyfriars-logonorthwest-logo1injury and post surgical recovery therapies

Ms. A. McDonald Dip CH, SARMT

  • Diploma in Canine Hydrotherapy from Greyfriars UK  www.greyfriarsrehab.co.uk
  • First Aid for Small Animals from Greyfriars UK.
  • Certificate in Small Animal Foundation Massage Therapy (level 1) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Certificate in Small Animal Rehabilitation Massage Therapy (level 3) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Walked Paws Dog Walking 101 – Business and Equipment Module And Sabrina’s link is www.shakeapaw.dog

Why did I become a canine hydrotherapist?

Rhyse Karelian Bear Dog

I have had the honor of being a best friend to my now deceased dog Rhyse. He was a Karelian bear dog which resembles a large Border collie cross Lab and lived to be 18 years old. For all the years we were together I always thought that Rhyse was a Border collie cross and trained him as such, he worked with sheep, did some agility and even tried flyball. It wasn’t until I attended my first practicum at North West School of Animal Massage that I met another Karelian bear dog and took it as a sign I had been directed to my true calling, my Rhyse was with me in spirit.

Rhyse was my shadow, my companion, my hiking buddy, my protector (we actually met up with a few bears on our travels which he protected me from), he was a faithful friend.

Unfortunately Rhyse was taken from me when he was around 6 years old and those years apart he experienced a broken heart because we were apart, loneliness with little exercise or proper care. Thankfully we were brought together again when he was 13 years old, overweight, poor health, no longer the energetic healthy pup he once was. He now had a calmer senior demeanor, and was a true senior dog with all the aches and pains that come with a neglected overweight older dog. I worked hard to recondition him to give him a better quality of life, he was given high quality food, vet check ups and treatment, conditioning for his sore muscles starting with walks and progressing till he was hiking over 5 kms per day and most of the time running he was so happy. Watching the transformation I knew I wanted to help other dogs have the best quality of life they could have by conditioning and helping them through injury rehabilitation.

canine hydrotherapistI heard about swim therapy for dogs on a hike one day and instantly knew this was my purpose! Hydrotherapy was how I could help dogs who needed to get into shape, rehabilitation therapy for injuries and post-surgical care to recondition weak injured muscles and even float therapy for very senior dogs that just need to rest their muscles in the therapeutic warm water environment. As I researched everything I could on the subject I found that there were many different types of hydrotherapy education being offered from basic fitness conditioning to very qualified diploma programs including anatomy, kinesiology, orthopedic conditions with extensive theory and hands on practical sessions. My goal was to get the best education possible and add in elements that I knew would help such as the rehabilitative massage therapy certification. I volunteered at a local canine hydrotherapy pool and loved every minute. I met wonderful new friends and experienced swim sessions with different dogs with injuries or conditions that I saw hydrotherapy worked very well to improve and give the dogs a better quality of life. I even helped teach a puppy how to learn to swim which was absolutely necessary because the breed isn’t known for being a good swimmer and his family was moving to waterfront property. One of my favorite dogs to swim are the tripods, these dogs need special attention and I love giving them, confidence, a non-impact environment to help balance the muscles and treat the compensating limbs for a more conditioned, pain free exercise option.

The full education I wanted took two years to complete, which is more than your average hydrotherapist. Some individuals choose the holistic therapy education which is more of a passive conditioning swim therapy in my opinion. Some individuals choose to do the first level which is certification, a good base for canine hydrotherapy. I chose to educate myself with the best level possible, a diploma in canine hydrotherapy and certification in canine rehabilitation massage therapy. I want to help all dogs, the hard cases such as post-surgical and neurological conditions require special attention and a calm purposeful swim session and the fitness swims for overweight and senior dogs. Knowing orthopedic conditions, contraindictions for injuries and proper swim protocol is very important and it was important for me to gain the knowledge so that each dog I was swimming is safely protected as best as possible from further injury or stresses.

I saw the benefit of massage in the warm water environment where I could use the hydrostatic pressure of the water to help move inflammation out of an injury area, release tension from sore tight muscles and having a floating dog takes the pressure off the injury site allowing me to work a limb and gain a better range of motion. Implementing massage with hydrotherapy sessions has shown to help injuries improve much quicker and to a higher level of healing than just swimming or create rest alone.

I love working with dogs to help give them the best quality of life possible. Hydrotherapy and massage therapy can be incorporated with your veterinarian care to create a full treatment program and achieve optimal results for your dog.

greyfriars-logonorthwest-logo1canine hydrotherapist

Ms. A. McDonald Dip CH, SARMT

  • Diploma in Canine Hydrotherapy from Greyfriars UK  www.greyfriarsrehab.co.uk
  • First Aid for Small Animals from Greyfriars UK.
  • Certificate in Small Animal Foundation Massage Therapy (level 1) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Certificate in Small Animal Rehabilitation Massage Therapy (level 3) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Walked Paws Dog Walking 101 – Business and Equipment Module And Sabrina’s link is www.shakeapaw.dog

More Than a Job

k9 hydrotherapy

I have loved dogs and animals all my life and have always found happiness being around them.  When I was young I dreamed of being a veterinarian and helping animals in need.  My decision to put off attending higher education after completing high school was the end of that and it wasn’t until my kids were grown that I started to focus on my own dreams again.  I knew I needed a purpose and I was searching for way that I could  still be involved in helping animals recover from injuries and give comfort to older and infirm animals.  However pursuing  a career as a veterinarian was no longer viable due to my age and the years needed to complete the required education.

Some time later, I heard about a hydrotherapy pool and the difference it was making for dogs recovering from orthopedic injuries, muscle and tendon damage and helping strengthen dogs suffering from a variety of debilitating conditions. It was like a giant light bulb lit up –  I instantly knew this was to be my PURPOSE.  I immediately contacted the owner of the pool and soon after I was volunteering regularly, learning the basics of swim therapy.  After volunteering for a number of months and learning a great deal I made the decision to pursue further education and have since become both a Certified Small Animal Massage Therapist, and Small Animal Rehabilitation Massage Therapist (Northwest School of Animal Massage) and have a diploma in canine hydrotherapy. I believe the combination of both traditional massage based therapies and water based therapies give me an extensive tool set to develop effective recovery programs for dogs.

Dogs have made a huge difference in my life and this is my way of giving back. I was lucky enough to have my wonderful dog Rhyse who lived a full happy life until he was 18 years old, very capable and active right up till the day he passed.  I also had a tripod border collie that had no idea he was missing a leg he was amazing and fit thanks to lots of hikes in the forest.  Both these dogs have inspired me to help others with their animals.

Working with your veterinarian,  I am hoping to give your dog, better quality of life through weight management, controlled exercise and massage, hydrotherapy and recovery sessions.


Ms. A. McDonald Dip CH, SARMT

  • Diploma in Canine Hydrotherapy from Greyfriars UK  www.greyfriarsrehab.co.uk
  • First Aid for Small Animals from Greyfriars UK.
  • Certificate in Small Animal Foundation Massage Therapy (level 1) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Certificate in Small Animal Rehabilitation Massage Therapy (level 3) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Walked Paws Dog Walking 101 – Business and Equipment Module And Sabrina’s link is www.shakeapaw.dog

About Canine Massage Therapy

Canine Massage Therapy being incorporated into the pool.

Massage therapy is a wonderful way to help dogs.  Hydrotherapy and massage therapy aids with circulation, relieves muscle tightness and spasms, reduces anxiety, increased oxygen to the muscles, aids in lymphatic draining, reduces pain and allows for greater range of motion.

The therapist targets affected tissues such as muscles, tendons, scar tissue and lymph nodes in injured, post-surgical and arthritic dogs aiding in the healing process and the wellbeing of the dog.   Massage may be applied in the pool to the area of injury and other areas of the dog may also need attention such as the muscles that are compensating for an injury or condition.  An example of a compensating area would be to massage the overused pectoral (chest) and cervical and thoracic muscles of the neck and shoulders of a forelimb lame dog.

Regular massage treatments bring about significant improvements particularly with pain relief, increased mobility, reduced tension and help to sedate the nervous system and release endorphins to aid healing.

Canine massage therapy is a field where certification is required as the therapist needs to be educated in knowing when there is a contradiction to massage, understanding of canine anatomy and the use of proper massage stokes and treatment.

Adding massage therapy to the pool therapy is an excellent way to compliment both treatments. Taking breaks during laps and adding in stretching & massage therapy increases the rate of recovery substantially.


greyfriars-logonorthwest-logo1canine massage therapy

Ms. A. McDonald Dip CH, SARMT

  • Diploma in Canine Hydrotherapy from Greyfriars UK  www.greyfriarsrehab.co.uk
  • First Aid for Small Animals from Greyfriars UK.
  • Certificate in Small Animal Foundation Massage Therapy (level 1) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Certificate in Small Animal Rehabilitation Massage Therapy (level 3) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Walked Paws Dog Walking 101 – Business and Equipment Module And Sabrina’s link is www.shakeapaw.dog