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Physio and hydrotherapy for Nellie the Bernese Mountain Dog with two cruciate ligament injuries

Amy Holloway

At Clent Hills Pet Fitness and Rehab Centre, our fully qualified team of physiotherapists and hydrotherapists love to work with a variety of pets in all shapes and sizes. When it comes to large breed dogs, there’s not much that’s more challenging and rewarding than getting into a rectangle box with water in, with a Bernese Mountain Dog…

Here’s Nellie’s story from her owners, Chris & Sue Edwards:

We all love our animals and dread the day that they might injure themselves and need surgery.  We always ask ourselves the questions – will they fully recover, and will I get my old pet back?

When our Bernese Mountain Dog Nellie tore her cruciate ligament those were exactly the questions we asked ourselves, along with “how long will it take to recover?”  We had heard it could be months for that type of injury.  

We’d also heard about the benefits of Hydrotherapy from friends in the BMD group and we knew that Clent Hills Vets had just taken on a new physiotherapy unit, so we asked our vet about using it for Nellie.  At her 10 week checkup he agreed that we should get her some complementary treatment, so we made our appointment at the centre in Bromsgrove and off we went.  

Nellie the bernese mountain dong injured her cruciate ligaments

Oh my goodness what can we say? A more capable and lovely team you couldn’t hope to meet. They gave Nellie a full physiotherapy assessment and discussed all of the treatment options with us, which for Nellie was a set of laser therapy sessions to promote healing, coupled with treadmill sessions to build strength and fitness. For those of you have never seen it, the treadmill at Clent Hills’ fitness & rehab centre is a standard treadmill, but in a box that fills with water for resistance and other healing benefits.  The hydrotherapist is in the machine with your pet so they can make sure that the animal is exercising properly and targeting the right areas. 

At the end of the block of treatment Nellie had a further physio assessment to see how she was getting on.  The difference in Nellie was incredible and she was back to her old self, going for her same old walks within 6 weeks.  She loves all the girls at the centre, really enjoys her sessions and it’s not just for the fishy treats.

Nellie loves getting fishy treats on the treadmill

The real difference came when a month later she managed to tear her other cruciate ligament!  Thankfully the strength she had built up meant that she could support her weaker leg much better, and within 4 days of the operation she was having regular laser treatment to promote healing and reduce pain and swelling.  She was soon back to her weekly treadmill sessions but this time alternating with swimming sessions in the dedicated pool to help her front legs, which had been taking the brunt of compensating for the lessened mobility at the back.

Twelve months on since the first operation and we couldn’t be happier with Nellie and we couldn’t recommend the team at Clent Hills Pet Fitness and Rehabilitation Centre highly enough.  The team’s knowledge of your pet’s physiology and what’s in their best interest for their rehabilitation is superb. Their love for the animals they treat is obvious and they are true professionals.  They are always available if we have questions and they take just as much joy in seeing the recovery in their patients as the owners do.

A few words from Harriet Lowe, hydrotherapist at Clent Hills Pet Fitness & Rehab Centre:

“Nellie is an absolute bundle of personality and a pleasure to treat. We love that she can’t wait to get into the centre to greet everyone and especially enjoys our fish treats!

We have found a multimodal use of our complementary treatments works well with Nellie. She comes very 2 weeks and rotates between a session in the pool, followed 2 weeks later by a session on the treadmill and 2 weeks after that, a full 40-minute laser session. We find this works really well for Nellie as the laser therapy keeps on top of any compensatory issues, the pool allows for weightless exercise and the water treadmill strengthens her muscles and we can keep a close eye on her gait.

Her owners have worked so hard with her and listened to everything we have suggested. Nellie is now strong enough on her hind legs to start pinching food off the side and we always can’t wait to hear what new antics she’s been up to in between her sessions. “

If you have any concerns about your pet’s mobility, perhaps they’re due to have surgery or are post-op, give our team a call on 01527 889810 or get in touch via or website.

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