What is your rehab philosophy?
At TOPS, we believe that veterinary rehabilitation is as much an art as it is a science. Just knowing how to insert an acupuncture needle, how to make a chiropractic adjustment, how to use the neuromuscular stimulation machine, or which settings to use on the therapeutic ultrasound machine isn't enough. On a case by case basis, we must develop a therapy plan individualized for the patient. We must consume ourselves with the goal of helping the animal recover. We must never be willing to accept a treatment plan that is "good enough". We must never fall into the trap of "this is how we've always done it." We must always be willing to accept new and fresh ideas, not only when progress is slowing, but when the patient is progressing too. The bottom line is that veterinary rehabilitation is what we do...and we're committed to doing it the best we can. For additional information, read our Mission, Core Values and Operating Principles.
What are your qualifications?
Most importantly, each of our veterinarians, who oversee the therapy of every animal, is a licensed veterinarian in the State of Illinois. Our doctors are required to achieve certification in rehabilitation, veterinary acupuncture, and animal chiropractic or veterinary spinal manipulative therapy. TOPS is considered one of the world's leading authorities on veterinary rehabilitation, and is considered one of the pioneers of veterinary rehabilitation. We are credited with introducing hydro-treadmill therapy to canine rehabilitation. Additionally, we have the unique benefit of being associated with TOPS in Dog Training's owner, Alex Rothacker. Having trained police K-9 dogs and personal dogs for over 25 years, Alex has a deep understanding of how a dog will react to certain situations and how to motivate each individual dog.
Do you do all kinds of rehab?
Yes. We are a full-service veterinary rehabilitation facility. No matter what type of physical rehabilitation your pet may need, we can help. Some examples of some of the injuries we can provide rehabilitation for are highlighted in our injuries treated area. We have also, over the past few years, developed a reputation for being the place to go for non-ambulatory (can't walk or support their own weight) cases. Bottom line, if you have a pet that needs physical rehabilitation or pain management, we can help.
Additionally, for those active in competitive sports or in showing with their canine, we offer sports evaluations which are intended for healthy dogs looking to do a preventative assessment.
How do I know if my pet is in pain?
Unlike people, animals are not usually vocal when in pain. Therefore, without careful observation, owners often fail to recognize that their pet is in pain.
Signs to watch for which indicate mild pain include:
- Less activity
- Going up or down stairs less often
- Slightly abnormal gait
Signs to watch for which indicate moderate pain include:
- Unwillingness to go up or down stairs or hesitating before going up or down stairs
- Difficulty getting up
- Sleeping more than normal during the day
- Obvious abnormal gait (bunny-hopping, limping, etc.)
- Excessive panting
- Specific area of the body sensitive to the touch
- Irritable disposition
Signs to watch for which indicate severe pain include:
- Severe abnormal gait (little to no weight on a limb, constant weight shifting, head bobs when walking, etc.)
- Decreased appetite
- Restless at night
- Sleeping excessively during the day
- Severe sensitivity to the touch sometimes leading to an aggressive response
What do I need to do to set up an appointment?
TOPS Veterinary Rehabilitation is a referral only practice. If you need information, give us a call and we'll be happy to discuss your options. You should also discuss your options with your primary veterinarian who has the best working knowledge of your pet's health. When you call, we will be able to schedule an appointment for you if you are interested, but we must receive the written referral from your veterinarian prior to the initial evaluation. If your veterinarian doesn't have a referral form, they can either call us and we can fax them one, or they can obtain one here.
What do I need to bring to the initial evaluation?
We must receive a written referral from your veterinarian prior to evaluating your pet. This will give us the most up to date information about your pet's case from your veterinarian, which is instrumental in us properly treating your pet. Usually, the referring veterinarian will fax this referral to TOPS. In addition to the referral, we'd also like you to bring any relevant diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, etc. Again, this will help us better understand your pet's condition and provide us the greatest ability to help your pet.
What will happen during the evaluation?
During our comprehensive evaluation, we will review the patient's history. We will do a general exam, a musculo-skeletal exam (checking each muscle and joint from toes to shoulder, toes to hip, and down the back), a neurological exam, and a chiropractic exam. We will also evaluate range of motion, gait, weight bearing, and muscle girth. Each of the examinations is a single piece of a larger puzzle. Following the exams, we will integrate all the information (ie put the puzzle together) and develop a comprehensive treatment plan. Our treatment plan will be developed from a combination of our recommendations, your goals for rehabilitation (ie return to the agility circuit vs. being able to get up on the couch), your input and other considerations you may have.
Am I allowed to be with my pet during treatment?
Not only are you allowed to be with your pet, we encourage it. When a pet is in pain, the encouragement and concern the owner shows toward their pet is critical to their rehabilitation.
What kind of treatment will you recommend?
It's impossible to say. We have a variety of treatment options available to us. After we evaluate your pet, we'll assess the benefit of each modality, consider all factors, and develop a customized program for your pet. Even for the same injury to two different animals, no two treatment plans are identical.
Can you guarantee that my dog's condition will improve?
No. Just as in physical rehabilitation for people, there are no guarantees. We can tell you, though, we have greater than a 75% success rate in returning non-ambulatory animals (non-walking) to normal or near-normal function.
How long will my dog be in therapy?
It is impossible to tell, even after the initial evaluation. There is a range of rehab time from presentation to us to date of first steps ranging from 2 days to 36 weeks. Of course, our Walk of Fame dogs are generally extreme cases. Your dog's specific injury, his temperament, age, etc. all play a significant factor in his rate of improvement.
Your website mostly refers to dogs. Do you treat cats too?
Yes. Although most of our patients are dogs, we also provide the same high-quality rehabilitation services for cats. Keep in mind that some forms of treatment (ie hydro-treadmill therapy) aren't performed with cats.
My dog is incontinent. Can he go in the pool?
Unfortunately, we cannot allow incontinent dogs in our pool for health reasons. However, during the rehabilitation process, many of our patients quickly regain their continence and therefore are allowed into the pool.
Do you have a list of references from your clients?
Call us at our office and we'll be glad to give you a list of clients who's pets have had rehabilitation needs similar to your pets.
Does my dog's diet affect his ability to heal?
Yes. For example, a dog needing to build muscle will require increased amounts of protein to help rebuild the muscle mass. On the other hand, if he doesn't like the food and isn't eating enough of it, he is still not meeting his protein requirements. And keep in mind, there are different qualities of protein, and we may suggest a diet with a higher quality of protein. Another example would be an overweight arthritic dog, which will require a diet restricted in protein and fat. There are many factors to consider when evaluating what to feed your pet, and we may suggest changing your pet's diet, depending upon their individual situation. Sometimes this will mean experimenting with different foods to see what is both palatable to your pet and provides the appropriate amount of nutrition for his rehabilitation.
Are there any supplements that can help my dog's rehabilitation?
It will depend upon your dog's condition. There are supplements and vitamins that we recommend for arthritis, discospondylosis, and degenerative myelopathy. There may also be Chinese herbs that may help your pet in various situations. Some of the supplements we recommend include: