To ensure the highest quality of care at IPC, our vets and therapists complete rehabilitation certification programs and take part in continuing education courses to keep up with the newest developments in animal rehabilitation.
Our doctors attend continuing education opportunities hosted by organizations such as the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians, the International Association for Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy, International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, American Veterinary Medical Association and others.
“With many of these conferences, you have the choice of focusing on one specific topic or attending a variety of lectures,” explains Dr. Zenoni. “These are excellent opportunities to see what’s new in the world of animal rehabilitation and to see if there are improved techniques we can learn and implement in our own practice.”
IPC doctors and therapists complete certification courses through the Canine Rehab Institute, Healing Oasis or University of Tennessee/Northeast Seminars. Each program combines lecture and hands-on learning to prepare the students for a certification exam. Courses focus on anatomy, therapeutic modalities, physical conditions/injuries, neurological issues and biomechanics. Certification students for CRI and UTenn also complete an externship and case studies. “Students should have a firm grasp on identifying muscles and their purpose as well as common neurological and orthopedic terms and how they would explain them to clients,” explains Lindsey, who recently completed coursework through CRI.
Therapists certified in canine massage complete intensive hands-on training through Chicago School of Canine Massage, along with case studies and an exam for certification.
“Continuing education is also required to maintain certification,” says Erin Kowalski, NCCMT, CCRA. “Course topics can be anything related to animal health, so it could be things like energy work or hospice education. There’s such a variety to choose from.”
As animal rehabilitation continues to grow and advancement continues in veterinary medicine, the staff at IPC strives to stay abreast of the latest information. Dr. Zenoni believes “staying up to date on the most recent developments in the field helps us provide the best quality of care to our patients.”
In addition to attending certification and CE courses, some IPC staff members teach for CRI & Healing Oasis along with providing one-on-one mentorship to veterinary students from across the country and rehab certification students through CRI and UTenn (Chicago and Hanover Park). Learn more about these opportunities.
Rocky’s journey started almost 3 years ago when his mom was asked to take a puppy to get x-rays while volunteering at PAWS Chicago. Mia’s heart melted when she saw the 9 month old puppy who was so sweet even though he was injured and immediately volunteered to foster him. It turned out that Rocky’s leg was so badly injured that he required an amputation. After fostering him through his weeks of recovery, Mia decided he had to join her family!
Mia was understandably nervous about Rocky’s future quality of life so she decided to make an evaluation at Integrative Pet Care for preventative care.
“As soon as I met Dr. Ridley & Laura, I knew I was in good hands. They explained what would be ideal to aid in his recovery and addressed the typical concerns they had with tripods. Afterwards I understood a lot more about actions I could take to be proactive in his recovery and prevent any further injury which was really important to me.” -Mia
“Rocky is a different dog since starting at Integrative Pet Care. People don’t even recognize he’s a tripod because he stands so straight and tall, runs like a maniac, and walks with so much confidence. He’s gained an incredible job amount of core strength and muscle throughout! He hardly ever falls over and often stands on his one back leg to look out the window or check for treats on the counter. He’s naturally a very active and curious dog so we walk a lot and get a lot of exercise to keep him entertained. Luckily the muscles he’s developed because of our work at IPC have allowed him to keep up with all this activity! He loves training and learning tricks, and hunting rats in the park.” -Mia
“Rocky’s core strength is incredible for a tripod. I love working with him in the gym because he can and will do anything I ask of him. I’m constantly coming up with new exercises to challenge him and he does it all without messing up his hairdo!” -Laura, Rocky’s therapist
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Rocky has asked us to tell you about Sit Stay Read.
SitStayRead’s mission is to improve literacy skills and foster a love of learning in children in low-income neighborhoods. Founded in 2003, SitStayRead brings teams of trained volunteers and Certified Reading Assistance Dogs into 16 Chicago Public Schools in some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods
Integrative Pet Care was recommended when Ralph’s mom Peggy was searching for ways to improve his mobility. Ralph met with Dr. Amber Ihrke and a rehabilitation program was created that included underwater treadmill, therapeutic exercise & acupuncture.
“Ralph came to us with T3-L3 myelopathy without much functional use of his rear limbs. Having only two strong limbs to get around with didn’t stop Ralph too much from speeding from one place to the next, but he would just drag the rear limbs behind him. Good thing for Ralph, he really likes treats and was agreeable to some challenging work if he got some treats along the way.” – Katie Fitzgerald, one of Ralph’s therapists
Through his therapy program, Ralph improved quite a bit. He could stand on all four limbs and maintain the position to eat and drink, but his mom wanted to do more. Ralph was fitted for a cart to give him independent mobility. “Once Ralph was placed in his cart he began running around the rehab room. He easily negotiated the thresholds and quickly learned how to back up when his wheel hit a doorway or wall. I could not believe how fast Ralph adapted to his cart and how much happier he appeared with his new-found freedom in his cart. Ralph’s smiled seemed a bit brighter (tongue hanging out and all) after receiving his cart. We could not be happier for Ralph” -Valerie Williams
“From the first moment in his cart, Ralph was walking up/down the halls, walking in the grass and enjoying his new-found freedom.” -Dr. Ihrke
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Ralph has asked us to tell you about All Breed Rescue and Adoption, Inc.
Our mission is twofold: to save as many dogs and cats from living their final days in shelters and pounds as we can, and to educate the public so that one day our rescue won’t be necessary.
The use of orthotic and prosthetic devices for animals is increasingly common in veterinary medicine as we see that mobility and quality of life for our pets go hand in hand. We are proud to partner with OrthoPets to provide our patients with quality, custom-made assistive devices.
There are a variety of conditions that may benefit from an assistive device including limb abnormalities, injury and post-operative support. No matter the condition of the patient, eligibility and prescription for an orthopedic device is determined by an IPC veterinarian.
Our initial comprehensive evaluation allows the veterinarian and therapist to have a thorough understanding of each patient’s condition, as well as the goals and limitations of the client.
Once a device is prescribed, a fiberglass impression of the affected limb is created. Photos, video and measurements are also taken to demonstrate how the animal moves and show all weight-bearing angles. The fiberglass impression and all information is then sent to OrthoPets for consultation. The device is fabricated by OrthoPets and shipped back to Integrative Pet Care.
The next step in the process is to fit the new device to the patient and help the family learn how to incorporate the device into day-to-day life.
“It’s important for owners to understand that these devices are often meant for the duration of the pet’s life and they will likely have to wear it all of the time,” says Dr. Zenoni.
Proper fitting of the device is assessed in the initial fitting appointment as well as subsequent appointments. If there are issues with the device in day-to-day wear, such as sores developing and skin irritation, or if the pet shows discomfort in wearing their device it is important to communicate this to the veterinarian right away.
“We need to be able to correct the problem as soon as possible so the brace isn’t causing any undue harm.”
Finally, a custom rehabilitation program is prescribed in conjunction with the orthotic or prosthetic device. “Rehab allows for the best chances of success with the brace, in that it helps the animal become acclimated to the device, helps with strengthening and facilitates healing,” Dr. Zenoni explains.
Contact us at Integrative Pet Care if you are interested in learning more about our options for custom assistive devices. We work in partnership with OrthoPets.
Soon after moving to the suburbs 3 years ago, fun loving Walter hurt himself playing in his new backyard. Even after many vet visits and several medications, he still seemed to be in pain and wouldn’t use his left front leg. Walter eventually had surgery, but it still didn’t relieve his pain completely. Integrative Pet Care was recommended and he met with his team who put him to work immediately. PT Valerie Williams explained that Walter’s program required a multimodal approach in order to decrease his pain and improve his mobility. “Walter is a very sweet boy and a joy to work with, even when he didn’t want to participate” says therapist Katie Dunbar!
“Walter came to Integrative Pet Care in Homer Glen with a severe limp on his left front limb. He had significant muscle loss and was painful with range of motion to that limb. At first, Walter was not very receptive to manual therapy over his left shoulder and forelimb. Through the use of therapeutic ultrasound over the shoulder and tendons, Walter allowed me to work on his shoulder and gained greater range of motion with less pain. Underwater treadmill was added to his therapy and Walter began to place more weight on his left forelimb. Walter received platelet rich plasma (PRP) in his left shoulder joint and a significant improvement was noted in Walter’s ability to walk on that limb. Walter was also placed in hobbles which limited the movement of his left front leg and his prevented him from overusing his leg at home. Slowly, Walter was allowed more mobility without his hobbles until he returned to walking and running without them.” -Valerie Williams
“With months of therapy Walter is now able to walk on the left front leg and play with the kids in the yard. Walter’s hard work and his family’s dedication to his therapy has made all the difference.” – Dr. Amber Ihrke
“The staff at IPC Homer Glen are wonderful, everyone we worked with was so kind and loving with Walter. Within weeks of therapy, he was putting his leg down. It took months of work and patience, but Walter will now walk on his leg and even run on it; he’s a different dog and is acting like a puppy again!” –Walter’s parents Chris & Brianna
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Walter has asked us to tell you about JR’s Pups-N-Stuff.
JRs Pups-N-Stuff began with one goal in mind – to save animals from life threatening situations. We do not discriminate. We do not rescue dogs specifically because of their breed or age. We rescue animals that need us to save their lives.
A little over a year ago, Tilly’s mom Kirsten noticed she was having trouble with one of her rear legs. After a few inconclusive vet visits, an evaluation at Integrative Pet Care was recommended. “With Tilly being a senior corgi, my mind immediately went to Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), and I panicked” remembers Kirsten. After meeting with Dr. Ridley, a twice weekly program of therapeutic exercise & underwater treadmill was prescribed. After rocking it for 8 weeks with her therapist Laura, Tilly graduated to a maintenance plan of once weekly therapies. Tilly is incredibly enthusiastic about her therapy (especially exercise) and absolutely hates taking breaks!
We asked her mom to tell us a little about the daily life of Tilly: “She is a lazy loaf of bread at home. She loves sleeping in strange positions, including but not limited to underneath/in between her beds (corgi sandwich), belly up in the middle of the floor, next to the wall with her feet seemingly holding the wall up, and many more! She loves begging for snacks and working for treats, and I call her a canine Roomba because she is so motivated for any little food scrap. She loves being outside and going on road trip adventures. She’s traveled to both coasts several times, and even enjoys a quick trip around the block. She’s a fantastic copilot!”
“If you’ve seen the hashtags on social media #corgitude and #corgioncorgistrong, and you have the opportunity to meet Tilly, you’ll completely understand both of them! Tilly starts with her ‘corgitude’ by telling me just how excited she is to start her therapy sessions each week. They don’t bother to tell me Tilly has arrived, because I hear her bark. I then come up and see a smiling face as she leads me back to the gym. She is a strong, stumpy, little gal, and gives each session her all, and has no idea that DM is supposed to slow her down. I’m proud to be Tilly’s therapist, and I know #corgination is proud of Tilly too!” -Laura, Tilly’s therapist
“IPC has been nothing short of amazing. Tilly is now a little over a year out from her diagnosis, and is still walking on her own! The progression of DM has been so slow, thanks to their help. She’s started to slow down and have some more weakness, but without IPC I can only imagine we’d be much farther into the progression of the disease. It makes me happy to see her so excited and engaged while she is at IPC. They always go above and beyond to help us and make sure Tilly is getting the care she needs.” -Kirsten
CorgiAid is a nonprofit organization founded to provide financial assistance to corgis and corgi mixes. We help out those who rescue dogs from shelters or other non-permanent homes, then foster them until a new home is found. Medical and other expenses for these dogs can become high.
QBSDR is a rescue that saves special needs corgis and corgi mixes from California. We put great emphasis on rehabilitating our dogs medically and managing their behaviors through training, while getting to know their needs and quirks in order to find them the right home.
Nikita is a 13 year old pug who was referred to Integrative Pet Care Homer Glen when her primary care veterinarian at Colonial Manor Animal Hospital diagnosed her with osteoarthritis (OA) at the lumbosacral area, & possibly in the elbows. She couldn’t go for long walks, had problems with stairs and losing balance with her back legs. “As Nikita got older, she began to have back pain and abnormal movement in her hind legs. We started Nikita on Adequan and referred her to IPC for additional treatment. Their services have helped increase her comfort and quality of life as she ages. They not only focus on her back issues but all health concerns.” says Dr. Debbie Anello.
“Nikita has been my patient for the last 18 months and always makes me smile! We initially had her in a plan that included hydrotherapy, therapeutic exercises and acupuncture. She responded very well and now has a home exercise program and comes to see me for acupuncture every 3-4 weeks. Nikita is a great example of how a little TLC for a senior patient can allow for improved mobility and improved quality of life.” – Dr. Amber Ihrke
“Nikita was such a sweet old lady when she came to us but she was having trouble keeping up with the new puppy in her home. By the end of therapy, Nikita was walking circles on the trampoline and maneuvering obstacle courses set up by Katie. She can now play (and get away) from the new puppy. Nikita is a type of patient who shows that age doesn’t matter. If you start getting an older dog moving, they regain their lively and spunky personality they had once before”, explains her therapist Valerie Williams.
Katie Dunbar, Nikita’s therapist, knew she had made progress after hearing that she could not only play with her new puppy, but get away from her as well!
“What a difference this made! The IPC ladies were all so nice and patient with Nikita and did a great job. Now Nikita can go for short walks. She can use the stairs a bit better and chase the bunnies slowly. Most importantly she can now defend herself against her little sister! I appreciate everything IPC has done for my old girl.” -Elizabeth, Nikita’s mom
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Nikita has asked us to tell you about Tender Loving Care Animal Shelter.
T.L.C. has served the community as a private, non-profit, humane society, dedicated to the prevention of abuse, neglect, and cruelty to animals. The shelter provides refuge for an average of three to four thousand animals yearly.
We first met Digger a little over 2 years ago when her parents noticed she started slowing down. After meeting with Dr. Megan Ridley, a formal rehabilitation program was created that included strengthening modalities such as underwater treadmill and exercise, as well as laser, acupuncture and massage therapy which were prescribed for pain management. Digger loved her therapies right away and her mobility improved.
“IPC has helped Digger’s daily functioning – mobility, flexibility, stability. The laser and acupuncture really help ease stiffness and pain. The training you have provided and continue to provide so that we can work with her at home has been unbelievably helpful. Digger would not be as mobile if not for her weekly visits.” -Bonnie, Digger’s mom
Digger has a lot of loves in life like watching trains and snoozing under the covers, but nothing beats swimming in the lake- toss a tennis ball and she’s off! She still enjoys taking walks, but it involves more smelling than walking these days.
“As a 15 year old pit bull mix, Digger has developed more issues over the years, but that hasn’t changed her attitude. She comes in ready to work and is all smiles (and barks) while doing it!” –Dr. Ridley
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Digger has asked us to tell you about C.A.R.E.
Community Animal Rescue Effort (C.A.R.E) is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization with a mission to serve the communities of Chicago’s North Shore by fostering and supporting healthy, positive relationships between people and companion animals. C.A.R.E. rehomes companion pets into safe, healthy, lifelong homes; serves as an educational and counseling resource; and works to reduce pet overpopulation.
Taking on an animal with special needs is definitely a challenge, but it’s worth it to help improve the life of an animal! These pets usually need more attention at home, may require ongoing veterinary care and sometimes even need the help of assistive devices, such as carts, orthoses/prostheses or special harnesses. Pet owners often adjust their own lives to accommodate the needs of their companion. Erin Kowalski, one of IPC’s Animal Rehabilitation Therapists and founder of Bialy’s Wellness Foundation, has fostered many special-needs animals and has a special-needs dog of her own named Josh.
Josh was paralyzed as a puppy and has spent most of his life in a cart. By now, it’s just as much a part of him as any other part of his body and he moves in it with speed and ease! To accommodate Josh and his cart, Erin has made some changes to her home. Erin keeps carpeted tiles laid out over her hardwood floors in the main areas to provide traction and has Josh’s cart outfitted with bumpers so if he takes a tight turn, both the wall and the dog are protected. When not in his cart, Josh has his own room which is organized specifically for him.
“Organization is essential,” Erin explains. “His room is heavily padded so when he moves, the impact on his hind legs isn’t that intense. The drawers contain basic first aid, potty pads, diapers, extra blankets, and, most importantly, toys.”
While Erin doesn’t have to get up on cold winter mornings to take Josh out to potty, she is mindful of when she needs to express his bladder.
“Routine is very important when you have a specially-abled animal. Since Josh has trouble going on his own, I need to express him on a regular basis. If I don’t, he is at a higher risk for Urinary Tract Infection’s.” She keeps Josh on a diet made up primarily of raw food and supplements to help maintain a firm stool. “It’s just an easier clean-up!”
The extra work and accommodations are well worth it.
“Everything I do for Josh, is repaid tenfold in the love and companionship he provides me.”
Logan’s parents used to bring their elderly dog Cali for rehabilitation years ago, so they made an appointment right away when he was diagnosed with a partial tear of his cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). They were hoping to avoid surgery, so a program was started that included therapeutic exercise, underwater treadmill & laser. All was going well until he went a little too crazy in the snow and fully tore the ligament! Logan soon had surgery and came back to IPC for post-surgery rehabilitation.
“We adopted Logan from the Anti-Cruelty Society in July 2014 shortly after adopting our other dog Sinna. We don’t know much about his past, other than that he came from Mississippi and that he was afraid of EVERYTHING. He literally pooped his metaphorical pants the first time he heard our garage door and wouldn’t willingly leave our bathroom for the first week or so. But oh so slowly, he gained confidence and has turned into the biggest, most loving goofball. Don’t get me wrong—he is still afraid of random things like plastic bags and street signs, but we’ve come a long way.” Kris, Logan’s mom.
“If you were to look up ‘proud therapist’ in the dictionary, there would be a picture of me staring in amazement at Logan! He has overcome injuries, but most of all his confidence at IPC has soared. I look forward to giving Logan a new challenge in the gym or during his underwater treadmill sessions because he’s always ready to show me what he’s got!” -Laura Krill, CCRA
“Yes, we’ve seen great progress and no additional injuries, but also Logan LOVES his sessions at IPC. We have technically completed his post-operative rehab program, but I plan to take him to IPC as long as they’ll have us because it is truly his happy place. Nowhere else is he so elated, so confident, and so at ease, as working out in the gym with Coach Laura.” -Kris
You can follow Logan’s, and his sisters Riley and Sinna, latest shenanigans on Instagram under Land of Misfit Dogs!
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”.
Logan has asked us to tell you about a new project his parents started with ALIVE Rescue. Kris and Nate have gone above and beyond supporting local rescues and are building a shelter in Southern Wisconsin so ALIVE Rescue can further their mission!