Don’t Just Treat The Pain, Heal The Condition
When considering the benefits of physical therapy with humans, and how essential it can be for recovery and quality of life, it is natural to conclude that this too would prove beneficial for our canine family members that are valued as our best friends or children.
Tsavo’s Canine Rehabilitation and Fitness Center is a full service facility, the only one in Southern California, which offers a complete line of rehabilitation services with innovative, therapeutic technologies as well as exercise programs for pets.
Maja Wichtowski started the center in 2006. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, a Registered Veterinary Technician license, and a Canine Rehabilitation Certification from the Canine Rehabilitation Institute in Florida. In addition, she has over 18 years of experience in western veterinary medicine including oncology, orthopedics, internal medicine, dentistry, and emergency/critical care.
Wichtowski created her canine rehab center in honor of her former dog Tsavo, a boxer/pitbull mix, who was diagnosed with cancer at six-years old. Not wanting him to undergo radiation treatments and a dependence on prescription drugs to mask the pain, Wichtowski, already a veterinary technician, explored alternative medicine. The combination of proper nutrition and exercise combined with acupuncture, chiropractic work and even Chinese herbs were key components that improved his health. Tsavo lived a pain-free and happy life till almost 14-years-old, without prescription pain medication or steroids.
Tsavo’s Canine Rehab’s focus is on healing the dogs’ condition with long-term goals in mind. “We operate with the kids and owners as the priority,” says Wichtowski. They provide a fun and comfortable environment, and treat each dog as one of their own even referring to them as “kids.” A treatment plan is designed for each patients’ specific needs with cases ranging from panosteitis, immune mediated polyarthritis, stroke patients and brachial plexus injuries, to post-op surgery cases and older pets with severe osteoarthritis.
Canine hydrotherapy is one of the foremost rehabilitation services offered. Water exercises in the “Splash Zone,” an indoor pool lined with doggie life vests and toys, or walks on the underwater treadmill allow patients to recover and stay fit in a non-weight bearing environment. The buoyancy of the water decreases the stress and pressure on the joints so that muscle strength and fitness can be built. The physical properties of the water can be altered to modify the desired effects; warm water increases blood circulation and flexibility while underwater jets create more resistance to build muscle mass. Degenerate, post-surgical or obese dogs can take advantage of hydrotherapy.
Further non-traditional and cutting-edge techniques are being practiced with Pulsed Signal Therapy (PST). “It is one of the only modalities/treatments that actually heals!” claims Wichtowski who further shares that it usually only needs to be done once in a patient’s life. PST involves directing a pulsated magnetic signal to the injured area. This signal mimics the body’s biological signal that stimulates cellular repair in cartilage, bone, and soft tissue. Currently this technique is practiced in Europe and Canada (since 1992) for people, and in the United States on animals. This form of treatment is non-invasive with no side effects, and greatly reduces the need for pharmaceutical drugs. It is not a “magic pill” Wichtowski reaffirms; it does take time and needs to be combined with other therapy.
Another practice is observed in the carpeted and dim lit “Zen Room.” Wichtowski works with “CC” for a 30-minute session of cold laser therapy and bodywork to provide pain relief and resolve inflammation. The ten-year-old Labrador had TPLO surgery (knee). She is now older with some arthritic joints and spondylosis, and Mom wants to keep her agile and pain-free.
Sitting with Wichtowski is CC’s mom, her client, who praises the amazing work done at Tsavo’s. Their patients and clients have become the marketing team – the plentiful and glowing testimonials on the website corroborate that.
Other services include bodywork, nutrition education, grooming, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, and western and eastern herbs.
Dog Dreams Foundation, a non-profit, full-service veterinary facility dedicated to canine rescue organizations in Southern California, is next on the horizon for Wichtowski. “It will be the first of its kind in the world, and we hope it will become a model for other states. It is desperately needed, as rescue organizations spend 80-90% of their funds on medical bills. This money could be used towards public education, spay/neuter programs, and rescuing more kids.”
Tsavo’s Canine Rehabilitation Center, Inc. is located at 2120 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Suite 120, Del Mar, CA 92014. TsavosCanineRehab.com