Using Balance Boards in Pet Physical Therapy

Did you know that physical therapy for pets is one of the fastest-growing specializations in veterinary medicine?

Physical therapy helps pets regain strength, full range of motion, and coordination. It restores functional ability, which goes a long way to improving the pet’s quality of life. It can be implemented as a type of pain management and reduction of inflammation. It helps prompt self-healing of the pet's body, especially for pets that have injuries.

There are different types of physical therapy and equipment used for pets. They help support the treatment of your pet. Balance boards are among the popular ones that are designed to help your pet get better.


What Are Balance Boards?

Balance boards comprise a flat surface with a fulcrum underneath. Depending on where you place the weight on the flat surface, they can tip on either side. The board can be a solid structure or a simple board with a hardball underneath it. They come in different shapes and sizes; in most instances, circular ones are best for dogs. 

Balance boards have for a long time been in use in physical therapy and go by several names. One name is wobble board, and another is rocker board for a specific type of design.


How Do You Use a Balance Board?

It might not seem like a valuable exercise to balance on the board, but it provides a lot of benefits. By standing on the surface of a balance board, your pet can correct its balance and footing. Other than restoring balance, it helps your pet face their fear. Animals are generally afraid of unstable surfaces, but you can train your pet to overcome this instinct.


What Is a Balance Board’s Purpose and Benefits?

Balance boards provide agility training for pets. It helps your pet learn to maintain balance when the board tips. Your pet will have to activate muscles that they usually would not use to maintain balance. After some time, it will help strengthen your pet's muscles to have better control over their movement. 

Furthermore, using the balance board also activates the release of pain-killing endorphins in your pet. This can be especially important if your pet is recovering from an injury. These exercises will help your pet recover and heal quickly.


Balance Boards for Beginners

Balance board exercises should be treated as a process rather than one exercise. The process has three parts:


  • The First Phase - Acclimation

You should lay the balance board on the ground and use your feet to support it. This will help your pet not to be scared. When on top, the board will wobble a little but not enough to make your pet fall off. Then you can use treats and other methods to get your pet to use the board. 


  • Second Phase - Unassisted Use

You will repeat the steps in the first phase, only you will not use your feet to hold the board. This phase builds up your pets' confidence in using the board.


  • Third Phase - The Balance Game

Once your pet learns to use the board, you can turn it into a fun game. You can use treats and rewards to make it interesting for your pet. 

For more on using balance boards in pet physical therapy, visit Elizabeth Veterinary Clinic at our office in Roselle, New Jersey. You can call (908) 245-7853 to book an appointment today.