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Rhino, a year-old bulldog, took a mammoth jump and sprained his knee joint.
After undergoing surgery and a course of medicine, he is getting an ultrasound massage at Bangkok’s largest animal care centre, Thonglor Pet Hospital.
He receives the treatment twice a week and it is a bit painful, but it’s helping him make a full recovery.
“We do ultrasound massage as part of rehabilitation to reduce aches and pains,” says veterinarian Dr. Mataya Taveechat.
“After we do the ultrasound massage two or three times, dogs can start to put down their legs, but they cannot use their legs completely yet. Now we are entering the stage where this dog can use more its leg.”
Rhino is getting used to walking on his legs again in the underwater treadmill.
Walking twice a week for 20 minutes at a leisurely pace is tough work.
The exercise helps the bulldog build up his leg strength and endurance without putting pressure on his joints.
The hospital says training on the water treadmill is especially good for heavier dogs like Rhino.
The coaching isn’t too strict, and Rhino is able to rest whenever he likes.
It’s an expensive process – ultrasound massage treatments cost nearly 80 US dollars and water treadmill sessions cost 110 US dollars.
The hospital recommends that Rhino and dogs with similar conditions do five to ten rounds of each therapy.
Kapong is seven years old and suffering from an advanced and debilitating form of arthritis. His joints are very swollen and his muscles have atrophied, making it hard for him to walk.
While acupuncture is usually a practice reserved for humans, vets at Thonglor Pet Hospital perform a gentle version on Kapong twice a week.
The hospital says that the treatment helps to relieve some of the animal’s pain and benefits the dog in many other ways.
Animal acupuncture was developed 50 years ago in China, according to the clinic.
Veterinarians at the hospital train for two years before working on dogs and cats.
Each acupuncture session costs 18 to 25 US dollars. Supporters of acupuncture say it can be used to treat animals with serious injuries or paralysis that can’t be helped with Western medicine.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that while there is some evidence to support the belief that acupuncture relieves pain, it does not currently recommend the practice for humans.
The hospital was founded 16 years ago and there are now 70 vets working at five branches in Bangkok.
This downtown branch provides rehabilitation therapy for as many as 20 dogs a day and many other more conventional veterinary services for dozens of dogs and cats every week.
There are 7.76 (m) million pet dogs and 4.28 (m) million pet cats in Thailand, according to the Kasikorn Research Centre, a Thai research company.
The Nation newspaper reports there are 2,000 pet hospitals and clinics and 2,000 pet shops throughout Thailand.
Thais spend more than 310 million US dollars a year on pet foods and supplies, and millions more on veterinary care, according to the Thai Pet Product Industries Association.
Thonglor Pet Hospital also focuses on more unusual preventative animal medicine and group exercise.
Pet owners and dogs take part in specially designed yoga classes. Dog owners get a light stretch, but the dogs do most of the work.
Each hour-long ‘dog yoga’ session involves balancing, stretching, strengthening and relaxation poses for the animals.
Jirachaya Laptavornkiat, who teaches the Dog Yoga class, says that “people get to practise and the dogs also get to practise. Some people have dogs to take care of, and if they come out and practise yoga themselves, they will worry about their dogs. Here they practise together, so there is no need to worry.”
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