Physical therapy for dogs, in-home pet care, professional grooming
By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Barb Smith has made a career of making pets feel better and taking special care of them.
Her Northborough businesses, Companion Pet Sitting and K-9 Hydrotherapy, provide physical therapy for pets with mobility issues, whether from age, illness or surgery, and grooming services, as well as in-home pet care when owners are away.
Smith started her pet sitting business about 25 years ago, after working in a veterinary clinic, and added the K-9 Hydrotherapy part in 2009 to help the animals she saw suffering from painful ailments.
As for the pet grooming service, “we target the animals no one else wants to deal with because they are old, grumpy, or in pain. The average groomer doesn’t understand their issues,” she said. “We take our time with them and get them to relax so grooming is a positive experience.” They also groom healthy dogs and cats.
On the physical therapy side of the business, Smith employs two certified canine rehabilitation therapists to work with dogs.
“We design and set up therapy programs for dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia, knee or shoulder surgery, degenerative diseases. A referral from a veterinarian is required for all treatment programs, and we work closely with the vets,” she said. The therapy programs can include range-of-motion treatment and specific exercises at the facility, and the therapists also prescribe exercises for owners to do with their pets at home.
Hydrotherapy is done in a large water tank heated to 80 degrees and equipped with a treadmill. A dog’s owner can stand next to the clear tank to encourage the pet.
“The Patriots have one of these,” she laughed. “The dogs love it.”
Exercising in the warm water takes the pressure off the dog’s joints and provides a safer environment to exercise and resistance for muscle strengthening. The water level can be raised or lowered, with a higher level making it easier for the dog to walk. It can also be raised enough for a dog to swim, exercising shoulder muscles.
“We put an old, arthritic dog in the tank, and he’s a new dog. He gets to stand up and get some exercise, and it just lifts his spirits,” Smith said.
The water exercises are also good for obese dogs that have a hard time getting up and moving around. Smith combines the water exercise with home exercises and dietary guidelines in a “pawzercise” weight-loss program, “that has great results if the owners stick with it.”
K-9 Hydrotherapy also offers cold laser treatments in programs recommended by the therapists. Light pulses are given about once a week to treat arthritis in the dog’s joints. “Often we are able to take animals off of pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs after these treatments, which is better for their liver and kidneys.” Smith’s own four dogs, all with physical issues, are often at the office and exhibit some of the benefits of the treatments available.
Companion Pet Sitting has about a dozen contractors taking on in-home care assignments. “We will care for large and small animals, from a fish tank to a horse,” Smith said, noting that in-home care is especially good for cats and senior animals, who prefer a familiar environment.
Pet sitting services can include multiple visits a day and even overnight stays.
The sitters serve a geographic area roughly between I-495 and Worcester. Companion Pet requires an interview first to meet both the people and the pets. The company has about 3,000 clients.
K-9 Hydrotherapy and the Companion Pet office is located at 367 West Main Street in Northborough. For more information on the programs and services available, call 508-393-3370 or visit the websites, www.cpspetfit.com and www.k-9hydrotherapy.com.