A four-month stretch of Pilates and physiotherapy at a top animal hospital has worked wonders for a little Dachshund plagued with spinal and neck problems.

Poor seven-year-old Pip had already endured two operations on her spine before she was then found to be suffering from a herniated disc in her neck.

However, the beloved family pet has now undergone a remarkable transformation since beginning her bespoke, hands-on treatment at Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service, in Solihull, turning her into a happy, healthy hound once again – even joining her owners on paddle-boarding sessions!

Willows’ veterinary physiotherapist Emma Box led Pip’s innovative treatment, which included Pilates style stretches and exercises, physio sessions, massage and laser therapy, and is delighted by the way Pip has responded.

Emma said: “Pip was referred to Willows suffering from severe neck pain and was diagnosed with an intervertebral disc herniation following an MRI scan. This is a common condition that affects one in four Dachshunds.

“Pip’s history of two spinal surgeries persuaded us that she should be treated conservatively rather than surgically this time.

“She was assessed at weekly physiotherapy sessions, which included treatments such as massage, laser therapy and passive stretches, and we also prescribed a personalised home exercise programme.

“Each exercise has a particular target and aimed to challenge Pip as she progressed, many of them were aimed at improving Pip’s core strength, balance and posture, similar to Pilates exercises.

“One particular exercise involved Pip standing on a wobble cushion because adding varying degrees of instability into an easy posture, such as standing, activates the muscles in her core and spine making her work harder to stay balanced.

“She took to these exercises very quickly, with a little persuasion from cheese slices, and Pip’s owner was amazingly dedicated in replicating them at home, performing them two to three times a day.

“It worked very well as, by doing these exercises, Pip can now perform functional activities around the house far more easily, enabling her to live a normal dog life!

“She’s now made a full recovery after four long months of commitment from her owners although we love seeing Pip back for her maintenance physiotherapy sessions, where we aim to keep her fit and do all we can to prevent further injury.”

Pip’s owner Joanna Day, from Warwick, is thrilled by the recovery and full of praise for Willows, and especially Emma.

She said: “This was Pip’s third episode of intervertebral disc herniation and third disc rupture, so she is a dog who has been through a lot and who knows pain well.

“Emma assessed Pip and devised a clear, concise and achievable physio plan for her throughout her recovery and it has worked wonderfully well.

“Pip adores Emma and she understands Pip perfectly, what drives her, what she finds easy and what is a challenge.

“Emma is gentle and kind and Pip responds beautifully to her approach. I totally trusted Emma to work with Pip without my presence during lockdown, which would not have happened were I not completely sure she was in good hands.

“I have really felt we have been working together to get Pip pain free and happy, and that she will continue to receive truly expert care.

“I can’t thank Emma enough for her help and support, and for enjoying Pip’s company during her sessions. I’m looking forward to working with Emma in the future to keep Pip happy and healthy.”

Willows offers specialist services in anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, clinical nutrition, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, emergency and critical care, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, soft tissue surgery and spinal surgery.

To find out more about Willows’ wide range of specialist services, visit www.willows.uk.net or search for Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service on Facebook.

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