Contact Us:  (631) 281-8820

1010 Montauk Highway, Shirley, NY  11967  








Therapy and Rehabilitation

In addition to our other services, Shirley Veterinary Hospital has recently added a physical therapy and rehabilitation center called Healing Hands 4 Paws.

HEALING HANDS 4 PAWS was created in response of a new generation of needs in the pet community - a desire for a higher quality of life and more active lifestyle for pets who have experienced injuries, or those who have entered their senior years.

Dr. Dexter Archer, V.M.D., C.C.R.P., founded Healing Hands 4 Paws in 2013 after seeing the difference rehabilitation and physical therapy made in the recovery rates of patients undergoing various orthopedic procedures. One of the most memorable cases referred to Dr. Archer was Casey. Casey was a two-year-old Jack Russell Terrier who had been hit by a car. She suffered multiple pelvic fractures and incurred neurological damage which left her unable to use her left hind leg. After multiple surgeries, Casey still had difficulty using the leg. Despite appropriate pain management protocols, she still seemed to experience excruciating pain, drastically decreasing her quality of life. She was not like the dog she used to be and did not even seem to enjoy spending time with her family

Casey started canine physical therapy and rehabilitation as a last ditch effort prior to her owners pursuing amputation. 

Within 4 weeks, Casey became a completely new dog. With the help of our staff at Healing Hands 4 Paws, Casey regained her muscle strength and was back to her everyday self. Her owners were grateful that she didn't need to have an amputation.

It is with faith, knowledge, love, and persistence that Dr. Archer and his staff have continued to restore quality of life to injured, geriatric, overweight, post-surgical, and neurological patients





What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy for canines, or canine rehabilitation, adapts human physical therapy techniques to increase function and mobility of joints and muscles in animals. Animal rehabilitation can reduce pain and enhance recovery from injury, surgery, degenerative diseases, age-related diseases, and obesity.

The goal of canine physical therapy & rehabilitation is to improve the overall quality of life and decrease pain. Veterinary physical therapy & rehabilitation techniques can also be used to help horses, cats, birds, rabbits, rodents and other small animals.

Physical rehabilitation aids in the prevention of injury and recovery from trauma, therefore expanding the physical potential and quality of life of our canine companions.

What to Expect:  

  • A thorough evaluation of your pet from head to toe to tail
  • A diagnosis of your pet’s physical condition and/ or lameness
  • A plan to treat your pet’s condition which includes information on what you can be doing at home
  • A possible alternative to surgery
  • Post-operative care, guidance, advice, support, prognosis, and realistic expectations
  • Management of your pet’s existing condition (such as arthritis) and/or pain control as alternative and/ or addition to pharmaceutical therapies
  • Weight loss management

Types of Therapy:

  • Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Ultrasound
  • LASER Therapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Thermotherapy
  • Neuromuscular Stimulation
  • Magnetic Field Therapy
  • Fitness & Conditioning
  • Manual Therapy
  • Splinting and Assistive
  • Passive Range of Motion
  • Balancing Exercise

Hydro Therapy

Hydrotherapy is a form of therapy utilizing water to provide buoyancy, stability, and hydrostatic pressure. These components are good for the post-operative, arthritic, neurologic, debilitated, and/or geriatric dogs.

Hydrotherapy is great for athletic dogs because they benefit from the resistance created by the water and a total body strengthening! The underwater treadmill is also a great tool to exercise young dogs that are injured or dogs that need rehabilitation from surgery.

Benefits of Hydrotherapy

  • WARMTH of the water (28°C-32°C) helps relax muscles, decrease pain and muscle spasm, and increases your pet's range of motion. The warm water also prevents small dogs from getting cold.
  • HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE of the water reduces swelling by creating a perpendicular pressure to the body and limbs, thus reducing any existing edema in the limbs of the body during exercise.
  • RESISTANCE of the water promotes maximum muscle use, increased joint range of motion and minimum pain during exercise. The resistance can also provide for a more intense work out as heart rate and oxygen consumption can be greater when working in water as compared to land.
  • BUOYANCY of the water decreases the concussive forces on bones and joints during exercise. In dogs with weakness and poor balance and co-ordination, the buoyancy of the water provides assistance, as 60 – 80% of the dog’s body weight can be supported by the water.


People are most familiar with the type of ultrasonography is known as a sonogram which allows the technician/doctor to 'look at' the fetus of a pregnant woman. An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart.

Ultrasound is like ordinary sound except it has a frequency higher than humans can hear. The sound is reflected off of internal structures. The returning echoes are then received by the transducer and converted by an electronic instrument into an image on a monitor. The images can be printed or recorded on videotape.

Benefits of Ultrasound

  • Reduces the healing time of certain soft tissue injuries.
  • Accelerates the normal resolution time of the inflammatory process by attracting more mast cells to the site of injury.
  • Stimulates the production of more collagen which is the main protein component in soft tissue such as tendons and ligaments. An ultrasound is beneficial to accelerating the-the proliferative phase of tissue healing.
  • Increase extensibility of structures such as ligaments, tendons, scar tissue and fibrous joint capsules. As the ultrasound waves pass from the treatment head into the skin they cause the vibration of the surrounding tissues, particularly those that contain collagen. This increased vibration leads to the production of heat within the tissue. In addition, heating may also help to reduce pain and muscle spasm and promote the healing process.

Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation

Electrotherapeutic Modalities involves the use of electrical currents to accelerate the healing process, slow muscle deterioration, and build muscle mass during periods of inactivity. Electrical Stimulation, also known as (“e-stim”), is the application of electrical impulses to a muscle group stimulating their contraction.  Neuromuscular electrical stimulation can be used to prevent degeneration of a muscle or muscle group. Transcutaneous electrical stimulation aids in pain management.

E-stim is used most commonly in orthopedic or neurological injuries and disease. Patients recovering from orthopedic surgery, fracture repair, spinal cord injury, and other neurological and orthopedic issues may benefit from electrical stimulation. E-stim may also be used to aid in pain management or to help reduce swelling or edema.

Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Is Great For:

  • Protective Muscle Spasms
  • Muscle Disuse Atrophy
  • Pain Control
  • Joint Swelling
  • Tendon and Muscle Healing
  • Fracture Healing
  • Improper Muscle Timing Issues
  • Neurologic Atrophy
  • Circulatory Disorders
  • Soft Tissue Swelling
  • To Facilitation Normal Contractions after Injury or Joint Disease (ie. Osteoarthritis

LASER Therapy Treatments: 

Laser therapy is the use of a focused light to affect underlying tissues. It can influence bones, joints, muscles, tendons, lymph, circulation, and the nervous system by enhancing cellular metabolism and localized circulation. Laser therapy is a very beneficial tool to reduce inflammation and pain and to promote healing of wounds, injuries and/or surgery. It may also be useful in the stimulation of acupuncture or trigger points. Low-level laser therapy has minimal heating effects and can be used in acute injuries and at more stimulating settings for chronic injuries.

LASER Treatment Is Great For:

  • Arthritic disorders
  • Tendonitis
  • Ligament Sprains
  • Joint inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Nerve Inflammation
  • Bursitis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Scar Tissue
  • Wound Healing
  • Bruising
  • Poor Circulation
  • Skin Lesions (warts, eczema, psoriasis)

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy 

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF) is an FDA cleared, non-invasive, non-pharmacological treatment of pain and edema. PEMF uses pulsing magnetic fields, developed by pulsing a small amount of battery current through coils of wire, to initiate normal biological cellular reactions that result in improved circulation and provide pain relief.  It is believed that the benefits of the magnetic field are due to its influence on oxygen utilization by the tissues and, therefore, promotion of healing and/or turnover of cells.

Electromagnetic Field therapy Is Great For:

  • Inflammation
  • Muscle Spasm
  • Poor Circulation
  • Infection
  • Arthritis
  • Healing of Trauma
  • Healing after Surgery
  • Wound Healing
  • Cartilage Healing
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • Disorders of the Neurological System

Manual Therapy 

Manual Therapy encompasses any form of therapy that can be applied by the use of the therapist's hands. It is a physical treatment primarily used by massage therapists to treat musculoskeletal pain and disability. Manual therapy typically incorporates kneading, manipulation, traction, joint mobilization & manipulation, soft tissue massage, and stretching. 

Manual Therapy Is Great For:

  • Gait or Stance Abnormalities: lameness or changes in the quality of movement
  • Tendons: strains, tendonitis, calcifications, contractures
  • Performance Issues: lack or decrease of performance, undeveloped muscles
  • Spine: acute/ chronic back and neck pain, spinal dysfunctions, and misalignments
  • Muscles: spasms, strains, atrophy, weakness
  • Joints: capsulitis, arthritis, restrictions, ligament sprains, contractures, stiffness, 
  • Post-Operative Care: orthopedic or neurological surgeries

Splinting & Assistive Therapy 

Splints are used occasionally in rehabilitation to provide support to an injured area. They serve the same protective function as a bandage does, but has an additional benefit of preventing movement of the injured part. If a splint is used to support a fractured bone, it will be applied so that it immobilizes both the joint above and the joint below the fracture.

Splints can be simple such as "wrist and ankle" splints for joint stability, but occasionally more advanced assistive measures are taken such as slings or wheelchairs to assist dogs in their recovery or long-term functioning. 

Splinting & Assistive Therapy Is Great For:

  • Generalized Weakness
  • Wrist or Ankle hyperextension injuries
  • Unstable Joints
  • Birth Defects
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Following Tendon Surgeries
  • Nerve or Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Unstable Joints
  • Contractures







(631) 281-8820



1010 Montauk Highway, Shirley, NY  11967


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