Equipment for the purpose of rehabilitation and conditioning for your pet varies greatly in utility, cost, size, ability to store, and more. Of course, you can purchase inflatable products (peanuts, discs), Cavaletti poles, weave poles, and more from various companies. But, I also like to look at common items that you may already have at home. Many of these items are also available at discount stores and/or thrift stores.
Top 10 list of Common Household Items to Use for Rehab.
Be sure to check with your rehabilitation therapist for proper use to avoid injury to your pet or to yourself.
1. Blankets/towels: Rolled up for support under or alongside your dog. These can roll up to serve as an item to walk over as well as provide a bolster for a dog/cat that cannot support their body in a sternal position.
2. Garden Hose: Instant obstacle course! A garden hose can be used indoors or outdoors. Run the hose in variety of patterns to create obstacles for your pet to walk over/around. Many hoses can be coiled upon themselves to create a bit of height for a more challenging course.
3. PVC: 1″ to 3″ pipe can be cut at custom lengths to create poles for a Caveletti set-up (with pylons). These can also be arranged like “pickup sticks” for walking over/around at different heights.
4. Pool Noodles: These are a favorite. I tend to pick up 5-6 every season because of their low cost and functionality. They come in different diameters and shapes. These serve as soft step-over tools (walk over/around). I also cut them in sections and/or lengthwise to use in a variety of other ways. (For step-overs, I recommend using sandbags to reduce rolling.)
5. Laundry Basket: Baskets with larger holes in the weave can be great for supporting poles (PVC or small pool noodles/pipe insulation) as a homemade Cavaletti set-up. Taller baskets work best for the larger dogs, but any size works.
6. Rubbermaid Boxes: These are great in all shapes and sizes. I tend to use these primarily for smaller dogs up to 40 pounds. Fill the box with a blanket, towel, or heavy foam. The idea is that we want to support the dog’s weight when they stand on upside down box. I don’t use a lid so I can add more internal bulk, if needed. Cover the surface with non-skid material (yoga mat, shelf liner, rubber-backed rug). Congratulations! You’ve just made a platform that your dog can use to practice front feet up or back feet up for weight-shifting exercises.
7. Bosu Ball: Many people have these at home. They can be a bit pricey (>$100) but a functional exercise tool for man and beast.
8. Fat Tire Bicycle Innertubes: Inflate several and scatter around for step-overs in an obstacle course. Be sure to cover the air nozzle.
9. Lawn Furniture Cushions, Couch Cushions, Dog Beds: These work as unstable platforms, items in an obstacle course, and modified stairs.
10. Curbs: Yes, we can use the curbs around your house/neighborhood for great exercises.