The 18-year Point Loma and Ocean Beach resident started the unique program after seeing a dog swimming in a pool one day. She then started asking around to see if swim therapy was common among local veterinarians.
“I made a few calls to local vets asking if they had ever heard of physical therapy for dogs. Some of them had, but did not know of anyone doing it,” she said.
Penick’s clients can be in any range of physical states when they come to her for care — ranging from severe cases of paralysis to the common struggles of old age or obesity. Some are perfectly healthy, competitive working or show dogs that cross-train with Cutting Edge K9 to strengthen their bodies and enhance their performance.
“The most involved are the ones who have had strokes or herniated discs and they are paralyzed. Even when they cannot move at all on land, usually as soon as we get them into the water, they begin moving their legs,” she said. “Seniors are another big part of our programs. Many are struggling to take just a few steps and having difficulty getting up and down.”
Within just a few sessions, owners are often amazed to see their dog — many of which were slated to be euthanized — become stronger, healthier and even begging their owners to go on a walk.
“They respond very fast,” Penick said. “Since it is non-weightbearing, the dogs have no pain like they do when trying to exercise on land. Not only are we working on range of motion, strengthening and cardiovascular conditioning all at once, the cool water keeps the dogs from overheating, allowing for an extended cardio workout.”
Some of Cutting Edge K9 Rehab’s services include underwater treadmill and massage, modalities, stretching and land-based exercises.
Getting the dogs up to the rehab pool in North County is a struggle, and Penick said she is desperately searching for a homeowner near Point Loma, Mission Bay or Clairemont to offer his or her pool for Penick’s dog rehabilitation services two days a week.
“It is too many hours between transporting the dog and the therapy time,” she said. “It is heartbreaking not to be able to help these dogs. We are looking to our community to help us help them.”
Cutting Edge K9 will pay for pool maintenance, heating during the cold months, equipment upgrades and extend a monthly fee. Ideally, Penick hopes to find a lap pool for use, but she said she is happy to hear from anyone who can offer his or her pool as a viable option.
To offer your pool, call Penick at (619) 227-7802, or visit www.CuttingEdgeK9.com.