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While our containers are primarily used for site accommodation and facilities, every now and then we come across someone who has a unique requirement, one that our containers offer the perfect solution to. We’ve written previously about containers being used in a rhino orphanage and at a remote-control racing track. Today we cover another exceptional use for our containers – as a para-veterinary rehabilitation centre for dogs and other small pets.

dog undergoing physical therapy

Candice Ramsay is a qualified veterinary physiotherapist and owner of Ramsay Rehab Veterinary Physiotherapy and Hydrotherapy Centre, a para-veterinary practice dedicated to providing rehabilitation to domestic pets in conjunction with treatment recommended by the animal’s veterinarian.

Supportive treatment is offered for dogs and other pets in cases such as ligament injury, hip dysplasia, weight management control, osteoarthritis management and the like, and includes a number of therapies. These include heat and cold therapy; therapeutic massage; hydrotherapy treatments; electrotherapy; ultrasound; Photizo light therapy; therapeutic exercises; Kineso taping; laser; and home exercise programmes.

Candice says she hasn’t met an animal they cannot work with yet – it’s just a case of finding what makes the patient tick. For some pets it is treats, for others it is toys or cuddles, and for others it is giving them some distance. But the most important thing is that the animals tend to associate Candice and her six-person team with pain relief and, as you can imagine, that makes a big difference.

So how does the whole process work? Once the vet has referred a dog to Ramsay Rehab, an initial assessment is undertaken. This is quite intensive and includes assessments of joint angle, gait, orthopaedic (if necessary), and neurological, as well as muscle mass measurement. From this, a program is designed in conjunction with the referring vet where goals are set for the treatment program. Depending on the medical diagnosis, these could be long- or short-term goals, and could include outcomes such as building muscle mass, decreasing lameness, improving comfort, helping with compensatory pain management or reducing muscle spasms. The first step is to manage the pain, thereafter Candice and her colleagues start working on building them up.

Originally a veterinary nurse, Candice was always interested in the benefits of post -operative care and caregiving for patients. But it was a personal event that led her to the field of veterinary physiotherapy when Oscar, her 33kg amputee cross-breed dog, collapsed due to a split disk and ended up paralysed from the neck down. He had cervical disk surgery and she set herself a deadline of six weeks to recovery. During in-depth research of rehabilitative care options, she came across a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner Course for vets and vet nurses offered by the University of Tennessee and signed up for it. In those days there was nothing similar available in South Africa – today a degree in Veterinary Physiotherapy is offered by the Equine-Librium College in Plettenburg Bay.

Oscar, the amputee dog, who recovered from a disk injury due to veterinary rehabilitation methods

The good news is that Oscar recovered fully within those 6 weeks and lived to the ripe old age of 16 years.

Following on the course she had set herself, Candice established Ramsay Rehabilitation in 2015, originally as a mobile therapist treating her animal patients at their homes. But permanent premises were always the goal and she saved for the next 3 years in order to buy a container to operate her practice from. In 2018, Ramsay Rehabilitation found a home in the gardens of the Rivonia Village Vet.

Two 6 metre containers form the core of the practice. One container consists of two rooms – one an office and the other a consultation and treatment room, where relaxing treatments such as laser, massage and heat therapy take place. The other container is for hydrotherapy and the underwater treadmill – crucial treatments in 28° water that play a large role in the care that many of the animals need.

Here is Ash Kent, one of Ramsay Rehab’s many success stories, undergoing hydrotherapy. Ash damaged her knee beyond repair when she fell out of a tree and amputation was, in fact, recommended. She had multiple surgeries and was referred to Ramsay Rehab for post-operative physiotherapy.

Both the team and Ash herself worked very hard and the results were phenomenal – from a completely non-weight bearing limb, Ash now has a fully functional limb and is back to living the life of a happy, contented and busy cat.

Dogs are the most common patient that Ramsay Rehab gets to treat with Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Staffies, Dachshunds (due to their backs) and Pitbulls (due to their knees), in particular, often being referred for rehabilitation therapies. However other small animals have also passed through Ramsay Rehab’s care. Rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and even a pot-bellied pig have all been treated over the past few years.

Candice has nothing but good to say about the Container Conversions team. Most notable, she says, is the fact that they listened to what the requirements were for the therapy centre and ensured that the containers were converted to suit their very specialised needs. These containers are pet-friendly which is exactly what they needed to be. Thus, the floors are easily washable and non-slip. They also include drainage holes for the intensive cleaning and splashed water that is a daily occurrence at the practice. Plus, the efficiency and speed of erection was phenomenal – in one day they had a rehabilitation centre set up!

Husky undergoing hydrotherapy

A third container is pending and soon Ramsay Rehabilitation will expand even more. We wish them the best of luck into the future.