A treadmill for dogs, and other healing methods

Laney Griffo

STATELINE, Nev. – One veterinarian is helping rehabilitate cats and dogs, as well as increase quality of life for older pets, allowing Tahoe pets to live their best mountain life.

Dr. Carrie Turner, DVM opened Heal Integrative Vet Med, LLC because she’s passionate about quality of life for all pets.

Dr. Turner treats pets recovering from injury and agin pets.
Laney Griffo/ Tahoe Daily Tribune

Dr. Turner moved to Lake Tahoe in 2002, straight out of veterinary school. During that time, she worked for several different vet offices but in 2015, she decided to pursue one of her passions and get certified for animal acupuncture.

She opened her own office, then in 2016, she moved into her current location on Kingsbury Grade.

Most of Dr. Turner’s patients have mobility issues, whether it be from injury or age.

“The majority of my patients are seniors and they’re having some sort of chronic issue, whether that be mobility issues, arthritis, kidney issues, cancer, across the gambit it’s just a chronic issue,” Turner said. “They’re aging and [the owners] are looking for quality of life, they don’t want to pursue expensive diagnostics or expensive therapies, they just want something that’s going to make [the pet] feel better.”

To treat her patients, Dr. Turner uses several different methods, including diet, hands-on therapy, acupuncture, and an underwater treadmill.

While the Tribune was visiting Heal, one of Dr. Turner’s patients, Django, came in and we got to see first hand how each of these methods works.

The warm water and buoyancy in the treadmill can help dogs walk normally.
Laney Griffo/ Tahoe Daily Tribune

Django is recovering from Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy surgery, which is similar to ACL surgery in humans. Django’s owner Arica Davis said this was his third appointment and she’s already seen improvement in his mobility.

“She is really sweet with him and it all seems to be helping, we’re trying to rebuild his confidence,” Davis said. “Just as a regular dog owner, I don’t know how to do those things and it helps with my confidence that he won’t reinjure himself.”

Dr. Turner had Django stretch out before getting on the treadmill.

The treadmill is in a clear, enclosed box that holds water and is open on the top. Dr. Turner fills the box with warm water, about 85-90 degrees.

In the beginning, she’ll fill the box until the water is about shoulder height on the dog and as they get stronger, she’ll begin filling the treadmill with less and less water. She’ll also increase the amount of time the dogs are on the treadmill.

“When you’re on land, obviously you have to deal with gravity and if you’re joints hurt and you’re stiff if can just be hard,” Dr. Turner said. “So what the treadmill does is because of the buoyancy and the warm water, it allows dogs to walk normally. Getting a dog and their brain to understand, ‘oh yeah, I can walk normally, I’m remembering how to walk normally,’ really helps neurologically.”

Some dogs need more coaxing than others. Django, as with all dogs on the treadmill, was wearing a lifejacket with a lease attached. Dr. Turner had to guide Django forward with the leash several times throughout his nine minutes on the treadmill, as well as bribe him with some peanut butter, although she doesn’t like to rely too heavily on the peanut butter.

Django completed his workout and was rewarded with some jets, like sitting in a doggie jacuzzi.

After getting out of the treadmill, Dr. Turner worked with Django on some exercises, such as walking backwards, then stretched and massaged him and gave him acupuncture.

The cold laser uses light to re-energize cells, which speeds up the healing process.
Laney Griffo/ Tahoe Daily Tribune

She also used a cold laser on Django, which helps activate the energy metabolism of the cells with light which gives the cell more energy to heal.

Dr. Turner makes sure her office is a fear free zone, so with all of the methods she uses, she ensures she’s not forcing the animal to do anything they don’t want to do.

While Dr. Turner is passionate about all pets, she’s especially passionate about helping older pets.

“One of the things that palliative care [and hospice care] gives owners is confidence,” Dr. Turner said. “So, the confidence takes away a lot of the anxiety of having a sick dog at the end of its life and with the confidence and the elimination of anxiety the dogs just do better and live a lot longer.”

Dr. Turner continued, “It’s a paradigm shift in the owner, they get so tense and worried that their dog is suffering and when I can say, ‘no way, we’re doing everything, you’re dog isn’t suffering, he’s eating, his tail is wagging, he’s happy to see you, he’s going on walks, this dogs not suffering, you’re doing a great job.’ They just feel a lot of relief and that transfers to the animal.”

Dr. Turner gives owners exercises to do with their pets at home. Laney Griffo/ Tahoe Daily Tribune

She doesn’t do any diagnostic work so Dr. Turner works closely with vets in the area, that way she knows she’s treating pets for the right things.

Patients can pay out of pocket but Heal also accepts pet insurance.

To learn more, or to become a patient, visit


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