Surgery and Rehabilitation

To refer a patient to the Surgery or Rehabilitation service, please submit our online Patient Referral Form for Specialty Services.  If you would prefer to complete a paper form, please complete our Specialty Referral Form and fax to 651-501-3763 or email to


The Sport & Strength Department, AERC's rehabilitation services, are offered for pets and working dogs who require conditioning, pain management, and recovery from surgical procedures. The Sport & Strength Department is led by Rehabilitation Technician, John Nielsen, CVT-VTS (ECC), CVPP, CCRP. John is assisted by Brooke Knotek, CVT. John is a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner and a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner.
Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota offers a Sport & Strength Department to provide rehabilitation services to:
•    pre and post-surgical patients
•    patients suffering from chronic osteoarthritis or pain
•    performance dogs in the upper Midwest in need of conditioning to be their best
•    patients who need to shed a few pounds.  

From the most athletic dogs to those carrying a few extra pounds, many pets can benefit from the programs offered by the Sport & Strength Department!    

Veterinary physical rehabilitation can be performed in many ways; from something as simple as stretching, to muscle or nerve retraining exercises, to the use of exercise equipment.  We customize programs to each individual, ensuring your patient recovers in the shortest amount of time and returns to his previous quality of life.  In order to do this, we strongly encourage owner involvement!

Your patient’s progress will be tracked and assessed regularly by our board-certified surgeon and rehabilitation technician.

Why conditioning for the canine athlete?

Much like a human athlete, a canine athlete needs to be in the best physical condition in order to perform optimally.  By emphasizing balance, endurance and the core muscle group, we are able to improve a dog's physical condition. Being in great shape will also help to minimize those strains and sprains that are very much a part of any sporting event.  Similar to rehabilitation patients, our conditioning patients have the opportunity to take advantage of all of our rehabilitation equipment.

The equipment

Our Sport & Strength Department utilizes a wide variety of rehabilitation equipment such as underwater treadmill, therapeutic laser, cavalletti rails, exercise peanuts (similar to exercise balls in people), and wobble or balancing boards to assist in providing pets with the means to recover quickly.

Underwater treadmill – the multidimensional recovery tool. Provides a virtually weightless environment through the buoyancy of water, which also reduces stress on the pet’s joints.  Heated water in the treadmill encourages circulation and helps reduce inflammation.

Exercise peanuts– Improve core muscle strength as well as balance.

Therapeutic laser – Reduces inflammation, improves circulation and helps heal tissues

Therapeutic ultrasound - Reduces inflammation, improves circulation and helps heal tissues

Wobble / balance boards – Improve balance and retrain muscles and nerves.  

We provide assessments and therapy Monday through Friday.  All patients undergo an initial assessment by one of our board-certified surgeons and our rehabilitation technician.  From there, we partner with you and the pet owner to determine the best program for the patient!