Not long ago, Gary the friendly dachshund could barely make it up a step.
“He was having a tough time moving around, real slow getting up,” said Gary's owner, Sarah Randall of Coeur d'Alene.
The 7-year-old canine was diagnosed with intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), which caused a lack of mobility through his spine and hind limbs. He didn't want to move because it was uncomfortable, and the lack of motion caused him to gain weight.
"We went to four different vets over the course of several months and had zero progress," said Sarah's husband, Dean.
Zero progress. Until they discovered Dr. Krista Porter and Springwater Veterinary Services.
"He’s almost back to where he was before, dare I say fully recovered,” Dean said.
Porter uses an innovative approach when it comes to caring for her patients. Laser therapy and hydrotherapy are among her treatments.
"I was in general equine practice and was frustrated because I would look at horses that weren’t able to do their job efficiently anymore,” said Porter, a vet for 17 years. "We as veterinarians diagnose lameness, but they weren’t lame. They were off. There was something not right. That’s when I pursued veterinary chiropractic."
Porter is the equivalent of a physical therapist for animals. She’s certified in veterinary chiropractic, canine rehabilitation and equine rehabilitation.
"This field of veterinary medicine is new,” she said. "We’ve had physical therapists for humans forever, but we’re finally getting to that place in veterinary medicine where we believe that after surgeries and after injuries we’ve got to get them moving again. The faster we can do that, the faster we can get them back to their normal life."
Springwater has the only veterinary-owned underwater treadmill for horses in the Pacific Northwest, and Porter is one of the only vets in the area with an underwater treadmill for canines.
"The warmth of the water helps release inflammation. It helps them to move without pain," she said. "Depending on the height of the water, I can get almost 60 percent buoyancy so they can move their joints and walk without pain of the concussion of the ground. We can almost float them in there and have them move. With that warm water and the treadmill going, they can do something they can’t do (on land). It’s comfortable for them."
After only six months as her patient, Gary has shown tremendous improvement. He's lost weight, he looks great and he doesn't have bad days anymore.
"We do everything she tells us to and we see the progress,” Dean said. "The more he loses weight the more he wants to get up and move, and the more he gets up and moves the more he loses weight. It’s that vicious cycle, but in reverse. He’s got so much more energy now."
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Part of Porter's approach includes the animal's diet. She is versed in veterinary food therapy and knows this is an important part of the path to wellness.
“We start with nutritional consulting," she said. "We have to get their nutrition correct to get the correct weight."
The laser Porter uses for therapy is one step below a cutting laser for surgery. It helps heal and energize wounds and injuries.
"It brings the body’s natural healing properties to the area," she said. "It warms things up so it brings heat to the area to aid in healing. It brings the body's natural anti-inflammatories to the area to decrease pain. It’s an amazing tool."
Porter treated animals at her home office until she opened Springwater last November. The more than 25,000-square-foot facility has 14 stalls for equine patients, the treadmills and a huge indoor arena covered in a special fine silica sand and fiber blend.
"It creates this beautiful cushion for the horses and they just float over the top of it," Porter said.
The Springwater facility is capable of healing injuries as well as conditioning animal athletes. Barrel racing horses and show dogs are among Porter's much-loved clientele.
One of her clients is an American Staffordshire terrier that competed in the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
"We are so honored to have him as a client,” she said. "We keep him moving beautifully for the show ring."
Porter also sees a lot of older patients. At her facility, they can enjoy mobility that isn't easy for them anymore.
"We have a lot of old dogs that come in, and we put them on that treadmill in the water and they can stand up without pain," she said. "We get them moving again. Geriatric medicine is huge in my field."
Porter said much of her business comes from referrals. Springwater has the ability to collaborate with traditional veterinarians so their entire patient, from toe to tail, will be well.
"We want the local veterinarians to send their patients here for us to rehabilitate them, but they’re still their primary veterinarian," she said. "It’s what's best for these guys that we need to focus on."
Springwater Veterinary Services is located at 8875 N. Hauser Lake Road in Hauser.
Info: 208-651-0973 or www.springwatervet.com