Cryotherapy is the application of cold on the body for therapeutic purposes. This technique is very effective in animals that have suffered trauma ranging from a simple sprain to a stroke or surgery.

Cold can be applied in different ways: cold packs, cold massage, ice baths, contrast baths, and cooling sprays or vaporizers are some of the options. 

It has therapeutic effects such as analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, it helps reabsorption of swelling, decreases metabolism and cell permeability.Termoterapia en perros

At the blood vessel level, it causes vasoconstriction followed by a decrease in surface temperature, turning the skin pale. It also decreases heart pressure and increases blood pressure.

Short-term application on the muscle facilitates and stimulates muscle activity. With short and repeated applications it increases muscle tone while for longer applications it diminishes it. Furthermore, it helps control muscle spasms.

Short‑term applications can be very stimulating to the nerves, while long-term applications will produce anesthesia on the treated region, reducing nerve conductivity and causing a decrease in pain sensation.

The temperature of the skin decreases, while at the respiratory level the respiratory rate increases.

There are a number of counterindications in which you should never apply cold:

  • Animals with hypothermia, that is, with a lower than normal body temperature

  • Animals with hypersensitivity or even allergic reactions such as hives when applying cold

  • Animals with thermoregulation problems

  • In very old or debilitated dogs or very young or small breeds

  • In areas with:

    • sensory deficits or peripheral nerve injury

    • vascular compromise

    • previously burned by the cold

    • open, deep or infected wounds



Cold can be applied right after the injury or operation has occurred and the treatment should not exceed more than 20 minutes, as longer applications hinder muscle contraction (cell death) and increase spasms in cases of spasticity, which can cause seizures.

Attention must be paid to the colour of the animal's skin. If the skin becomes pale or white, stop the treatment. Always place a towel between the ice and the animal, never place it directly on the skin as this could cause burns.

Sometimes it may be difficult to hold the cold pack or cold bag without the dog moving, you can purchase Neoprene straps that are ideal for this situation and/or other special supports for knees and other joints.


Ortocanis Technical Team