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What is Veterinary Physiotherapy?

Veterinary physiotherapy, also known as animal physiotherapy or animal physical therapy, is a specialised field of animal veterinary care that focuses on the rehabilitation and physical well-being of animals. It involves the application of various physical therapies, electrotherapies and exercises to help animals recover from injuries, manage chronic conditions, improve mobility, elevate performance and enhance their overall quality of life. 

Key aspects of veterinary physiotherapy include:

  1. History - A thorough evaluation of the animal's veterinary history of any specific issues or injuries and owner concerns is taken. If the animal has any form of illness or injury a veterinary consent form is to be completed by the animals registered veterinarian (found on the contact page). If it is a maintenance case, a veterinary consent form is not required but all animals need to be registered with a veterinarian. This is in line with the RCVS regulations and a legal requirement to ensure the welfare of your animal. It helps allied professionals to work as part of a multidisciplinary team to provide the best possible multimodal approach to your animals care. 

  2. Assessment - Assessment of the animal's physical condition, including its range of motion, muscle tone, build, symmetry, posture, and gait. 

  3. Treatment planning - After the assessment, a tailored treatment plan is developed to address the animal's specific needs. This plan may include a combination of manual techniques, electrotherapies and exercises.

  4. Exercise prescription/Aftercare - A plan specific to the animal’s needs will be made to target set goals, short and long term. This is built with the owner in mind. Exercises can range from lead walking/in hand walking to pole work and baited stretches to paw tickling and balance boards. Changes in management may also be suggested such as raised feed bowls for dogs or hay from the floor/feeder.

Veterinary physiotherapy employs various techniques, such as massage, mobilisation, stretching and electrotherapy (e.g., laser, ultrasound, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), and designing exercise programmes that aim to improve the animal’s strength, flexibility and proprioception. The overall goal is to alleviate pain, restore function and provide the best quality of life for your animal. 

veterinary physiotherapist performing laser treatment on a horse
Dog performing veterinary physiotherapy exercises
Horse falling asleep whilst stretching
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