How do I know if my dog needs physiotherapy?
can communicate discomfort and pain in many ways. While they are not
able to tell us directly, keep an eye on your dog and note down any
changes in its behaviour, performance, stance or gait.
Common indications that your dog may be in pain or discomfort include:
- limping or reluctance to move
- sitting or lying down more than before
- licking/biting of feet/body
- reduced performance
- sudden refusal or disobedience during training
- not wanting to go on walks or sudden stops during walks
- stumbling, dragging of feet
- not wanting to jump on/off couch/car
- change in stance or gait
- irritability when groomed
- subtle changes in behaviour
- general irritability and restlessness
- aggressive or defensive behaviour
- withdrawn, lethargic
qualifications does a veterinary physiotherapist need to treat my dog?
The three respected and extensive courses on veterinary physiotherapy
in the UK are:
and Equine Physiotherapy Training CEPT- IRVAP (Level 7 postgraduate
advanced certificare in veterinary physiotherapy)
Adams University - NAVP (Degree/Postgraduate training in veterinary
of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy - ACPAT (Degree in
human physiotherapy followed by postgraduate training in veterinary
All three above qualifications ensure that your veterinary physiotherapist
has the appropriate, extensive training required to treat your dog
safely. I have completed the 2 year postgraduate advanced certificate
in veterinary physiotherapy with CEPT. The training required
extensive scientific background knowledge to understand the
underlying links between scientific theories, current research and
modalities used in practice. Placements and practical assessments
ensured a high-quality hands-on and critically reasoned approach to
cases and treatment programmes. A throrough understanding of canine
structure and anatomy was improved through cadaver work, and a complete
understanding of tissue structures and healing allowed for creating
multifactorial rehabilitation and conditioning programmes.
the term "veterinary physiotherapist" is not legally
protected, anyone can call themselves a veterinary
even if they have only attended a weekend course. Before booking
anyone, ensure they have had appropriate training and are members of
professional bodies such as IRVAP, NAVP or ACPAT.
Recognized veterinary physiotherapy groups and organisations within UK:
1. The Institute of Registered Veterinary and Animal Physiotherapists- IRVAP (www.irvap.org.uk)
2. The National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists- NAVP (www.navp.co.uk)
3. The Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy- ACPAT (www.acpat.org)
4. The International Association of Animal Therapists- IAAT (www.iaat.org.uk)
5. The Association for the Scientific Study in Veterinary and Animal Physiotherapy- ASSVAP (www.assvap.com)
do I need a veterinary referral to take my dog to a physiotherapist?
physiotherapists act under the guidance of the Veterinary Surgeons Act
1966 and Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 1962. According to these
regulations, only veterinary surgeons are legally allowed to diagnose
animals. Once the initial diagnosis has been made, the veterinary
surgeon can pass the treatment to a physiotherapist via a referral. It
is also in the best interest of your dog for your veterinary
physiotherapist and veterinarian to communicate on all treatments and
possible issues found to ensure the animal receives the best and most
accurate care possible.
You can download the veterinary referral form here
many treatments is my dog going to need?
your first appointment your dog will be assessed throroughly and an
initial treatment plan will be created. At this point, your dog may
only need some home exercises which you can implement without the
veterinary physiotherapist present. Alternatively your dog may benefit
from more hands on treatments for a better long term prognosis. The
amount of treatments depend on your dog's condition, your goals, how
fast your dog's body responds to treatment and the modalities used. A
treatment plan will be specifically tailored to suit your dog's needs
and your own schedule. If
at any point the treatment plan is adjusted, the new plan will be
communicated to you.
is the first appointment longer and more expensive than subsequent
the first appointment, a thorough assessment of your dog will be done
which includes taking a comprehensive history, static
and dynamic (moving) analysis, neurological testing and manual
palpation. The manual palpation will include the assessment of muscle
asymmetry and tone, changes within muscle texture and heat, joint restrictions, and
behavioural subtle pain or discomfort responses. Your
veterinary physiotherapist will be looking into the diagnosed issue (if there is one) and
compensations elsewhere in the body to create a viable and effective
first appointment will be the basis for which subsequent appointments
and assessments are built on. The findings will be explained
treatment options discussed in detail. A discussion will also be had to
incorporate your own goals and yourself within the treatment programme
as home exercises will be an important part of the continued
well-being of your dog. After this first assessment, the veterinary
physiotherapist will also be better able to advise on how many
treatments are likely to be needed and the frequency of these
appointments to suit your schedule.
I able to book back-to-back appointments for more than one
appointments for dogs within the same family are easier and encouraged. If you wish to book an appointment for more than
one dog at a time, please let me know and I can schedule their
should I do if I have to cancel my physiotherapy appointment?
you need to cancel your appointment, please let me know as soon as
possible so I can book other dogs for the time slot. There will be no
charge for cancellations received more than 24 hours in advance, but if
the appointment is cancelled within 24 hours of the appointment time
you will be charged full price.
I claim the cost of physiotherapy on my pet insurance?
insurance companies provide cover for physiotherapy. Please contact
your pet insurance company prior to starting treatment to confirm the
amount of appointments or value covered and if you require special
documentation from either your veterinarian or veterinary
physiotherapy the same as my dog having a massage?
is one of the techniques available to a physiotherapist. However this
is only one technique among many that can be used to rehabilitate or
condition your dog. A physiotherapist will also be able to use other
hands-on techniques such as myofascial release, joint mobilisations and
range of motion, stretching and trigger point release. In addition
treatment plans will include electrotherapies such as pulsed
electromagnetic field therapy (PEMFT) or phototherapy, and a varied
exercice prescription programme.
do I pay for an appointment?
can be made in cash or by cheque at the time of the appointment.
Additionally I will be able to take credit card payments, but there
will be a 10% transaction fee.
my dog need time off after physiotherapy treatment?
on the treatment modality and the tissues worked on, it may be better
to take it easy for the remainder of the day. Please rest assured that
once treatment has been done, I will go through the recommendations for
exercise for your dog. If you are planning on competing with your dog,
please let me know prior to starting treatment as some treatment
modalities are not recommended 24 hours before competition or
do I prepare my dog for a physiotherapy treatment?
Please also make sure that
- is dry, as wet coat makes manual palpation more difficult and less
- has Not had a walk just before as physiotherapy is already a work-out
for your dog
- has Not been fed in the past 2 hours
- has had a chance to go for a toilet break before the session
There are also some items that
would be beneficial to have handy:
- treats your dog likes, especially important if your dog has allergies
a calm and quiet space to treat (if you have more than one dog, please
arrange a space where the treated dog can be alone and calm)
- soft bedding for your dog to lie on during treatment
the appointment finishes, please make sure your dog has access to soft
bedding to sleep on and plenty of water to drink.
you have any questions not covered, please do not hesitate to contact
me! I would rather speak through any of your concerns than leave you
with any uncertainties. You can also ask questions during the
appointment, I am more than happy to talk you through the treatments