Physiotherapy is a relatively young field in veterinary medicine. There’s no straightforward path to being a veterinary physiotherapist quite yet; most veterinary physiotherapists start off being human physiotherapists before they can officially commence their training as veterinary physiotherapists.

We love physiotherapy here at My Vet Animal Hospital. It’s such a wonderful complement to surgery and medicine in ensuring an excellent quality of life for your furbaby. How does it do that? Well…

What is physiotherapy?

The role of a veterinary physiotherapist is quite broad. In general, a physiotherapist uses physical techniques – massage, hydrotherapy, special exercises, and much, much more – to help your furbaby regain maximal movement and function following injury, illness or developmental problems.

Physiotherapy requires the co-operation of the paw-rent, furbaby, physiotherapist, and veterinarian. Unlike human physiotherapy, where the physiotherapist can just…tell the patient what exercises to do, veterinary physiotherapists work with you, the paw-rent, to train your furbaby to perform the exercises required.

Also, physiotherapy is an ongoing commitment! It’s not like the one-off massage I treat myself to every year. Depending on what we’re treating your furbaby for, you may have to help your furbaby do these exercises every day.

Remember: A veterinary physiotherapist is not the same as a veterinary professional. Without special training, we wouldn’t even dream of developing a program for your furbaby. Likewise, keep in mind that most veterinary physiotherapists you’ll meet in Australia aren’t veterinarians. They can’t technically make diagnoses. That’s why it’s so important for your veterinarian to work closely with your veterinary physiotherapist!

Why physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is such a useful adjunct to treatment because physiotherapists train specific areas of the body to strengthen them and use complementary techniques to reduce inflammation. One way to look at it: physiotherapists train your furbaby’s body to use itself better and treat itself better too.

For example, one common indication for physiotherapy is orthopaedic surgery. After an orthopaedic surgery, your furbaby usually has to be strictly rested before starting to increase exercise. When they’re allowed exercise, physiotherapy is a very, very good idea. Why? Because we want your furbaby to start off using the correct muscles.

While your furbaby rests post-surgery, their muscles can atrophy (become smaller) with disuse; this can impact their gait, which in turn affects healing. Veterinary physiotherapists step in and develop a plan that will get your furbaby walking comfortably again. It’ll take time, but it definitely improves the outcome of surgery.

So, does my furbaby need physio?

The most common indications of physiotherapy are diseases that impact movement like arthritis, cranial cruciate ligament disease, luxating patellas, hip dysplasia, and some neurological issues. It can also be very helpful after an accident.

This is something your veterinarian will suggest and discuss with you! Not all cases are suitable for physiotherapy and, as physiotherapy can be a big commitment, we want to make sure we tailor a plan that you can commit to.

Do you have a question about physiotherapy? You may like to check out our partners at Animal Physiotherapy Services! They do such awesome work and are so wonderful to work with, we have no doubt you’ll love them too!

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