What are the side effects of veterinary physiotherapy in our pets?

Updated: Jan 31

I often get asked can my pet do their normal workout or exercise after their physio session and the answer is no!



But why?



Let’s start by taking a look at vet physio procedures, how they work and the effects they have on our pets.


So does vet physio really work?


In short yes if you are using the correct techniques for the correct conditions but in some cases, your pet may just have a condition that does not respond to vet physio.


At a vet physio session, your pet will be assessed for any areas of pain or weakness and then treated with manual and electrotherapies. But how do these therapies work?


Now this is a tricky question to answer because it does depend on the condition we’re treating but for a general overview you can check out our services page here.


And if you want some more in-depth advice relating to your pet’s condition drop me a message at zoe@fitpetphysio.com.


But to give you an idea, broadly speaking the therapies your vet physio will use with your pets are going to relax any areas of tension, lower pain by alleviating any inflammation, swelling and altering how your pet’s body sends pain signals.


This is great in the long term as it helps your pets gain strength and range of motion and keeps them out of pain but in the short term can have some side effects.


What are the side effects of veterinary physiotherapy in our pets?


Side effects of vet physio:

  • Feeling tired or lack of energy

  • Stiffness for a day or two

  • Feeling wobbly immediately after the session

  • Weakness especially in dogs with neuro conditions who can tire quickly

  • Drinking more


So with that in mind what should we be doing with our pets after a vet physio session?


Your best bet to ensure your pet doesn’t suffer from side effects is to ensure your pets have a supply of fresh water and are given a rest day after their session. In fit and healthy pets just having a check-up will just look like an easy day of walking on the lead in dogs or hacking in horses. But if you’re pet is having a vet physio session for treatment of a condition they should have a complete day of rest to allow their body to adjust to how it feels after the adjustments have been made.


This is because there are many changes that happen to our pet’s bodies after a massage. The 3 major changes are:


  1. Releasing of the fascia, this is the connective tissue that runs around all of your pet’s muscles and underneath their skin. Over time there are areas of tightness or restrictions that develop in the fascia this means that the muscle cannot move effectively underneath the fascia. When your vet physio uses myofascial release to relieve these restrictions the muscle can then move freely now this is, of course, a good thing but it can take a little while for our pets to get used to this new feeling which is why they can be a little wobbly.

  2. Improved blood flow bringing more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles meaning that they can use the extra resources to repair any tiny injuries in the muscle. This does however that your pet is using more energy than they would do usually making them a little tired or lethargic.

  3. The relaxation of the muscles that massage brings can actually feel a little sore a day or 2 later this is because tense muscles hold a lot of toxins and waste products which we flush out during the massage but again this can leave our pets feeling a little strange as this is a big adjustment that their bodies are having to make.


But each animal is going to react differently so you might not see any of these changes in your pet at all!





If you have any questions or worries don’t hesitate to get in touch on zoe@fitpetphysio.com.

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