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What is Animal Physiotherapy?

Simply the use of vet physiotherapy (manual, electro and exercise therapies) in animals primarily dogs and horses. Veterinary physiotherapy is a brilliant resource that all pet owners should be taking advantage of. All dogs and horse no matter what their age, lifestyle or health status should have regular physiotherapy assessment and treatment.

Regular veterinary physiotherapy sessions improve your pet’s quality of life and give you peace of mind that you have given your pets every opportunity for a long, happy and pain-free life.

More importantly, how does it work?

Now, this depends on the modalities used and the reason for the vet physio session.

Let’s start by having a look at the different reasons you might choose vet physiotherapy for your pet:

  1. Rehabilitation following injury or surgery- the use of vet physiotherapy modalities reduces healing time by accelerating healing of not only external wounds but also damage to internal muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. Once wounds are healed exercise therapy can be used to return your pet to their usual activity level and even in some cases surpass it!

  2. Pain management- this can be in cases of inoperable injuries or pathologies which are degenerative such as OA or as an alternative to high doses of pain medication.

  3. Fitness- in the case of family pets to reduce weight or improve movement or in competition animals.

  4. Performance- this can be in both professional and amateur athletes. These animals are exposed to risky sports which increase their risk of injury therefore meaning they must be in peak condition. Additionally for those competing in horse sports vet physiotherapy is permitted at events whereas veterinary treatment is not.

  5. Improving quality and length of life- this can be through weight management, improving movement and gait and/or reducing or preventing pain.

Do you know which category your pet fits into? Perhaps more than 1?

If you’re not sure, don’t worry book a free call with us and we can come to a decision together and also give you the next steps to follow whether they be booking an appointment with us, joining one of our webinars or seeking advice from other professionals such as your vet.

Now you’ve decided where your pet sits and taken the next step by speaking to us and booking an appointment if suitable, how will the modalities used in your pets vet physio session actual work?

Let’s have a look at each modality briefly here (for more info on each modality click on the modalities name)-

  1. Massage- massage is a manual therapy composed of a number of different strokes with varying uses. The main aims of massage will vary depending on your pets reason for the physio session but the most common reasons I use massage for are to improve blood flow, reduce pain and tension within muscles and improve muscle tone and flexibility.

  2. Exercise therapies- this is a huge category that vastly differs dispending on your pets reason for physiotherapy. If your pet has an injury, pathology or is in recovery from surgery exercises will consist of small gentle movements such as passive range of motion and walking. However, if your pets are fit and healthy and you’re looking to improve fitness, longevity or performance then conditioning exercises will be used. If you’d like to get a head start on your pet’s fitness check out our online shop for a whole host of webinars, ebooks and pdf downloads just for you!

  3. Laser- laser is most commonly used to accelerate wound healing and reduce pain. Laser therapy is not commonly used by any other therapists or vets despite its effectiveness at accelerating healing of all tissues.

  4. PEMF- Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy uses magnets that are electrofied to re-establish cellular voltage. This means that they optimise how each individual cell in your pet’s body works which leads to reduced pain and increased healing. I often get asked if static magnets have the same effect and in short no they don’t. There is a tonne of scientific evidence supporting PEMF which id be happy to share with you simply drop me an email at but as yet none for static magnets although there is some anecdotal evidence from owners suggesting they may be beneficial.

  5. TENS- a tens machine works by stimulating the sensory nerves which then activate the opioid mechanism to reduce pain.

  6. NMES- stimulates motor neurons to contract muscles leading to increased muscle mass when used in conjunction with exercise therapy.

  7. Heat and cold- heat leads to vasodilation (more blood flow) which increases cellular metabolism and healing as well as relaxing muscles and reducing pain. Cold leads to vasoconstriction (reduced blood flow) which reduces swelling, inflammation and pain.

So as you can see there is a lot more to physiotherapy than first meet the eye! That’s why it’s so important to book regular sessions with your local physio and not just hope you can do it yourself or wish you won’t ever need to.

If you’re based in West or South Yorkshire or the surrounding area you can book a session or free phone consultation here.

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