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What does an Animal Physiotherapist do?

By Donn Saylor
Updated May 17, 2024
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An animal physiotherapist is a trained professional with specialized education in providing physical therapy for animal patients. Typical animal physiotherapist jobs entail the application of physical contact — such as massage, manipulation, and mobilization — to address an animal's physiological ailments. He or she may also utilize special equipment to facilitate the healing process and advise an animal's owners on the best methods of ensuring a speedy recovery. An animal physiotherapist works on a variety of animals, from dogs and cats to rabbits, horses, and even zoo animals.

One of the primary functions of any animal physiotherapist's job description is the ability to successfully work with an animal's soft tissue after the animal has either been injured or has had surgery. Both the bones and soft tissues need to be rubbed and mobilized by the skilled hands of the animal physiotherapist. This helps to lessen the animal's pain levels, promote relaxation, and encourage strength and mobility in the affected areas.

The job of animal physiotherapist might also involve utilizing specific tools and equipment to further aid the animal's recovery. Electrical stimulation, ultrasound technology, and lasers are commonly employed by those working in this field. The application of hot or cold packs may be also necessary to reduce swelling and support healing.

Animal physiotherapist duties also find the therapist helping the animal exercise or assisting the animal in performing range of motion movements. These movements help get the afflicted animal's limbs moving again, allowing the creature to ease back into full use of its body. The physiotherapist makes certain the animal is exercising properly and avoiding any unnecessary risks in getting back into shape.

Someone working in this field will often be called upon to give advice to pet owners. Since most animal physiotherapists will not see a patient on a daily basis, responsibility for the routine physical therapy often falls to the pet's caretakers. The therapist utilizes both medical know-how and people skills to properly convey the appropriate steps to be taken to ensure a healthy recovery.

Different regions have differing qualifications for becoming an animal physiotherapist. Many in this industry are certified veterinarians with additional training in animal physical therapy. Some have a specific degree in veterinary physiotherapy. The vast majority of professionals have training in either veterinary medicine or human physiotherapy. Among other animal physiotherapist requirements is a love of animals and their welfare, a knowledge of animal physiology and medicine, and a calm, encouraging bedside manner.

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