Physiotherapy for humans has long been recognized. But when do certain grips or measures also work on dogs? How do you find a qualified animal physiotherapist?
Physiotherapy for dogs is especially helpful after surgery to steadily regain coordination and endurance without overwhelming the animal. Additional physical therapy support may also be helpful for chronic musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis or recurrent hip or knee problems.
“I can definitely see the benefits of physiotherapy for dogs. In fact, physiotherapy should always be viewed as a complementary form of therapy and should be discussed with the treating veterinarian, ”emphasizes Saskia Walter, veterinarian.
Which Physiotherapy is Right?
There are various physiotherapy approaches to support the healing process after surgery or to relieve pain in dogs with joint problems.
“On the one hand, active therapy is available in which the dog has to be cooperative as it has to actively engage in movement exercises,” says Walter. “The goal of physical therapy is to build muscle, train balance and flexibility, and improve the dog’s physical and coordination skills.”
Coordination can be improved with aids such as wobbly boards, small trampolines, or other flexible surfaces. For example, physical therapists often use treadmills or underwater treadmills to help protect joints after the surry.
“Passive physical therapy can also help with a variety of problems,” says Walter. “The goal of passive physical therapy is to weaken tissues, stimulate metabolism or blood flow, and remove any painful blockages in the joints.”
For passive physical therapy, the therapist can use cold and heat treatments, massage, manual therapy, i.e. moving the dog without activity, or stretching techniques.
How Do I Find Qualified Animal Physiotherapists?
Since the position is not defended and the training is not subject to the state examination, in principle every physiotherapist can call himself. Therefore, when looking for a qualified therapist, you should look for other clues.
Sometimes veterinarians have the appropriate additional qualifications in physiotherapy – here at least a professional veterinary qualification is guaranteed. There are also a number of associations that include physiotherapists.
Since the members of these associations have made a commitment to adhere to the qualification standards set by the respective association, this can serve as additional guidance.
However, the personal impression is also important: “The physical therapist should devote a lot of time to the initial examination and be ready to exchange views with the treating veterinarian. In addition, after gait analysis, after careful examination and palpation, he must explain to the owner what short-term and long-term goals can be achieved with the therapy, ”advises Ilsener veterinarian Saskia Walter.
How Much to Pay for Physiotherapy?
A veterinarian who has received additional training as a physical therapist will bill according to the veterinarian rate plan. For non-veterinary physiotherapists, the prices are free – a 30-minute treatment usually costs between 25 and 40 euros, the initial examination takes longer and therefore may be slightly more expensive.
Depending on the purpose of the treatment, five to ten therapy sessions are recommended, after which the therapist, preferably after consulting a veterinarian, checks the success – and either discharge the dog or recommends continuing.
By the way: Physiotherapy can be part of an animal health insurance service.