The veterinary care of our pets is nowadays becoming more
and more specialised. In recent years, many veterinarians have specialised in a
particular field. In addition to cardiologists, surgeons, oncologists and
internists, to name just a few, for some years now there have also been
specialisations in physical/physiotherapy, acupuncture and neural therapy,
chiropractic and manual therapy for animals.
Do you know how these different therapies can be beneficial
for your beloved pet or what options are available for your darling?
What is physical medicine and rehabilitation?
Physical medicine and rehabilitation are special fields of
veterinary medicine that aim to improve and restore the functionality and
quality of life of pets. They may suffer from physical impairments or
disabilities affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints,
ligaments, muscles and tendons. The aim of physiotherapy for dogs and cats is to improve the
independence of the animals in their daily activities and their quality of
Just like for humans, animal physiotherapy offers your pet
many benefits, including improved and faster healing, reduced pain and
inflammation, and improved functionality and mobility.
How do I know if my pet needs physiotherapy?
It is often obvious that your pet is suffering from pain. Limping, whimpering or wheezing are typical signs of pain, as are reduced performance, sluggish movement or problems getting up. However, our pets do not always show, whether something hurts them obviously, especially if the pain is due to chronic, long-term medical problems such as degenerative joint disease. Examples when physical therapy / physiotherapy can help:
after (orthopaedic) operations
with neurological diseases (slipped disc, nerve damage …)
with degenerative joint diseases
after soft tissue injuries
for muscle tensions
after sports injuries
possibilities of physiotherapy/physical therapy
Passive Range-of-Motion exercises (PROM). A therapist passively moves your pet’s joints
back and forth, mimicking your pet’s normal movements. This helps to improve
the range of motion and flexibility of the joint.
Heat and cold therapy. As for humans, heat and cold therapies can be very helpful in physical
rehabilitation and they go hand in hand with PROM. Warm compresses prepare the
muscles for activity, while cold therapy relieves inflammation and pain after
Obstacle course. These exercises are helpful to improve balance, mobility and paw
position in animal patients with neurological injuries. These courses can
include balance bars, hills, steps, bars and ramps.
Therapeutic Ultrasonic. This is a special type of ultrasonic wave that stimulates muscle activity.
This treatment method provides heat to muscles, tendons and ligaments to
promote healing and strength.
is a newer treatment method that is becoming increasingly popular. The laser
works at the level of the cells. It reduces inflammation and promotes blood
circulation, helps relieve pain and promotes healing.
Underwater treadmill. This form of animal physiological therapy is becoming more and more
common, especially in large clinics. In the water, the animal can build up muscles
and improve joint movement without harming the joints.
Physiotherapy for pets is considered very safe, although complications can occur if not carried out properly. If it is not used properly, your pet’s health may not improve or may even deteriorate.
Other treatment options
treatment options include chiropractic and osteopathy. Both therapies are
treatment methods that originate from manual human medicine. These have, if
carried out correctly, hardly any risks or side effects. So-called “bone
crushers”, as they keep appearing on television, are neither veterinarians
nor serious therapists. Normally Blockages are released and the animal is given
back its natural freedom of movement.
In Austria, any examination, diagnosis and therapy (this also applies to homeopathy, acupuncture and all forms of manual therapy, such as chiropractic, osteopathy, etc.) on the sick animal may only be carried out by a veterinarian. Please note that animal physiotherapists who are not veterinarians are working illegally in Austria and that not only they but also the client (i.e. you) is committing a criminal offence. Furthermore, as a pet owner you have no legal recourse in case of a wrong treatment.
So it is worth to think about alternative therapies for your darling. Because just a few hours can give your pet back a pain-free life and considerably increase its vitality. Like a young dog, like a little kitten – fit into old age!