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6 Reasons Why Physiotherapy May Benefit Your Dog

A dog receiving a massage from physiotherapist Dominique Armitage Riley

Dominique Armitage Riley is a veterinary physiotherapist at Yorkshire Animal Therapy. She completed a BSc in Veterinary Science at The Royal Veterinary College in London. While there she began her focus on Animal Physiotherapy modalities after completing her dissertation titled “Muscle Stiffness in the Equine Back”.

Dominique is sharing some of her expert insights with us about why physiotherapy can be so beneficial for dogs. Over to you Dominique!


Did you know that veterinary rehabilitation is one of the fastest growing sectors of veterinary medicine? If your dog is finding it difficult after an operation/injury or just with getting older then Veterinary Physiotherapy can be incredibly important and worthwhile in getting your dog back its’ mobility and strength whilst supporting a pain free approach.

Here are some of the main reasons why:

1. Physiotherapy improves your dog’s arthritis symptoms

Arthritis is an extremely common condition, with 6.6% of dogs diagnosed with the condition. It can be a debilitating disease, which affects the joints causing them to become inflamed and painful. This then leads to reduced activity, stiffness, and lameness. People think of it as an older dog’s disease. However, with the rise of pet obesity it is becoming more common in younger dogs as well.

Veterinary Physiotherapy can help with the symptoms of arthritis. First by reducing pain using machines such as Low-Level Lasers and Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields. Then by mobilising the joints, massage therapy and a tailored therapeutic exercise plan can help your dog get more mobile.

2. Physiotherapy can help your dog recover from surgery

Massaging techniques stimulate the nervous system, awakening nerves which have been damaged. This can be very beneficial for dogs that have recently had surgery (e.g., cruciate injury, luxating patella, fractures, elbow/hip surgery). Following surgery, dog’s muscles are sore and tight. Stretching exercises encourage movement. Your dog may also be lacking muscle mass or holding its leg up due to a combination of discomfort and muscle loss. Physiotherapy can help encourage weight bearing and promote muscle development.

3. Physiotherapy improves co-ordination

Dogs suffering from neurological conditions can find that their proprioception (awareness of where their feet are in space), and physical movement is affected. A dedicated veterinary physiotherapist can help to re-educate your hound. Developing its eye/paw co-ordination through strength and controlled movement exercises, such as “backwards” and “cavaletti poles”.

4. Physiotherapy can improve your dog’s quality of life

Alongside arthritis, there are several different problems which physiotherapy can help with. This includes improving joint problems, elbow and hip dysplasia, problems with bones, muscle pain, wounds, restricted mobility, ligament pain and problems with daily functions. Physiotherapy aims to restore normal function and mobility.

5. Physiotherapy can maximise performance for show dogs

Nowadays there are numerous events that you can enter your dog in: agility, flyball, canicross, mantrailing, gun dog trials etc. Show dogs can be more exposed to risks such as soft tissue damage. If you need your dog to perform to its best on the big day then a physiotherapy session may help. It alleviates soreness, stiffness, and tissue damage so that your dog can perform to its best abilities. It can also help prevent injury by using conditioning exercises to strengthen any weaker areas.

6. Your pet insurance covers it!

Did you know that most insurance companies will cover the cost of Veterinary Physiotherapy in your policy? You should always contact your insurance company for confirmation first. I am registered with RAMP (The Register of Musculoskeletal Practitioners) and the IAAT (International Association of Animal Therapists). Both these affiliations mean that I am suitably qualified, insured and up to date with the latest CPD and in turn the insurance companies recognise these institutions as gold standard care.

Along with the Veterinary Surgeons Exemption guidelines, to undertake veterinary physiotherapy your dog must be referred by their vet. I have a downloadable veterinary consent form available on request or on my website. Once completed and returned to me, we can look at the best options forward for you and your dog.

I regularly post tips and advice on social media and in my blog, you can follow me on Facebook/Instagram @yorkshireanimaltherapy or my website www.yorkshireanimaltherapy.co.uk.

Has Your Pooch Ever Had Physiotherapy?

Has Physiotherapy ever helped your pooch with any pain that they experience? let us know in the comments!

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