Small or large, from dogs to horses… Pet owners will seek out the very best care they can find for their poorly pets – did you know there are a number of Complementary Therapies that can be offered to your patients to go alongside their conventional veterinary medicine treatment for chronic conditions?

It’s #NationalComplementaryTherapyWeek from 23rd to 29th of March, and we have put together some information from UK veterinary associations for chiropractic and physiotherapy.

Pet Physiotherapy

Veterinary Physiotherapists offer a holistic approach to treat many different types of musculoskeletal or neurological conditions.   The aim of physiotherapy is to “reduce pain, improve movement and restore normal muscle control and function”.

The UK based Veterinary Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists use a number of different treatment techniques that cover what is known as manual therapies, electrotherapies, exercise programmes and different ways to change their pets environment to assist their rehabilitation from injury or age related conditions.

Manual therapies involve things like massage and manipulation, myofascial release and stretches. Performing “Passive Range of Motion” exercises, otherwise known as PROMs will move muscles without the weight bearing aspect, which is a common type of therapy for those patients who have undergone orthopaedic procedures.

By performing PROMs on your patients, you can improve:

  • Blood flow
  • Lymphatic flow
  • Analgesia
  • Prevent joint degeneration and muscle contraction

PROMs are performed 2-3 times a day for about 15 minutes at a time, and involve flexing and extending the joints and muscle within the patient’s normal range of movement. There is a good guide (with a video) on performing these in your practice and may be a useful resource to help owners do it at home – check it out here.

Electrotherapies involve the use of machines like lasers, TENS machines and electric muscle stimulation. These usually stimulate muscle contractions to strengthen and increase muscle mass.

If you do not have an in-house recommendation of a veterinary physiotherapist, clients can also search here for Veterinary Physiotherapists in their area.

Chiropractic Care

The British Veterinary Chiropractic Association (BVCA) is a manual therapy, specifically focusing on the dysfunction of the nervous system through the body, and helps with acute or chronic pain syndromes. Veterinary chiropractors must be veterinarians, and treatment is always undertaken with consent (like a referral) from the animal’s primary carer.

The BVCA states that their treatments can be used on a variety of species, covering:

  • Chronic musculoskeletal problems
  • Acute problems such as tension or stiffness
  • Prophylactic treatment to maintain fitness
  • Maintain soundness in older animals
  • As a complementary treatment for chronic lameness

Complementary therapies complement other veterinary treatments and are usually associated with chronic conditions.

Can you think of any of your patients that would benefit from physiotherapy or chiropractic complementary therapy?

To find out more, visit the UK veterinary associations’ websites on the links above.