veterinary/animal physiotherapist

How to become a veterinary/animal physiotherapist

What does a veterinary/animal physiotherapist do?

Veterinary/animal physiotherapists assess and treat injuries and movement dysfunction in animals. Horses and dogs are the most common types (including 'working animals', such as race horses, show jumpers or greyhounds, and 'companion' animals), but other species, including cats, sheep and zoo animals may also be referred for treatment.

Physiotherapists use manual and electrotherapy techniques to reduce pain, increase flexibility and restore normal movement. They also devise exercise programmes, and may give advice on adaptations to the animals' environments to help them perform tasks more easily.

Treatments can only legally be carried out by referral or permission from a veterinary surgeon.

As animal physiotherapists must first qualify in human physiotherapy, many treat both animals and humans. Only relatively few just treat animals.


What's the working environment like for a veterinary/animal physiotherapist?

The work may be full- or part-time, and the hours are flexible.

Treatments may take place in the client's or physiotherapist's stable yard, the client's home (when treating small animals), in veterinary surgeries and hospitals.


What does it take to become a veterinary/animal physiotherapist?

To be a veterinary physiotherapist you should:

  • be physically fit, manually dexterous and have good powers of observation
  • have an interest in animals and experience of handling them
  • have an enquiring mind and an aptitude for science
  • have good communication skills
  • work well in a team with other professionals
  • have good organisational and administrative skills for managing workload and maintaining records.

This line of work does require a degree in either veterinary physiotherapy or you could get a degree in human physiotherapy and a postgraduate degree specialising in veterinary physiotherapy. 

You can also gain entry by demonstrating a working knowledge of animal care, a relevant degree and a Canine and Equine Physiotherapy Training Advanced Certificate in Veterinary Physiotherapy. 


Veterinary/animal physiotherapist career opportunities

The majority of animal/veterinary physiotherapists are private practitioners, although positions occasionally become available in private practices, large veterinary practices or universities.


Further information

If you would like to learn more about becoming a veterinary/animal physiotherapist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
14 Bedford Row
Tel: 020 7306 6666

Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Physiotherapy (ACPAT)
Tel: 01622 688777

The Institute of Registered Veterinary and Animal Physiotherapists

Royal Veterinary College
Hawkshead Lane
North Mymms
Tel: 01707 666287