What is an Animal Physical Therapist?

animal-physical-therapyPhysical therapists can help more than just people. They can help animals as well. It used to be that after an animal had been injured or had undergone surgery that veterinarians would try to immobilize the animal to let the wound heal.

Unfortunately, this practice can restrict blood flow and reduce healing to the affected area. An animal physical therapist can help improve a pet’s recovery by increasing blood flow and collagen synthesis while reducing muscular atrophy.

Animal physical therapists can help improve muscle tone using a variety of methods including warm water hydrotherapy. These methods can also reduce healing time and make for a better long-term recovery.

There are times when an animal can benefit from having physical therapy. When that time comes, a physical therapist can work closely with a veterinarian to make sure they get the proper treatment.

If an animal starts having neurological symptoms or experiences pain, is overweight, out of shape, or simply has an ongoing limp, a PT can help improve the animal’s overall health.

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While the veterinarian may legally be able to perform different types of therapy it is not typically part of their training. A licensed physical therapist or physical therapist assistant should be present.

Just because you’re using a veterinarian that is certified in canine massage or even canine rehabilitation, it does not mean they are qualified to do animal physical therapy.

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Animals Need Help Too

Sonia’s family had their dog Duke since the divorce. Sonia’s husband Bill had agreed to give her the dog since he really had no interest in him anyway.

Unfortunately as Duke aged, he started having a hard time getting around. When Sonia found out that physical therapists could take classes to help animals as well as people she was intrigued.

While it may be too late to help Duke, Sonia liked the option of studying animal physical therapy along with a regular degree.

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Education and Salary

The educational requirements to become a physical therapist specializing in animals are very similar to the standard physical therapy degree. Ideally you should have a master’s degree in physical therapy and then complete the doctoral program. There are several different subjects that must be studied including neuroscience, pharmacology, pathology, physiology, and anatomy. The student will also take specialized classes about animals.

An average salary for an animal physical therapist is approximately $35,000. As you get more experience, around 3 to 4 years, your salary may get higher. Entry-level positions normally make around $30,000 per year.

Photo courtesy of ccox888

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