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Tips for Effective Dog Physiotherapy

Dog physiotherapeutic treatment is beneficial for your dog and helpful in rehabilitation after surgery or injury, and general health prophylaxis. dog physiotherapy plays an important role in aiding dogs’ recovery from fractures, muscle and ligament injuries as well as lameness in limbs, as it provides pain relief, increases the rate of healing, improves muscle mass, helps restore the dogs’ movement and eventually improve their quality of life.

dog therapy
Physiotherapeutic dog massage: Pain relief and the release of tension are important as a basis for further treatment to improve the quality of life

However, what makes for effective physiotherapy in your dog? What can you do for its success? Can you predict how quickly progress can be expected? I would like to answer these questions for you in the following article so that your dog can benefit as much as possible from canine physical therapy.

What Should You Pay Attention To When Choosing A Canine Therapist?

Which therapist is the right one for your dog? – You have to clarify this in advance because the right selection plays a role in the effectiveness of the therapy in your dog.

Training for a dog physiotherapist has not yet been standardized and anyone who wants to can still call themselves a dog physiotherapist. However, a two-hour massage seminar on Saturday morning does not provide a sound knowledge of the anatomy, pathology and therapy of dogs. When choosing your future dog therapist, you should therefore pay attention to their information on their training.

It is also beneficial for your dog if your future physiotherapist is ready to work with other specialists such as veterinarians, naturopaths, and nutritionists.

Your vet may be able to provide a recommendation. Sometimes, however, there is unfortunately still a lot of competition among some medical professionals or a lack of recognition towards animal physiotherapists. You can ask other dog owners in your area or your dog school if they can recommend someone.

There are animal physiotherapists whose work is mobile. They come to your home to treat your dog in its familiar environment. If you are not mobile yourself or if your dog is extremely anxious in a strange environment, this can be a pleasant treatment option. However, your dog will not be able to enjoy hydrotherapy in the underwater treadmill or pool. This option is only available to dog physiotherapists with their own practice rooms.

In addition, listen to your gut feeling from personal contact with the employed canine physiotherapeutic practitioner. Mutual sympathy and the way the practitioner treats your dog are important criteria for choosing a therapist because trust and cooperation contribute to a successful treatment.

hydrotherapy for dogs
Whether a mobile dog physiotherapist or a therapist with their own practice rooms – find the practitioner who suits your needs

This is How you Support Your dog’s therapy success

During the treatment, you can support the therapist’s work in various ways. Basically, your dog is grateful for the presence of his trusted caregiver and benefits from the therapy you pull together with the therapist.

How can you support the therapist During the treatment?

Your canine pet shouldn’t eat anything before physiotherapy. There should be a minimum of two hours between feeding your dog and therapy. Otherwise, the body is busy with digestive activity, which will further stimulate the blood flow through massage and that could be a burden. But you can take special and small treats with you during the treatment. These can serve as motivation and reward when performing various exercises in a playful way. As a result, dog physiotherapy is associated with something positive in your dog’s mind, more as a great activity than a therapy.

If more motivation is required, you can do it vocally, physically, and by giving treats or using a toy. Your therapist will certainly give you appropriate instructions, otherwise, just ask if and how you can support. The first few sessions in an underwater treadmill or in a hydrotherapy pool may be a very strange experience for your dog. You can accompany this familiarization phase calmly and confidently, and also set targeted stimuli for your dog from outside the water.

a dog is licking an ice cream
Give appropriate treats during the recovery treatment facilitates the therapy in your dog

Your presence, on the other hand, can help when a high degree of relaxation and rest is required of your dog, such as a massage or electrotherapy. The more relaxed your dog is, the better.

A tip for your dog’s hydrotherapy treatment on an underwater treadmill: It is advisable to take a dog coat with you on the way home so that your dog does not get cold, especially in winter or for old, very young or weak dogs. In practice, toweling your dog off after getting out of the water may not be enough to completely dry the dog again. There are dog bathrobes that are particularly cozy and water-absorbing, such as microfiber drying coat.

Many dogs feel the need to drink and urinate after treatment. You should allow your dog to do this because the metabolism-stimulating treatments release waste products and stimulate the body’s entire fluid balance.

a dog is drinking water
After each therapy treatment, give your dog the opportunity to rebalance its fluid balance

By the way, it is possible that your dog will develop sore muscles after the treatment sessions, especially at the beginning of therapy. It can tell by your dog having to get up more difficultly or feeling less desire to move in the first days after treatment. That is completely normal. We all know that from our own experience of working out in the gym. Moderate exercise and perhaps massages counteract these complaints. However, if you are concerned about severe or prolonged symptoms, contact your therapist to be on the safe side.

Therapy support at home

When you get home, the physiotherapy treantment for your dog is not over yet. – If your therapist gives you homework, you should exercise your dog at home according to the therapy plan. It is important to the continual recovery of your dog. Just like in human physiotherapy, the same applies to dogs: regular, shorter rehabilitation sessions are better than one single long training session. In this way, you optimize the achievement of the desired therapy goals. Your therapist will explain the rehabilitation program, duration, and daily steps you need to do with your pet dog in detail. If possible, follow the instructions. If unexpected problems arise, contact him on the safe side, because you don’t want to expose your dog to any additional risk, but rather to support him in his recovery.

Note: The more often you practice rehabilitation with your dog between professional treatment sessions, the greater the chance for your dog to get back its functionality quickly. Your physiotherapist needs your cooperation to achieve the success of full functionality returning in your dog. Last but not least, this also minimizes the costs that it will incur for the therapy.

Almost every household has other practical aids such as hot water bottles, red light lamps, grain pillows, cold/hot packs. In addition to your hands, you can also use various brushes or a hedgehog ball for massages.

If more specific therapy is to be implemented at home, some animal physiotherapists are already prepared for this and lend small devices such as magnetic field or other special devices for a small fee.

You can also support your dog in his therapy through nutrition. If necessary, discuss this with your canine physiotherapist or nutritionist. Nutrition is particularly important for dogs that are expected to lose excess weight. High-quality food with a high protein content can also be helpful for targeted muscle build-up, for example in dogs who are exercising after an operation.

How Long Does It Take to Achieve Success?

Unfortunately, there is no general answer to this question. It depends, among other things, on the underlying illness or impairment, the basic constitution of your dog, and the continuation of the therapy at home.

dog bone fracture
Each patient dog has his own healing process, so the therapy can take different lengths of time.

With pain-relieving measures such as heat therapy, manual therapy or massages, effective results can be achieved in just 1-2 sessions. Building muscle or improving neuronal problems simply takes longer per se. Your therapist can probably estimate the approximate duration of therapy after the initial consultation.

After operations, it is important to follow the surgeon’s instructions for the postoperative phase exactly. Unfortunately, too much exercise can sometimes be harmful. Sometimes the patient needs to be kept quiet for several weeks. However, that does not have to mean that a dog physiotherapy treatment cannot start. The field of physiotherapy is very broad, such as wound and scar treatment, manual lymphatic drainage as well as heat / cold therapy. Such measures could lead to an improvement in the condition of your dog and thus increase its quality of life.

If, which is unlikely, no progress can be seen for a long time, speak to your therapist without hesitation. He may see more with a trained eye than you as a worried dog owner and can provide a plausible explanation. Under certain circumstances, however, a modification of the therapy program or a discussion with the veterinarian is necessary, who can prescribe medication if necessary.


You can see that in addition to choosing the right therapist, your cooperation may also play a vital part in the effectiveness of recovery treatment. Patience and frequency of exercise are sometimes required, but your dog will thank you for its unbroken zest for life after its recovery.

Have you already exercised physiotherapy program for your dog?
Then you can tell us about the successes in a comment, right?
Your experience can help other dog owners to find the right treatment for their dogs.

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