Animal Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is a science-based profession and takes a holistic approach to aid restoration of movement and function. It is extensively used after surgery, as an alternative to surgery (conservative management) and to enhance athletic performance.


Animal Physiotherapy


Consultations are available at the nationally renowned Hawksmoor Hydrotherapy center near Nuneaton in Warwickshire. This center has the latest physiotherapy equipment including the ‘Fitfurlife’ integrated land treadmill and gait analysis. Alternatively, if you prefer treatment can be carried out at your home address. Download a veterinary referral form.






Massage increases localised blood flow and oxygen supply, removes waste products and mobilises adhesions.


These benefits are achieved due to the stimulation of the fibroblasts and specialized proteins necessary for tissue regeneration.


Additionally massage has a calming effect on the patient and is useful to warm soft tissue prior to stretching and exercise.


Therapeutic exercises



Canine therapeutic exercises help to increase joint mobility, muscle flexibility, strength and balance.



Stretching is recommended to improve range-of-motion, flexibility, aid injury prevention and reduce tightness in tendons. Passive stretching is the most applicable to the canine patient and 4 rules (for stretching) are proposed;

  • Muscles should be warm (i.e. after electrotherapy, exercise, massage).
  • Muscles must be fully relaxed (the recumbent position is preferred).
  • Joint needs to be stabilised and follow a straight plane movement (achieved by the physiotherapist).
  • Stretch is maintained for 30 seconds (which engages both elastic and non-elastic fibres).

ElectrotherapyLASER therapy

Electrotherapy plays an important part in animal physiotherapy. It is an all-encompassing term which includes the use electrical current, electro-magnetic fields, light and sound waves. Each has particular attributes which aid in animal rehabilitation.



Land-based Treadmill

The passive movement of the treadmill belt facilitates weight bearing and improving the dogs is range-of-motion. They are often used in post-surgery rehabilitation.

A canine land-based treadmill functions in a similar way to the human equipment, with some important adaptations:

  • The running belt is longer to account for the dogs longer body / stride length.
  • It will have guards at the side and be open at both the front and back.
  • A decline, as well as an incline feature will be built in.

The latter are critical factors in designing a targeted muscle and joint rehabilitation program. For example the incline will help strengthen rear limbs, whereas decline targets forelimbs. Additionally altering the belt speed further refines the specific muscle and joints being worked. Land treadmills are used as part of athletic conditioning and weight loss programs.



Hydrotherapy (swimming and water-treadmills) is the use of water-based treatments to improve muscle strength and proprioception by the ‘drag’ of the water. These modalities are finding increased use due to the patient being able to commence muscle use / walking (typically after surgery) without having to fully weight-bear on painful limbs and joints.

The primary difference between hydrotherapy (swimming) and the water treadmill (wading) is the muscles they target, although there is overlap.

  • Swimming is considered better for conditioning prime mover muscles (i.e. hamstrings).
  • Water-treadmill targets the stabilising muscles.

Also consideration must be given to the dog, as some just don't like swimming at all but are happy using the water-treadmill.

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