Physiotherapy For Clients

Physiotherapy At Home 

Physiotherapy should be performed as prescribed by a veterinary surgeon. Some patients may not tolerate the entire physiotherapy regime – the duration and frequency should be adjusted according to your pet. Sometimes a short break can help. 

Physiotherapy should be performed on one limb at a time so that your pet does not get agitated. Start by placing a non-slip mat or a towel on the floor so that the patient does not slip. Choose a quiet room that is spacious and comfortable. 


Massage should be performed at the beginning of physiotherapy sessions. It should ideally last for 5-10 minutes, and be performed 4 times a day.  

The following tips could help incorporate this into your day: massage whilst watching tv; whilst your dinner is cooking; a whole family approach; get your children involved. 

Start with near the toes and work upwards towards the top of the leg. Allow your hands to mould to your pets’ limbs. Always begin with light massage and add pressure as appropriate to the patient. 

Massage consists of three components: 

  1. Effleurage: The palms of the hands should be passed continuously and rhythmically over the patient’s skin, in long stroking motions. Ensure that the area is supported.  
  1. Petrissage: Both hands should be used to lift the skin up and then press the skin down. The muscles should be grasped and squeezed, rolled and released. 
  1. Massage: Using both thumbs, massage the area in small circular movements.

Passive Exercise

Passive exercise should be performed when there is no active muscle movement from the patient. Each joint should be manipulated between 10-15 times. 

  1. Encourage your pet to lay on their side. 
  1. Use one hand to stabilise the leg by holding above the joint. Use the other hand to move the joint. 
  1. Each joint should be flexed and extended (bent and straightened). Start with the joints near the toes and work upwards towards the top of the leg.  
  1. Then move each limb passively in a coordinated movement ensuring all the joints move – as if they are riding a bike. 

Active Exercise

Make sure your pets’ paws are always on the ground!! Each of the following techniques should be performed slowly! Consider quality over quantity. We advise the following exercises should be performed. 

Active Assisted Exercise (Suitable for weak patients that cannot stand unaided) –  

  • Assist your pet to stand using a harness and sling for around 5 minutes. 
  • Place hands on either side of their shoulders or hips to target either forelimbs or hindlimbs respectively. Gently rock your pet from side to side, encourage weight shifting in small, quick movements. The feet should stay in place.  
  • Begin supported walking using a sling – do not allow the patient to fall or twist, or allow their legs or feet to buckle or knuckle. Go very slowly. 

Active Exercise (Suitable for patients that can stand unaided or with minimal support, but are considerably weak) –  

  • Allow the patient to stand unaided for a few seconds or as long as they can tolerate 
  • If they can, encourage them to take a few steps (light support is likely to be required initially to aid confidence and strength) 

Active Restricted Exercise (Suitable for patients that can stand and walk alone. The patient may still be weak) –  

  • Encourage the patient to sit and stand slowly and repeat this exercise several times 
  • When the patient is walking, place a broom or stick on the floor to encourage the patient to step over it.