Physiotherapy and animals

There is a longstanding relationship between physiotherapy and animals. Physiotherapy has been provided and developed for horses, dogs, and many other large and small animal species. Animals are also often giving their support in various approaches to animal-assisted therapy. For the most part, however, animal physiotherapy and animal-assisted physiotherapy are marginalized in the physiotherapy profession and its ongoing emphasis on human health. The emergence of environmental physiotherapy presents an opportunity to bring animals closer to the center of physiotherapy. Human-animal relationships are an essential part of nature-connectedness, which, in turn, has been identified as being in critical need of improvement in the face of rampant biodiversity loss. Therapeutic and health-promotion work with and for animals might prove a significant contribution to this through the way they increase appreciation for our connection with animals in general, and the interdependence of human, animal, and ecosystem health.

On this page, you will find a growing range of resources that will help you learn about and practically engage with animals grounded in your unique expertise as a physiotherapist and healthcare professional.

Relevant publications

This is just a small list of exemplary publications related to animal and animal-assisted physiotherapy. We encourage you to extend your search using relevant key terms for specific animal species, physio- and physical therapy, and more. 

Dybczyńska, M., Goleman, M., Garbiec, A., & Karpiński, M. (2022). Selected Techniques for Physiotherapy in Dogs. Animals12(14), 1760.

Mille, M. A., Mcclement, J., & Lauer, S. (2022). Physiotherapeutic Strategies and Their Current Evidence for Canine Osteoarthritis. Veterinary Sciences10(1), 2.

Norrud, B. C., Råheim, M., Sudmann, T. T., & Håkanson, M. (2021). Facilitating new movement strategies: Equine-assisted physiotherapy for children with cerebral palsy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies26, 364–373.

Ratnu, D. A., & Parikh, P. V. (2022). Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Management of Musculoskeletal Affections in Canines. Indian Journal of Veterinary Sciences & Biotechnology18(4), 32–35.

Sudmann, T. T. (2018). Equine-facilitated physiotherapy – devised encounters with daring and compassion. In B. E. Gibson, D. A. Nicholls, J. Setchell, & K. S. Groven (Eds.), Manipulating practices: A critical physiotherapy reader. Oslo: Cappellen Damm Akademisk.



Header image by Yan Laurichesse on Unsplash


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