Veterinary Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy at VSA

Veterinary Physiotherapy

What Is Veterinary Physiotherapy?


Physiotherapy for pets aims to restore movement and function when your dog or cat has suffered from an injury, illness or following a surgical procedure. It can also be beneficial for ageing animals with degeneration and may help to reduce the risk of injury or illness in the future.

Our Physiotherapy team utilises a holistic approach incorporating a range of techniques aimed to reduce pain and inflammation, increase joint range of motion and muscle flexibility, improve strength, proprioception and stability, correct gait patterns, delay the effects of degeneration and improve quality of life.

Veterinary Physiotherapist Saskia providing physiotherapy treatment to a Golden Retriever patient

Advanced Physiotherapy Services

Veterinary Physiotherapy

Common Conditions Seen For Physiotherapy

Veterinary Physiotherapist Ashley providing physiotherapy treatment to a Greyhound patient
Our physiotherapists treat patients suffering from a wide variety of musculoskeletal and neurological conditions, working closely with our team of veterinary surgeons to provide post operative rehabilitation, while also taking referrals from local vets.

Animal physiotherapy is now considered an essential addition to medical and surgical treatment, from the management of joint or spinal problems to rehabilitation after fractures or any injury.


  • post surgical rehabilitation
  • disk prolapses
  • spinal cord injuries
  • fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE)
  • vestibular disorders
  • head injuries


  • post surgical rehabilitation
  • post fracture repair
  • patella luxation
  • joint arthroplasty
  • elbow and hip dysplasia
  • osteoarthritis
  • soft tissue injuries
  • tendon contracture


  • obesity
  • optimising performance


VSA physiotherapy uses the best equipment available including K-laser, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and exercise rehabilitation equipment.  

To maximise recovery and restore function, most patients undergoing surgery at VSA for orthopaedic or neurological conditions will receive physiotherapy treatment as part of their stay in hospital.  Pet owners are then given individualised home exercise programmes by one of our physiotherapists, ensuring they are confident to continue their pet’s exercises at home.

Treatment and Rehabilitation Techniques

Our Physiotherapists use a range of treatments and techniques.  Some of the treatments we may discuss with you are:

Soft tissue mobilisation, myofascial release and trigger point therapy

  • helps to relieve muscle pain and tension and improves circulation
  • increases joint flexibility and range of motion
  • reduces swelling and scar tissue formation
  • promotes mental and physical relaxation

Therapeutic Ultrasound

  • accelerates and improves the quality of tissue repair
  • increases circulation, enhances collagen production and reduces scar tissue formation
  • reduces joint pain

Splinting and Orthotics

  • Supports or immobilises joints to prevent further injuries and allows tissue healing to occur
  • Improves joint range of motion
  • Protects joints with neurological deficits

Transcutaneous Electrical nerve Stimulation (TENS)

  • Blocks pain signals to brain via spinal cord
  • Reduces pain


  • initiates chemical reactions within the tissue to enhance wound healing
  • accelerates tissue repair
  • reduces inflammation and pain

Exercise prescription

  • increases muscle bulk
  • improves endurance
  • improves proprioception (joint position awareness) and balance
  • injury prevention

Pulses Electromagnetic Field therapy

  • Enhances the natural repair process
  • Reduces muscle spasm and inflammation
  • Stimulates fracture repair and nerve regeneration
  • Controls pain

Neuromuscular Electric Stimulation (NMES)

  • Strengthens and re-educates weak muscles
  • Rebuilds muscle mass
  • Prevents muscle atrophy
  • Reduces swelling and pain

Joint mobilisations

  • reduces joint stiffness and increases range of motion
  • reduces pain
  • promotes healthier cartilage

Can physiotherapy help my dog or cat?


Both your regular veterinarian and your VSA specialist should be able to inform you on how physiotherapy can help your pet.

At VSA we welcome patients from referring veterinary clinics, even if we have not seen your pet before, and will maintain communication with them regarding progress.

VSA is here to help, so please get in touch if you’d like more information and to find out if physiotherapy is right for you and your pet.

Veterinary Physiotherapist Saskia with a feline physiotherapy patient


How soon can my dog begin physiotherapy after surgery?

If your dog is having surgery with one of our specialist veterinary surgeons at VSA, they will usually have post-operative physiotherapy while they are an in-patient with us. We will then follow up with you to arrange further physiotherapy sessions as an outpatient, generally 10-14 days post op.

If your pet has had surgery at your GP practice they can be seen as an outpatient around days 10-14 post op, provided they have been referred for physiotherapy by the veterinarian.

Do I need a referral from my veterinarian for physiotherapy?

Yes. All animals coming to see us for the first time will require a referral from your veterinarian. Ask your veterinarian to refer you to physiotherapy at VSA, where they will provide us with your pet’s clinical records. Once we have received this, we will contact you to arrange your initial appointment.

My pet is insured – will the costs of treatment be covered?

Possibly. You will need to check with your insurance company to see what cover is included for complimentary therapies such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and laser therapy.

What can I expect from my first physiotherapy session?

A physiotherapy consult initially includes a subjective assessment regarding your pet’s history, current symptoms, lifestyle and goals. This is followed by a comprehensive objective assessment reviewing the animal’s gait and movement patterns, joint mobility and range of movement, muscle condition, neurological deficits and pain levels. This assessment will guide the treatment plan which can include manual therapies, electro-therapies, education on lifestyle modifications and an individualised home exercise program, tailored to reaching the goals discussed. After the initial assessment the physiotherapist can then refer your pet to the VSA Hydrotherapy team

How many sessions will my pet need?

This will depend on a number of factors, including your pets condition, how long they have had problems for, and your goals you hope to achieve with physiotherapy. Treatment plans are specifically tailored to meet each individual pets needs, and your physiotherapist will discuss proposed treatment plans with you during your initial assessment.

What is Laser therapy?  

K-laser is a high-power infrared laser therapy that stimulates all cell types (e.g. ligaments, muscle, cartilage, nerves).  These cells absorb the energy of laser light, and this light energy gets converted within the cells into chemical energy. The cells use this energy to heal and as a result this reduces inflammation and pain whilst accelerating tissue regeneration, creating the optimal healing environment.

What is the difference between a Veterinary Physiotherapist and a certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner? 
Physiotherapy is a protected title in New Zealand, meaning you must have completed a Bachelor of Physiotherapy to practice. A qualified veterinary physiotherapist is a qualified (human) physiotherapist, who has completed a post-graduate degree in Veterinary Physiotherapy. 

A certified canine rehabilitation practitioner is a therapist (physiotherapist, veterinarian or veterinary technician) that has completed a post graduate certificate in canine rehabilitation. 

Meet our physiotherapy team


Veterinary Physiotherapist (Auckland)

Director VSA Physio
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Veterinary Physiotherapist (Auckland)

VSA Physio Team Leader
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Veterinary Physiotherapist (Auckland)

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Veterinary Physiotherapist (Auckland)

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Veterinary Physiotherapist (Christchurch)

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