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Animal Physiotherapy: Assessment, Treatment and Rehabilitation of Animals

Catherine McGowan (Editor), Lesley Goff (Editor), Narelle Stubbs (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-4051-3195-7
272 pages
May 2007, Wiley-Blackwell
Animal Physiotherapy: Assessment, Treatment and Rehabilitation of Animals (1405131950) cover image
Animal Physiotherapy is an essential reference guide for physiotherapists looking to apply the proven benefits of physiotherapy to the treatment of companion and performance animals. Animal Physiotherapy is a growing profession of physiotherapists who have broadened their expertise from the well-established human sphere to animals. The positive perception of physiotherapy in the human sphere, together with an increased awareness of options and expertise available for animals has resulted in a strong demand for physiotherapy for animals.


For the physiotherapist this book provides essential applied background information on animal behaviour, nutrition, biomechanics and exercise physiology. For veterinarians and others who work with animals, the book reviews the scientific principles behind the practice of physiotherapy, and what it can achieve.



  • Includes reviews of different physiotherapy techniques, drawing on both human and animal literature;
  • Discusses approaches in small animal medicine as well as for elite equine athletes;
  • Includes applied evidence-based clinical reasoning model, providing case examples
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Chapter 1 Introduction 1
Catherine McGowan

Chapter 2 Applied animal behaviour: assessment, pain and aggression 3
Daniel Mills, Suzanne Millman and Emily Levine

2.1 Introduction 3

2.1.1 Assessment of animal behaviour 4

2.2 Pain 7

2.3 Aggression 11

2.4 Conclusion 12

References 12

Further reading 13

Chapter 3 Applied animal nutrition 14
Linda M. Fleeman and Elizabeth Owens

3.1 Small animal nutrition 14

3.2 Applied equine nutrition 21

References 29

Chapter 4 Applied animal biomechanics 32
Lesley Goff and Narelle Stubbs

4.1 Introduction 32

4.2 Joint biomechanics 32

4.3 Biomechanics of the vertebral joints 34

4.4 Canine vertebral column 34

4.5 Equine vertebral column 37

4.6 Canine peripheral joints 39

4.7 Equine peripheral joints 41

4.8 Mechanics of locomotion: the dog 44

4.9 Mechanics of locomotion: the horse 45

4.10 Considerations in sport-specific pathology 49

4.11 Biomechanics of the equine foot 52

4.12 Conclusion 53

References 53

Further reading 55

Chapter 5 Comparative exercise physiology 56
Catherine McGowan and Brian Hampson

5.1 Introduction 56

5.2 Principles of exercise physiology 56

5.3 The pathway of oxygen 58

5.4 Cardiorespiratory function during exercise 59

5.5 The effect of training 60

5.6 Detraining 61

5.7 Applied exercise physiology 61

5.8 High altitude training 62

5.9 Maximal performance and factors limiting maximal performance in the horse 62

5.10 Training the sled dog (Husky) 65

5.11 Programme phases 67

5.12 Aims of the programme design 69

5.13 Training the racing Greyhound 69

5.14 Aims of the programme design 70

References 71

Chapter 6 Equine and canine lameness 73
Nicholas Malikides, Thomas McGowan and Matthew Pead

6.1 Equine lameness 73

6.2 Canine lameness 91

References 100

Further reading 101

Chapter 7 Neurological and muscular conditions 102
Philip A. Moses and Catherine McGowan

7.1 Introduction 102

7.2 Neuroanatomy 102

7.3 Neurological examination 104

7.4 Posture, gait and reflexes in small animals 107

7.5 Posture, gait and reflexes in horses 111

7.6 Diagnostic techniques 113

7.7 Neurological disease in small animals 114

7.8 Equine neurological diseases 124

7.9 Intrinsic muscle disease 131

References 134

Chapter 8 Physiotherapy assessment for animals 136
Lesley Goff and Tracy Crook

8.1 Introduction 136

8.2 Clinical reasoning 137

8.3 Physical assessment 141

8.4 Special considerations in canine physiotherapy assessment 146

8.5 Assessment and palpation of canine extremities 148

8.6 Special considerations in equine physiotherapy assessment 151

8.7 Equine palpation 152

8.8 Conclusion 162

References 162

Chapter 9 Manual therapy 164
Lesley Goff and Gwendolen Jull

9.1 Introduction 164

9.2 Technical aspects of manual therapy 164

9.3 Manual therapy in practice 167

9.4 Dogs 169

9.5 Horses 172

9.6 Conclusion 175

References 175

Chapter 10 Principles of electrotherapy in veterinary physiotherapy 177
G. David Baxter and Suzanne M. McDonough

10.1 Overview 177

10.2 Electrical stimulation of tissue 177

10.3 Electrical stimulation for pain relief 179

10.4 Electrostimulation of muscles 180

10.5 Laser therapy 182

10.6 Ultrasound therapy 184

10.7 Evidence-based practice 186

10.8 Summary and conclusions 186

References 186

Chapter 11 Hydrotherapy 187
Michelle Monk

11.1 Introduction 187

11.2 Physical properties of water 187

11.3 Physiological responses to exercising in water 189

11.4 Evidence for effectiveness of hydrotherapy 191

11.5 Benefits of hydrotherapy for animals 192

11.6 Assessment of the small animal patient for hydrotherapy 192

11.7 Types of hydrotherapy for animals 193

References 197

Chapter 12 Acupuncture and trigger points 199
Tina Souvlis

12.1 Introduction 199

12.2 Traditional acupuncture 199

12.3 Acupuncture analgesia 200

12.4 Clinical effectiveness of acupuncture 201

12.5 Use of acupuncture in animals 202

12.6 Trigger points 202

References 204

Chapter 13 Canine treatment and rehabilitation 207
Laurie Edge-Hughes and Helen Nicholson

13.1 Introduction 207

13.2 Canine orthopaedic rehabilitation 207

13.3 Additional concepts regarding soft tissue injury 211

13.4 Osteoarthritis 213

13.5 Post-operative rehabilitation 215

13.6 Fracture healing 218

13.7 Hip dysplasia 221

13.8 Conditioning canine athletes 222

13.9 Respiratory physiotherapy 224

13.10 Cardiac rehabilitation 227

13.11 Neurological physiotherapy 229

References 234

Chapter 14 Equine treatment and rehabilitation 238
Lesley Goff and Narelle Stubbs

14.1 Introduction 238

14.2 Exercise-based rehabilitation 239

14.3 Stretching for injury prevention and rehabilitation 244

14.4 Assessment of the horse and rider unit 248

References 250

Index 252

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Dr Catherine McGowan is a veterinarian with an interest in equine performance. She has her PhD in Equine Exercise Physiology and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (UK) Diploma in Equine Internal Medicine. She developed and coordinated the Royal Veterinary College’s Masters and Post Graduate Diplomas in Veterinary Physiotherapy and the University of Queensland’s Masters of Animal Studies (Animal Physiotherapy).

Lesley Goff is a Physiotherapist who completed Masters programs in both Manipulative Physiotherapy and Exercise and Sports Science and practised in animal physiotherapy before completing her Masters of Animal Studies (Animal Physiotherapy). She is currently still at the University of Queensland both teaching for the Animal Physiotherapy Masters program and completing her PhD on sacroiliac joint dysfunction in horses.

Narelle Stubbs is a Physiotherapist who practised as an animal physiotherapist and ACPAT Category A Member in the UK and Australia, including being the official physiotherapist for the Australian Equestrian team (horses and riders) since 1998, before completing her Masters of Animal Studies (Animal Physiotherapy). She is currently still at the University of Queensland both teaching for the Animal Physiotherapy Masters program and completing her PhD on back pain in horses.

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• Essential reference guide to companion and performance animal physiotherapy;
• Contains essential applied background information on animal behaviour nutrition, biomechanics and exercise physiology ;
• Reviews the scientific principles behind the practice of physiotherapy;
• Edited and written by experts in both human and veterinary physiotherapy;
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"[T]he author's focus on active rehabilitation, careful evaluation of the patient and assesment of biomechanics in the current textbooks places this book high in the ranking of texts in the field.... we are sure that Animal Physiotherapy, Assesment, Treatment and Rehabilitation will be a valuable addition to the library of animal physiotherapists and all those interested to know more about the area of veterinary treatment." European Journal Companion Animal Practice

Animal Physiotherapy: Assessment, Treatment and Rehabilitation of Animals represents a new addition to this area and offers a survey of the basic principles and techniques relevant to this field of practice. Divided into equine and companion animal chapters, this book provides an introduction to many important physiologic principles as well as an overview of many of the more common pathologic conditions a practitioner may encounter. In addition, methods of assessment and techniques of therapy are covered.... The use of various case studies, charts, tables, photographs, and highlighted key points serves to further enhance the ability of readers to understand the text. This book should serve as an additional resource for veterinary students and established veterinarians who seek to better understand the principles and techniques relating to the practice of animal rehabilitation." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

"This book is very comprehensive and a mine of information for physiotherapists…. A useful addition to a practice library." Veterinary Times

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