Why do I need vet consent for a physio to see my animal?

March 31st  2019

As vet physios we hear this from clients all the time! There is one very important reason- to protect your animal.

It may seem strange that the permission of your vet is required in-order for a vet physio to see your animal, after all you don’t need your doctor’s permission to see a physio, you can simply book yourself in, even in the NHS! This is because physios who treat people are Chartered. They join a Charter protected by law when they qualify. This means it is against the law to call yourself a chartered physiotherapist without a physio degree. Unfortunately, no charter exists for animal physio meaning anyone can call themselves a Veterinary Physiotherapist. Practitioners could have spent a weekend on a course, spent years studying or done nothing at all- however without a checking that person’s qualifications they would both have the same title- Veterinary physiotherapist. Now there is a lot to be said for experience, in fact it is vital. However, without standardised qualifications, quality, and as a result effectiveness of assessment and treatment could vary widely, and you would have no way of knowing what you are getting.

In place of a Royal Charter, your animals are protected by the Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966), with any treatment being under your vet’s direction as your animals are under your vet’s care. Any practitioner working without vet consent is therefore breaking the law.

Obviously, the variety of practitioners out there gets very confusing for horse owners and others in the industry. An organisation called RAMP (Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners) was created recently to try to create an industry standard and make it clearer where you could find the best qualified person for the job. RAMP includes physios, chiropractors, osteopaths of the highest standards to make it easier to know where to look for the best care for your animal.

When I decided I was interested in becoming a veterinary physiotherapist I researched this in detail. I decided I wanted to be the best physio I could possibly be. After many conversations and recommendations, I decided I wanted to be an ACPAT physio – a member Association of Chartered Physiotherapist in Animal Therapy. This meant becoming a chartered human physio first (and a three-year degree working in hospitals), which took some time to come to terms with as it was the four-legged variety of animal I wanted to treat! I now also love treating people and work in the NHS too, gaining lots of experience and skills I can transfer to treating animals. This also allows me to treat owners and riders too. I then had to complete a three-year Masters degree to learn to apply my skills to horses and dogs, and to be able to join ACPAT (and now RAMP too). Chartered physios and the Health and Carers Professional Council (another organisation we must register with!) have high standards expected of their physios, a mindset which is then transferred to the care of your animal. ACPAT and RAMP as a result also have those high standards and expect that we would only work with your vet’s consent. As a result, ACPAT and RAMP professionals are often the preferred choice for vets and insurance companies, and I feel the long road to become qualified and the dedication needed was worth the effort!

The key points are to check out your therapist’s qualifications and what they had to do to become qualified before asking them to see your animal and when we are asking your vets consent to see your horse or dog, we are demonstrating a high level of care and professionalism for you and your animal!


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