Veterinary Physiotherapist

Job Description:

Veterinary physiotherapists work with injured animals, or animals with movement problems, to help reduce pain and improve their health.

Job Category:
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing

What you will do:

On a day-to-day basis you could:

  • attend clinics to see animals in need of physiotherapy after operations or an accident
  • visit animals in zoos, farms and homes
  • talk to owners and keepers to take the animal’s case history
  • plan exercise programmes
  • use manual and electro-therapy methods to reduce pain and help with movement
  • apply massage and hydrotherapy techniques
  • give advice on changes to animals’ environments
  • write reports on the animal’s progress


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of psychology
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • the practical skills to handle animals
  • a caring nature – this work takes lots of training, so you’ll need to genuinely care about healing animals
  • to be keen to solve problems, as you may come across injuries you haven’t seen before
  • customer service skills
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • analytical thinking skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to enjoy working with other people (teamwork skills)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Veterinary Physiotherapist, you will typically follow a specific educational and professional pathway. Here are some common subject areas that can be relevant:

  1. Science Subjects: A strong background in science is important for understanding the physiological aspects of veterinary physiotherapy. Relevant subjects include Biology and Physics.
  2. Mathematics: Mathematics is important for performing calculations related to treatment plans and exercises.
  3. English: Good communication skills, including reading, writing, and speaking, are vital for interacting with clients, maintaining records, and providing instructions for animal owners.
  4. Physical Education (PE) or Sports Science: These subjects can provide a foundation in understanding human and animal anatomy, physiology, and exercise science.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • specialist courses run by private training organisations


You’ll need one of the following qualifications:

  • a degree in veterinary physiotherapy
  • a degree in human physiotherapy,  and a postgraduate course in veterinary physiotherapy
  • a postgraduate Certificate in Veterinary Physiotherapy


You could start by doing a physiotherapist degree apprenticeship. You could go on to complete a postgraduate award in veterinary physiotherapy.

Other Routes

You could train in animal massage or animal hydrotherapy, if you do not have a degree but want to work in a related area.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 38-40 hours of work. You could be required to work on call as customers demand.

You could work at a veterinary practice or at a university. Your working environment may be physically demanding. You may need to wear a uniform.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could become a senior physiotherapist, or a specialist physiotherapist for breathing conditions or problems affecting the nervous system.

You could also set up your own animal physiotherapy practice or move into research.