Why does my physiotherapist ask for veterinary consent?

Each time that you use a therapist such as a physiotherapist, a chiropractor which may include McTimoney, or an osteopath, they are actually required by law to ask the treating veterinary surgeon (your vet) for their permission to treat the animal.  When it comes to other complementary therapies carried out by a massage therapist, Bowen practitioner, Body works practitioner, TTouch practitioner etc, they are encouraged to inform the vet as it is considered good practice.






There are two Acts that must be considered by a physiotherapist or in fact any person that is going to carry out any kind of work on your animal. These are The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 and Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 1962.  The act of examination with the aim of giving a diagnosis of an ailment or disease is an act of veterinary surgery and may only be performed by a qualified and registered veterinary surgeon. Once the diagnosis has been made, the veterinary surgeon may then pass the treatment on to a suitably qualified person, i.e. a veterinary physiotherapist.



There are two pieces of law which are relevant to veterinary physiotherapy and your chosen therapist should abide by them.  The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, Section 19 restricts the practice of veterinary surgery to registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons subject to a number of exceptions.  Additionally, the Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 1962 Section 4(a) states that any treatment by physiotherapy given to an animal by a person must be under the direction (i.e. prescription) of a veterinary surgeon. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has interpreted physiotherapy as any manual therapy, which also includes, but is not restricted to, osteopathy and chiropracty. This does not include aromatherapy or acupuncture.



It is the act of physiotherapy that is referred to in the 1962 Order, not that it must be carried out by a physiotherapist (which is a protected title).

As such, it is important that a veterinary physiotherapist only treats an animal after referral from a veterinary surgeon. By treatment, we mean physiotherapy targeted at an already diagnosed condition, with the purpose of curing or improving that condition.



Simple questions that you should ask are:


What qualifications do you have? – don’t be afraid to ask for proof! A therapist will be willing to show you evidence of certificates.

Are you insured and what does your insurance cover? – Again, don’t be afraid to ask for proof!

Do you work under the Veterinary Surgeons Act? How does this work?

Are you a member of a professional body?


If you are in any doubt about selecting a therapist for your animal, get in touch with ASSVAP in order to find out about registered professionals in your area.

ASSVAP is the Association for the Scientific Study of Veterinary and Animal Physiotherapy. ASSVAP exists to create an interface between vets and vet physios for the exchange of knowledge and expertise to enhance the welfare of animals.


More information can be found via http://www.assvap.com 



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