Speedy recovery and restoration of physical movement after an injury, and improvement in the overall quality of life is the objective of physical therapy. It proves to be useful not only for human beings, but also for animals. An animal physical therapist is a professional who provides treatment to animals for reducing pain and improving mobility that gets restricted by some injury or disease. This profession is suitable for those who love animals and want to work in the medical field.
The average salary of animal physical therapists is USD 35,000. This is, however, offered to professionals with an experience of 3-4 years. For entry-level professionals, the salary range is between USD 28,000 and USD 30,000. Animal physical therapists can find employment at zoos and wildlife reserves. They can also practice in private clinics or hospitals. It is best to start working under the guidance of an experienced veterinarian. It helps gain the required experience and know-how to deal with animals.
The job involves providing rehabilitative care to animals. In the past, keeping the animal's limbs immobilized after treatment was a common practice. However, later on veterinarians understood the importance of allowing enough movement for faster recovery. This realization led to progress in the field of animal physical therapy. Each technique used in this therapy has different benefits and not all techniques are useful for each condition. The basic idea is to increase blood flow to the injured area of the body. Other benefits of using animal therapy is that collagen synthesis increases, muscle atrophy is reduced, and functioning of joints is brought to normal.
They have to handle many different responsibilities. Providing therapeutic exercises, exercise rehabilitation, aquatic therapy, massage, ultrasound therapy, heat therapy, muscle building and coordination, passive range of motion, and cryotherapy are some of the measures taken to restore movement. Along with the above mentioned treatments, hydrotherapy also proves to be of great help in recovery from injuries. This therapy uses water as a tool to improve muscle and joint function. In order to prevent constriction of blood vessels, warm water should be used during this therapy.
To become an animal physical therapist, undergraduates should think about taking up subjects like science and mathematics. Although you don't need a specific degree major for undergraduate study, these subjects will help to enter into higher studies in this field.
After completing the graduate degree program, one can enroll for one of the Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP) courses. CCRP certification courses can last from 6 months to one year depending on the program chosen. They need to pass a certification exam at the end of the course. Students can gain valuable experience in treating animals by volunteering their services in an animal hospital or clinic, by working under a certified therapist.
Some states require a license to practice in this field, therefore, check the website of the concerned state's labor department for such requirements. Given the importance of physical therapy in the improvement of health, it is one of the best careers working with animals.