Welcome to LJT Small Animal Physiotherapy
Welcome to my website and my new blog! Each week I will be focusing on a different topic related to your animals health and well being. I will discuss the different treatments I offer within my practice and give you tips and advice on how you can help your pets enjoy their best life!
As this is my first blog, I thought it appropriate to introduce you to myself and my work.
How LJT Small Animal Physiotherapy Began....Since before I can remember I knew I wanted to work with animals. I grew up riding horses, living with cats and spending every moment possible around dogs. It became my ambition to provide care for these much loved four legged family members.
I discovered animal physiotherapy when my part loan horse at the time required treatment for sacroiliac joint pain. I saw the results first hand and how much of a difference regular physiotherapy treatment made on my horses comfort and performance. After College, I went on to study Equine Science (Hons) degree at Hartpury College. During the 3 years of study we covered numerous topics including nutrition, anatomy and physiology, stud management, law to name a few but it was equine therapy that I was most interested by. After finishing my degree and completing my dissertation on how a magnetic harness can affect heart rate and behaviour, I went on to further my education in Canine and Equine Physiotherapy Training (CEPT). During my training, I was lucky enough to work for a small animal veterinary practice as a receptionist. It was a perfect job! I got to learn about all the different medications, supplements and conditions, I was able to gain experience and knowledge from the Vets and more importantly ... I got to pet and cuddle several dogs and cats a day! Who doesn't enjoy holding a puppy or kitten whilst their owner fills out paperwork.
After receiving my advanced certificate in veterinary physiotherapy (level 7 award), I became a member of the Institute of Registered Veterinary and Animal Physiotherapists (IRVAP) and I got a job as a veterinary physiotherapist at a busy rehabilitation clinic in Hampshire working alongside an ACPAT physio. Here I got to put everything I had learnt into practice. I loved every moment of it. I came across a variety of dogs and cats with various problems from minor muscle strains to post operative hip replacements. After three years of gaining hands on experience, I began building up my own client base and eventually took the plunge to go completely self employed in 2019 after meeting Tom, owner of the Canine Fitness Centre, where I now base my clinic. I have been so lucky throughout my career journey, meeting lovely owners, pets and professionals. It is such a rewarding job, seeing dogs, cats and even rabbits, improve mobility, gain confidence and trust, and leave a session with a smile on their faces (that goes for both the pet and their owner/s). My only aim for 2020 is to see and treat even more four legged friends so they are all living their best lives!
More and more animals are being referred for physiotherapy treatment, but what is involved and how can it help my pet...
Physiotherapy is an evidence based healthcare profession which, like people, aids our pets in restoring and maintaining mobility, function, independence and performance. Physiotherapy is used alongside veterinary care and other complimentary therapies to help in the treatment or long term management of musculoskeletal or neurological conditions.
Veterinary physiotherapy is used to reduce pain, restore movement and improve mobility and muscle control. Not only does physiotherapy treat and prevent a range of problems animals may encounter throughout their lives but it can also maximise performance in our competitive and working animals.
What happens when your pet has been referred for physiotherapy?
The vet will either be in contact with myself or Tom at the Canine fitness centre by sending across a referral form with your details. We will then contact you to talk you through whats involved and book an initial assessment. If the vet has asked for you to contact a physiotherapist, then on booking the appointment with me, I will take your information and send a referral form to your vets to sign and return before your booked appointment. This way, you do not need to get involved in any of the paperwork.
The initial assessment..
All you need to bring to the initial assessment is yourself, your pet, their favourite treats if he/she is on a particular diet, if not we have plenty, and what you normal use to walk them in i,e a harness or collar and lead.
After greeting and allowing both yourself and your pet to get comfortable we will talk through your pets medical history, current problems, medications, home environment and diet, all of which are relevant to suggesting an appropriate treatment plan. No pet is the same and no owner has the same routine so it is important that I have as much information as possible to suggest suitable lifestyle changes/ land based exercises/ other complimentary therapies to make sure your pet is getting the best possible treatment plan.
During our talk, your pet will have the opportunity to make themselves at home and suss me out. Hopefully they will decide that I'm ok and it doesn't look or smell like a vets practice.
Once we have discussed all your pets history, we will either take them outside or keep them indoors to look at them moving. This may involve walking, trotting, circling on both hard and soft grounds and may even involve asking them for certain commands such as a stand to sit, sit to lay and then back up again to a stand, depending on the reason for referral. I may take slow motion imaging if i feel necessary and you are happy for me to.
Back inside, if they are a dog, we will look at them on the stance analyser. This measures how much weight they are putting through each limb by giving us a percentage. It also records their centre of gravity and stability. With these results we can see where they are offloading and compensating. These results are then saved and can be used in future sessions to monitor progress.
If your pet decides that I'm OK, I then give them a full musculoskeletal check through light palpation and passive range of motion. Neurological tests may also be carried out. Most pets tolerate this. I will go as slowly as your pet needs to, giving them breaks if they look anxious or worried. I never force my hands on your pet. If they don't feel comfortable with being felt then we move on and can come back to this once they have built up their trust and confidence.
Another measurement I like to take is their upper thigh, mid thigh and forelimb muscle circumference. Again, if your pet isn't comfortable with having a tape measure near or on them, then we can skip this step. Your pets well-being is always at the forefront of my sessions.
Once we have collected all the information we can now move on to designing you and your pet a treatment plan. This may involve any of the following:
Land based exercises - Active range of motion, core stability, proprioceptive techniques
Passive range of motion/ stretches
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy
You will receive your treatment plan via email after your session. A full report will be sent to your vets and a follow up session is usually booked between 1-2 weeks later for further laser or Biomag therapy, review progress and touch base on how you are getting on with the treatment plan.
The follow up session
At the beginning of each follow up session I will ask you how you and your pet having been getting on with the treatment plan and whether you have seen any progress or seen any signs of pain/discomfort. I may want to see your pet moving again, depending on what you have reported back to me. I may also put them back on the stance analyser to monitor any changes. Before treatment i will always carry out a full musculoskeletal check if your pet is comfortable with this. I will then review the treatment plan, make changes where necessary and carry out the treatment. Most pets are given land based exercises to help improve their strength and mobility. We will also go through these exercises and make changes if necessary. Some exercises I give you may not be working well at home. This is perfectly normal and expected. Please let me know where and how you are struggling and together we can find an alternative exercise to achieve the same outcome.
Im often asked how many treatments do you think my pet will need and how often should I be seeing you. This is all dependant on your pet and you. Most pets I see require weekly treatments for the first 4-6 weeks before tailoring down to a maintenance check once a month. However, this is all dependant on your pet and the information we have gathered in the initial assessment. It is also dependant on your commitment and availability. I appreciate that not everyone is going to be able to complete a weekly course for 4 weeks. If this is the case then please let me know and we can find ways to adapt the treatment plan to suit you.
When your pet is going through post surgery rehabilitation, has an injury or has been diagnosed with a degenerative disease such as osteoarthritis, it can be all very overwhelming and scary. I am here for both you and your four legged friend every step of the way. I encourage you to contact me if you have any worries or concerns and please feel free to ask me anything. If i don't know the answer i will make it my priority to find someone who does.
I hope you have enjoyed my first blog and feel you know me better and have a deeper understanding into animal physiotherapy. Please feel free to comment! The next blog will be next Monday and all about home adaptions for both your growing puppy and arthritic pet. Watch this space!