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Animal Physical Therapist


An animal physical therapist (or a rehabilitation veterinarian) rehabilitates animals that have had surgery, amputation, have been injured or suffer from chronic pain so that they may enjoy a higher quality of life.



What responsibilities will I have?

  • Observe animal patients and perform exams
  • Determine proper rehabilitation or recovery plan
  • Communicate with clients and veterinarians to agree on a rehabilitation plan and determine medical treatment
  • Utilize laser therapy, ultrasound, shockwave and radiography equipment
  • Assist animal patients in strengthening and exercise routines
  • Perform stretches and massages on animal patients
  • Organize checkup appointments with clients following completion of rehabilitation


What education and training is required?

Most animal physical therapists are licensed as human physical therapists and treat animals; a minimum of a master’s degree in physical therapy is required for this path. However, veterinarians with a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, veterinary technicians with a bachelor’s degree or assistant physical therapists with a bachelor’s degree may also work as animal physical therapists. There are typically emphases or concentrations on animal physical therapy that you may pursue while earning your degree.


To pursue a career as an Animal Physical Therapist:

The following high school courses are recommended: agricultural education, biology, anatomy, animal science, and mathematics.


Where can I work?

Animal hospitals and rehabilitation facilities as well as colleges and universities with veterinary programs employ animal physical therapists.


Future Job Market / Outlook

The future outlook for an animal physical therapist will be good over the next five years. 


Suggested Professional Organizations and Associations

  • American Society for Animal Science
  • International Association for Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy
  • American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians
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