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Physiotherapy options for Osteoarthritis

Physiotherapy for Osteoarthritis in dogs and cats

Physiotherapy is very important as an adjunct to veterinary management of Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is managed in a multi-model approach and that includes: pain control, weight management, exercise management and management of the home environment.

Osteoarthritis and exercise

Research in both humans and animals highlights the importance of exercise, muscle strengthening and proprioception in the management of OA. On the initial assessment it is important to identify any areas of weakness and/or compensations all over the body and work on these, as this helps balance the loading through the affected joints and reduce secondary compensations.

Home exercise programmes can include the following:

  • Muscle strengthening.

  • Stretches.

  • Balance and proprioception exercises.

  • Core stability.

  • Joint range of movement exercises.

  • Soft tissue massage.

Home management

Assessment of the animals home environment is essential in helping to improve quality of life for the animal living with arthritis.


Points to assess include:

  • Flooring surfaces in different areas of the home.

  • Steps and stairs.

  • Type and size of bed options.

  • Food and water provision height.

  • Car access  


Suggestions are then provided to the owner for any relevant improvements.

Weight management

A study by Marshall et al, (2010), highlights that overweight dogs had a significant improvement in lameness after losing 6-8% bodyweight.

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