Physiotherapy, osteopathy, and chiropractic treatment for dogs and cats

July 24, 2022 - 4 min read

This article was written for the United Kingdom market and the advice provided may not be accurate for those in the United States.

dog chiropractor
dog chiropractor

If your dog or cat has problems with their bones, muscles and joints, your vet may decide to refer them to a musculoskeletal therapist to help them with their recovery.

There are three main types of musculoskeletal therapies for pets:

  • Physiotherapy, including hydrotherapy

  • Chiropractic treatment

  • Osteopathy

Musculoskeletal therapies are the only type of complementary therapies that can legally be performed by someone who isn’t a veterinary surgeon. But you can only access them if a vet has already diagnosed your pet and referred you, or if they perform the therapy themselves.

Pet physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is available for dogs and cats, as well as horses and even small animals like rabbits.

Dog and cat physiotherapy involves manually manipulated your pet’s joints and muscles using massage, heat or exercise to help them recover from disease or injury.

During a physiotherapy session the therapist might massage and stretch your pet’s limbs, before running through some exercises to help with strength and recovery.

If they have difficulty walking the therapist might help them to practice with a harness or sling.

Hydrotherapy for dogs is one of the most popular types of pet physio and it can also help take the weight off their limbs.

What can physiotherapy do for dogs and cats?

These are just some of the benefits of physiotherapy for animals:

  • Reducing pain

  • Reduce stiffness

  • Increasing the range of movement

  • Helping recovery from injuries or surgery

  • Improving their quality of life

  • Strengthen muscles and prevent muscles wasting

Cat and dog physiotherapy costs

We looked at the cost of physiotherapy sessions for dogs and cats with 12 pet physiotherapists around the UK and found that they ranged from £40-£85. The average cost of a dog or cat physiotherapy session was £51.42.

Some pet physios also ask that you have an introductory session where a treatment plan is made. this is sometimes a bit longer, so the average cost of a physiotherapy initial consultation was £72.86.

Lots of pet physiotherapists will travel to your home, which can be really useful for cats to remove the added stress of a car journey. There’s usually a mileage charge to pay in addition to the session fee.

Sometimes it’s cheaper to book a block of pet physiotherapy session as lots of therapists offer a discount for this.

Pet osteopathy

In many ways, cat and dog osteopathy is quite similar to pet physiotherapy. The techniques, training and practices are different but both are used to treat musculoskeletal issues.

The main difference is that pet osteopaths use physical, hands-on techniques to manipulate joints and muscles, while animal physiotherapists, tend to employ more exercises and movement-based techniques.

What can an osteopath do for my dog or cat?

The benefits of osteopathy for dogs and cats are they same as physiotherapy – they reduce pain and increase mobility.

Dog osteopaths work holistically to treat your pet’s body as a whole instead of relying on a single condition. They aim to restore balance and improve your dog’s overall quality of life.

Cat and dog osteopathy costs

The average cost of a dog or cat osteopathy session in the UK is £47.08.

We surveyed 12 animal osteopaths and found that they were all priced between £40 and £60. Be aware that some will have longer sessions than others, so make sure you check that too. Sessions are normally between 30 minutes and one hour.

Some osteopaths will ask you to have an initial assessment which is usually a little more expensive. The average cost of an introductory pet osteopathy session is £60.

Pet chiropractic treatment

Chiropractic treatment for dogs and cats also has a lot of common ground with physiotherapy and osteopathy. The main difference is that chiropractic treatment is specifically for the spine.

A pet chiropractor will use their hands to gently manipulate the bones and joints to relieve pain and allow the spine to holistically heal itself.

What can a chiropractor do for my dog or cat?

As with the other musculoskeletal therapies mentioned, pet chiropractic treatment aims to improve movement and reduce pain. It can usually help with:

Cat and dog chiropractor costs

According to 12 animal chiropractors we checked around the country, the average cost of a chiropractic session for your dog or cat is £39.17. You shouldn’t need to have an initial assessment costing more.

Which musculoskeletal therapy is best for my dog or cat?

Physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic treatments for your dog and cat can often all be used to treat the same conditions but they aren’t identical.

Some of these treatments are cheaper than others. Here’s summary of the average session costs:

Hydrotherapy Chiropractor Osteopathy Physiotherapy
£36.28 £39.17 £47.08 £51.42

Chiropractic treatment can be quite a bit cheaper over a course of treatment, but it’ll only cover spinal problems. Many chiropractors also only treat horses or dogs, so it might not be an option for your cat.

If you do have a cat you might prefer a therapist that can visit your pet at home and there are many that are willing to travel.

Physiotherapy is the most widely available treatment and can include hydrotherapy, which many dogs find more enjoyable.

But ultimately, your vet will advise you on whether physiotherapy, osteopathy or chiropractic treatment is most likely to benefit your pet as the therapist will need their permission to begin treatment anyway.

If your vet recommends pain relief, and oral or topical medication for your pet, you might want to contact an online pharmacy. They often dispense the same medication as your vet at cheaper prices. Order at any time from your phone or computer and have the medication delivered to your door.

Derri Dunn
Content marketer

Derri is a personal finance and insurance writer and editor. After seven years covering all things motoring and banking at GoCompare, Derri joined ManyPets in 2021 to focus on pet health. She has fostered cats and kittens for Blue Cross and Cats Protection and is owned by tabby cat Diggory and two badly behaved dogs.