Physio or Massage – is there a difference?


Over the previous few years there has been a huge increase in the numbers of physiotherapists and massage therapists working with animals. As a specialist consultant supporting both animal therapists to develop their businesses, and also animal owners to access complementary therapies for their pets, I’ve generally thought that there’s an increased public awareness of the differences in therapies.

Recently i’ve been aware of a few instances where there’s still a lot of confusion!  The purpose of this blog post is to highlight the difference between Equine or Canine Massage and Physiotherapy.  A horse owner contacted me recently to help find a physiotherapist for their horse – their Vet had suggested physiotherapy may help.  But the horse owner wasn’t sure if an Equine Massage therapist that they had been recommended to use by a friend would do the same.  Apparently, their friend had been quite adamant that their equine masseur was the same as a physiotherapist….. but of course – in short, they are different!!

As we know, if we ourselves want to try a complementary therapy – whether it be massage, physiotherapy, chiropractic, they are all slightly different – so it’s just the same for our pets and other animals!

The training for a physiotherapist working with animals is more extensive than that for a masseur.  This reflects the fact that a physiotherapist can use a great deal more different techniques to help the animal than what a masseur will.

An equine or canine massage therapist will be trained to use a range of manipulation techniques to help the soft tissues of the body – including muscles, tendon, fascia and ligaments.  This makes massage helpful for a range of ailments for your horse or dog.

A physiotherapist will also use manipulation – i.e. massage techniques, but they will also use a variety of other approaches – such as electrotherapy.  A physiotherapist is trained in rehabilitation techniques too – so will often be a very useful therapist after surgical procedures.

Find out more by having a look at my Taranet website – here’s some links to useful pages:

Equine Massage

Canine Massage

Physiotherapy for Animals

Training – Animal Physiotherapy

Training Advice – Equine Massage

If you’ve any questions, please email me at!

Until next time,

Regards, Suzanne

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