Animal physiotherapist Brooke Marsh helps bring pain relief and comfort to sick and injured pets.
Animal physiotherapist Brooke Marsh helps bring pain relief and comfort to sick and injured pets. Eddie Safarik

Pet therapy booms

SORE backs, hip pain and arthritis are all part and parcel with getting old - even for our four-legged-friends.

Brooke Marsh, a Sunshine Coast animal physiotherapist, is leading the way in complementary medicine and therapy for pets.

Owners of the 33 million pets in Australia now have an alternative way to ensure their animals are safe, happy, healthy and comfort

able. Animal physiotherapy is emerging as a top choice to give pets the best quality of life.

Largely unheard of in Australia, animal physiotherapy uses physiotherapy equipment, manual techniques and rehabilitation to restore optimal function after accident, injury or overuse.

After working with humans for 17 years, Ms Marsh turned her healing hands to animals, completing her masters in animal physiotherapy in 2005.

She now helps cats and dogs from birth to senior age at the North Coast Veterinary Specialists at Tanawha.

"Orthopaedic or neurological problems can be managed with physiotherapy to a point where surgery or giving the animal medication can be avoided," Ms Marsh said. "It's about aiding healing and reducing pain and giving the pet the best quality of life.

"Some think physio for pets is just exercise, but we can have pets here at the acute stage on day one after, say spinal surgery, where we can reduce pain and aid healing and getting the joints and their body moving back to function."

Ms Marsh shares her skills and passion as chairwoman of the Australian Physiotherapy Association's animal  physiotherapy group.

"So many people don't know animal physio is available," she said.

"Health care is becoming more multi-disciplinary for both humans and animals where surgery and drugs are not the only option out there."

Ms Marsh's treatment includes mobilisation, massage, stretches, acupuncture, electrotherapy, balance and stability, movement re-education and underwater treadmill training.

"I've done so many years as a human physio and there is a lot of emotional baggage and chronic pain, whereas dogs, they just want to get better and they are so trusting and want you to help them."


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