Veterinarian or Physiotherapist - who should be treating your animal. 


This blog is a little different to what I usually write. Although I hope my clients read this I hope that this blog reaches Veterinarians and Physiotherapists worldwide. 

Lately I have seen more lines drawn in the sand between Veterinarians and Physiotherapists. Who should be doing rehabilitation on animals and who shouldn’t be?

It makes me feel uncomfortable. I believe that we potentiate each other and together we are much more than the sum of our knowledge. I also realise that there are reasons why this has happened. I believe this is due to legislation, working beyond the scope of our experience, not understanding the scope of another persons experience, miss information, and lack of education of our clients. 


Please read this reflection on my own journey toward team work and co-operative care. 


I am a Veterinarian. I was the weird kid who looooved spending all day with animals and decided early on to work in the animal industry. I will admit that Veterinarian was my second choice, I wanted to be a marine biologist but when I found out you didn’t get to swim with dolphins I figured vet was an ok alternative. 

I knew I wanted to work with humans but there was no way I was ever touching humans. Humans are nasty, who knows where they have been and what they have been touching.  Give me a puppy, kitten, pony, or bird any day. I can guess where they have been and for some reason I have always been cool with it. They also get bonus points for being cute and adorable. I love talking to people, sharing what I can see and helping them to see it too, I just don’t want to touch them.


Of course this was a bit of a dilemma when I decided that I really wanted to transition from the ‘Veterinary World’ into that of the ‘Veterinary Rehabilitation World’. I was mentored by physiotherapists, but I always felt just a little ‘less’ because I was not a physiotherapist myself. No one outright said I was ‘less’, however situations made it clear that my knowledge was unwelcome. My contributions were dismissed because I was not a physiotherapist. It may have been unintentional buft I was left feeling small.

It resulted in me enrolling in a health degree that would result in me becoming a physio in just 4 short years (that was after 5 years of torture to become a Veterinarian). That lasted a grand total of one semester. The second semester was going to involve practicals where we all wore shorts and singlets and had to go near each other. 

I quickly aborted that idea. I was genuinely disappointed that I would never get to be a physio but ultimately there was no way I was comfortable doing that type of practical class. Even though I had faced some pretty confronting classes in the journey to become a Veterinarian. 


I have a great respect for all Physiotherapists and health professionals who have successfully survived these practicals. You are much tougher in this area of life than me. 


It was when I then had a physiotherapist become pale when a dog released anal glands on them that I realised that I wasn’t ‘less’ than a physio. I was just different. And at the same time that physio was not ‘less’ than me because they were not a Veterinarian. Instead we were both exceptionally strong people who had arrived on the same path of development. 

Even coming to this revelation early in my career I still find myself occasionally falling into the US vs THEM mind frame. I am incredibly lucky to have peers that remind me that it is actually WE. 

We as a team of Animal Rehabilitation Professionals get to shape this field of Veterinary Rehabilitation and Animal Physiotherapy. 

We get to educate other Veterinarians and Physiotherapists that will bring new information, perspective and experiences to this field. 

We need to decide that this divide is doing more harm than good. 


Dr Jaime Jackson