What is a vet referral and do I need this?
Each time that you use a therapist such as a physiotherapist, a chiropractor (which may include McTimoney), or an osteopath, they are actually required by law to ask the treating veterinary surgeon (your vet) for their permission to treat the animal.
When it comes to other complementary therapies carried out by a massage therapist, Bowen practitioner, body works practitioner, TTouch practitioner etc, they are encouraged to inform the vet as it is considered good practice.
Basically, if you ask someone to come and look at your horse, dog or cat, that person should always tell your vet. If they are only visiting to carry out a basic assessment or basic massage it is not obligatory, but still considered good practice.
There are two Acts that must be considered by a physiotherapist or in fact any person that is going to carry out any kind of work on your animal. These are The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 and Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 2015.
These two Acts explain who may diagnose and treat animals.
There are two pieces of law which are relevant to veterinary physiotherapy and your chosen therapist should abide by them.
With all cases of general massage, it is considered ‘good practice’ to inform the client’s usual vet as well as obtaining consent. This also gives the opportunity to discuss the animal, and may even highlight a previous injury that has been previously forgotten from the animal’s treatment history. This could be important when it comes to the therapist putting together a bespoke treatment plan.
Simple questions that you could ask your therapist are:
What qualifications do you have?
Are you insured and what does your insurance cover?
Do you work under the Veterinary Surgeons Act? How does this work?
Are you a member of a professional body?
How do I know if my horse needs physiotherapy?
There might be a change in your horses behaviour, or perhaps a reduction in their performance. This could be as simple as becoming upset when you tack up to becoming reluctant to go forward when ridden.
Many clients simply ask for physiotherapy treatment purely to maximise their horses athletic potential and make sure they are ready for competition.
How long will my treatment last?
This will vary dependent on the animal, the problem and the treatment required. A typical equine appointment will last approximately 90 minutes, but this can vary depending on the facilities available and how the horse is reacting.
How many treatments will my horse need?
This will depend on the problem identified during the initial assessment. At the first appointment I will assess the animal and discuss a treatment strategy with you. Most commonly straight forward body work can all be treated and resolved in one session or the animal may require a course of physiotherapy or a planned exercise programme. Many clients, especially those who are competing or who have older horses will book regular sessions to maintain health and performance.
If my horse is insured, is it possible to claim for the cost of physiotherapy?
Many insurers cover physiotherapy costs. However, do consult with your insurance company and policy documentation to ensure the correct procedure is followed. Referral from a veterinary surgeon is always required for insurance claims.
How do I pay for treatment?
You will be invoiced on the day of treatment and payment is required on the day unless previously arranged. Payment options include Cash, Cheque and Bank Transfer.
If you need to change your appointment it is asked that 24hrs notice be given, missed appointments will be charged unless circumstances are exceptional. I reserve the right to refuse treatment if it is judged that the animal requires veterinary attention prior to any physiotherapy treatment, the client will still be liable to pay a call out fee.
Many insurance companies will reimburse veterinary physiotherapy fees, however these will need to be paid in full and the costs recovered from your insurance. This is usually done by sending the invoice to the claim department handling your claim once your vet has authorised physiotherapy. It is advisable to check your policy before booking if you are requiring treatment as part of an insurance claim.
Will my horse need time off after treatment?
This depends on the individual and whether or not the appointment is for maintenance or a diagnosed condition. It is possible that your horse may need a couple of days off work so it is advisable to arrange your appointment for a quieter time in your horse's schedule if possible!