Physio for furry friends

A TRIP through the Alaskan wilderness was a game-changer for physiotherapist Leigh Ray, discovering an affinity with animals during a dog-sledding tour.

A physio for 16 years, including in London’s Harley Street, she was looking for a change: “I was getting exhausted dealing with people.”

She says working in health can be draining: “There’s a big burnout rate.”

Back in Perth she embarked on an animal physio course approved by the Australian Physiotherapist Association: “I needed to be more qualified than to treat humans,” Ms Ray says.

Training included assessing joints, muscles and nerves, and looking at normal movement patterns, gait and behaviour to gain clues to underlaying problems.

• This pooch seems happy with Leigh Ray’s treatment.

• This pooch seems happy with Leigh Ray’s treatment.

Hands-on physio techniques are used to correct dysfunction, along with soothing the animal and creating play for rehabilitation.

Tail wagging isn’t alway a good thing: “Some types of tail wagging show they’re in a lot of pain.”

You don’t need a veterinarian referral but around 80–90 per cent of her animal clients have been sent by a vet.

And Ms Ray has a vet mentor to help when needed: “He tells me vet stuff and I tell him physio stuff and we meld together.”

Pets receiving physio during treatment recover quicker and Ms Ray’s reputation is spreading.

She now works with police, fire, search and rescue’s dogs doing quarterly checks and treatment days, and is aligned with custom dogs: “It’s nice to give back to working dogs.”

Ms Ray does animal physio from her Beeliar home two days a week, and the rest of the time continues her Mt Pleasant human practice, where she specialises in jaw and neck pain and migraines.

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