Canine physical therapy has been around for a couple decades, but has grown rapidly in the last 3-5 years. Francisco Maia, a physical therapist specialist in canine rehabilitation, talks with us at CSM about this fast-growing and rewarding field.
Maia was certified for canine physical therapy at the Canine Rehabilitation Institute, which offers courses in Florida and Colorado. For the first couple years of his career, he worked in a veterinarian’s office, helping to rehabilitate dogs with a range of conditions, from orthopedic to neurological issues.
Maia noticed a demand for mobile canine rehabilitation practices, so six months ago he started his own company, K9PT, which serves the Chicago area. Many pet owners find it difficult to get their dogs to a veterinary clinic for rehabilitation. A lot of dogs get too excitable and anxious in a clinical setting, which offsets the benefits they’d receive from rehabilitation. Maia started K9PT to tap into an emerging market of people who seek at-home physical therapy for their dogs.
For physical therapists looking to branch into canine rehabilitation, it’s not as difficult as one might think, and PT’s are at an advantage when it comes to breaking into the field. While physical therapists will have to learn the anatomy and physiology of dogs, and go through the same certification courses as veterinarians who do canine rehabilitation, Maia says it’s often easier for physical therapists to grasp the concept of canine rehabilitation as they already have a background in physical therapy.
When it comes to succeeding in your chosen profession, Maia offers some words of advice. “Find your passion, find what you really want to do and just dive into it,” he says. “Once you find that, not only will you be happy, but financial concerns are gonna go away. The money’s going to follow what you’re really interested in doing.”