Legislation Knowledge

Updated: Mar 15, 2019

It is important to have the veterinarian's permission before working with an animal

As a veterinary physiotherapist there are legal considerations that must be taken into account when working out in the field. Although the profession is not regulated in the same way as human physiotherapy, there are restrictions that must be followed, which at first, I did feel was quite overwhelming.

Under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, only a veterinarian can diagnose and treat an animal. This is something I must be aware of and may be a little difficult at times as sometimes owners will ask my opinion. However, the animal must always be referred back to the treating veterinarian for diagnosis; all I am able to do as a veterinary physiotherapist is describe what I have found, not what I think it means for the animal.

In conjunction with this, the Veterinary Surgeons (Exemptions) Order 2015 must also be taken into account. This states that physiotherapists (in this instance anyone who carries out manipulative therapy) can only carry out treatment with consent of a qualified veterinarian who has either seen the animal or recommended physiotherapy (RCVS, 2018). Therefore, it is important to make sure I have the treating veterinarian’s permission before I provide treatment to any animal.

Alongside this, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 must be considered. One of the needs stated in the act is that the animal must be “Protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease” (Gov.UK, 2019) which as a veterinary physiotherapist I could play a direct role in. This act means that owners are responsible for the welfare of the animal, and I should always keep these needs in the back of my mind when working out in the field.

Similarly, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 must also be respected (Legislation.gov.uk, 2019).

As a veterinary physiotherapist it is important to be aware of the banned breeds, especially for my own safety (although I must always be safety aware because as most dog owners know, it is not just the banned breeds that can show aggression). If I believe a dog is a banned breed I must check for a Certificate of Exemption. As I have not yet come across a banned breed, I am not sure how I would initially feel if I suspected one.

One of the major implications that must be considered is regarding the Data Protection Act 2018, as I will be in possession of client’s personal data (Gov. UK, 2018). However, I will make sure that I only take information that will aid my work and that I abide by the regulations stated regarding storage of data. This is one piece of legislation that I was concerned about but after looking into it further I can make sure that I follow the regulations set out.

At the start of my course I was aware of some of the legislation that must be considered as a veterinary physiotherapist but since investigating further I have since gained knowledge on other areas which I previously lacked in. I found it all to be overwhelming at first, but I now believe I have the knowledge I need for working in the industry.


GOV.UK. (2018). Data protection. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/data-protection [Accessed 10 Mar. 2019].

GOV.UK. (2019). Animal welfare. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/animal-welfare#legislation [Accessed 10 Mar. 2019].

Legislation.gov.uk. (2019). Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. [online] Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1991/65/contents [Accessed 10 Mar. 2019].

RCVS (2018). 19. Treatment of animals by unqualified persons - Professionals. [online] Available at: https://www.rcvs.org.uk/setting-standards/advice-and-guidance/code-of-professional-conduct-for-veterinary-surgeons/supporting-guidance/treatment-of-animals-by-unqualified-persons/ [Accessed 10 Mar. 2019].

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