10 Top Animal Physical Therapy Programs

Although animals were purely functional for much of human existence, now they play a huge part in our social and emotional well-being. Instead of just being animals we keep for safety and transportation, animals have become almost like family members to many.

As the role of animals grows in importance, so does the need for better and more adaptive veterinary care. Animal rehabilitation specialists and physical therapists are using cutting-edge human physical therapy techniques to enable our favorite creatures to have longer life spans and pain-free living. By studying veterinary physical therapy one of the schools listed below, you are preparing to become a part of a new and exciting field that gives animals and their humans a better chance for lifelong happiness.

The Canine Rehabilitation Insititute
Address : Wellington, Florida

The Canine Rehabilitation Institute offers one of the most well-respected certifications in the world of veterinary physical therapy. Their Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT) designation is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), as well as several other organizations. The CCRT curriculum consists of three courses: Introduction to Canine Rehabilitation, The Canine Rehabilitation Therapist, and Canine Sports Medicine. Students must also complete a 40-hour internship at a CRI-approved practice. The total cost of the program is $6,550.

The Healing Oasis
Address : Sturtevant, Wisconsin

Students who are interested in the rehabilitation success of chiropracty for animals will benefit from this program the best. This school's certification program focuses on the use of Veterinary Spinal Manipulative Therapy, Massage and Rehabilitation Therapy, and Advanced Veterinary Neurology to help injured animals heal. All the schools programs are accredited through the U.S. Department of Education as well as the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA). They offer a Veterinary Spinal Manipulative Therapy Certification (VSMT) and a Veterinary Massage and Rehabilitation Therapy Certification (VMRT). The cost is between $3,300 and $5,900 for these programs.

Northwest School of Animal Massage
Address : Fall City, Washington

This school offers an intensive, high-level certification program for Rehabilitation Massage Therapy. Courses are both online and in person, with several 5-day on campus trainings required in order to complete the program. Students can choose from either small or large animal training, and even have access to acupressure and aromatics elective courses. This school is also the single nationwide provider of Manual Ligament Therapy for both dogs and horses. The cost of these programs is between $1,500 and $3,000 for the highest level of training.

Animal Behavior Institute
Address : McLean, Virginia

This school provides a wide variety of options for students interested in animal physical therapy and rehabilitation. All certification programs are accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and qualify for financial aid and scholarship funds. You can choose from Wildlife Rehabilitation, Laboratory Animal Behavior, and Animal Assisted Therapy certificate program. Specialized certificates are also available for either Canine Behavior or Feline Behavior, and require 100 hours of specialized training.

Animal Rehab Institute
Address : Loxahatchee, Florida

The Animal Rehab Institute is one of the most noted equine rehabilitation education centers in the world. They offer Equine Rehab Therapist, Equine Rehab Assistant, and Equine Massage Therapy Certifications for veterinarians, vet assistants, and physical therapists. The college course instructors are highly regarded in their fields, hailing from equine veterinary programs like Colorado State University and Michigan State University. The hands-on courses take place over 4-10 days each at the working veterinary facility on the college campus. These programs cost between $4,300 and $6,300. 

International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM)
Address : Nashville, Tennessee

This association provides online continuing education programs for veterinarians and vet assistants who want to specialize in animal rehabilitation and pain management. The courses include topics like perioperative analgesia, multi-modal management of canine osteoarthritis, and an overview of NSAID use. The entire series of courses is $135 and counts towards a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner (CVPP) designation. 

Meredith Manor International Equestrian College
Address : Waverly, West Virginia

The Meredith Manor program combines hands-on physical therapy techniques with massage concepts to create their Equine Massage Therapy Certification program. This course of study requires 100 hours of hands-on physical therapy training in addition to an intensive exam. Students will also learn fundamentals of veterinary concepts like injury prevention, equine anatomy, and differences between recreational and performance horse injuries. 

Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage
Address : Elizabeth, Colorado

The Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage offers technical continuing education credits for both veterinary doctors and assistants in alternative rehabilitation therapy. Their on-site certification programs Canine and Equine Acupressure and Massage in addition to online certification programs in Canine Massage and Acupressure. Their curriculum is approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). The full 3-level program costs $3,965, including registration fees.

University of Nevada - Las Vegas
Address : Las Vegas, Nevada

The UNLV Animal Massage and Care Provider Certification program teaches basic rehabilitation skills for a broad range of animals. This program is recognized by both veterinary and wildlife rehabilitation associations, including the Bird Rescue Sanctuary, Dolphin Habitat, and Cheval Equine Show. This is a good program for veterinary students who might be interested in rehabilitation and care of both domestic and exotic animals. Courses include IPTouch, Trigger Point Massage, and Anatomy. The cost for all 15 courses in the certification is $1,499.

University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture
Address : Knoxville, Tennessee

The University of Tennessee is the most well-respected school for veterinary rehabilitation, regardless of animal size or specialty. They offer a Canine and Equine Rehabilitation Certificate through the Northeast Seminars online school. In order to be accepted into the program, you must be a Physical Therapist, Physical Therapist Assistant, Veterinarian, or Vet Technician. The UT also offers certificates Canine Pain Management and Nutrition Case Management. This program costs between $4,800 and $5,500.


Featured programs met the following criteria:


  • Notable in the field. Each of these schools has been highlighted by peers and professional organizations as a leader of education in their chosen field.

  • Accredited. These veterinary programs have been accredited through both regional and national accrediting bodies.

  • Certification Preparation. Students who participate in programs at these colleges are prepared to sit for national, certification, or other authorizing exams.

  • Success Rate. Students who graduate from these programs typically go on to be influential members of the industry. This may include leadership in professional organizations, research publication, and teaching responsibilities at high-level institutions.