Posture and postural dysfunction in dogs: Implications for veterinary physiotherapy

Hannah E Michael, Catherine M McGowan, Heli K Hyytiäinen
Vet J. 2024 Apr 3:305:106107. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2024.106107.

Postural assessment is an important part of the veterinary evaluation of a dog's neuromusculoskeletal function. It forms an important part of the clinical examination by physiotherapists and specialists in veterinary rehabilitation and sports medicine and is well researched in humans, which has allowed treatment approaches to be developed and validated. This narrative review aims to complement the veterinary literature, which largely quantifies the impact of various conditions on posture, by synthesising the physiotherapy literature, to help translate the use of postural assessment as a basis for the development and validation of treatment techniques to improve outcomes in dogs.

Recognition of normal posture and postural dysfunction is a key part of canine physiotherapy assessment. A better understanding of what is to be considered ‘normal posture’ in the dog, how this relates to COP and acknowledging breed differences, is required. Functional analysis of the altered movement patterns and compensations causing the posture is essential to treatment planning to ensure that the implemented intervention is safe, effective and specific to the dysfunction identified.

To better understand the role of various structures as components of posture and postural control, research combining posture and muscle architectural information and functional analysis is needed.