Writtle University College is launching a new Canine Therapy degree enabling students to gain the skills needed to provide therapeutic support to all kinds of dogs in conjunction with veterinary surgeons.
Career paths in the industry are becoming more attractive due to the growing popularity of hydrotherapy and massage therapy among owners and veterinary practices - and the associated increase in demand for suitably qualified practitioners.
The course, which is subject to validation, offers a balance of academic and vocational study, with students able to gain a degree plus embedded qualifications in hydrotherapy and massage therapy through professional placements.
Now open to applicants wishing to start study in September 2018, the BSc (Hons) Canine Therapy is designed for those who have a passion for improving the welfare of dogs and who want to gain the scientific knowledge and practical skills to become a highly-qualified practitioner able to care for family dogs as well as canine sports athletes, such as flyball or agility competitors.
Students will be based at the University College’s new Canine Therapy Centre and will use its industry-standard technology, including a hydrotherapy pool and underwater treadmill.
Over the three years of full-time study, students will be able to develop an advanced academic knowledge of the canine both in health and disease, veterinary diagnostic techniques, normal and abnormal movement patterns and compensatory mechanisms. Students will work on real-life case studies and assist in structuring care plans, as well as developing the necessary business skills needed for self-employment.
To comply with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons section 19 guidance for ‘Treatment of Animals by Unqualified Persons’, all interventions applied are under the supervision of a qualified veterinary surgeon.
As a canine massage therapist or hydrotherapist, successful graduates will work with a range of canine companions, helping with post-surgery recovery, managing chronic conditions, increasing the range of motion and balance in senior patients, supporting the performance of competing athletes, helping with a weight control programme or improving the general wellbeing of family pets.
On graduating they could be self-employed, or work as part of a multi-disciplinary team in a large referral clinic, dedicating their time and expertise to improve the mobility, function, comfort and fitness of all types and breeds of canines. Successful graduates could also go into research assistant posts, lecturing and health advisory roles.
Philip Adams, Course Leader, said: “Writtle University College has developed a strong reputation in delivering courses in equine sports therapy and veterinary physiotherapy for horses and dogs, which are two of our most popular programmes.
“Building on this, the BSc (Hons) Canine Therapy focuses purely on sports therapy for canines, giving students the academic knowledge, clinical skills and practical experience they need to turn their love of dogs into a successful career.
“This is an interesting and growing industry that offers excellent opportunities to those who have become specialist practitioners. A 2013 report from Lantra – the awarding body for land-based qualifications - identified approximately 8.5million dogs housed in 25% of all households.
“Last year, we opened a facility dedicated to canine therapy. We are now building 16 single and four double kennels on-site, which will be opened in 2018, to boost the specialist facilities for this course. We also have plans to have a commercial canine therapy practice operating from the facility.
“This course is an exciting addition to our portfolio of animal rehabilitation programmes that offers students the opportunity to gain both a degree and vocational qualifications so they are ready for employment on successful graduation.”
A Diploma in Higher Education, studied over two years, and a Certificate in Higher Education, studied over a year, are also being offered in Canine Therapy, subject to validation. Part-time study options are also available.
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