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Canine therapists are healthcare professionals providing a therapeutic service to dogs and their owners. As practitioners, we understand the importance of honing our clinical reasoning skills to provide the best care for our canine patients and owner clients.

Clinical reasoning is like a puzzle-solving adventure, where we piece together information, observations and evidence to unlock the door to selecting effective therapeutic interventions. So, let’s embark on this exciting journey together.

Imagine you’re a detective investigating a case. Clinical reasoning is similar! As therapists, we gather canine patient and owner client information, carry out assessments and reassessments, plus analyse and evaluate the data to identify the root causes of the dog’s mobility issues or physical challenges.

By devising an individual treatment plan for each dog using clinical reasoning, we provide a better service to our patients and can tailor treatments to meet their unique and specific needs.

Before we dive into the clinical reasoning process, let’s chat about data collection. Taking time to listen, understanding owners concerns and getting a detailed history can provide valuable and important clues.

Always encourage open communication and use active listening!

Once we have gathered the necessary information, it’s time to put on our detective hats and analyze the clues. What patterns do we see? Are there any red flags? By carefully interpreting the data, we can formulate a hypothesis and better understand the bigger picture of our canine patient’s health.

With our evidence-based detective work, we can now crack the case! We can identify the primary and secondary problems affecting the dog’s well-being. This step is crucial for designing targeted and effective treatment plans.

Just like Sherlock Holmes, we create hypotheses to explain our findings. These educated guesses help us narrow down the potential causes and understand the functional limitations, movement dysfunction or physical challenges each dog is experiencing.

Conducting a relevant hands on examination as part of the assessment is crucial to gather more evidence. This step ensures that we’re on the right pathway to determine the dog’s specific problems or needs.

As canine therapists, we see complex cases and need the interpersonal and communication skills to manage owner’s expectations. We know how important it is to keep our mind open and consider all possibilities, to ensure we don’t miss any crucial information.

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The next step of the clinical pathway is to establish a problem list (needs list) based on the assessment findings and this needs to be from the dog’s perspective. This prioritised problem list leads to the next step of establishing treatment goals.

Guided by our practice ethos at K9HS, we are pledged to work with our dog and owner client, so we always set meaningful and achievable goals. These goals will guide our choices of therapeutic interventions, plus keep us focused on what truly matters to the dogs in our care.

With goals in place, it’s time to devise your treatment plan! Combine evidence-based interventions with your therapeutic expertise to create personalised treatment plans that specifically meet the needs of the dogs you see.

The next step is we implement the treatment plan and continually monitor the dog’s progress and response, to the selected interventions. Reassessments help adjust the treatment plan as needed. Clinical reasoning is an ongoing process which requires continuous clinical reflection on the effectiveness of the selected treatment interventions and each dog’s outcomes.

Canine therapists are committed to career long learning to stay updated with the latest evidence, as well as progressing and advancing their clinical skills.

Remember, clinical reasoning is a skill that grows with experience and continuous learning. Stay curious, attend workshops, read the latest research – the journey of the ever-evolving detective never ends!

Clinical reasoning is the key to providing exceptional care to your canine patients and owner clients. Embrace the art of data collection, analytical thinking, and evidence-based practice to thrive in your practice.

Overall, clinical reasoning skills in canine therapy are crucial for delivering patient-centered care, optimizing outcomes, and ensuring the safety and well-being of patients. It involves a combination of evidence-based practice, critical thinking and empathy to address the complex and diverse needs of the dog’s and their owners seeking therapeutic services.

May your clinical reasoning journey be filled with joy, success, and endless opportunities to make a positive impact on the lives of dogs in your professional care!

The K9 Therapy Hub holds a great series of accredited CPD courses exploring – Therapeutic Assessment Processes, Assessment + Treatment Choices,  SMART Goals + Outcome Measures, Practice Ethos + Skills Work Log, Therapeutic Palpation Skills and so many more!

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