Modalities and Practitioners
Here you can find out more about the various modalities, any related organisations who register practitioners, and links to any blogs we have about each modality.
- First section ‘Holistic health modalities’
- Second section ‘Body work modalities’
- Third section ‘Therapeutic equipment”
Please note that we are signposting you to these organisations as a starting point. We cannot recommend any particular organisation, modality, or practitioner for your animal. There are also excellent practitioners who choose not to be registered with any organisation.
Do your research and ensure that you (and your animal) like and trust the practitioner you select, and that he or she is insured and has the appropriate experience.
Holistic health modalities
This section includes modalities apart from those involving body work (see the second section for those) or therapeutic equipment (in the third section).
There are two main professional bodies for Acupuncture in the UK:
- The Assoc of British Veterinary Acupuncturists (ABVA)
- The International Veterinary Acupuncture Soc (IVAS) Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine
The ABVA maintain standards of education, ethics, practice and discipline to ensure the health and wellbeing of animals in the UK. Similarly, the IVAS mission is to provide, promote and support veterinary acupuncture and related treatment modalities through quality basic, advanced and continuing education; internationally recognized certification for veterinarians; and support responsible research.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture has evolved from the ancient art of placing needles into special locations on the body to alleviate pain, improve recovery rates and increase resistance to disease. It has been practiced by the Chinese and other Eastern cultures for thousands of years and may be used to treat a wide variety of illnesses.
Acupuncture treatment should always follow an accurate diagnosis of the problem and a full appraisal of all treatment options. In many cases acupuncture is best used in conjunction with conventional medicine however, in some situations, it can be used as a sole treatment.
Adding acupuncture to a treatment plan can help to reduce the patient’s requirements for medications which may have undesirable side effects.
Most importantly, acupuncture is extremely safe when practiced correctly and is well accepted by the majority of animals.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
The Chinese approach to disease is very holistic. Emotional, hereditary and environmental factors are considered to be important elements in disease patterns. The philosophy and aim of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is to restore equilibrium between physical, emotional and spiritual factors – thus restoring and maintaining health. Treatment involves using needles in specific acupuncture points (sometimes in combination with herbal therapy) to address imbalances in Yin and Yang as well as improving the flow of Qi and blood.
Western Scientific Acupuncture
Scientific research into acupuncture has made enormous progress over the past 40 years and now explains much of acupuncture’s actions which had previously only been understood in the ancient concepts of health described in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
This has brought about the greater recognition and acceptance of acupuncture within the scientific community. Early research focused mainly on pain relief and the endogenous opioid responses to acupuncture, however, further advances have revealed potent normalising effects to the hypothalamus and autonomic nervous system. This has opened the understanding of its use in all manner of internal medical disorders including respiratory, digestive, and reproductive problems. The Yin and Yang balance paradigm can now be explained by the correlations with the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system and this helps bring the holistic view of health back into focus.
By combining these two approaches, acupuncture may be particularly effective in the treatment of chronic disease states – either to complement orthodox treatments or when orthodox medicine fails.
What conditions can it treat?
Pain is one of the most common indications for acupuncture. Very often, in cats and dogs, this is chronic (long term) pain due to arthritis but muscular strains and spinal problems can also respond well. Acupuncture can also be a great asset to the rehabilitation of pets following orthopaedic or spinal surgeries. In horses, there can be myofascial pain, sometimes associated with joint disease. Often, equine cases will appear as behaviour problems such as crib biting or box walking, but have an underlying and undiagnosed pain element. Equines are often highly trained athletes used for strenuous and demanding disciplines which often lead to musculoskeletal injuries. The use of acupuncture alone or in combination with other therapies can improve the speed and quality of recovery and avoid the need for medications banned under competition rules.
Acupuncture can also be of great benefit to medical conditions in pets, such as gastrointestinal disease, urinary disorders, epilepsy and much more. In horses, we often have success with recurrent colic or diarrhoea and chronic respiratory disease such as COPD/RAO. As each treatment is specifically tailored to an individual through extensive history taking and detailed examination, the protocol used will vary from animal to animal so speak to your veterinary acupuncturist about your pet’s individual case. Be aware that, as with any treatment, there are a small percentage of animals that will not respond to acupuncture.
If you think that your pet or horse could benefit from acupuncture, the first step is to talk to your own vet. Acupuncture can only be performed on animals in the UK by a qualified veterinary surgeon who is a practising member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. On occasion, needles may be placed by a Registered Veterinary Nurse under the supervision of an appropriately trained vet. There may already be a vet trained in acupuncture at your practice. If not, you or your vet can use the Find a Vet function to search for a veterinary acupuncturist in your area. Your vet can then refer your pet or horse to this practitioner for acupuncture treatment. Medications and treatment for anything other than acupuncture is still provided by your own vet.
We’ve all seen on-line petitions calling for individual animal trainers to be prevented from using inhumane practices. Have you wondered why the trainer’s regulatory body hasn’t stepped in? Maybe, you’ve wondered if there is such a thing? Who regulates animal behaviourists and trainers anyway? The answer is, currently, nobody!
There is a body which was set up some 10 years ago which purports to regulate all animal trainers, but actually has no Government authority to do so. For instance, a dog guardian could choose to seek help from a degree qualified, highly ethical, up to date and proficient trainer or could equally choose someone who’s had dogs for years and found success in training them by means of beating them with a stick. This is totally that guardian’s own decision.
Most people new to dog owning simply want a well-trained (or at least well behaved) dog and won’t think too hard about how that goal is achieved. Often, the less ethical trainers are less costly and seem to get the desired result quickly. We can see the attraction. What the new dog owners won’t know is that methods based in inflicting fear and pain ARE quick to get apparently desirable results. However, they also result in often lifelong fears and physical injuries.
How would you know that your chosen professional is up to date and using currently recommended methods? Your first step is to make sure that your chosen trainer is a member of an organisation with a Code of Practice matching your personal ethos. If there is a problem later on, you then have an organisation to go to with your concerns. If your concern is not satisfactorily resolved you then would benefit from an independent assessment of your concerns and the trainer’s justifications.
On the 8th June 2020, a new initiative was launched. The UK Dog Behaviour and Training Charter is formed as a collaboration between a number of leading professional associations all pulling together to make it crystal clear that methods inducing fear and pain cannot be supported nowadays. This is where you need to go to be confident in the professional you choose. The Charter is a very simple system where the signatory organisations remain entirely autonomous but pull together to make a real difference to dog welfare and customer confidence. Customers can be assured that there IS an independent panel to scrutinise a complaint or advise a member organisation on how to proceed.
Finally, we would suggest that you not only seek help from a member of a Charter signatory organisation, but also that your chosen professional is willing to be proactive in working with your vet and any other therapist you may choose for your pet.
Bach Flower Essences
There are 38 remedies in the Bach remedy system. All of them were discovered in the 1920s and 1930s by Dr Edward Bach, a well-known bacteriologist, physician, and pathologist.
Each remedy is associated with a basic human emotion. Mimulus, for example, is for when we are anxious or afraid about something specific. Taking the remedy helps us overcome our fear and face it with courage.
The remedies are in liquid form so that you can mix together the remedies you need to to help balance your current emotional situation. Like Dr. Bach, we believe that healing on an emotional level has knock-on effects on other levels. A healthy emotional life and a balanced personality will allow your body to find its own natural state of health.
There are a lot of other essences produced around the world. For example:
This is a big range of essences made from flowers, gems and the environment.
They produce a special combination essence for animals in rescue centres called ‘Animal Care’
Lotus Holistic Essences
Have combination essences (Helping Hands, Five Flower and Animal Support) that are all useful essences to hold in your emergency kit. These can be put into an animal’s food, stroked through their fur, put into their water or sprayed on bedding.
British Association of Veterinary herbalists (BAVH)
The first use of medicinal herbs dates back to prehistoric times, with herbs found in graves older than 60,000 years. There is a rich history of plant medicine in many cultures with some of the best-preserved traditions being Traditional Chinese Medicine. The world health organisation estimate that 70% of the world’s population use botanical medicine (Einsberg, 1998). It is no surprise that people have used the same plant medicine for animals under their care as long as human-animal relationships have existed.
In the late eighteenth century advances in science led to purification and isolation of many plant constituents with around a quarter of today’s pharmaceutical drugs having originally been derived from plants. Medical researchers believe it is safer and more effective to deliver doses of pure active chemicals. However, advocates of herbal medicine believe in a holistic approach and that the whole herb or its extract is more effective with fewer side effects.
Holistic medicine means treating the patient as a whole; mind body and spirit. By taking a truly holistic approach we must look both inwards and outwards. Looking outwards your holistic veterinarian may consider many things such as diet, exercise, environment, and life history as well as your interactions with your animal.
When looking inwards a holistic vet may consider the body as a whole with interactions and connections between all body systems. This is a different approach to modern medicine which is moving in a direction of specialisation such as cardiologists – this is a reductionist approach. Reductionism simply means looking at a piece of a system rather than the whole.
Holistic vets believe that the patient functions as a whole and each part is interrelated and inseparable from the rest.
Looking at the bigger picture will help your holistic vet to understand the root of the problem or disease rather than just the presenting symptoms.
What happens during a consultation with a Herbal Vet?
During your pets first consultation with a herbal vet, the vet will build up a picture of you and your pet’s health by:
- Taking your pet’s full case history
- Discussing your pet’s diet and lifestyle
- Finding out about any medication or supplements you already use
This allows your vet to assess the underlying causes of your pet’s illness and formulate a mixture of herbs tailored to your individual needs. It may also be necessary to arrange for other tests to be done.
Your pet’s individual treatment plan will include herbal remedies and, where appropriate, dietary changes or nutritional supplements. Most herbal medicines are given in the form of a liquid tincture that is taken in doses of two or three times daily. Your Pet may also be prescribed herbal tea, tablets, ointment, cream or lotion.
Homeopathy is a system of medicine that bases its therapeutics on the principle of ‘let like be cured by like’.
The medicines used may be derived from animal, vegetable or mineral sources and, in latter times, remedies have also been derived from man-made substances. The initial requirement for treatment is knowledge of what effect a particular remedy or substance will have on a healthy body (i.e. what signs and symptoms it can provoke in a healthy body).
The signs and symptoms presented by a sick animal or person are then compared to this ‘symptom picture’ of the various medicines, choosing that medicine which is the closest ‘match’.
There is no risk of:
- toxic side-effects,
- medicine residues in farm animal products,
- ‘doping’ or residues in sporting animals,
- stimulation of antibiotic resistance.
Furthermore, laboratory animal research is not required for its development.
The strategy of a homeopathic consultation is to find the homeopathic remedy which most closely matches the patient’s symptoms or to remove or minimise any factors and influences that could obstruct or impede that healing process. For this reason, attention to the patient’s diet is an essential part of the procedure, with a conscious attempt to feed each species as naturally and as healthily as possible, in line with its evolved needs.
The Homeopathic Consultation for all species with your chosen homeopath veterinary surgeon has several unique ingredients, that distinguish it from a typical veterinary consultation.
It is usually longer, since there is so much information to be gathered (read Nick Thompson’s 10 minute Consultation article).
It requires a referral from your local veterinary surgeon, unless the veterinary homeopath is your own veterinary surgeon.
It concentrates not only upon the obvious signs/symptoms of the presenting complaint but also upon any other sign or symptom, past or present, which the patient may show or may have exhibited at some time in the past, which may or may not seem directly relevant to the current complaint.
The homeopath vet will consider a much wider area of signs/symptoms, e.g. weather, time of day the patient is better or worse, temperature, feeding etc. These details are known as the ‘modalities’ of the symptoms, and help in matching the remedy more closely.
It requires a knowledge and understanding of the individual patient, in terms of character, demeanour, behaviour, fears, likes, dislikes and reaction to stimuli (e.g. weather, temperature, time of day etc). These elements also help to identify the patient’s individuality.
The consultation takes account of all external factors that may affect the patient, e.g. living quarters, feeding, chemical environment, previous or current drug treatments, vaccination, parasite control methods, saddling and shoeing (horses), grazing management (horses and farm animals). These factors must be optimised, to enable maximum healing capability.
A great many recoveries from troublesome (or even so-called ‘incurable) chronic disease have been reported, following diligently applied homeopathic diagnosis and treatment.
Further text is being compiled for this section.
The Raw Feeding Veterinary Society (RFVS) is “a group of motivated vets and vet nurses with a common interest in raw feeding and species appropriate nutrition in dogs and cats.”
They advocate feeding a species appropriate diet alongside holistic or conventional veterinary treatment.
Read an article on ‘The True Science Behind Raw Feeding‘.
Read the Position Statement “Bugs, Bones and Balance” from the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society
To find a raw feeding vet in your area go https://rfvs.info/find-a-vet/
Ingraham Applied Zoopharmacognosy enables self-medicative behaviour in domesticated or captive animals by offering plant extracts that would contain the same, or similar constituents to those found in an animal’s evolutionary history. The practice encourages and allows an animal to guide its own health, since unlike their wild counterparts, captive and domesticated animals rarely have the opportunity to forage on medical plants.
The extracts offered include a variety of essential oils, absolutes, plant extracts, macerated oils, tubers, clays, algae, seaweeds and minerals. Once animals have selected their remedies, they will then guide the session by inhaling them, taking them orally, or by rubbing a part of its body into them. If the condition is allowed to escalate and worsen then more potent remedies will be selected.
When the condition has cleared or improved, the animal will normally reject the plant extracts that were previously chosen.
Applied zoopharmacognosy is a practice that allows animals to use their innate ability to select the plant extracts that they need and guide their own dosage to retain and regain health. This innate ability is vital to an animal’s health and well-being. Self-medication is a technique that has been employed by animals since the dawn of time – a good testimonial for the subject.
Applied zoopharmacognosy was previously unknown in the human world, until Caroline Ingraham developed it in the early 1990s.
Find out more about Ingraham Applied Zoopharmacognosy
Body Work Therapies
This section includes all the therapies that involve physical manipulation of the animal’s body
Body Work - General
Various associations are in existence to ensure excellence in body therapy training and ensure the best care for your animal. They encompass a variety of practitioners from Chiropractic care and Osteopathy to hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, massage practices and many more. You will find that some practitioners are registered with one of the associations or registers below. They are a good place to start when looking for a local practitioner.
Bowen Technique / Therapy
- Canine Bowen Technique Association
- Equine Bowen Therapy
1. Canine Bowen Technique Association
What is Canine Bowen Technique (CBT)….
Canine Bowen Technique (CBT) is a soft-tissue remedial technique involving ‘light-touch’ moves of fingers or thumbs over muscle, ligament, tendon and/or fascia at specific points of the dog’s body. The work is very subtle and involves no hard or prolonged pressure. It offers dogs a gentle, non-invasive and effective hands-on technique that aims to promote healing, pain-relief and body/energy rebalancing.
Canine Bowen Technique is a holistic technique. By “holistic” we mean that it “treats the body as a whole, without referral to named disease”. Canine Bowen Technique Association (CBTA) practitioners do not treat the veterinary-diagnosed disease or condition per se, but treat the dog, as they see it, on the day.
Canine Bowen Technique is not a substitute/replacement for normal veterinary care, but rather is complementary to it.
Why would I offer Canine Bowen Technique (CBT) Sessions to my dog?
Canine Bowen Technique aims to promote and support the body’s own powers of self-healing and has been offered for many years to support dogs with problems in the following areas:
• Acute injury e.g. sprains and strains.
• Chronic conditions and degenerative disease – helping to improve the dog’s quality of life.
• Rescue/re-homed dogs – relaxation of tension caused by earlier stress and trauma.
• Pre– and post-operative surgery – assisting recovery times.
• Fear-based anxiety – such as fireworks and thunderstorms.
Our aim is to facilitate the channelling of the dog’s own resources so that it can determine how to heal itself. In this respect, therefore, Canine Bowen Technique can be almost all-embracing in its coverage. Although generally regarded as ‘remedial’, Canine Bowen Technique can also be used to good effect as a maintenance and a prevention technique, helping to keep the body in optimum balance. To this end, it may be very beneficial for active, hard-working dogs or dogs used for competitions in obedience, agility, or trialling.
Common conditions which are often presented at Canine Bowen Technique sessions
• Allergies and Skin conditions
• Arthritis and Muscular Sprains & Strains
• Back problems
• Lameness and other Gait problems
• Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
• Working or Competition dogs
• Dogs that pull on the lead
• Aggression and other Behavioural problems
• Stress & Anxiety disorders
• Cystitis & Urinary disorders
• Recurrent Ear problems
Canine Bowen Technique does not ‘treat’ conditions. Through holistically working with the body and helping the dog’s own healing resources it aims to support dogs with such conditions through the rebalancing/optimising effects both locally and elsewhere in its body, which may help to improve its quality of life.
Carole has a very specific belief and philosophy when working with dogs. Carole and all Canine Bowen Technique Association (CBTA) practitioners, philosophy is:
• To listen and work in partnership with the dog.
• Creating a relationship of trust to maximise the effect of the session.
• Never forcing a Canine Bowen Technique session on a dog against his wishes.
• Using a holistic approach to session.
• Working collaboratively with the vets in the best interests of the dog.
• Recognising that dogs are a separate species and have their own needs and requirements.
• They DO NOT:
• Do not diagnose
• Do not treat conditions
• Do not prescribe or alter medications
• Do not force CBT on a dog
• Work to a strict code of conduct and professional ethics
• Fulfil standards of training and annual CPD requirements
• Maintain their own liability Insurance
• Only work in collaboration with vets*
*CBTA practitioners will only offer CBT in collaboration with the dog’s vet and only after receiving confirmation that the owner is working directly with their veterinary practice in matters concerning their dog’s current health.
Canine Bowen Technique is not a substitute/replacement for normal veterinary care, but rather is complementary to it.
2. Equine Bowen Therapy
Bowen Therapy is a soft tissue therapy, it ‘disturbs’ the fascia or connective tissue, there is no pulling or cracking of joints and no insertion of needles. The therapist uses fingers or thumbs in a rolling action over specific muscles, tendons and ligaments, incorporating resting periods to allow the body to absorb the information and respond accordingly.
The treatment is essentially holistic, treating the whole body and is generally a pleasant and relaxing experience. A treatment will take approximately 45 minutes. Two or three treatments, usually at weekly intervals, may be required to achieve lasting relief.
Holistic Therapy for Horse and Rider
Equine Bowen Therapy allows the horse to perform his best for his rider. Likewise, by addressing any muscular stiffness in the rider with the Bowen Technique, the horse will appreciate a balanced weight on his back!
Any correction of a horse’s problem may not hold unless the rider is also in complete structural balance.
As with many holistic therapies, the body is treated as a whole, without referral to named disease. Bowen Therapists will treat the complete body, horse or human, and not a specific disease.
Conditions which respond well to EBT
The technique is useful for a wide range of conditions from acute pain to chronic conditions:
• Unlevelness, disunited gait or irregular action
• Uneven wear of shoes
• Muscle atrophy or uneven development
• Stiffness on one rein
• ‘Cold back’ or sore back
• Sluggish lymphatic system or weakened immune system.
• Uncharacteristic change of temperament or deterioration of performance
Horses can also injure their backs by getting cast, pulling back when tied up, slipping on tarmac or icy roads, and from poorly fitting saddles or rugs. Many older horses that have been retired due to stiffness have returned to gentle hacking following EBT.
Please note: The Bowen Technique and Equine Bowen Therapy are not intended as a substitute for medical or veterinary advice or treatment. If in doubt, please consult your Doctor or Veterinary Surgeon.
All horses will benefit greatly from a Bowen Therapy treatment; like tuning musical instruments tune – your horse will have more elevation in his stride by freeing the shoulder and more power from his hindquarters.
Find an Equine Bowen Therapy practitioner
Canine Massage Guild
The Canine Massage Guild boasts the largest network of therapists in the UK and is gaining a strong following around the world. The Canine Massage Guild is growing all the time so if there is not a therapist near you at the present then check back as there may be one near you soon.
If you are a vet and interested to see if Clinical Canine Massage is suitable for your patients, simply click here for more information. K9 Massage Guild – information for Vets
Clinical Canine Massage is used for chronic pain management, soft tissue injury rehabilitation and prevention, and supporting dogs with orthopaedic and neurological conditions and complements your veterinary care.
Clinical therapists can assess for orthopaedic and neurological conditions, allowing dogs to be speedily referred back to your vet if required. Therapists will also provide you with a sensible home care plans to help you support your dog at home.
Just like human massage, dog massage works so well because it is able to resolve soft tissue and muscular problems.
In dogs Trigger Points, tightening and shortening of muscles and areas of overcompensation often make a dog old before their time. We acknowledge that you know your dog better than anyone so no matter how small or big their issue is or perhaps you want to bring your dog along as a pre-emptive measure, we are here to help.
If you see any of these issues then we can guarantee your dog will undoubtedly benefit from a Clinical Canine Massage!
- Unable to go up / down stairs
- Unable to get in / out of car
- Mobility issues
- Lost their ‘sparkle’
- Posture changes
- Coat changes
- Uneven nail wear
- Twitching of skin
- Old before their time
- Unwilling on walks
- Back / Neck / Hip issues
- Poor agility performance eg: weave entry, measuring, knocking poles
For considerably more information go to Benefits of K9 Massage
There is a register of practitioners here: Find a practitioner
Chiropractic - McTimoney
McTimoney Animal Association (MAA)
The McTimoney Animal Association (MAA) is the professional association for those practising McTimoney animal chiropractic techniques. Their 130+ members are all fully qualified with a Graduate Diploma or MSc in Animal Manipulation, are insured and engaged in ongoing CPD. Most of their members only treat animals but a few are dual qualified for human chiropractic as well. All treatment of animals is regulated under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966. Under this act, it is illegal for any person to treat an animal unless they are a registered veterinary surgeon or a paraprofessional covered by the Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 2015. McTimoney animal practitioners are considered ‘paraprofessionals’ and will work under veterinary consent or referral only. They may also liase with a range of other para-professionals such as saddlers, dentists, farriers and physiotherapists if required as part of the vet–led team. MAA members will offer you the highest standard of service they can provide.
An overview of McTimoney chiropractic is provided below but for more information about the treatment process, how it works, research, case studies and a member search, please visit the MAA website .
McTimoney is a chiropractic technique used to treat pain and dysfunction of the neuromusculoskeletal system. It predominantly focuses on joint dysfunction in the spine and pelvis restoring where possible optimal function of the skeletal system, nervous system and surrounding soft tissue. The technique is holistic, non-invasive and gentle and is readily accepted by animals.
McTimoney was named for its creator John McTimoney, a chiropractor who developed the technique on humans in the 1950’s and later adapted it for use on animals. Today, the McTimoney MSc in Animal Manipulation is the only validated course of this level in Europe in teaching techniques for adjusting animals, and is open to suitably qualified people who wish to work with animals.
What is a McTimoney Treatment?
The McTimoney approach begins by taking a detailed case history, whole body static and dynamic assessment of the patient which enables a complete analysis of what may be occurring in that animal. The assessment process is essential to distinguish areas of weakness, asymmetry and patterns of movement. Palpation analysis of the musculoskeletal system is also key and is used to determine areas of joint dysfunction.
McTimoney therapists treat using the hands in a specific hand position, performing high velocity and low amplitude adjustments at specific anatomical landmarks along the spine and pelvis, inducing a therapeutic response in joint structures, muscle function and nerve reflexes. Once applied muscle tension dissipates, discomfort can be resolved, nerve impingement is released and optimal function restored. The body has an innate ability to continue to heal, and the treatment helps to facilitate this ability so the body continues to respond after the treatment has taken place.
Finally therapists put an aftercare plan in place with the owner, in order to ensure that the animal is supported during the immediate weeks post treatment. Depending on how the animal presents at the initial treatment, affects when subsequent treatments are advised. If the animal has been experiencing discomfort for an extended period it can take longer for the body to adjust and a course of treatment may be required.
Many owners will use chiropractic as regular part of their training programme. This helps to maintain optimum performance and in down-times maintains comfort and helps prevent future problems.
Horses, dogs, sheep, lambs, cattle, chickens, elephants, tapir are just some of the animals benefitting from McTimoney chiropractic. As a guide owners should consider seeking treatment if their animal displays any of the following signs:
- Crying out when getting up
- Difficulty climbing stairs or getting into cars
- Signs of discomfort when being stroked on their backs
- A reluctance to exercise
- Stiffness or pain after exercise
- Uneven strides or movement
- Uneven wear of shoes
- Sore or cold backs, uneven pressure from saddles or the saddle slipping to one side
- Unexplained deterioration in usual performance
- Asymmetry, such as stiffness on one rein, or a disunited canter
- Unexplained resistances, such as napping, rearing, refusing, bucking, etc.
- Uneven muscle development or atrophy
IN GENERAL OTHER INDICATIONS CAN INCLUDE:
- Lameness after a fall or accident where alternative diagnoses have been ruled out
- Uncharacteristic changes in behaviour, performance or temperament
- Limb-dragging or odd, irregular action
- Recurrence of symptoms previously successfully treated by chiropractic treatment
- Absence of any resolution of the problem using conventional methods
- Rehabilitation after acute trauma
Visit the MAA Website
Equine and Canine CranioSacral Therapy
“Equine CranioSacral (ECS) work is a holistic healing practice which uses extremely light finger pressure to optimize body movement. When applied correctly, this gentle and subtle technique can be highly effective in addressing a number of conditions in the horse.
CranioSacral work can be of benefit to the following equine conditions:
- Facial nerve paralysis
- Head injuries and traumas
- Emotional problems
- TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction)
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Blocked tear ducts
- Spinal injuries
- Hind end injuries
- and many others.
CranioSacral work can be of benefit to the following canine conditions:
- Hip dysplasia
- Head injuries/traumas
- Emotional problems
- Behavior problems
- Pre/Post Surgery
- TMD (Temporomandibular joint Dysfunction)
- Blocked tear ducts
- Spinal injuries
- Hind end injuries/lameness
- and others!!!
Hydrotherapy can assist with pain management in many ways and can dramatically improve mobility. Hydrotherapy can address most aspects of physical rehabilitation in one package, often reducing the need for using many different methods separately. Treatment can also give rise to the release of endorphins, which reduce pain and increase pleasure.
The physical properties of water can be utilised to support a patient in doing activities they could not manage on land to improve joint health and function. Buoyancy reduces the load on painful joints when standing or walking in a pool or underwater treadmill and varying the height of the water provides more or less buoyancy as desired.
Resistance of water allows several muscle groups to be worked at the same time in a smooth and less injurious way. This can give improved cardiovascular fitness and core strength and balance.
Hydrostatic pressure can aid lymph drainage and reduce swelling and turbulence is used to improve balance and strength in later stages of rehabilitation.
Heat increases metabolic activity, improving circulation and providing pain relief. It also increases extensibility of connective tissue, especially in joints, allowing them to have a better range of motion when working in the warm water as the soft tissues have increased elasticity.
The inclusion of therapeutic handling and manual therapy techniques can further improve function and aid healing, which contributes greatly to pain relief. Targeted use of shower facilities prior to and post treatment also give added benefits.
Proprioceptively enriched environment allows re-patterning of movement and gait in water and shower and environment. Neuromuscular techniques can further enhance improvement of function and reduce the risk of injury.
“What is Galen Myotherapy?
Galen (Canine) Myotherapy is a branch of massage therapy which promotes health and treats chronic muscular pain in dogs through unique massage techniques and exercise management.
It’s concerned with the prevention, management and treatment of movement and allied disorders. It encompasses detailed assessments and effective treatment programs, including specialised massage techniques along with dynamic remedial and strengthening techniques, to manage the chronic muscular pain and inflammation that is caused by the many different conditions that are so common in a dog’s life.
Using Positive P.A.C.T.®, Galen’s unique ‘choice led treatment’ protocol, dogs always have a ‘choice’ when being treated. Restraints are never used and Galen Myotherapy practitioners always treat on the floor or on a low level, where a dog is most comfortable.
The natural movement patterns of a dog can change following an injury or due to environmental challenges, which over a period of time can cause postural adaptations that can lead to discomfort and pain.
Galen Myotherapy promotes health and treats chronic muscular pain in dogs through detailed assessments and effective treatment programs, including specialised massage techniques. We also use dynamic remedial and strengthening techniques, to manage the chronic muscular pain and inflammation that is caused by the many different conditions that are so common in a dog’s life.”
The Masterson Method is an Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork. A ‘stand-alone’ therapy in its own right; but can also integrate well with other modalities if required.
Originally developed by Jim Masterson as an Equine Performance Bodywork, his insight into reading the horses responses and understanding the importance of three key junctions in the equine body, (the Poll-Atlas junction, the Neck-Shoulder-Wither i.e. Cervical-Thoracic C7-T1 junction and the Sacroilliac Junction) revolutionised his work, and it keeps improving. Jim Masterson describes his gentle method below:
‘The Masterson Method – Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork – is a unique interactive method of equine bodywork in which you learn to recognise and use the responses of the horse to your touch to find and release accumulated tension in key junctions of the body that most affect performance’.
The horse ‘actively’ participates in the bodywork and it is this participation that makes the method both fascinating, rewarding and performance enhancing.
Horses have many ‘natural instincts’ and as 1) a prey animal and 2) a herd animal, two of those instincts for survival are fight or flight. By accessing these instincts that are wired into the Sympathetic Nervous System (fight and flight) and the ‘soothing’ relaxation of the Parasympathetic Nervous System (relaxation, eating, mutual grooming), Masterson Method cuts under emotional and physical brace or fight responses such as:
- Pulling back
- Pushing into the handler
- Bolting or
- Simply the horse working in a tension-based outline or not breathing correctly
Often when this occurs, the internal organs are also affected e.g. the digestive system for one. The horse either pushes into pressure or pulls away from it.
When prey animals feel discomfort/pain, some block it out. A lame prey animal is vulnerable, so they may try to block out the discomfort by creating compensatory patterns of movement, which results in attitude or performance being slightly ‘off’. These compensations are often difficult to diagnose and may originally have been soft tissue driven, but eventually joints may be involved, and the ensuing lameness can become a bit of a mystery! The nervous system has blocked it out. It has become a new normal.
The Masterson Method has been used on thousands of equine competitors, including those competing in FEI-level dressage, show jumping and eventing as well as the USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) Singles Driving Team.
Jim Masterson has been the equine bodywork therapist for the USEF Endurance Team 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. He has worked on thousands of performance horses including competitors in FEI World Cup, Nations Cup, Pan-American Cup and the World Equestrian Games.
Now an Internationally recognised Equine Performance Bodywork, this unique style of bodywork can be, and is applied to all equines irrespective of size, age or discipline. Practitioners undergo a rigorous training programme with the support of Jim Masterson and a team of Masterson Instructors, Mentors and Coaches. Course dates and venues are available from the website.
In the UK veterinary permission must be obtained prior to performing any bodywork.
For more information read our blog on the Masterson Method here
Check our Resources and Tips blog sections for free videos showing activities to do and learn with your horse
What is Animal Osteopathy?
Animal Osteopathy (AO) is an integrated form of manual medicine for animals which is founded on a solid understanding of functional medicine and osteopathic principles that identify the impact of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors on an animal’s life.
Animal osteopaths in the UK are required by law to first speak to your animal’s vet, to ensure that animal osteopathy is deemed an appropriate course of action. Some vets may insist on an initial consultation (which legally they have a right to do). However, many are happy for the practitioner to report back to the surgery after the initial consultation, when further treatment options can be discussed.
Animal Osteopaths take into consideration the following factors when initially evaluating a case:
- Presenting picture – signs and symptoms;
- Mechanism of injury (what caused the problem in the first place);
- The animal’s medical history (past and present);
- The animal’s environment (what is usual and any reported changes). This also includes relationships, training styles, loss of a companion etc.
- Activities (how and when are they exercised. Any changes?);
- The animal’s size/weight ratio, their typical diet, any changes in eating habits and bowel and bladder movements;
- Overall status of the animal’s welfare (reviewing and addressing all areas of the five freedoms*).
- Any signs that the case is way outside the remit of osteopathy and requires an immediate referral to the vet.
NOTE: Animal Osteopaths in the UK are legally obliged to work under the referral of a vet. It is a legal requirement of all Animal Osteopaths in the UK to work under the guidance of the Veterinary Surgeons act 1966 (Exemptions Order, 2015). As such, any professional animal osteopath will ask for your animal’s vet details in advance of any assessment or treatment. Failure to do this is breaking the law and is likely to void any insurance that the practitioner has in place.
- Overall observations (how your animal behaves and interacts. What their skin, coat, eyes etc. look like);
- Active assessment – watching how your animal moves;
- Passive assessment – seeing how the body functions passively;
- Osteopathic testing – to evaluate the flexibility, stability, mobility of certain key areas;
If, after the assessment and evaluation process, osteopathic care is deemed appropriate, your practitioner will discuss the line of action they intend to take and the treatment that they consider to be most appropriate. Animal osteopathy includes a wide range of treatment modalities, which range from the very subtle (such as cranial osteopathy) through to direct mobilisations. However, we would remind readers that whilst cranial osteopathy may appear subtle and gentle, it can have powerful lasting effects. Such effects (and those associated with any other form of treatment that has been administered), should be discussed with you in advance, so that you can support your animal as required after treatment.
In addition to treatment, your AO practitioner will provide you with an outline of their treatment and management plan, so that you know what to expect, how long the process is likely to take and what costs could be involved. Furthermore, you should be given home advice as pertinent and, where appropriate, rehabilitation exercises. Sometimes this requires owners to purchase items such as a wobble board, balance pad or TheraBand exercise bands.
Typically, an AO practitioner would treat an animal two to three times under an initial treatment plan, before reconsidering their approach. This is to allow the animal’s body to adapt to any treatment that has been performed and recover from any minor side-effects that they may have experienced. However, if within this time, the animal’s picture worsens (or remains exactly the same), it would be typical for the practitioner to do one of two things. 1. Fully reassess the animal and adapt their treatment plan or 2. Refer back to the vet for further investigations and a second opinion. It would be unprofessional for any AO practitioner to continue treating an animal who is not making positive progress.
Once the above assessments and examinations have taken place, your AO practitioner may refer back to your vet for further investigations if it is deemed inappropriate to continue with osteopathic treatment before more information has been acquired. This isn’t commonplace in a typical remedial case, but a good practitioner should always seek to do what is best for the animal and should never work outside their scope of practice. (I’d put this below – seems weird having negatives first)
If you are looking for a practitioner or have any concerns relating to a practitioner, you can contact the Association of Animal Osteopaths (AAO). The AAO is a voluntary organisation that accepts qualified animal practitioners for membership. Members are asked to provide evidence of their qualifications and insurance and asked to comply by the AAO’s Code of Conduct. The Association of Animal Osteopaths is the UK’s only Association created specifically for animal osteopaths. The aim of the AAO is to support, unite, develop and promote the profession of animal osteopathy, for the betterment of animal welfare and healthcare worldwide.
In addition to the above, some animal osteopaths join other voluntary multi-disciplinary organisations, such as the Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners (RAMP), Animal Health Professions’ Register (AHPR) and International Association of Animal Therapists (IAAT), which are all are intended for a broader animal therapist background.
* The Five Freedoms are:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
- Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom to express normal behaviour: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
- Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
- Association of Animal Osteopaths’ website
- Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners’ website (RAMP)
- Animal Health Professions’ Registers website (AHPR)
- International Association of Animal Therapists’ website (IAAT)
Tellington TTouch is a gentle and effective way to solve behavioural issues, increase self confidence and self-control. It can also enhance performance and improve communication and relationships between humans and animals.
It uses a series of unique bodywork, groundwork and functional exercises that helps create physical balance through good posture, relaxation and overall enhancement of trust.
It is recommended by many veterinary surgeons, trainers, veterinary physiotherapists, competitors in equine and canine sports and rescue workers as well as thousands of animal owners.
The Tellington TTouch is a complete system of understanding, handling and influencing our animals and ourselves.
Exercises start with changing posture and mindfulness as a means to affect behaviour and cooperation.
By changing the posture you can change the behaviour and the nervous system can learn much more through non-habitual movement rather than simple repetition.
TTouch combines observations, non-habitual bodywork and ground exercises and equipment to help animals find physical, mental, and emotional balance.
It does not use the escalation of pressure to create behaviour, nor does it rely solely on positive reinforcement, although it works well with Clicker training. TTouch works to show animals what we want and make the steps as small and easy as possible to keep the learning process low-stress and logical.
The aim is not to just train an animal a specific cue for obedience, the aim is to help animals learn and begin to have the self-control to act instead of simply reacting to stimuli. Building this self-confidence and self-control means that an animal can adapt and adjust to a variety of situations and settings.
A physiotherapist focuses on the musculoskeletal system of the body including muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint structures. They may also work with the nervous system to improve your animals balance and abilities.
Physiotherapy encompasses lots of different modalities. Depending on the skills of the therapist it can include some, or all, of the following.
- Passive range of motion exercises
- Proprioception techniques
- Neurological enhancement techniques
- Active exercise prescription
- Myofascial release
- Therapeutic Ultrasound
- Heat and Cold Therapy
- Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy
A physiotherapist requires vet referral to treat your animal and will then perform a thorough assessment to discover where the areas of concern are. They will then outline a treatment plan and apply the most suitable treatments to address those problems.
Physiotherapy should NOT be painful for your animal and any treatments chosen must be suitably tolerated by the animal itself. Since there are so many modalities to choose from it should not be difficult to find one that every animal can cope with without needing to force it upon them.
Physiotherapy is a great way to make sure your animal recovers from injury or orthopedic surgery and recovers their optimal function. It is also a great way to keep older animals mobile for much longer and helps slow the progression of debilitating conditions such as osteoarthritis.
A physiotherapy assessment is also a great way to give your animal an ‘MOT’ to check that they are moving to their best ability and that they are not starting to lose their function.
If your animal is exhibiting behaviour problems or seems to be refusing to do things you ask it is worth having a physiotherapy assessment to check there is not an underling musculoskeletal cause as this can often be the case.
This section includes electronic equipment that practitioners use.
Some of these can be purchased for use by animal owners.
Photizo red light therapy
Photizo Light Therapy is a non-invasive complementary or alternative therapy tool for wound healing, musculoskeletal conditions and pain relief.
A Photizo Light Therapy device is a modern photobiomodulation device. Photobiomodulation (PBM) harnesses the healing power of red and infrared light at specific wavelengths proven to be effective in accelerating natural healing of the body, reducing swelling and inflammation, stimulating the immune system and relieving pain. Cells that are damaged following trauma can be rejuvenated by red and near-infrared light. See here for more information
Photizo is the result of years of research. It uniquely combines the latest advances in LED technology to offer a modern phototherapy device, which is safe and simple for anyone to use. Highly recommended by worldwide human and animal health professionals, Photizo Light Therapy brings an amazing, powerful and extremely safe therapy into the hands of home users and pet owners who do not need to undergo training in the science of photobiomodulation therapy.
Photizo Vetcare, from the Photizo Home Care range, offers a complementary, non-invasive and effective treatment for numerous conditions and is ideal for use on companion pets, competition and working animals including horses and livestock.
The device is rechargeable and provides a one-touch, pre-programmed 31 second dose so anyone can administer effective daily treatment sessions and continue with a course of light therapy to optimise cell functioning throughout rehabilitation. For treating long term chronic conditions, the number of treatment sessions is dependent on the severity of the condition.
Photizo Vetcare is a convenient, versatile pocket-sized treatment tool used and recommended by vets, vet nurses and other animal health practitioners including physiotherapists which will help with the following:
- To maintain and speed up the healing process between professional treatment sessions throughout rehabilitation
- To be used long term to provide natural pain relief for your animal if they are suffering with a long term degenerative chronic condition
- For proactive use such as helping with muscle recovery on performance and active working animals. The effects can help to complement manual therapies like equine/canine massage
Photizo Vetcare has proven to be effective in the treatment of:
- Skin conditions: wounds, lacerations, Hyalomma tick bite necrosis, hot-spots, abscesses, saddle sores, Habronema, proud flesh, acral lick granulomas, bruising, otitis externa, pyoderma, pododermatitis, skin allergies, eczema, etc.
- Musculoskeletal problems: arthritis, tendonitis, myositis, ligament/tendon sprain/strains, bruising, fractures, neck and back pain, splints, overuse injuries, synovitis, oedema, hematomas, muscle injuries, muscle spasms, trigger points, seromas, mastitis, etc.
- Post-op: any area treated surgically, including skin grafts
- Other: corneal ulcers, viral/herpes-related conditions, sinusitis, retro-orbicular trauma
If you choose to buy a machine for yourself:
You cannot “overdose” on light therapy; however, it is very important that you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines as to quantity / length of use to avoid any potential side effects and to ensure you reap the benefits.
It is also wise to talk to your vet or animal health practitioner with regard to how Photizo treatment would best be incorporated into your animal’s healthcare plan.
Danetree Health Products advise us that whilst the user guide is informative and is great to start with, the guidance does err on the side of caution on dose application. Some take the guidance very literally and can then under-use the device. To help with additional understanding for pet owners, and to get the most from your handset, they are in the process of putting together a little course which will be a low cost Owners Tutorial that people can book. You might consider registering your interest for more information by emailing Danetree Health Products and signing up for their newsletter. This will ensure you receive the latest tips and tutorials so that you can get the best results for your animal.
SCENAR is used for treatment, rehabilitation and maintenance. It can be used to treat all types of Conditions but is probably most commonly used to treat musculo-skeletal issues such as arthritis, tendon and ligament injuries, back and neck pain, and sacroiliac injuries to name a few. It is useful for wound healing and post-op surgery site recovery. It will always enhance other treatments.
The SCENAR device is used on the skin (transdermal) but does not involve physical manipulation of the body.
It uses computer-modulated, electrical impulses to stimulate the brain (electroneuro-stimulator). The brain responds with its own signal which is detected by the SCENAR device.
The SCENAR device then interprets the brain’s response and modifies its next impulse back to the brain to work at restoring balance to the body (this is called active reflex biofeedback). The brain, in turn, sends a modified response (and so on) until equilibrium is achieved (homeostasis).
During this ‘conversation’, of constantly varying electrical frequencies and waveforms, the nervous system generates Neuropeptides (the key biochemicals needed by your body to heal itself – the body’s own pharmacy). This is what the body was designed to do.
After an injury or onset of disease the communication system between the brain and the affected body part can ‘break down’ or ‘get used to’ the signal from that body part. The brain begins to accept the abnormal signal as “Normal”. This is a reason why many conditions become chronic and unresponsive to treatment. SCENAR breaks the body out of this habit and restores correct communication resulting in effective and more complete healing.
The electrical pulses from the SCENAR device resemble natural nerve impulses and are therefore recognised as physiological. The signals have been specifically designed to prevent the body from ‘adapting’ to the stimulation in order to maintain the healing response to its completion, at a significantly increased speed.
Because of its unique, computer controlled biofeedback capabilities and ability to stimulate Neuropeptide generation, the SCENAR achieves excellent healing results.
SCENAR is very different from other electrotherapy instruments such as TENS or Electroacupuncture. TENS units are mainly used to provide pain relief. Electroacupuncture instruments are restricted to use over acupuncture points and they lack the individualised control provided by the bio-feedback capability. Only SCENAR combines energy measuring functions along with real-time feedback and constant adjustment to deliver just the correct type and amount of energy to the body.
SCENAR produces both;
> Local effects by stimulating the skin, nerves and circulation
> General influence by influencing nervous, endocrine and immune systems.
Overall, SCENAR is an effective, non-invasive medical technology, which works by stimulating the body’s inherent self-healing mechanisms, with no undesirable side effects.
Scientific Definition of SCENAR
SCENAR is an acronym for Self Controlled Energo-neuro Adaptive Regulator.
SC – Self-Controlled – The SCENAR device establishes a biofeedback link with the body when in use, constantly changing the properties of the applied electric impulses, in response to the measured reaction from the body.
EN – Energo-Neuro – The SCENAR signal is based on electrical impulses of a specific shape that mimic the natural nerve impulses of the body, and are thus recognised as physiological.
AR – Adaptive Regulator The SCENAR device not only provides direct therapeutic effect, but also activates the natural defences of the body.
There is no officially recognised register or regulatory body for Scenar, however some people who use it are registered for other reasons (Veterinary Surgeons, Physiotherapists etc.)
There is a Veterinary guide to Holistic Therapies (produced in 2021 by, and for, veterinary profession) that might be of interest to you. We have more information on a separate page about it.