About Animal Osteopathy

Animal osteopathy offers an exciting and rewarding career

It is ideal for those wishing to work with animals and offers a wealth of opportunity.  The ESO is working in partnership with Animal Osteopathy International to provide high quality, certified animal courses, suitable for both osteopaths and student osteopaths – you can find more information on our Animal Courses page.  If you have any questions about the courses offered by the AOI and validated by the ESO please contact the Animal Osteopathy International team directly.

Alternatively, you can sign up to:

  • AOI’s mailing list or for more information regarding courses here.
  • ESO’s mailing list here.

Animal Osteopathy (AO) is a highly integrated form of manual medicine for animals. which is founded on a solid understanding of functional medicine and osteopathic principles which identify the impact of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors on an animal’s life.

Animal osteopaths in the UK are now able to perform competition and maintenance care with our prior vet consent, but they are required by law to first speak to your animal’s vet, for remedial care and/or where the animal is known to have an underlying condition or where signs of ill-health are evident during the consultation process.

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.

Animal Osteopaths work as part of a vet led team to support animal health and welfare. Working with a wide range of cases, from competition and maintenance care to remedial, post-operative or post-injury treatment; supporting the animal through treatment and rehabilitation as appropriate.

Osteopaths provide effective individualised treatment and management plans for each animal with osteopathic philosophy and understanding at their core. They take into consideration external factors which influence the animal as well as the animal’s own internal function.

Resultantly, osteopaths can work with a range of veterinary diagnoses from acute ligament strains to degenerative joint disease, disc related issues, to neurological conditions and everything in between.

Osteopaths can be found supporting National/International teams, at the Olympics and/or treating leisure horses, the scope is wide, offering opportunities for all. Throughout, it is important to work alongside vets, farriers, trainers, behaviourists, etc. as appropriate to ensure the best outcome for the animal.

Life as an Animal Osteopath is both varied and colourful; this is what draws people to the profession. Animal practitioners can work within a clinical setting (vet surgery) or autonomously working on yards in a rural setting. This depends on the animal types that practitioners choose to treat.

Some equine osteopaths work on racing yards, others with sporting animals, such as those that participate in Polo, Eventing and Horseball etc. Working at such a level, usually requires the involvement of other paraprofessionals and/or a vet-led team. Alternatively, equine osteopaths may prefer to work with amateur and leisure horses.

Similarly, canine osteopaths may work with sporting, working or pet owned dogs. The former requiring a more focused integrative approach that will likely include the need for rehabilitation as part of the animal’s management plan. Where the practitioner is not suitably qualified (at the time), involvement of other paraprofessionals would be required.

For the practitioner that wishes to treat small and large animals, opportunities are abundant, especially for those who enjoy life-long learning and career enhancement. This is because, the key to most opportunities is communication; reaching out to work with vet-led teams, at sporting events, and in educational settings, to name but a few.

The AAO, formerly known as Society of Osteopaths in Animal Practice (SOAP), was founded in 2004, after discussions with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) outlined a need for support for osteopaths wishing to study/work in this specialist field of osteopathy.

The Association of Animal Osteopaths is the UK’s leading Association for animal osteopaths, but there are plans to reach out into Europe in 2021 to support the global community. AAO’s aim is to unite, develop and promote the profession, for the betterment of animal welfare and healthcare worldwide. The key areas of focus are quality of care, education, and safety. To ensure that all those who work in this field and the members of the AAO work within their scope of practice and in line with industry codes of conduct.

The AAO supports and works with where appropriate, the Register of Musculoskeletal Practitioners (RAMP), which endorses increased awareness of educational standards and levels of professionalism in the animal manual therapy world. Such a relationship ensures that osteopaths have a voice in the political setting as the market of animal manual therapy continues to expand and grow.

RAMP is a national register of professionals, committed to protecting the public and their animals and promoting public confidence in the animal musculoskeletal occupations it registers. Setting standards or practice in animal Osteopathic, Chiropractic and Physiotherapy and helping veterinary surgeons and animal owners choose competent professionals providing Chiropractic, Osteopathic and Physiotherapy techniques for the treatment of their animals.