About Animal Osteopathy

Animal osteopathy offers an exciting and rewarding adjunct to osteopathic practice

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 at the ESO please feel free to contact our Animal Osteopathy team on 01622 760816 or message us via our contact page.

Animal osteopathy is a branch of manual therapy based on the same practice and principles as human osteopathy, evaluating the whole picture, rather then fixating on the site of pain or dysfunction. Where animals are concerned, this means working closely with third parties, such as owners, vets, trainers and behaviourists. And in the equine field, the farrier (or barefoot trimmer), dentist and saddler.

A unique aspect of working with animals is the need to excel in non-verbal communications and an ability to assess external factors implicated in a case presentation. Those able to master these skills and have an enquiring clinical mind, often have the best outcomes and success rates.  Clinically, animal osteopaths use the same range of techniques as human osteopaths, simply modifying where necessary.

Animal Osteopaths treat a range of conditions and also support rehabilitation programmes. Those who work in small animal practice alongside veterinarians will often get involved in post-operative care, whereas those who make home visits tend to see minor injuries and age-related conditions, such as arthritis and disc-related pathology. Some canine osteopaths get involved in activity groups such as flyball, obedience and working trails, where treatment is often used to improve function and performance.

Working with horses means becoming an integral part of the equine team, especially for those working with competition animals. It is also vital for the overall wellbeing of the animal that all involved work hand in hand. As a result, it’s common to work on an equine case alongside a vet, saddler or farrier to ensure the best outcome for the patient. As with dogs, osteopaths tend to treat muscular-skeletal conditions, but with horses, pre and post event treatments are commonplace around the time of competitions.

Animal osteopaths work in a variety of settings. At present, most equine osteopaths (though not all) work on a freelance basis, moving between yards to meet with clients and patients. They often work with vets and other animal practitioners (such as farriers, trainers and dentists) to ensure a truly holistic approach is being utilised. Canine osteopaths, on the other hand, often work in a surgery setting as a complementary service to normal veterinary care. This provides an opportunity to work alongside the animal’s vet, giving easy access to test results and x-ray reports.

As with all aspects of osteopathy, where you take your career is really up to you. You may decide to open your own canine osteopathic centre, incorporating a range of other modalities and disciplines, or you may prefer to do home visits to fit around your human practice. Much the same can be said of those with an interest in equine osteopathy who have a keen interest in rehabilitation and training and like the idea of working in a team setting.

The Association of Animal Osteopaths, formerly known as Society of Osteopaths in Animal Practice, was founded in 2004, after discussions with the General Osteopathic Council outlined a need for support for osteopaths wishing to study/work in this specialist field of osteopathy. The AAO has always worked toward better educational offerings for osteopaths and also increased visibility for the profession through the building of professional bridges and national visibility. Members of the AAO committee work hand in hand with the ESO to ensure the content of our courses is in line with the needs of today’s animal osteopath.