Non-Traditional medicine continues to gain ground on the traditional sciences and medications on the market.  But is it safe, practical and useful?  We always recommend discussing with a licensed veterinarian what is best for the animal in question, but educating yourself on the options and questions to ask can make those conversations much more productive.  Our goal here is not to pass judgment or to cover every type of alternative treatment but to give you some perspective and resources on the most common ones for animals.

The AVMA has provided a chart for each of the U.S. states regarding existing scope of coverage under veterinary medicine rules.  Rules and regulations change often so be sure to check with your local municipality regarding what is required to conduct various types of alternative medicine. 

Here are five topics that may be of further interest:

  • Essential oils – The use of essential oils has continued to grow within the human world so it is not suprising that it is fast growing within the animal community as well.  

    • You get what you pay for – quality in oils is like quality in everything else; you get what you pay for so be sure you are looking for and using quality oils from reputable providers.  There are two major brands that dominate the space and both are said to have premium quality.

    • Find a holistic or integrative vet – rather than delving into the essential oil world on your own, locate a holistic or integrative veterinarian that has experience in them.  

    • Check out the forums – One of the best forums is as they have a variety of information and discussion threads on all of the topics you’re most likely asking about.  You can use the forum to research in order to have a productive discussion with your veterinarian.

  • Massage – Animals enjoy a nice massage as much as humans do.  But their muscle and nervous systems are very different than that of humans as you know.  There are a number of resources available for how to get started with both small (dog) and large (equine) animals and there are a number of certification bodies out there as well.  There are books a plenty on and at other booksellers and massage can be done informally by practitioners with some reading or watching of videos.

    • NBCAAM – – This organization offers certification and training on both massage and accupressure for animals.  The National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM) has examinations which are “available to people who have completed specialized animal training programs in either or both disciplines.

    • Northwest school of animal massage – – This organization offers courses and even financial aid as a part of their certification.  They indicate you can get certified in as little as 6 weeks through their at home program.  

    • IAAMB – -The International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork also has education and exams on animal massage.  Further, they have compiled a list of laws by state regarding what is required to practice animal massage: 

  • Accupuncture – The techniques of accupressure and accupuncture have been around for centuries and have continued to gain acceptance in the western world to treat various ailments and injuries.  As it relates to animals, veterinary accupuncture is an established and practiced medicine and there are certifications and requirements governing those providing it.

    • International Veterinary Acupuncture Society – – This organization is a non-profit and provides certification and a lot of resources to their members for an annual $110 membership fee.

    • American academy of Veterinary Accupuncture – – They indicate their mission is “To improve animal health care by the advancement of veterinary acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine and Traditional Eastern Medicine through education, research and leadership.”  They offer benefits to members and provide a certification process and exam.

    • Chi institute – – This organization offers a 130 hour program that they indicate qualifies for continuing education for those certified in veterinary accupuncture.  They also offer a certification program.

  • Reiki – “Reiki” means “spiritual energy” and refers to the energy that makes up all things in the universe. As a system of practice, Reiki was designed to further spiritual development by its creator, Mikao Usui. The modern-day practice of Reiki focuses on energetic healing, utilizing Japanese meditative practices and breathing techniques.

    • The Shelter Animal Reiki Association (SARA)  – – They are a non-profit focused on the practice of Reiki and applying it as holistic support of an animal’s wellness program. They offer online and in person training and a retreat where practitioners can learn more “Through mindful meditation practices, Reiki practitioners form an energetic “healing bridge,” providing animals with a support system for relaxation, self-healing and re-balance.”

    • International Association of Reiki Professionals (IARP) – – This organization is a membership based organization focused on supporting practitioners that do Reiki on animals.  They provide a number of different books, online resources, and kits to help animal reiki practitioners grow their practice.

  • Jin Shin Jyutsu – The traditional Asian wellness art of Jin Shin Jyutsu works with subtle energy flows to restore and maintain physical harmony and mental emotional well being in a similar way to acupressure. By gently holding specific locations in combined sequences along these energy pathways you can facilitate the release of stress and tension as well as unlocking the body’s innate ability to heal naturally. When you learn to apply Jin Shin Jyutsu acupressure on your animal companions, you literally stay in touch with their needs and deepen your bond with them.