The Law in the UK is very clear
about who can, and can't, treat animals and there are pitfalls that anyone
considering having any kind of treatment given to their animals should be
You, and anyone treating your animal, may risk prosecution if you don't
get it right!
For more detailed
information see the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon's
Guide To Professional Conduct
The only forms of complementary therapy that can be given to an animal by
anyone other than a vet are the manipulative therapies - eg. Chiropractic,
Osteopathy and Physiotherapy.
Before any of these complementary treatments are given to an animal its
condition must be diagnosed by a vet.
The therapy may then only be given if the vet decides it appropriate.
It is illegal for any other lay practitioner to treat animals.
This includes Aromatherapy, Acupuncture and Homeopathy. These therapies can
be given by a vet - and only then if that vet has been trained in their use.
Properly trained and qualified animal manipulative therapists are members
of their respective professional bodies and should be covered by indemnity
insurance (in a similar way to vets themselves) which protects you should
anything go wrong. The irony is that "practitioners" who are not properly
trained and qualified will not have this insurance and if anything, are more
likely to do something wrong - whereas professional animal manipulative therapists
with the insurance are, like vets, most unlikely to do something wrong!
So... who CAN legally treat an animal?
You - subject to the Protection of Animals
Act 1911 you as the OWNER of the animal can give whatever treatment you
want to your animal. That is, any treatment that does not involve intrusion
into the animal's body. For example you are not entitled by Law to give your
animal an injection. You are only able to give an injection if instructed
to do so by your vet.
A Veterinary surgeon - this is an obvious one! Under the terms of
the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, a vet is
legally able to give any normal veterinary treatment he or she deems appropriate
to the animal in question.
This is an interesting point - we say "normal veterinary treatment" because
not even a vet is entitled to give a "complementary" treatment unless he or
she has been properly trained to administer that particular treatment. For
example a vet can't give a homeopathic remedy or acupuncture to an animal
unless suitably trained to do so!
Your vet may also instruct a trainee vet, a vet nurse or a trainee vet nurse
to administer treatments to an animal.
Can anyone else treat an animal?
Under the terms of the The Veterinary Surgery
(Exemptions) Order of 1962 the only other types of therapies that can
be given (by non-veterinarians) to an animal are the manipulative therapies
- Chiropractic, Physiotherapy, Osteopathy.
Under this act it is illegal for any other non-veterinary therapist to treat
The only way that this type of treatment can legally be given to an animal
is under direct veterinary referral. To put it bluntly, your vet must give
his/her permission before manipulative therapy can be given to an animal.
A vet will not give permission for any type of therapist, other than a manipulative
therapist, to treat an animal.
How to get a Complementary Therapy
So, with all these Laws
and pitfalls, just how do you secure the services of a Complementary Therapist
to treat your animal?
Step 1 - Get a proper veterinary diagnosis
Step 2 - Your vet should discuss the full range of treatment options
with you. This may include Complementary Therapy, if not and you think the
animal may benefit, discuss the possibility with your vet at the time of
If you know of a recognised, qualified therapist (perhaps one that you have
heard of, or been recommended to) all you have to do is ring your vet and
explain that you are thinking of getting him/her to have a look at your animal.
If your vet thinks it could be helpful he/she will refer you.
Many vets now offer Complementary therapies in-house as part of the treatment
programs they offer.
To find a properly trained and qualified therapist in your area
Anyone giving treatment to an animal without the vet's agreement and/or knowledge
is BREAKING THE LAW... and so are you when you let them!