Introducing Osteopathy into Your Veterinary Practice

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By: Rachel Pechek

BSc.Biology, M.Sc.O, Equine Osteopath,
Southern Ontario, Canada
LCAO Head Instructor

In today’s world pets are more than just animals. Fido and friends are now seen as precious, irreplaceable members of the family unit. 

So how can we, as animal care professionals, help pets stay healthier for longer? And is medication always necessary to ensure recovery? Many in the veterinary field are choosing to add holistic, drug-free therapies to their practice, with Osteopathy becoming increasingly in demand.

What is osteopathy?

This gentle manual therapy was developed in the late 1800’s by an American physician named Andrew Still. He saw the body as a working unit rather than separate organs and parts. Andrew Still posited that each “system” of the body cannot function well without the input of other systems. For example, the circulatory system cannot pump efficiently through tight, dysfunctional muscles. Likewise, under pressure from surrounding tissues i.e. bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons, the pinched nerve will cause pain or weakness.

After reaching successful results with his patients, Dr. Still arrived at the conclusion that by effectively treating the musculoskeletal system for dysfunction, he could increase overall health. By the end of the 19th century, Still had developed philosophical tenets of osteopathy which guide the profession until today.

From Still’s teachings came other big names in manual therapy including Daniel David Palmer, the father of Chiropractic, and John E. Upledger, the founder of craniosacral therapy. 

London College of Animal Osteopathy - LCAO
Prof Stuart McGregor treating a canine patient. 

About Stuart McGregor

Stuart McGregor is responsible for adapting the osteopathic approach to the treatment of animals as described in his dissertation “The Principles of Osteopathy Applied to the Horse’, published in 1984. This was the first ever paper in which osteopathic techniques were applied to other species. Stuart’s method was so celebrated that he went on to train most animal osteopaths working in the field today. You can learn from Stuart himself at the leading animal osteopathy school in the world (more on that in a minute!).

Why include osteopathy in your veterinary practice?

Osteopathic care in veterinary practice can be a game changer for canines and equines alike. From maintaining a competition dog in top shape to keeping an older one comfortable, holistic osteopathic principles can be applied to almost any animal that walks into your practice.

Osteopathic manual therapy can help with:

  • Treatment of injuries from accidental falls – falls during play,
    training, or other activities;
  • Treatment of joint pain and stiffness in areas of the body;
  • Correcting loss of Improving performance in competitive animals;
  • Physical assessment of an animal by a veterinarian;
  • Treatment of degenerative arthritis and lameness;
  • Correction of gait problems ;
  • Altering bad behavior – depending on the animal this may include biting, kicking, scratching, pawing, bucking, bolting, or rearing;
  • Preventing issues related to breed specific weaknesses including hip dysplasia or long back problems;
  • Preventing and treating uneven muscle bulk from compensation after injury;
  • Preventing and treating tendon and ligament problems/strains;
  • Pre- and post-surgery care.

With a list of benefits this long, it’s no wonder the veterinary profession is beginning to incorporate osteopathy into care plans for both equine and canine patients.

Meet the team at London College of Animal Osteopathy (LCAO) and find out what makes a great animal osteopath.

What do you need to practice animal osteopathy?

As with human osteopathy, animal osteopathic therapy requires a profound knowledge of animal specific anatomy and biomechanics, osteopathic principles, and clinical training, which we will talk about in a minute. A few other skills that will make you a great osteopath include:

  1. A love for animals (which we know you have!)
  2. A desire to see the big picture and work holistically (Do you want to get to the root of the issues, rather than just treating symptoms?)
  3. A sense of intuition or “6th sense” about an animal’s condition (this can be developed!)

How do you learn osteopathy for animals?

As this is an emerging field, students must choose a school that offers the best quality education. The leading school in the field is run by the founder of Animal Osteopathy, Stuart McGregor, and his partners at London College of Animal Osteopathy (LCAO). 

As a global leader in animal osteopathic education, LCAO programs are the result of a successful collaboration between animal osteopaths and veterinarians. These two professional groups have worked together to create a structured, comprehensive and affordable osteopathic training curriculum offered in a 100% online format.

If you are a veterinarian interested in becoming an Animal Osteopath, you
are eligible for a career fast track via our International Postgraduate
Certificate in Animal Osteopathy

If you are a veterinary student, nurse or tech interested in becoming an
animal osteopath, you are eligible to take the Diploma in Animal Osteopathy program

LCAO is offering I Love Veterinary readers a 40% reduced tuition fee on both the Diploma in Animal Manual Osteopathy (Canine Stream) and International Postgraduate Certificate programs.

Feel free to contact LCAO at 833-201-3456 or email for more information. 

Rachel Pechek I Love Veterinary - Blog for Veterinarians, Vet Techs, Students

Rachel Pechek is an equine osteopath living and working in Ontario, Canada.  After graduating from Windsor University with a degree in biology and chemistry, she came to London College of Osteopathy to complete her Diploma and Master of Science in Osteopathy.  Rachel’s passion for horse training and animal welfare has led her to a fulfilling career in animal osteopathy.

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