"Whenever an animal is forced into the service of men every one of us must be
concerned for any suffering it bears on that account.
No one of us may permit any preventable pain to be inflicted,
Even though the responsibility for that pain is not ours.
No one may appease his conscience by thinking that he would be interfering in
something that does not concern him.
No one may shut his eyes and think the pain, which is therefore not
visible to him, is nonexistent."
    Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

Tactile therapy is focused on treating ailments in animals with touch or physical therapy. There are many forms of physical therapy available for animals. Some of these are listed below. It is important to keep in mind that although animals do not generally openly display signs of pain, it can be present and should always be checked for and monitored.


Massage involves manipulating muscles and connective tissues. It may be practiced by itself or in conjunction with other therapies. There are many different types of massage. The intensity (pressure) applied varying greatly.

The way an animal is massaged needs to be tailored to suit the condition of its tissues and other factors. There can be dangers in some types of massage:

  • Deep tissue massage can cause bruising or injuries to animals with softer tissues
  • Massage can cause some types of cancer to spread in the body.


Equine Tactile Therapy

Horse massage is very popular and has been used as a treatment for many years. Equine tactile therapy is carried out on different horses including working horses, dressage horses, racing horses and horses used for pleasure. Massage can have many benefits and uses such as therapeutic, relaxation and sports massage.


Bowen Therapy

Bowen Therapy is a holistic approach to pain relief and healing in both humans and animals. It was originally developed by Tom Bowen of Australia, with the underlying factor being that the cause or source of many musculoskeletal, neurological, neuromuscular and other health problems could be located in the soft tissue. It is commonly used to a treatment for horses but is also used to treat small animals.


Canine Myofunctional Therapy

Canine Myofunctional Therapy (CMT) or Dog Massage is used to help dogs recover from illness and improve health following operations and to maintain health and wellbeing. It is a gentle, therapeutic massage of the entire body and varies with the needs and desired outcomes for the individual dog. CMT aims at improved muscle and (other) tissue function and balance for dogs.



Physiotherapy or “Physical Therapy” aims to develop, maintain and restore optimum movement and function in patients. This involves treating diseases or injuries by physical treatments such as massage, stretching, heat or prescribed exercises. The aim of physiotherapy in animals such as dogs and horses is to reduce the impact of injury and disease, optimise healing and quickly return animals to their previous performance and function.



Shiatsu originated in Japan, “shi” meaning finger and “atsu” meaning pressure. This system of therapy involves manipulation or massage, specifically applying pressure to certain points of the body. The aim of shiatsu is to gently stimulate the body’s natural healing ability. Shiatsu works especially well for dogs, horses and cats.



Reflexology focuses on stimulating nerves on the feet and ears to in turn stimulate healing. This is generally considered as a treatment to be used in conjunction with other treatments rather than by itself. It has been used to maintain health, improve behaviour, relax animals and reduce or eliminate stress.



Osteopathy was founded in the late 1800s under the guiding principle “structure governs function”.

Osteopaths place emphasis on the musculoskeletal system and believe that the condition of muscles and bones has a major effect upon the overall health of an animal. Osteopathy aims to correct problems with muscles and bones; and in doing so, improve the capacity of the body to cure other problems.

Throughout the 20th century, osteopathy has adopted the discoveries of modern science and adapted its practices accordingly resulting in it being considered more mainstream than chiropractics.

Animal osteopaths massage, manipulate and mobilise the muscles and joints of animals to regain correct structure to help the body function correctly and assist healing.



Chiropractic is based upon the idea that the nervous system coordinates all the body’s functions and that manipulation of the body (principally the spine) can affect parts of the body beyond the areas that are being manipulated. Some chiropractors believe primarily in the use of chiropractic treatments alone, but other chiropractors believe in a more holistic approach, using chiropractic in conjunction with other therapies/treatments.

Animal chiropractors use a variety of methods to manipulate the musculoskeletal system including stretching, soft tissue massage, trigger point therapy, myofascial release and general massage. Chiropractic treatment is commonly used on professional dogs to treat disorders and musculoskeletal problems which limit performance.


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