"When you have adjusted the physical to its own demand, nature supplies its own."
- Andrew Taylor Still, Founder of Osteopathy
In the last quarter of the 19th century, an american rural physician, Andrew Taylor Still, formalized principles which still guide the osteopathic profession:
Today, we define osteopathy as a drug-free, non-invasive manual therapy that aims to improve health across all body systems by manipulating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework. Manual therapy means that both diagnosis and treatment are carried out with the hands. An osteopath will focus on the joints, muscles, and spine, with the treatment positively affecting the body's nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems.
Once recognition of osteopathy as a healing system spread, it eventually became clear that treatment so successful in humans could be applied with equal success to animals. Today, animal osteopathy is the fastest- growing profession in the field of animal healthcare worldwide. Through the use of specific techniques developed in human osteopathy, osteopathic treatment addresses the structural and physical needs of an animal to relieve pain, improve movement and prevent injury.
Unlike humans, animals cannot tell us about their pain. Osteopathic reasoning is largely based on careful observation and manual examination. For example, a dog will communicate their discomfort or pain by displaying changes in personality, behaviour, or performance such as:
Most animal osteopaths treat horses and dogs, also seeing other companion animals such as cats and rabbits. Some specialist animal osteopaths treat farm animals, exotic, and zoo animals.
Equines and canines that perform a sport or rigorous physical exercise, such as racehorses, show jumping horses and ponies, and working dogs, benefit from a visit by an animal osteopath. Many performance horses and dogs are also helped prepare for racing or competition.
Communication is essential, as it is frequently necessary to communicate with veterinarians and other animal healthcare professionals. Animal osteopaths commonly work alongside vets.
Osteopathy for animals is becoming very popular among animal trainers and owners. It is a fast-growing profession.
An osteopath uses their eyes (observation) and hands (touch) to identify tension or restriction in the musculoskeletal system. Engaging specific diagnostic techniques, an osteopath will assess the joints, muscles and spine for causes of pain or poor performance. Based on this assessment, an animal osteopath will formulate a treatment plan. Before any active therapy begins, all information is recorded in a case history form.
An osteopath will gently work on the joints and muscles to improve blood flow and regulate nerve supply, rebalancing the body’s structures and restoring function. The objective of osteopathic treatment is to promote mobility, flexibility and the quality of movement vital to every horse and dog.
Regular osteopathic care has shown to be successful in injury prevention and aiding rehabilitation in conditions such as arthritis, hind and fore leg lameness. Benefits of osteopathic manual therapy include increase in vascular and lymphatic drainage, pain reduction, improvement in joint mobility and overall biomechanics, stress reduction, overall health and longevity.
Stiffness and reduced mobility due to injury or aging
Changed behaviour due to pain or trauma
Aiding rehabilitation after injury
Aiding rehabilitation in conditions such as arthritis, hindleg and foreleg lameness
"Goose is a 7 year old lab, who loves to play. Last summer she hurt her back leg and would either limp or just use 3 legs! The vet thought she might need surgery and we were to keep her quiet. She had an osteopathic treatment from Rachel and we followed the directions to stretch the leg. She started using her leg and seldom even limps now, several months later."