"When you have adjusted the physical to its own demand, nature supplies its own."

- Andrew Taylor Still, Founder of Osteopathy

History 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:

  1. A body is a unit of dynamic interaction between physical body, mind, and spirit.
  2. An inherent property of this dynamic interaction is the body's capacity for self-regulation and self-healing.
  3. The obstruction to unimpeded flow of body fluids and nerve impulses can challenge this capacity.
  4. The musculoskeletal system significantly influences the individual’s ability to restore this inherent capacity and, therefore, resist disease processes.

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.

What is Animal Osteopathy?

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:

  • lameness /altered gate
  • weight shifting or non-bearing
  • reluctance to move or get out of the car
  • resistance or defensive when touched
  • inability to coordinate/avoiding obstacles
  • ignoring commands
  • difficulty in stretching hind legs when jumping 
  • unprovoked aggression

How do animal osteopaths work?

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.

Physical assessment

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.  

Prevention and maintenance

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.

What are health conditions commonly seen in an animal osteopathic practice?

Stiffness and reduced mobility due to injury or aging

Gait problems

Changed behaviour due to pain or trauma

Aiding rehabilitation after injury

Aiding rehabilitation in conditions such as arthritis, hindleg and foreleg lameness

Prof. Stuart McGregor , considered by many to be one of the founders of modern animal osteopathy is the Head Instructor for London College of Animal Osteopathy, a leading institute for studies in canine and equine osteopathy.

What our clients say...

David M.
Dog Owner
Ontario Canada

"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."