Rascal or reputable – 3 surefire ways to spot a genuine complimentary animal therapist


Back in the days of yore, quack doctors would ply their trade across the streets of the United Kingdom, claiming that their products cured “all known ills.”

Now, of course, we know better than that. Medical science has moved a long way since those times, and complimentary therapies, including canine massage therapy, have developed a sound evidence base that these treatments really do work. But I know that if I was taking one of my dogs to a complimentary therapist like a massage therapist, physio or chiropractor, I’d want to know that they were the real deal. So how do you separate the wheat from the chaff.

Here are some top tips from me:

1. Have they got veterinary consent?
Ever seen a a complementary therapist at a a dog show treating a dog? Well if they’re doing it without veterinary consent then they are almost certainly doing it illegally. That means they will not be insured and if anything goes wrong, you will have no redress. Why anyone would hand their dog over to a random stranger for treatment in the almost certain knowledge that they will never see them again is beyond me, but nonetheless I’ve seen it happen time and time again. The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 and the Exemption Order 1962 prohibits anyone from treating an animal unless they have veterinary consent. So at shows you might see me giving free muscular health checks (which is legal) and treating existing clients (for whom I have veterinary consent) but if anyone else asks me to treat their dog, I politely decline and any complimentary animal therapist worth their salt would do the same.

2. Can they show that they get results?
If you’re paying to take your dog to a complementary therapist, you want to be sure that they will get results. Sometimes a therapist will be able to do something amazing for your dog, which seems almost like a miracle (although, of course, it won’t be as all complementary therapy is evidence based). If a therapist is doing good work, this will be reflected in testimonials on their website. Read these to find out what their clients are saying about them.
Word of mouth is absolutely the best publicity and, in my experience, you can’t beat personal recommendations so ask other dog owners, vets, dog trainers or anyone else that works with dogs, who they would recommend.

3. Are they the real deal?
It’s always worth checking the credentials of any complimentary therapists. I know it’s not very British to do this but don’t be afraid to ask what qualifications they have, what their study involved, what professional association they are part of, if they are insured and what continuing professional development they undertake to make sure that they’re skills are up to date.
In my experience people get very confused about the difference between canine massage therapists, animal physios and chiropractors. Ask questions about the skills set of the person that you are considering using to find out if it will be the best treatment for your dog. There is no point seeing a chiropractor for a muscular issue as they deal with skeletal issues and the treatment would be ineffective, and truthfully a canine massage therapist will not be able to help with a misaligned spine as this is probably a skeletal issue.

If you follow the advice above, I’m confident that you will be able to avoid the modern day quacks and charlatans that unfortunately still prevail and if you do, I’m sure you’ll get a great treatment for your dog.

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