How to Choose the Right Animal Therapy

We know our animals well and love them dearly, so when we see them in pain or not performing optimally, we want to find the best equine therapy, but how do we know which one to choose? In this guide, I aim to educate you on the different therapies available for your animals, equine and otherwise, so that when you need help, you can make an informed decision as to which is right for your animal.

But first…

Why Use Equine Therapy?

We ask a lot of our horses. They are performance athletes that sometimes perform unnatural movements. Our dogs do, too, if you think about it. They all help us and do their best to please us — they jump, leap, fetch, twist, and let us ride them. If you look at professional athletes like hockey players, they have a whole body support team to keep their bodies functioning optimally. 

Our animal’s excitement and eagerness to please us cause them to forget that their bodies don’t always bend or move these ways. Getting them proper therapy and a team of body support professionals helps to decrease their aches and pains and prevent injuries, so they can thrive as they age, not just survive. 

Let’s look at some methods used to assist animals with their pain.

Tina works on Kingsley, the giant horse.
Tina works on Kingsley, the giant horse.

Massage

Massage is another therapy you can practice independently, although I recommend a certified massage therapist to reap the most benefits for your animal. 

Massage therapy for animals is a complementary therapy involving manual manipulation of an animal’s muscles and soft tissues to promote relaxation, relieve pain, and improve physical function. 

Animal massage can be performed on various species, including dogs, cats, horses, and birds, and can be beneficial for a range of physical and behavioural issues.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage for animals is a type of manual therapy that involves the application of deep pressure to specific areas of an animal’s body. 

This therapy can help alleviate pain, reduce muscle tension, and improve circulation in the affected area. Deep tissue massage for animals can be conducted on various species, including dogs, cats, horses, and birds. Trained practitioners perform this therapy with the animal in a relaxed and comfortable position. 

Just like massage, deep tissue massage goes further into the muscle. Our body has layers, and they all function together. When one is affected, all become affected.

Osteopathic

An osteopath can perform manual therapy on animals, similar to how they would focus on a human patient. This therapy can involve techniques such as gentle manipulation, stretching, and massage to help improve the animal’s movement and physical function. 

An osteopath can also use their knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics to identify and treat areas of the animal’s body that are causing pain, discomfort, or dysfunction. 

In animals, osteopathic treatment can be beneficial for conditions such as joint pain, arthritis, muscle soreness, spinal issues, and post-surgery rehabilitation, essentially the organs and bones of an animal.  

Contact me for a consultation

Cranial Sacral Therapy

Cranial sacral therapy for animals is a type of manual therapy that involves gently manipulating the cranium (skull) and sacrum (tailbone) in animals to improve the functioning of the central nervous system. 

The therapy is based on the principles of craniosacral therapy for humans. It involves using a very light touch to release restrictions and improve the flow of cerebrospinal fluid throughout the body. 

Cranial sacral therapy for animals can benefit a range of physical and behavioural issues, including pain, discomfort, stress, and neurological conditions. Trained practitioners perform it.

Rolfing

Rolfing for animals is a type of bodywork that utilizes the principles of Rolfing for non-human animals, usually horses and dogs. It involves the manipulation of the animal’s fascia, muscles, and bones to promote balance, flexibility, and comfort and can be used to address various physical and behavioural issues in animals. 

Like human Rolfing, trained practitioners usually perform animal Rolfing, which can significantly benefit the animal’s physical and emotional well-being.

Energy Healing/Reiki

Reiki is a form of energy healing that involves the transfer of universal life force energy to the recipient through the hands of the practitioner. This therapy can be performed on animals as well as humans and can help promote relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety, alleviate pain, and promote physical and emotional healing. 

If you are interested in using Reiki or energy healing on your animal, seek a practitioner who has experience working with animals and has received training in the specific modality you are interested in using.

Mac, the horse, enjoys his session with Tina.
Mac, the horse, enjoys his session with Tina.
Spinal Alignment Therapy/Acupressure Massage Therapy

Spinal alignment therapy for animals is a form of manual therapy that involves the correction of misalignments or imbalances in the spinal column. This therapy is based on the principles of chiropractic or osteopathic medicine and is also performed by trained practitioners, like me. 

The goal of spinal alignment therapy for animals is to improve the function of the nervous system and restore balance to the body. You can use it to treat a range of physical issues, such as pain, stiffness, lameness, and other mobility issues, as well as behavioural issues, such as stress and anxiety. Spinal alignment therapy for animals is a gentle, non-invasive form of therapy.

This modality is what I practice. The vertebrae and spine are the basis of all structures, and all nerves go through that structure. If the spine and vertebrae are not properly aligned, it’s like a short in the electrical system, so communication in the whole body isn’t as effective as it should be. 

Biomechanically, movements will also be affected, which will be apparent in the muscles. The body has to cope with that imbalance by using one side over the other. I then use acupressure which stimulates the muscles, so blood and oxygen go to a particular area and help to release those muscles. I won’t do one without the other. This therapy is what I’ve found to be the most effective, so it is why I practice it.

Light Frequency Therapy

Light frequency therapy for animals is a form of alternative therapy that uses different frequencies and colours of light to promote healing and alleviate a range of physical and behavioural issues in animals. This therapy involves the application of light to specific areas of the animal’s body using devices such as LED light panels, laser devices, patches, or colour therapy lights. 

Light frequency therapy for animals can treat conditions such as pain, inflammation, wounds, skin conditions, and behavioural issues. It can also be used as a complementary therapy to enhance the effects of other treatments.

Light therapy has been around for thousands of years. Our body has always held the ability to use light — whether babies in a light tent or our use of the sun to create vitamin D. There have been many different light frequency therapies in the last 20 years. I finally found one I absolutely recommend that is activated by our own light source — the thermal heat we emit. 

The speed at which it decreases physical pain and inflammation is something I choose to promote to put into my client’s hands. I believe we should all be empowered to help our animals and ourselves in between sessions with body workers, and I have found a way to do that. I am happy to do a free one-on-one consultation to see if this is a fit for you.

Can I combine therapies?

Yes! A resounding yes! You can combine different animal therapies, but it’s important to do so under the guidance of a qualified practitioner. Various animal therapies can complement each other and work together to provide comprehensive care for your animal. 

For example, you may combine massage therapy with osteopathic treatment or acupuncture or incorporate Reiki or energy healing into a rehabilitation program with spinal alignment and acupressure massage therapy. 

 

Fancy the bulldog sits happily after a session with Tina.
Fancy the bulldog sits happily after a session with Tina.
Conclusion

Many therapies are available for your animal; these are just a few top-researched modalities. Most therapies work in conjunction with other therapies, and I do recommend different treatment plans. You need to choose what is right for you. I trust the intuition of the owner more times than not. We know our animal family members more than we give ourselves credit for.

I want to note that there are a lot of certifications out there that can be done in a short period. Animal therapy has been unregulated for a long time. While it is getting better, research your therapist and know their background. You want to trust who is working on your animal. Look for somebody who loves what they do, loves animals, and has reputable experience.

I have been doing this for 20 years and have no plans to stop. I love what I do and truly have learned more from the animals than I feel I have given them. I continue to increase my knowledge base by working with other professionals from all modalities. This has been such a gift for me. I want to thank you for entrusting me with your animal family.

When to call Tina Colter, Equine Therapist

You may consider calling me: Tina Colter, Equine Therapist, when you notice any changes in your animal’s behaviour, movement, or physical condition, such as:

  1. Pain or discomfort: If your horse is showing signs of pain, such as lameness, stiffness, or reluctance to move, shortness of step, or shifting weight from one leg to another, an equine therapist can help identify the source of the issue and provide appropriate treatment,
  2. Behavioural changes: If your animal shows signs of stress, anxiety, irritability (which is so much more than just a bad mood), or other behavioural issues, an animal therapist can provide a comprehensive evaluation and recommend a treatment plan
  3. Performance problems: If your animal has difficulty with specific movements or activities, an animal therapist can assess the issue and provide targeted therapy to improve your animal’s performance.
  4. Post-surgical recovery: If your animal has undergone surgery, an animal therapist can provide rehabilitation therapy to help your animal regain strength and mobility.
  5. Regular maintenance: This is key! Regular therapy can help maintain your animal’s overall health and well-being and prevent issues from developing. If you look at body issues like you would a cavity, when the pain shows up, it’s usually the end result of something that has been there for a while. It’s essential to get to the cause before it becomes a problem.

If you’d like to book an appointment, please contact me today!