Complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM), such as massage therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, and chiropractic, is gaining popularity among horse owners, yet not all equine practitioners feel confident providing these services. Why? According to researchers from Washington State University’s (WSU) College of Veterinary Medicine, lack of education appears to be a major contributing factor. That being said, the study also found that alternative medicine coursework in equine veterinary education has increased about 30% in the past decade.

"CAVM is increasingly used in both human and veterinary medicine, yet our study shows that unlike human medical schools, many veterinary schools still do not offer courses in this field," explained lead researcher Mushtaq Memon, BVSc, PhD, Dipl. ACT, associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at WSU’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health.

Memon and colleagues sent questionnaires to all 41 veterinary schools accredited by the AVMA Council on Education in North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. The schools answered questions regarding their CAVM courses, including if the classes were required or elective, the number of credit hours, and whether it was a lecture- or laboratory-based format.

Thirty-four of the 41 schools responded to the survey. The data showed:

  • Only one school required that all veterinary students take a course in CAVM to graduate;
  • Fifteen schools offer CAVM courses as electives;
  • Four schools had faculty devoted to teaching CAVM; and
  • The most common topics covered in the