Regulation of Complementary Therapies: States of Confusion

Not too many years ago, proponents of massage therapy, acupuncture and acupressure, chiropractic, and other complementary or alternative therapies for animals often were dismissed as part of the lunatic fringe. Today, with apologies to Bob Dylan, the
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Not too many years ago, proponents of massage therapy, acupuncture and acupressure, chiropractic, and other complementary or alternative therapies for animals often were dismissed as part of the lunatic fringe. Today, with apologies to Bob Dylan, the times they are a changing.

According to a 2005 survey conducted by the North Carolina Horse Council, 61% of horse owners who responded reported using massage therapists for their horses, while 46% used the services of an equine chiropractor. Only 24% of the horse owners thought a massage therapist should be supervised by a veterinarian, while 49% felt that veterinary supervision should be required for chiropractic treatment. Four-fifths of the respondents thought that massage therapists and chiropractors should have certifications from an accredited school.

State veterinary practice acts that regulate complementary therapies are a mishmash of prohibitions and exceptions that frequently cannot be reconciled with one another.

Complementary and alternative therapies might not be in the mainstream for horse owners–at least not yet–but the therapies are being demanded by an ever-increasing number of consumers, and they are being provided by a growing number of veterinarians and practitioners without veterinary licenses

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Milt Toby was an author and attorney who wrote about horses and legal issues affecting the equine industry for more than 40 years. Former Chair of the Kentucky Bar Association’s Equine Law Section, Toby wrote 10 nonfiction books, including national award winners Dancer’s Image and Noor. You can read more about him at TheHorse.com/1122392.

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