Complementary Therapies

*Liability Disclaimer – Information about complementary modalities is constantly changing and therefore this page may not contain the most up-to-date information on every modality. It is the responsibility of each animal owner to always further research and investigate a modality before using it with their animal.

When choosing a practitioner, be sure to do your homework. For example, you can ask for references, ask about their amount of experience, the extent of their education and if they are insured.  Currently, there is a provincial governing body overseeing non-veterinarian complementary equine health practitioners.  Established in 2013, Alberta Association of Complementary Equine Therapists (AACET) is a registered non-profit, Professional Association of Complementary Equine Therapy providers working within Alberta to increase both credibility and responsibility. AACET’s goal is to standardize the quality of care that is provided by Practitioners, regardless of their discipline by providing modality specific standards and guidelines, insurance for Practitioners and a place for owners to express concerns and resolve complaints.  AACET is working diligently to provide these requirements, in an effort to protect the horses, their owners and the future of Complementary Equine Therapy in Alberta. Go to to find a practitioner.  

Learning Rating: More and more people want to learn how they can help their own animals so each modality listed below also has a “learning rating”. The learning rating is as follows:

EASY – requires little to no previous healing experience, easy to understand and courses are generally easy to find locally and are affordable.

MEDIUM – requires some previous healing experience, more complex to understand or learn and is more costly (for example, may require the purchase of equipment). Courses can usually be found within Alberta or in Western Canada.

DIFFICULT – requires more extensive previous healing experience or knowledge of anatomy, and is complex to understand and learn. Often courses are only offered a few times a year at specific locations so long-distance travel is often involved, adding to the cost of taking the courses or training.


Acupressure — Acupressure is an ancient healing art that uses the fingers to press key points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body’s natural self-curative abilities. When these points are pressed, they release muscular tension and promote the circulation of blood and the body’s life force to aid healing. This therapy is commonly used on cats, dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Medium

Acupuncture — Acupuncture and acupressure are similar, using the same points, but acupuncture employs needles. Commonly used on cats, dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Difficult

Animal Assisted Emotional Therapy –- This therapy is actually an indirect therapy as it is actually tailored for people, based on the belief that animals can be our “soul mirrors”. Some believe that animals around us pick up the unconscious energy vibrations of the people closest to them and if there is an imbalance in the energy of the person, it will be mirrored through the behaviour and/or illness of the animal close to them. There is a surprising co-relation that when people realize and address emotional imbalances within themselves often their animal starts to get better or begins to respond to treatment. There are many trained therapists in this field who, with the help of animals, help reveal the unconscious imbalances a person may have. Learning Rating: Medium

Animal Communication — Animal Communication is to communicate intuitively with an animal by mentally sending and receiving thoughts, images, and emotions. This kind of communication can be obtained by not observing body language or behavior. Animal communication can be used with all animals. Learning Rating: Medium

Applied Kinesiology — Applied kinesiology is a form of diagnosis using muscle testing as a primary feedback mechanism to examine how a person’s body is functioning. When properly applied, the outcome of an applied kinesiology diagnosis will determine the best form of therapy for the patient. Applied kinesiology can be used with all animals. Learning Rating: Medium

Aromatherapy — Aromatherapy is the use of volatile plant oils, including essential oils, for psychological and physical well-being. Essential oils are chemical powerhouses that must be used with caution, or under the advice of an aromatherapist. Aromatherapy is most commonly used for dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Medium

Bioptron Light Therapy — Bioptron Light Therapy – Bioptron Light Therapy assists cells to increase activity and to enhance regenerative processes. It regulates blood cells and the immune system, the key factor in tissue repair and healing. Four minutes of exposure penetrates 2.5 cm into the tissue. Helps to reduce swelling, tendon and ligament injuries and wounds and is a very beneficial as a precursor to back massage. Learning Rating: Medium

Bowen Therapy — Bowen Therapy is a very dynamic soft tissue therapy that is effective in treating a wide variety of conditions in human and animal alike. Working to re-hydrate and balance the consistency of Fascia or Connective Tissue in the body which envelopes all other body tissues, it can influence and have a positive effect on muscles, nerves, organ systems, joints etc. When the fascia becomes dehydrated through injury, aging or overuse it can create pain, stiffness, immobility and diminished healing response in the body. Bowen reactivates a normal hydration in this tissue and enables the body to heal and repair again in a way that it may have been previously unable to do. Commonly used with cats, dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Medium

Chakra Healing — Chakra healing is spiritual healing using chakras or energy centers. Many believe that problems in the body are in direct correlation to blockages in a chakra or energy center. Often hands on manipulation is used to channel energy into the spirit of the animal allowing self healing. Chakra healing can be used with all animals. Learning Rating: Medium

Chiropractic — Chiropractic assess imbalances related to the spine, nervous system, and joints of the extremities. The primary goal of chiropractic manipulation, also referred to as adjustment, is to treat areas of decreased movement in the joints, thereby improving pain, function and overall health. Chiropractic is commonly used with cats, dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Difficult

Chromatherapy (color therapy) — Chromatherapy uses the subtle energy vibrations similar to those found in the visible spectrum. Light energy is processed through color filters and projected into the animal’s aura. By matching corresponding wavelengths to the organs and systems of the body, it strengthens or sedates (as in acupressure) energy in the distressed areas, creating a support system for the healing process. For example, the color red stimulates the immune system. Red is used with deathly sick animals with viruses, heavy bacterial infections, hepatitis, etc. Chromatherapy can be used with all animals. Learning Rating: Easy

Cold Therapy — Cold therapy is used for recent soft tissue injury or massive swelling (like those often experienced in an autoimmune response). The application of cold to an area causes constriction or narrowing of the superficial blood vessels which helps to control bleeding and swelling. Cold therapy is commonly used with dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Easy

Cranio-Sacral Therapy — Cranio-Sacral Therapy is a non-invasive technique used by accredited therapists to assess and treat restrictions and altered patterns of cerebrospinal fluid flow. Cranio-Sacral therapy is often used with cats, dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Medium

Crystal Therapy — Crystals have the ability to hold and emit energy vibrations. When a crystal is put in a watch the battery sends a constant charge through the crystal. The crystal absorbs the charge, and then releases it at such a precise rate it is used to make the watch keep perfect time. Crystals absorb, focus, direct and diffuse our energy fields to enable a diseased or out of balance body to find it’s natural energetic rhythm once again. During therapy, various crystals and minerals are placed on or around an animal to induce deep relaxation, release stress and pain, and promote energy balance within the physical and subtle bodies. Crystal Therapy can be used with all animals. Learning Rating: Easy

Electro-Acuscope Myopulse Therapy — Is the electrical stimulation of the nervous system to treat pain. The acusope stimulates muscles tendons and ligaments to reduce spasm, inflammation and strengthens tissue damaged by injury. Benefits are it reduces pain and benefits range of motion. Learning Rating: Medium

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) — EFT is based on the understanding that emotional traumas in our life are held in our body and this is the same for animals. These energy blockages can then produce undesirable behaviors or illnesses. EFT uses tapping with fingers on specific acupressure points along with affirmations to release these emotional traumas. EFT can be used with all kinds of animals. Often a person is used as a surrogate for the process. Learning Rating: Easy

Equine Dentist/Technician — Through evolution the horse roamed freely in search of its wants and needs. Foraging was its lifestyle, nipping grasses and leaves from trees. Evolution did not prepare the horse for the changes that domestication would bring. Confined to pastures, paddocks and boxstalls, the horse is no longer able to take in food and eat in a natural way. The horse isn’t required to use its front teeth in a natural way when it is being fed dry feeds. This creates an imbalance between the molars which are over worked and the incisors which are not being used for what they are designed. These factors, along with man breeding different head types of horses, has created dental dilemmas. When the mouth is being used in an abnormal position abnormalities appear and manifest without proper dental maintenance. Hooks, ramps, sharp points, deceased teeth along with broken teeth and the imbalance of the front teeth in relation to the back teeth, create pain and discomfort and requires dentistry to balance the horse’s mouth. Originally the use of hand rasps were used to balance the mouth, but now with the introduction of power tools many things have changed making the process more delicate than ever. With power tools there are increased possibilities of human error and accidentally taking off too much tooth surface, or the problem of the power tools creating too much heat during the floating process creating further problems in the horse’s mouth. That is why it is vital to ensure an Equine Dentist has adequate experience and training. Some practitioners also have special water cooling equipment to reduce over heating with power tools. It has been found that balancing a horse’s mouth can improve overall health as well as effect the quality of movement and performance in a horse. Learning Rating: Difficult

Equine Touch — Equine Touch is a non-diagnostic, non-invasive, hands-on system of bodywork, addressing the whole horse. It includes an organized series of unique, gentle, vibrational moves over soft tissue. Equine Touch is “a discipline, a predetermined series of moves over specific points on the soft tissue of the equine’s body, choreographed in such a manner as to supply the horse with an energy-supported blueprint aimed at informing, training, or coaching the animal’s innate wisdom to address and hopefully positively correct any structural malfunction through the encouragement, release and uninterrupted flow of Ki (Chi) energy.” Results often include relaxation, contentment, self-adjusting/alignments and expediated recovery from injuries. This form of bodywork is also being used with dogs. Learning Rating: Medium

Equisedo — Equisedo is a therapy that uses sounds to desensitize your horse reducing stress such as clippers, traffic, applause, and low flying aircraft. Learning Rating: Easy

Flower Essence Therapy — Ingestion of distilled extracts from flowers to enhance emotional health. Flower essences are a set of formulas developed by Edward Bach, MD, a homeopath who practiced in England in the early part of the 20th Century. Flower essences were developed as over-the-counter products so that ordinary people, consulting any number of books, could use them to ameliorate emotional distresses. Flower essence dosage means two drops of a very diluted substance put into a glass of water to be sipped or two drops dropped directly in the mouth. Flower essences have been used worldwide for nearly 100 years without any reports of adverse reactions. Learning Rating: Easy

Hair Analysis — Hair analysis of your pet can help determine imbalances in mineral content as well as toxicity levels by screening for the presence of metals such as aluminum, lead, mercury, cadmium, nickel, selenium, arsenic, in your pet’s tissues. Hair analysis can be very helpful in determining individual nutrition needs and for bringing awareness of toxins present in an animal’s environment. Hair analysis can be done for animals with hair, feathers or scales. Learning Rating: Medium

Hands on Healing — Hands on healing is defined as laying hands on the body to channel energy. There are literally hundreds of different touch therapies that fit this definition and for which training is available in the US, Canada, and around the world. Touch therapies provide direct communication with an animal and can sooth a fearful or angry heart, relax tense and sore muscles and provide any number of other improvements in the mind, body and spirit. Hands on healing has been done on people and animals since ancient times in all cultures. Learning Rating: Easy to Medium

Heat Therapy — Heat therapy is felt to improve circulation (bringing blood and healing to an injured area) or to reduce pain, stiffness, enhance metabolic activity in the tissues and relaxation. Heat therapy can be applied in various ways such as hot compresses, electrical devices or even solariums. Heat therapy is commonly used for cats, dogs, and horses. Learning Rating: Easy to Medium

Herbs — Herbal medicine was early man’s first line of defense against the many ills and accidents that plagued him. Ancient humans learned from the observation of animals, including birds, how to use leaves, earth, mud and water to make soothing applications. Although the methods were crude, several of today’s medicines are based upon sources as simple as those of ancient man. Presently, the use of herbs as self-prescribed medication is growing rapidly in North America for people and their animals. Herbs can be used for most animals, although one must research which herbs are best suited for your type of animal and its symptoms. Learning Rating: Medium

Homeopathy — Homeopathy is the use of plant, mineral or other substances in minute, diluted amounts to stimulate self-healing. Homeopathic products are inexpensive, non-patentable products that have been available over-the-counter and used round the world for nearly 200 years without any reports of adverse reactions. Homeopathy can be used with all animals. Learning Rating: Medium to Difficult

Hydrotherapy — Hydrotherapy simply means ‘water therapy’. The benefits compromise not only the cold of the water which helps to allay inflammation (heat, swelling and consequent pain) but the very action of movement in the water can also enhance specific muscle development. Hydrotherapy is most commonly used with dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Easy to Medium

Infrared Light Therapy — Infrared Light Therapy equipment innovatively utilizes light energy to enhance the body’s own natural and intelligent healing processes. It is a non-intrusive modality used to treat and/or prevent injuries or re-injuries. It also can alleviate pain, stress, and swelling – safely, effectively, and painlessly. Light therapy units emit a specific wavelength of photon energy, similar to the sun’s rays. In small doses, and with correct power, light therapy enhances already healthy cells and stimulates damaged cells to begin their healing process. Learning Rating: Medium

Infrared Thermography — Infrared Thermography has proven itself for over 25 years to be an excellent diagnostic tool. Infrared Thermography is a highly sensitive, reliable and non-invasive means of graphically illustrating soft tissue injury, strains, sprains, trigger points, muscle inflammation, joint injury, stress fractures, bone chips, poor circulation, inflamed muscles and tendons etc. The value of thermography has in recent years been increasingly recognized as a tool for early identification of injuries in the equine athlete, but can also be used with other animals. Learning Rating: Medium

Iridology — Iridology is the study of the iris of the eye to determine information about bodily constitutional strengths and weaknesses, levels of inflammation and toxemia, the functioning of the elimination systems, body systems and organs, and the causes and symptoms of disease. It is a quick, accurate and painless system of health analysis through the examination of the colored part of the eye known as the iris. Iridology enables the constitution of an animal to be assessed, shows organ and inherited strengths and weaknesses, where tissue is damaged or imbalanced, the extent of the damage and whether it is old or new. Iridology can also detect muscle spasms, digestion issues and can indicate if temperament changes may be a result of a physical problem. Iridology is commonly used with cats, dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Medium

Jin Shin Jyutsu — Jin Shin Jyutsu® physio-philosophy is an ancient art of harmonizing the life energy in the body. Born of innate wisdom and passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth, the Art had fallen into relative obscurity when it was dramatically revived in the early 1900’s by Master Jiro Murai in Japan.  Similar to acupressure, Jin Shin Jyutsu is the Art of releasing tensions which are the causes for various symptoms in the body. Our bodies contain several energy pathways that feed life into all of our cells. When one or more of these paths become blocked, this damming effect may lead to discomfort or even pain. This blockage or stagnation will not only disrupt the local area but will continue and eventually disharmonize the complete path or paths of the energy flow. Through Jin Shin Jyutsu our awareness is awakened to the simple fact that we are endowed with the ability to harmonize and balance ourselves (in rhythm with the universe) physically, mentally and spiritually. Jin Shin Jyutsu is an art as opposed to a technique because a technique is a mechanical application, whereas an art is a skillful creation. Jin Shin Jyutsu believes this beautiful, simple Art is our inheritance.  Learning Rating: Easy

Laser Therapy — The laser light is absorbed into tissue where it stimulates cellular reproduction, relaxes muscles and stimulates nerve transmission. It can stimulate acupuncture points and immune response, increase blood circulation and provides relief from pain. Laser Therapy helps replace damaged cells and stimulates tissue granulation and connective tissue projections (this is part of the healing process of wounds, ulcers and inflamed tissue) shortening healing time. Laser Therapy is non invasive and economical. Laser Therapy is most commonly used with dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Medium

Live Blood Cell Analysis — Clean blood facilitates the delivery of nutrients and the removal of waste at the cellular level thereby preventing illness and enhancing wellness. Conventional blood tests require killing the blood through observation processes. In a darkfield, the blood is stained with light frequencies which allows the blood to remain alive and active, thereby giving much greater insight into the relative health of the blood cells and the whole organism. For animals, a small sample of blood is often obtained through a needle and syringe to avoid contamination with the hair. The entire process is very safe. It is most commonly used with cats, dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Difficult

Massage Therapy — Massage therapy is varying pressure and specific movements applied to muscles to help alleviate soreness, fatigue, muscle spasms and also enhance the lymphatic system, circulation as well as relaxation. Massage therapy is most commonly used with dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Medium

Magnet Therapy — Magnetism is believed by many of its proponents to work by improving the efficiency of the blood (increasing the blood’s ability to carry both iron and oxygen). Our bodies are composed of innumerable electrically-charged atoms which hold tissues together and maintain their integrity. Electricity is energy and so the atoms are responsible for the functioning of all the body’s biological processes. It is believed that placing a magnet on or very close to injured tissue can enhance healing. Magnet therapy is commonly used with cats, dogs, and horses. Learning Rating: Easy

Myo-Fascia Release — Fascia is a 3 dimensional, spider-web-like connective tissue that is a system and runs uninterrupted from head to toe and everywhere in between from the superficial layer to the cellular level. Myo, or muscular fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles. Some causes of restriction in connective tissue are repetitive motion, unresolved emotional issues, postural distortion, trauma, and scar tissue. Myofascial restrictions do not show up on standard medical tests such as MRI, CAT Scans, X-rays. Release of myo-fascia restrictions can improve movement, reduce pain and enhance the immune system. Myo-fascia release can be used with all animals. Learning Rating: Medium

Natural Trimming — Natural trimming involves “reading the hoof” to see what to trim for that particular horse, in his own particular situation, at that particular point in time, so that the horse can grow in a stronger, healthier hoof. Mother Nature intended for horses to walk an upwards of 20 miles a day on varied terrain. This constant stimulation and abrasion created a perfectly functioning hoof which can be mimicked in domestication by frequent natural trims. This therapy is used with animals with hooves. Learning Rating: Medium

Nutritionist –– The feeding of balanced nutrition is the cornerstone of maintaining health, preventing and treating multiple disorders, and prolonging the longevity of animals. A nutritionist has specific training through a University or other higher education program in the nutritional needs of animals. A species specific nutrition program by a qualified nutritionist is a benefit to all animals. Learning Rating: Difficult

Nutritional Counseling — Offering advice about nutrition, or in some cases it may be somebody who sells over-the-counter products who is trained in explaining what the products are used for. Nutritional Counseling can be used with all animals. Learning Ration: Easy to Medium

Osteopathy — Osteopathy is a combination of spinal and extremity joint manipulation, visceral (organ) manipulation and craniosacral therapy. The fundamental philosophy of osteopathy is that for the body to be truly healthy and vital, every tissue in the body must have proper mobility thus, affecting flow of blood, lymph and nerve impulses. Osteopathy treats the whole body. It is most commonly used with dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Difficult

Photo Puncture Therapy — Photo Puncture is the use of an Animal Infrared Light product on acupressure points on the body. This therapy is known to bring pain relief and improve healing. It is most commonly used with cats, dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Medium

Physiotherapy –– Physiotherapy is a collection of many therapies and can include massage, stretches, magnet therapy, hydrotherapy as well as electrically operated machines. The goal of physiotherapy is to relieve pain, enhance healing of injured tissues (as well as reduce the formation of scar tissue and adhesions), and cause rhythmic muscular effort or contraction to enhance overall movement. Physiotherapy is most commonly used with dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Medium to Difficult

Radionics — Radionics is a form of energy or vibrational therapy. It identifies unique energy patterns of disease and treats imbalances in the energy field by facilitating the flow of energy between the bodies various levels to restore balance and good health. Learning Rating: Medium

Reiki — Reiki is a holistic laying-on hands technique for directing powerful, natural life force energy. Reiki can be used for all types of illnesses, injuries and emotional problems. Reiki can accelerate the healing process, ease pain, relieve fear and anxiety and improve the quality of life. Reiki can be used with all animals. Learning Rating: Easy

Shiatsu — Shiatsu is an ancient Japanese holistic system closely related to the theory of acupuncture, but does not use needles. It works on the energy meridians or channels by means of static pressure or stretches to influence energy flow and encourage balance to be maintained or restored. Shiatsu can be helpful for stimulating and strengthening the immune system, treatment of musculoskeletal problems, increasing suppleness and maximizing physical potential as well as improvement of behavioral and attitude problems. Shiatsu is most commonly used with cats, dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Medium

Soft Tissue Stimulation — Wound healing therapy utilizing pulsed electrical stimulation including repeated short treatments of electrical stimulation applied to a soft tissue wound through an active electrode positioned preferably at the wound and with a dispersive electrode positioned at a distance from the wound. Learning Rating: Medium

Small Animal Anesthesia-Free Teeth Cleaning — Although bones are nature’s toothbrushes for cats and dogs, many animal owners are worried about the risks of feeding bones and therefore rely on teeth cleaning to keep their animal’s teeth healthy. Specially trained individuals, often vet technicians, effectively clean below the gum line and polish while the animal remains alert and comfortable as no anesthesia is used.  Although anesthesia-free dental cleaning was practiced many years ago by veterinarians, the increased safety margins of anesthesia has made this practice obsolete in all veterinary practices except for a very few holistic veterinary practices. All cats and dogs that currently have dental disease should only be seen by a veterinarian. Learning Rating: Medium

Stretching — Stretching uses specific placement of the body or a leg to maintain flexibility in muscles, reducing stiffness, spasms and cramps, keeping joints flexible, keep muscle tissue correctly aligned, facilitating circulation and elimination of waste products, and assisting in restoring comfort and normal state of function. Stretching is most commonly used with dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Easy

TTouch –– A gentle type of body work created by Canadian born Linda Tellington-Jones that uses a series of varied, circular touches of the fingers and hands which is intended to stimulate the cells to function. In Linda’s own words, it “influences the nervous system, instigates learning by activating the body’s cells, integrates body and mind, and as a result encourages a state of health.” She also feels the Ttouch has a magical dynamic – as though it’s a secret, wordless language between you and your animal. TTouches is a very safe therapy that can be used with all animals. Learning Rating: Easy

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) — TCM is a complete medical system that records the largest volume of medical knowledge known to the world today. According to TCM, an understanding of health begins with an understanding the laws of nature. A TCM practitioner will not be interested in what type of bacteria or fungi is causing the pathology rather he/she will view the patient and the disease in terms of their relationship to each other and helping the body to overcome the disease. In this way, this traditional system can help transcend existing limits of scientific knowledge especially for difficult cases; increasing the chance of recovery for an animal. TCM also uses acupuncture and Chinese herbs. The theory of TCM can be used with all animals. Learning Rating: Medium to Difficult

Ultrasound Therapy — Ultra-sound therapy exploits the heating and vibrational effects of ultra-high frequency sound waves (beyond the audible range), to stimulate tissue regeneration and flexibility. A ‘sound head’ is applied to the skin over the area to be treated, with a good layer of aqueous gel to ensure contact. This reduces reflection at the skin surface and resultant heating of the skin. It also ensures that maximum effect is transferred to deeper tissues. The sound head is moved steadily over the area to be treated, rather than allowing it to remain in one place for a length of time. Tendons, ligaments and muscles are good tissues to which to apply this therapy. It can stimulate healing and help to rehabilitate scar tissue and adhesions. It aids the restoration of natural elasticity of such tissues. In general, short treatments are advised, in any single session, since too much vibration will damage tissues and release ‘free radicals’. Ultrasound therapy has been used with cats, dogs and horses. Learning Rating: Medium to Difficult

Quantum Biofeedback (EPFX) — The ultimate in detecting and reducing stressors, the EPFX Quantum Biofeedback device was developed by NASA scientist Dr. William Nelson using the properties of quantum physics and 20 years of research. This device, which is also approved by the FDA and Health Canada, can detect stressors within minutes on vitamin levels, minerals, allergens, parasites, viruses, integrity of internal organs, spine, aura and much more. It can help also reveal emotional and mental imbalances. Quantum Biofeedback can be used with all animals. Learning Rating: Medium to Difficult