Animal Treatment Laws

Animal Laws

In the UK, most Laws in relation to the treatment of animals can be related back to the Protection of Animals Act 1911. This Act makes it an offence to subject an animal to unnecessary suffering and was one of the first moves to ensure the welfare of animals.

With the advancement of Veterinary Science, the Veterinary Surgeon's Act 1966 defines specifically who can and cannot give treatment to an animal.

The Treatment of Animals in the UK

Where animals are concerned there is no such thing as an Alternative therapy. There are no alternatives to a proper Veterinary diagnosis.

Q - Who can diagnose an animal?
A - A vet, only a vet and no-one else other then a Vet!

Q - Who can prescribe treatment for an animal?
A - A vet, only a vet and no-one else other then a Vet!

Humans can make choices

In the field of human medicine there ARE "alternative therapies". You can do what you want to your body. If you have bad stomach pains and choose to sit in the middle of a crop circle wearing nothing but a daisy chain and a thoughtful expression, asking the earth spirits to heal you - fine. If the stomach pains happen to be appendicitis which turns into peritonitis and you die - fine. You chose your "alternative". Letting that happen to yourself is not against the law. (Although not recommended!)

Animals have no choice - they rely on you

However, if you own an animal that is sick and you choose to do nothing about it and the animal suffers unnecessarily or dies you will (or should) be prosecuted under the Protection of Animals Act.

Any sick animal MUST be taken to the vet - there is no alternative. Once veterinary diagnosis has been given, your vet will recommend a course of treatment. This may include a Complementary therapy - one which is given in conjunction with traditional veterinary care.

If your vet does not suggest a complementary therapy and you feel that it may be appropriate, discuss the possibility with him/her... 

Who CAN give treatment to an animal?

Properly trained and qualified animal manipulative therapists are members of their respective professional bodies and should be covered by indemnity insurance (in a similar way to vets themselves) which protects you should anything go wrong. The irony is that "practitioners" who are not properly trained and qualified will not have this insurance and if anything, are more likely to do something wrong - whereas professional animal manipulative therapists with the insurance are, like vets, most unlikely to do something wrong!

That's a summary - for more details, read on...

So... who CAN legally treat an animal?

Can anyone else treat an animal?

Under the terms of the The Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order of 1962 the only other types of therapies that can be given (by non-veterinarians) to an animal are the manipulative therapies - Chiropractic, Physiotherapy, Osteopathy.

Under this Act it is illegal for any other non-veterinary therapist to treat an animal.

The only way that this type of treatment can legally be given to an animal is under direct veterinary referral. To put it bluntly, your vet must give his/her permission before manipulative therapy can be given to an animal. A vet will not give permission for any type of therapist, other than a manipulative therapist, to treat an animal.

How to get Complementary treatment for your animal

So, with all these Laws and pitfalls, just how do you secure the services of a Complementary Therapist to treat your animal?

Step 1 - Get a proper veterinary diagnosis

Step 2 - Your vet should discuss the full range of treatment options with you. This may include Complementary Therapy, if not and you think the animal may benefit, discuss the possibility with your vet at the time of consultation.


If you know of a recognised, qualified therapist (perhaps one that you have heard of, or been recommended to) all you have to do is ring your vet and explain that you are thinking of getting him/her to have a look at your animal. If your vet thinks it could be helpful he/she will refer you.

Animal Treatment Laws

The Law in the UK is very clear about who can, and can't, treat animals and there are pitfalls that anyone considering having any kind of treatment given to their animals should be aware of...

You, and anyone treating your animal, may risk prosecution if you don't get it right!

For more detailed information see the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon's

Code Of Professional Conduct

Relevant Laws

Protection of Animals Act

Veterinary Surgeons' Act

Veterinary Exemptions

Animal Treatment Laws