Alternative Healing Modalities

There are many ways to promote health, and most holistic animal health practitioners are trained in more than one technique. I would like to point out that while most of us turn to one alternative healing modalitiesor several therapies to fix a problem or cure an illness, these are all wonderful as preventative therapies as well. I think that we in the West are way too used to waiting until something is wrong to seek help, when in fact many issues could have been avoided with the help of preventative medicine. Something to keep in mind.

Below are short overviews of a variety of alternative healing modalities. To learn more about them, click on the links below each description.


A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TMC) technique based on the holistic system where illness is thought to result from imbalances in the natural flow of energy, chi, through the body. Acupressure is performed by using finger and palm pressure on certain points along the meridians – the energetic pathways the chi travels along – to improve the flow of energy and thereby health.
Acupressure Case Study – Rabbit
Acupressure Case Study – Allergy Relief for a Horse
Acupressure Treatment For Rabbit Digestion
Review of Introduction To Small Animal Acupressure DVD
Book review: Acu-Dog – A Guide To Canine Acupressure
Book review: Acu-Cat – A Guide To Feline Acupressure
Acupressure Points for Canine Arthritis
Acupressure for Canine Skin Allergies
Calming Cats With Acupressure
Acu-Horse: A Guide to Equine Acupressure
Canine and Human Help for Stiff Limbs
Acupressure for Keeping Your Horse Fit
Treatment Options for A Dog With A Pinched Nerve
Enhancing Feline Digestion with Acupressure
Case Study: Equine Grief & The Bladder Meridian
Equine Axis of Power Acupressure Session
Grooming Your Cat with Help from Acupressure
Internal Liver Wind and Seizure Disorders


Similar to acupressure, acupuncture is based on the principle that there are energetic pathways throughout the body that influence associated internal organs and structures. Energy from these pathways surfaces at various points on the body, identified as acupuncture (or acupressure) points. By inserting fine needles into these points, the acupuncturist is able to help the body return to a healthy state.
Acupuncture Case Studies – Dog with Allergies & Paralyzed Cat
Veterinary Acupuncture – History, How Does It Work and What Can It Help?
Acupuncture Treatment for A Dog With Arthritis – A Video Demonstration

Animal Communication

Animal Communication is exactly what it sounds like: talking to animals. The communicator talks to the animals telepathically, sending and receiving images, smells, tastes, feelings, and thoughts, and can even feel an animal’s pain in their own body. This is not limited to pets and other domesticated animals, animal communicators can talk to wildlife and animals that have passed away as well. Some communicators can also help with finding lost animals.
More on Animal Communication (including an interview and testimonials)
Julie Lines, Voice of the Animals
Shamanic Animal Communication
Listening to the Animals – Remembering How to Trust our Hearts and Intuition
Listening to the Animals – Remembering How to Trust our Hearts and Intuition Part 2
The Purpose Of Species – How Each Animal Species Has A Part To Play In Who We Are And How We Experience The World Around Us

Applied Kinesiology

Applied Kinesiology is not a healing method, but a diagnostic tool. It is also known as muscle testing, and the practitioner (who could be a practitioner of any healing modality, alternative or not) uses it to figure out for example what it is the patient is allergic to, what the best way of treating the issue is, or anything else he/she wants to “ask” the patient’s body.

It is usually done by the patient holding one arm out parallel to the floor (or up in the air if you’re lying down), the practitioner asks his/her question (either out loud or quietly) and then gently presses down on the patient’s arm. If the patient is able to resist the pressure, it means one thing, and if the patient can’t resist the pressure, it means another. Exactly what it means depends on the question. When working with animals, this is usually done using a surrogate.

There are other forms of kinesiology as well, such Specialized Kinesiology, Energy Kinesiology and Kinesiologic Medicine which all work a little bit differently from one another.

Applied Zoopharmacognosy

Applied Zoopharmacognosy is based on Zoopharmacognosy, the way animals in the wild seek out and use plants, algae, clay etc. to self-medicate. In Applied Zoopharmacognosy, the practitioner helps domestic animals do the same by offering them a variety of essential and macerated oils, powdered plants, etc. to choose from. The animals will either inhale the scents, ingest the oils or ask to have them applied topically.
Applied Zoopharmacognosy Case Studies
Applied Zoopharmacognosy and My Trip to England

Bach Flower Therapy / Flower Essences

The Bach flower essence therapy system was discovered by British physician Dr. Edward Bach in the early 1900s. He believed that that the true cause of illness and disease in human beings lies in the personality; in the mental and emotional patterns through which we view ourselves and the world around us. To treat these personality patterns, Dr. Bach discovered and developed 38 different flower remedies, each a correcting vibration for a state of mind or emotion that needs to be gently rebalanced. Since the body is a direct reflection of the mind, transforming negative vibrations into positive good vibrations allows the body to respond naturally with better health. There are also other types of similar flower essences that are used around the world, such as the Australian Bush Flower Essences and Alaskan Essences.
Bach Flower Remedies Case Study- Horse
Bach Flower Therapy Book Reviews – The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy and Bach Flower Remedies for Animals
Treating Autism in Dogs with Flower Essences
Flower Essences and Autism in Dogs – Case Study
Choosing a Flower Essence Range
How To Use Flower Essences with Animals
Flower Essences for Early Abrupt Weaning
Flower Essences to the Rescue
Flower Essences for Grief and Loss
Bach Flower Essences for Fear in Animals
Mental Health Issues in the Animal Community

Bowen for Animals

Invented by Australian Tom Bowen, The Bowen technique is a soft tissue remedial therapy where the therapist use fingers or thumbs to move lightly over muscle, ligaments, tendons and fascia in various parts of the body. By doing so, the therapist helps the body relax muscle tension and activate its own healing resources, resulting in fast and lasting relief from pain and discomfort.


A system of diagnosis and treatment based on the concept that the nervous system coordinates all of the body’s functions, and that disease results from a lack of normal nerve function. The bones of the spine and joints are maintained in a specific alignment, and when even a small change in this alignment occurs, it affects the nervous system, local muscles, joints and even distant organs, glands and body functions. The chiropractor manually applies a controlled force (called manipulation or adjustment) into joints that have become misaligned or restricted in their movement. This manipulation of the affected joint and tissues restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and allowing tissues to heal.
More on animal chiropractic

CranioSacral Therapy

Craniosacral therapy is a holistic healing modality which uses extremely light finger pressure to optimize body movement. Using a soft touch, generally no greater than about the weight of a nickel, practitioners release restrictions in the craniosacral system (the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord) to improve the functioning of the central nervous system. CST complements the body’s natural healing processes, and is increasingly used as a preventive health method. It helps increase resistance to disease, and is effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction.
Equine Cranio Sacral Case Studies

Crystal Healing

Crystals are thought to regulate energy blockages, and certain crystals work with certain organs or conditions. For example, Calcite for skeletal problems; Hematite for the muscular system; Rose Quarts for injuries and wounds, etc. When a practitioner holds the appropriate crystal near a certain organ, the vibration of the organ becomes regulated and in harmony with the rest of the body. After repeated treatments, the organ will be restored to health.
Crystal Healing Case Study – Dog with Seborrhoea and injured leg
Using Crystals with Cows
Using Crystals with Cows Part 2
Book review – The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Crystals
How to do Crystal Healing with Animals
Crystal Healing for Cows Part 2
Crystal Therapy Q&A – Learning Crystal Therapy, How To Use Healing Crystals

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)

EFT, or “Tapping”, is based on the belief that the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system, and that unresolved negative emotions are major contributors to most physical pains and diseases. EFT can be described as an “emotional version” of acupressure. Specific energy meridian points on the body are stimulated by tapping on them using fingertips, thereby helping the body release and letting go of negative emotions and fear.
EFT Case Study – Dog with Aggression

Foot Reflexology

Reflexology is based on the principle that reflex points formed by 7,200 nerve endings in each foot correspond to glands, organs, and other parts of the body. When the practitioner applies pressure to these points, a signal goes to the central nervous system, which in turn sends a message to that specific organ. Reflexology releases tension and stress, and because of the increased relaxation throughout, the body is allowed to re-pattern, balance, and heal itself.
Reflexology Case Study – Dog Goes Blind

Healing Touch for Animals® (HTA)

Healing Touch for Animals® / Komitor Healing Method, Inc. (HTA/KHM) uses bio-field therapies to integrate, balance and clear the energy body. It works by releasing endorphins to establish a deeper relaxation and state of being, allowing the body to function at a greater level. By allowing muscles to relax, circulation is increased, sending more oxygen, nutrients, and hormones into the body to support healing. Practitioners use their hands with light or near-body touch.
Healing Touch Case Study – Dog with Anxiety


Discovered by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in the late 1700s, homeopathy is based on the theory that each naturally occurring element, plant, and mineral compound that can cause an illness can also be a cure. Hahnemann believed that, by diluting these substances to almost untraceable amounts, they could be used to treat the very symptoms they were known to produce. This is called the Law of Similars (“treat like with like”).
More on homeopathy
Interview with Animal Homeopath Shirley Moore Part 1
Interview with Animal Homeopath Shirley Moore Part 2 (with two case studies)


Swimming for animals. In addition to being a great cardiovascular exercise, swimming improves muscle tone, help speed recovery after operations, and slow the progression of degenerative conditions. Spinal injuries or surgery can cause impairment of motor function, which may be treated by allowing the animal to exercise in water; it provides support and allows the animal to continue to exercise its muscles while nerve regeneration is taking place. Degenerative conditions can make normal weight bearing exercise difficult, and pressure on joints and limbs may aggravate some conditions, so hydrotherapy can be used in these cases to allow the animal to exercise in an environment where there is no pressure on the affected areas. Obese animals can build fitness and lose weight as a result of exercise in a hydrotherapy pool without putting excessive weight on their joints. Hydrotherapy may also be used as part of a general fitness routine.
Rabbit Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy Case Study – Sophie – a Weimaraner with Degenerative Myelopathy
Guest Post – Good Dog Aquatic Fitness

Jin Shin Jyutsu

Defined as “the Art of releasing tensions which are the causes for various symptoms in the body”, it is another modality that is based on the theory that energy flows along certain pathways in our bodies, and when the energy is blocked, we experience pain or become ill. In Jin Shin Jyitsu, it is thought that there are 26 “energy saftey locks” along the pathways, and simply holding ones hands on these locks helps unblock the energy.

Manual Ligament Therapy

Manual Ligament Therapy (MLT) is a bodywork technique that utilizes the sensory qualities of ligaments to correct muscular imbalance and dysfunction. It acts directly on the ligaments and you only need to apply gentle pressure to relieve the trigger point activity, reduce hypertonicity within the muscle itself, and rebalance the joint by reinforcing proper proprioceptive messaging (the communication between the nervous system and specialized cells in the muscle that help to coordinate movement and maintain posture at rest). In short, MLT treats the body from the inside by addressing the neurology to make muscles function better
What Is Manual Ligament Therapy (MLT) for Animals?


A bodywork technique that focuses on muscle tissue. Massage releases the chronic patterns of tension in the body through slow strokes and finger pressure, thereby removing toxins, while relaxing and soothing the muscle. Massage can be used as a preventative, corrective or therapeutic modality.
Massage Case Study – Gus the Cat
The Basic Massage Strokes
Massage For Rabbit Digestion
Massage Case Study – Suffering Samoyed
Massage Case Study – Dog with Epilepsy
Book review – A Dog Lover’s Guide To Canine Massage
Q&A: Massage For Abnormal Ligaments In Front Paw
Q&A: Massage and Phantom Pregnancy in Dogs
Animal Massage Therapist – “Best Job In The World”? Absolutely!
Massage and Puppies

Read more:

PEMF – Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field Therapy

The practitioner uses a PEMF device to administer low frequency electromagnetic pulses to the body, which stimulates cell metabolism. This helps reduce muscle pain and swelling, regenerates tissue, speeds up recovery after surgeries and injuries, and can even help repair broken bones.
PEMF Case Studies


Reiki is administered by “laying on hands” (or by holding the hands over the body, treating the aura) and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. The Reiki practitioner is the conduit for the energy, which goes into the patient’s body and finds its way to the area that needs to be treated.
Reiki Case Study – Feral Kittens
Reiki Case Study – Sheep
Reiki Case Study – Dog with Arthritis
Reiki Case Study – Horse and Cat
SARA – The Shelter Animal Reiki Association
Three Reasons Animal Reiki Rocks!

Shamanic Healing

Shamanic healing is spiritual healing, an ancient practice performed by a Spirit with the help of a shaman. The shaman acts as a conduit for the Sprit, allowing the spirit to use his/her mind and body in order to connect with the patient. Cures include soul retrieval, depossession, power animal retrieval, curse removal, cord cutting, extraction, soul remembering, or house and/or land clearing.
Shamanic Healing Case Study – Rescued German Shepherd
Interview with Carla Meeske


Shiatsu is a Japanese form of acupressure (it is also known as acupuncture without needles). Illness is thought to result from imbalances in the energy (chi or qi) flow through the body, and by restoring balance, health returns. Shiatsu is performed by using finger and palm pressure on points along the meridians (the chi’s “highways” in the body) to improve the flow of chi and thereby health.

Tellington TTouch®

Developed by Linda Tellington-Jones, TTouch is a method where circular movements of the practitioner’s fingers are applied all over the body in order to activate the function of the cells and awaken cellular intelligence. TTouch helps to release tension and increase body awareness, allowing the animal to gain self-confidence, help recovery from illness or injury, and enhance the quality of the animal’s life.
TTouch Case Study – Dog With Separation Anxiety
Book review – Getting in TTouch with your Dog

Tui Na

Tui Na is traditional Chinese massage, and it is sort of like a blend of Swedish massage, chiropractic, and acupressure. The practitioner massages with vigorous strokes while also focusing on the meridians and Qi points to release energy blockages. The goal is to establish a more harmonious flow of Qi throughout the system, allowing the body the naturally heal itself. In China, Tui Na is used for conditions that, in the West, would be treated by osteopaths, chiropractors and physical therapists.

Tong Ren

Tong Ren is an energy healing method invented by Tom Tam. The practitioner holds a small acupuncture model doll in one hand and taps on the points that need treatment with a magnetic hammer. This helps release blockages in the qi (which in Tong Ren is believed to be the cause of all disease), and when the energy is able to once again flow freely in the body, healing begins.
Tong Ren Case Studies – Horse with colic and impaction, Dog with abnormal growth, Dog with skin cancer
Tong Ren Case Study – Dog with Cushing’s

Cattie Coyle

Cattie Coyle

Founder and Editor at Animal Wellness Guide
Cattie is the founder and editor of Animal Wellness Guide. She is a freelance photographer, graduate of Bancroft School of Massage Therapy’s small animal program, and has studied Applied Zoopharmacognosy. Learn more about Cattie
Cattie Coyle
There are the most adorable little Piping Plovers on "our" beach, and today, I actually managed… - 8 hours ago


  1. says

    I had three dogs from shelters. One dog recently died unexpectedly. We were all very upset, including my other two dogs. My company, Biosource Naturals, makes Open Heart Body-Mind Remedy Lotion for the heart chakra; shock, grief, rejection, fear of rejection, anxiety. It contains combinations of body mapped Bach Flower Essences, therapeutic essential oils and gem elixirs.

    The night our dog died, and for the next few nights, I rubbed the remedy lotion on both of my dogs chest. They instantly reacted physically and emotionally. Within two days, they were acting very normal, in spite of the dogs all being very close–sleeping together, playing together, always snuggling like puppies. One of my dogs had been through a loss before and had been very depressed, so I was glad that the Open Heart prevented another depressive episode.

    Although Open Heart is used mostly for humans, it was really helpful to use on my dogs.

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