The AAEP supports the rights of the veterinary practitioner to select and prescribe a course of therapy believed to be in the best interest of the horse and consistent with the Veterinary Oath of Practice.

Guidelines on Therapeutic Options (1992)

Diagnostic evaluation by a licensed veterinarian is required prior to any of the following therapies.

Acupuncture--Veterinary acupuncture and acutherapy are considered valid modalities, but the potential for abuse exists. These techniques should be regarded as surgical and/or medical procedures under state veterinary practice acts. It is recommended that extensive educational programs be undertaken before a veterinarian is considered competent to practice acupuncture.

Chiropractic--Veterinary chiropractic should be considered a medical act and should be performed by a licensed veterinarian or a chiropractor under the direct referral of a veterinarian in accordance with that state's practice act. It is recommended that extensive educational programs be undertaken before a veterinarian or chiropractor is considered competent to practice chiropractic on animals.

Homeopathy--Homeopathy is a medical discipline that employs medicines from natural substances diluted to minute amounts to treat disease. It is recommended that extensive educational programs be undertaken before a veterinarian is considered competent to practice homeopathy.

Herbology-Naturopathy--Herbology and naturopathy are medical disciplines which employ natural substances to treat diseases. It is recommended that educational programs be undertaken before a veterinarian is considered competent to practice herbology and naturopathy on animals.

Massage--Massage is a technique in which the practitioner uses hands and body to manipulate soft tissue, thereby positively affecting the health and well-being of the animal. Massage should be performed by a graduate of an accredited massage school who has specialized training in equine anatomy, physiology, massage, and veterinary ethics. The work should be done under the referral of a veterinarian.

Physical Therapy--An equine physical therapist uses non-invasive techniques for the rehabilitation of injuries. Physical therapy is defined as including the use of massage, stretching, laser, electrical stimulation, magnetic, ultrasound, rehabilitative exercises, hydrotherapy, heat, and cold. The work must be performed under a referral of a veterinarian following a veterinary diagnosis.

Guidelines for Alternative and Complementary Veterinary Medicine (AVMA 1996) AAEP note: Only those modalities not previously addressed by AAEP guidelines are provided here. For a complete description of AVMA guidelines, please refer to the AVMA directory.

Veterinary Botanical Medicine is the use of plant and plant derivatives as therapeutic agents. It is recommended that continued research and education be conducted. Since some of these botanicals may be toxic when used at inappropriate doses, it is imperative that veterinary botanical medicine be practiced only by licensed veterinarians who have been educated in veterinary botanical medicine. Communication on the use of these compounds within the context of a valid veterinarian/client/patient relationship is important.

Nutraceutical Medicine is the use of micronutrients, macronutrients, and other nutritional supplements as therapeutic agents. Communication on the potential risks and benefits from the use of these compounds within the context of a valid veterinarian/client/patient relationship is important. Continued research and education on the use of nutraceuticals in veterinary medicine are advised.

Holistic Veterinary Medicine is a comprehensive approach to health care employing alternative and conventional diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. In practice, holistic veterinary medicine incorporates, but is not limited to, the principles of acupuncture and acutherapy, botanical medicine, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage therapy, nutraceuticals, and physical therapy as well as conventional medicine, surgery, and dentistry. It is recommended that holistic veterinary medicine be practiced only by a licensed veterinarian educated in the modalities employed. The modalities comprising holistic veterinary medicine should be practiced according to the licenser and referral requirements concerning each modality.

Position on Thermocautery or Pin Firing (1992) Pin Firing or Thermocautery has value for certain conditions in the horse where superior alternative treatments have yet to be identified. Based on numerous reports of clinical observation, it is also our consensus that when done properly, pin firing is a humane form of therapy.

About the Author

American Association of Equine Practitioners

AAEP Mission: To improve the health and welfare of the horse, to further the professional development of its members, and to provide resources and leadership for the benefit of the equine industry. More information: www.aaep.org.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners