Water is essential for life. Approximately two thirds of the body is water and two thirds of the earth is covered by water. H2O is a polar molecule that has many important biological characteristics. Water has high heat capacity, it absorbs and releases large amounts of heat before changing temperature itself. As part of blood, water redistributes heat among body tissues, ensuring temperature homeostasis. Water has high heat of vaporization. When water evaporates, it changes from liquid to gas. Water in perspiration helps cool the body. Water has polar solvent properties. Because water molecules are polar, they orient themselves with their slightly negative ends toward the positive ends of the solutes in a water solution and surround them. The polarity of water helps ionic compounds, acids and bases dissociate in solution and become evenly scattered in the solution. Water is the body’s major transport medium. Nutrients, respiratory gases, and metabolic wastes carried throughout the body are dissolved in blood plasma, and many metabolic wastes are excreted from the body in urine. Mucus is another fluid lubricant in the body that is made up of water. Water is a reactant in many chemical reactions in the body. Hydrolysis reactions add water to the decomposition reactions in the body to break the chemical bonds of the nutrients that are eaten to break them down into smaller molecules that can be carried across the intestinal wall for example. Conversely, when large carbohydrate or protein molecules are synthesized from smaller molecules, a water molecule is removed for every bond that is formed. Water is a cushion that helps protect from physical trauma. The cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain is an example of waters cushioning ability. Without the correct amount of water in the system the animal will become dehydrated and body temperature will rise to cell damaging temperature levels, proteins will start to unravel and enzymes will not work when their shape is changed by the excess heat. In the next blog we will talk about the different pathological conditions that are caused by dehydration and how to make sure your animal companion gets a sufficient amount of quality water into their system.
By Nickie Scott
The beginning blogs on this subject will slowly lay a foundation of general scientific knowledge about the physiology, anatomy, pathology and nutritional requirements for animal health so that caretakers can make knowledgeable decisions about maintaining the health of their companion animals. There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet about the health requirement needs of companion animals and many people are looking for specific information that relates to some already existent pathological condition that their animal companion is experiencing. Without a basic understanding of what the animals requirements for maintaining homeostasis are we will not be able to make informed decisions on how to best promote general health and balance for the animals under our stewardship. Our first subject will be nutrition for companion animals. Let’s face it. The reason that animals form a bond with humans is not based on petting alone. Easy access to food and safe shelter are the main reasons that animals form this cross species bond. The first known domestication of animals happened around 13,000 BC and started with the dog (canis lupus familiaris) in east asia. Some 4,500 years later the domestication of cats (felis silvestris lybica) started in the fertile crescent around 8,000 BC. It wasn’t until 3,600 BC that the horse (equs caballus) started to be domesticated in what is now known as Kazakhstan. Domesticated dogs helped humans protect themselves from predators and helped to herd food animal herds. Until the dawn of processed animal food in 1860 by James Spratt of London, England domesticated dogs mainly lived off of table scraps or remnants of the hunt. Cats generally would eat the rodents that feed off of the grain humans stored but were also feed table scraps. Horses grazed the areas of their confinement and were supplemented with dried grasses when possible. While dogs and cats were enticed by the easy access to food and comfortable shelter, horses were basically enslaved for the benefit of humans. Maybe this is why their domestication started at a much later date then dogs and cats. It is much easier to entice a dog with food then a cat and even harder to entice a horse with food unless they are starving and conditioned to accepting food from humans.
Now that we know a little of the history of our intercession with domesticated animals we can start with the basic science of nutrition. Nutrition is defined as the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth. Nutrients are defined as, a substance that provides nourishment essential for the growth and maintenance of life. Nutrients provide the energy that all living beings need to produce the work of the cells and provide the building blocks that the body needs to maintain its structure. The source of all nutrients that the body needs come from one place, the earth. The energy that the nutrients contain to do work comes from one place, the sun. Since we can not eat the sun to get energy to do work we must have an intermediary to gather and store this energy in a form that can be transformed into an energy source that we can use as living animals and that intermediary is plants. Plants gather the energy of the sun and utilize it for their own growth and function and store the remainder as chlorophyll and oils. Plants gather elements of the earth up through their roots along with water and produce oxygen that other living beings need to spark the metabolic processes of the body. Livings beings then consume the plant material and break down the plant into an assimilable size so that we can use the energy and building blocks that were provided by the sun and earth or they eat the animal that has eaten the plant. Each living being has specific nutritional needs based upon the structural, environmental and work requirement of that particular life form. Since we are looking at only three specific animals we will need to know what the requirements are for each of these animals. Each type of animal is unique and has its own nutritional requirement as a species. Within each species there are also specific nutritional requirements based on size, genetics, environment, age, work habits and pathological imbalances. Each animal is a bio-individual so when we look at the nutritional requirements for the animal we must take all of these factors under consideration if we are to make wise choices in what we feed to our animal companions. Currently most of the information we have about animal nutrition for dogs, cats and horses are provided by the AAFCO. The Association of American Feed Control Officials Inc. reports it’s scientific findings to the FDA which then regulates pet food only when necessary to protect the general public, environment or poses a risk to the health of the animal. The AAFCO is a corporation not a government agency but it sets minimum requirements for pet food. It’s members are not required to follow these guidelines. We also get information from university studies on companion animal nutrient requirements but those studies are funded by the pet food industry or government grants. We would generally need to look at veterinary college studies to get information that is not subverted by the requirements of a desired outcome by the entity that is funding the study. Just as we see dietary fads in human nutrition we also see dietary fads in what people feed their animal companions. Each of these dietary fads probably contains some truth as well as some myth or incomplete information. Were are we to turn to find the knowledge we need to make intelligent choices on what to feed our companions? I think that the first place to start is learn more about what the bodies requirements are is to learn more about what nutrients are, where they come from and how they function in the body. In our next blog we will begin to lay the ground work of nutritional elements and where they come from. Once we know the basic chemical composition of nutrients we can look at how these nutrients enter into the body and get delivered to the cells. We will then look at bio-individual needs that are based on breed, environment, work levels, and pathological conditions. Once we know these basic subjects in nutrition we will look at the nutrients that are available to us, their manufacturing processes, quality and economics of nutrition. By the end of this subject we should have a clearer picture of how we can promote health through correct feeding that stays within the budget that we have available to us to feed our companions.
Massage for dogs is a very large subject so let’s look at a few of the massage modalities that have been proven to work for humans first. Trigger point therapy will be our first subject. I have been practicing massage full time since 1985 and this treatment is one of the most effective treatments I have found to reduce and eliminate pain in humans and I have also seen the effectiveness of this treatment with dogs and cats. A dog is not much different that a human when it comes to the causes and treatments for pain. While a dog can not communicate through words about the amount of pain reduction after a treatment I have seen many a dog who has gained full range of motion to joints and full loading of structure after treatment with trigger point therapy which they could not do before the treatment.
What is a trigger point? As defined by the Taber’s Medical Dictionary a trigger point or trigger zone is “an area of tissue that is tender when compressed and may give rise to referred pain and tenderness”. An active trigger point is ” A trigger point that is painful when the involved muscle is at rest. Palpation will reproduce the patient’s symptoms”. Latent trigger points are ” Trigger points that are not symptomatic when the involved muscle is at rest, but produce pain during palpation. Range of motion and strength may also be affected.”
What causes a trigger point? Trigger points are generally caused by over use of the muscle, trauma to the local muscle cells, and or increased muscle cell metabolism combined with reduced metabolic waste uptake by the vascular system or all of the above in combination. Trigger points have also been found to be active on bones and viscera. A more thorough review of myofascial trigger points can be found in the Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, 2006 article; Myrofascial Trigger Points: An Evidence-Informed Review.
Myofascial trigger points are generally treated by dry needling, stretch and spray, injection therapy, acupuncture, or manual therapy. While trigger points have been widely studied in humans their has been very little research done on trigger points in animals. One study by Luc Janssens, Trigger Points in 48 Dogs with Myofascial Pain Syndromes identified trigger points in the triceps brachii, infraspinatus, adductorpectineus, peroneus longus, gluteus medius, ileocostorum lumborum, and quadriceps femoris muscles in 38 lame dogs. The treatment consisted of weekly stimulation of the trigger points by needling or injection of a local anesthetic. The author states that excellent results and complete recovery were observed in 60% of the treated dogs.
In a presentation to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress-Vancover 2001, Alan Schoen a well respected veterinary acupuncturist stated that “trigger points may also be related to clinical and subclinical degenerative joint disease, intervertebral disc disease, spondylosis, as well as vertebral misalignments.” Trigger points have also been found to correspond to many acupuncture points.
Identifying trigger points in the dog is done through palpation of the tissues. The tissue that contains the trigger point will be indurated and there will be a taut band of fiber present. The novice might identify this as a knot but muscles can not be tied in knots so a more accurate description would be an area of hardened or swollen tissue that may be hotter then the surrounding tissue. The spot might also seem to pulsate and when touched if it is active it will cause pain in the dog which can be identified by the dog pulling away from the pressure, an increase in alertness as we approach the area and the dog will look back at us intensely, whimpering, growling, and the dog might move away from us at this point or start to lick the area insistently. We should always approach a painful area on the dog with gentleness and caution so we don’t hurt the dog or get bitten. If we start the palpation process by doing long gentle petting strokes from head to tail and off of each limb the dog will let us know the areas that are sensitive by pulling away from the stroke in the areas that are sensitive. Once we have found the areas of sensitivity we can slowly move back to the area and lightly rest our palms over the area without moving for a minute or two so that the dog will understand that we will be sensitive and not hurt them. If the area is hypersensitive we might have to just hover our hand over the area for a while and them very gently lower our palms onto the spot. Linda Tellington-Jones the originator of TTouch sometimes uses a feather to lightly stroke a hypersensitive area. Another way to approach a hypersensitive trigger point is to use cryotherapy to help numb the nerves in the area. We can crush some ice and put it in a sturdy zip lock back and gently rest it on the area after letting the dog sniff the bag. We can use a hot water bottle and put some crushed ice in it with water so that the bag will mold around the area. It is better not to apply the ice directly on the body because the dogs coat will get wet and this will alter the effectiveness of the treatment and in small dogs will cause them to shiver to much even after the treatment has stopped. Leave the ice pack on for 15-20 minutes and check the area a few times during the treatment to see how cold the tissue is. A smaller dog will need less time and a larger thicker coated dog will probably need more time. We should check the area part of the way through the treatment to make sure that the dog is not getting frostbite. We do not want the dog to get a frostbite so if the tissue seems really cold to you, stop the treatment. If the dog is uncooperative in lying still we can wrap the ice bag on with some Ace bandages. After the area has been numbed we can then treat the trigger points. For dogs who are in constant pain from a degenerative joint disease, muscle sprain or strains, or nerve compressions you might consider getting a custom made ice holding pack from CanineIcer.com.
Once we have identified the active trigger points we should warm up the surrounding area with moderate pressure compression so that we can get some local blood circulating. The actual treatment of the trigger point will be done with ischemic compression. We can use our thumb pad, a digital pad, or a massage tool that is made for this work or even a rounded crystal. The technique is similar to shiatsu thumb pressure. We should place our thumb over the trigger point, trap the muscle against the bone and gently sink in to a depth that will not make the dog pull away or wince in pain, wait for three to four seconds and then sink in a little deeper for another few seconds and finally sink in even deeper if the dog is receptive. Sinking in is the operative term here, we don’t push in and push past the pain tolerance level. Pushing is aggressive and insisting on change, sinking in is asking and waiting for change. The tissue under your thumb should slowly open up and allow you to sink in deeper if this technique is done right. If you find yourself pushing or if you come to an end feel and keep pushing you will hurt the dog and this will be counter productive because the dog will start to tighten the muscle to guard against the pain. In working with human trigger points the human will identify the feeling that is produced as good pain, or will describe the pain as radiating to a distant area and will describe a feeling of warmth as we slowly release the pressure and the blood flows back into the tissue. We should release our pressure slowly so we don’t jar the nervous system and then move a half thumbs width to an adjacent area of tissue and repeat the thumb pressure until we have covered all of the area surrounding the trigger point. Don’t over treat the point, this will irritate the muscle tissues to much and cause the dog to be sore for the next few days. If we have used cryotherapy over the trigger point or the dog is on pain medication we will have to be extra cautious because the dog can not feel the area very well and can not give us a signal that we are going to deep.
How often should we do this treatment? We should leave at least two-three days between treatments, we might bruise the tissue to much if we over treat if and the local circulation should be given time to remove any metabolic waste or previously damaged cell material from the interstitial fluid. Also in many instances we have put pressure on the local nerve supply and this will need a little time to recover from the pressure that we have applied.
It is a good idea to stretch the muscles that we have worked on so that the connective tissue can become more elastic and pliable and any cross linkages in the fibrotic tissue can be broken down. They are many other positive benefits of stretching after treating trigger points and I will discuss this in another post on the benefits of stretching for animals. How many sessions does it take until we see progress? This depends on the age, vitality, degree of injury, length of time that the trigger point has been active, and how much the dog is using the muscles involved. Some trigger points can be deactivated with one session and some trigger points may take 4-6 treatments. We would also need to have the DVM examine the dog to see if there are boney misalignments that are contributing to the trigger point formation or an underlying physiological problem. Tracing the causes of the trigger point development is best done by a DVM that is trained in canine orthopedic medicine or a canine physical therapist.
Complementary health care for animals is rapidly expanding it’s reach into the veterinary field. “A University of Florida survey in 1990 revealed that 34% of animal owners utilized some form of CAM. By 1997, survey results showed an increase to 42% but 60% of these people did not provide this information to their regular veterinarian.” The AVMA Guidelines for Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine, identify these complementary medical modalities as CAVM. If you read their guidelines you will see that they “recognize the interest in and use of these modalities and is open to their consideration” but they require a demonstration of a substantial body of scientific knowledge in order to be recognized by the AVMA. Since we as human beings are animals by scientific classification and since most of the animals that CAVM practitioners treat are mammals like us and since there is plenty of scientific evidence for CAM practice and efficacy now the AVMA should start to look at these studies. At the end of their guidelines they refer the DVM back to state laws regulating veterinary practice. Nowhere in their guidelines do they say that they are interested in educating their members on the possible benefits that the consumer obviously perceives. The AVMA seems to be trying to ignore this growing field it. The AVMA further states: “The foremost objective in veterinary medicine is patient welfare. Ideally, sound veterinary medicine is effective, safe, proven, and holistic in that it considers all aspects of the animal patient in the context of its environment.” If 42% of animal owners are trying these modalities and 60% of these owners are not discussing this with their DVM there is something seriously wrong with the AVMA’s position on CAVM. It also seems that the AVMA is out of touch with animal owners needs for CAVM treatments for their animals. The AVMA has done nothing to help animal owners and caretakers get access to CAVM treatments, in fact the AVMA has worked against CAVM practitioners to make sure that they can not practice legally in a vast majority of the states. If the patients welfare is the foremost objective in veterinary medicine and animal owners believe in the efficacy of these treatments then the AVMA should fund some studies on these modalities to prove or disprove their efficacy. I personally believe that the AVMA does care about the health of animals but their board of directors and members are mainly working towards blocking the avenues to these treatments for the customer just as the AMA blocked chiropractors from practicing for years.
California’s veterinary laws pretty much make it illegal for CAVM practitioners to practice unless they are a DVM in this state. As CAVM modality use is increasing, veterinary medical schools are starting to add programs to their curriculum to help veterinary students learn more about these modalities which they will certainly encounter in their practice. While there is still a lot of resistance by traditional DVM’s to these modalities I believe that this resistance is due to ignorance and protectionism. A must read book for both DVM’s and CAVM practitioners is Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine by David W. Ramey DVM and Bernard E. Rollin PhD. These respected authors take a critical look at the CAVM field and have some very helpful insights to share. In the future I believe we will see a CAVM organization under the umbrella of the AVMA. Human medicine has already recognized complementary health care and the National Institute of Health has recognized and funded research in the CAM field through the NCCAM. IF the AVMA is serious about making sure that animals get the best health care possible it should follow the NCCAM model and start the process of scientific investigation of CAVM modalities so animal owners can find out which modalities might help or hurt their animal companions.
An important issue for CAVM practitioners is how to work within the law and with DVM’s and this is the subject that I promised to address in my last blog. Let me begin this part of the conversation by saying that I personally believe that the AVMA and its’ members should be in the lead in helping to determine which CAVM modalities and treatments are suitable for animal owners to use. DVM’s are very well trained in this country and have a vast body of knowledge at their disposal. All of the DVM’s I have known have proven to be very compassionate and knowledgeable practitioners and I have a great amount of respect for their dedication the the health of animals. CAVM practitioners need to learn how to work with DVM’s and the AVMA so we can both achieve our common goals which are to help animals become and stay healthy and free from pain and disease. So our number one goal at this point should be to establish and maintain good working relationships with the AVMA and DVM’s. Good communication and education are the best medicine to use. Patience and perseverance will also be very helpful in establishing a good rapport with other animal health care practitioners.
So, the number one thing we must do to practice CAVM legally in the state of California is to be under the supervision of a DVM. California DVM’s probably are the most open to CAVM modalities because a large amount of their clients are using CAVM practitioners on a regular basis. It should not be hard to find a DVM who is willing to supervise your practice. You should pay the DVM for their consulting time and refer clients to them on a regular basis. Under state guidelines and AVMA guidelines the supervising DVM should be consulted for any treatment and in fact it is my belief that if you can not prove efficacy of the treatment to the DVM the treatment should not be given. When under the supervision of the DVM you should maintain all records in a professional manner and forward these records to the supervising and primary DVM. It is illegal for any CAVM practitioner who is not a DVM to diagnose so please leave this to the DVM. You can give your opinion the the DVM based upon your expertise in the CAVM field you are practicing but you should not state this opinion to your client without the DVM’s permission and review.
Let’s get an example of this communication trail. Maybe you are a veterinary chiropractor, physical therapist or massage therapist who has an animals owner contact you for treatment. The first thing we would want to do is to find out who the animals primary DVM is. We would find out from the owner if the DVM referred them to us for treatment. If their primary DVM did not refer them to us for treatment and another DVM referred them for treatment we would still need to contact the primary DVM and have them supervise the treatment. If they found us through another referral source we would then ask the client if it was alright with them that we contact the primary DVM before any treatment so that they could supervise whatever treatment that we would give. Maybe the client doesn’t want us to contact the primary DVM because they thought that the primary DVM would not be receptive to the treatment that they wanted to get for the animal. In this case we should have a DVM who we regularly have supervise us examine the animal in question and have them supervise the treatment. If the animals caretaker doesn’t want to incur the expense of this option then by law we would not be able to give the treatment. Once we have done a thorough examination of the animal in question and if we have the approval to contact the primary DVM or our supervising DVM we would email then or call them and let them know what we have found in our examination, what type of treatment we would like to give to the animal, ask them if there is any contraindications to the treatment and ask the DVM if they would be willing to supervise us. It would also be helpful is we had all of the clients medical reports before treatment so we would ask the animals caretaker to allow the DVM to give us access to these records. Once we have the DVM’s recommendations we can proceed to treat the animal based upon the DVM’s recommendations, the clients goals and the animals needs. If we find during the treatment and examination for example that there are trigger points and indurated tissue in the gluteals and the dog has been limping on the side of the trigger points and induration and maybe we also found a dorsal displacement of L-4, what would we tell the client about this? We have two choices here, 1. We could tell the animals owner what we have found with a preface that they should always check with their DVM which would not truly be a legal approach because we would be diagnosing or 2. We could chart these findings and send them to the DVM for further examination and diagnoses and let the animals owner know that we have sent our findings to the DVM and the DVM will interpret these findings and will contact them about what type of treatment will be needed to treat the animal in the future if these findings are correct.
While all of this might seem to much to do for a CAVM practitioner consider the fact that any DVM who was not the animals primary DVM would do the same thing if the animal was referred to them from the primary DVM. Why should CAVM practitioners do anything differently?
This blog is already getting a little to long so in the next blog we will look at opportunities in the educational field for those CAVM practitioners, out of state DVM’s and DVM’s entering into the field from out of the country who wish to work with animals in this state or any state in the USA and who have been stymied by the veterinary laws from practicing veterinary medicine.
Cats are unique massage subjects that require equally unique techniques and approaches to massage. As massage therapists our human clients come to us for massage and are willingly put their bodies under our hands for nurturing. With animal massage generally we go to our clients if they are cats or horses. Dogs can be brought to us and are either willing or unwilling to be massaged depending on their mood or energy level. It is to expensive to bring horses to us and cats do not travel well so it is best for us to go to them.
Before we accept the appointment we should get an approval from the clients supervising DVM and obtain a copy of any medical history from the DVM’s who have treated the animal. The animals caretaker should ask the DVM if their are any contraindications or cautions to massage and this should be documented through email or a letter from the DVM. Every state in the USA regulates veterinary practice so you should become familiar with the laws in your own state if you wish to do professional animal massage. It is safe to say that all states require a DVM to supervise any treatment done with animals that constitutes veterinary practice and each state defines what constitutes veterinary practice in that state. Even if the states didn’t regulate animal massage or veterinary practice you should understand that DVM’s have gone to veterinary medical schools for at least four years and generally have more knowledge of health problems in animals than the vast majority of animal massage therapists. We want to help animals with massage and not hurt them so we should rely on the DVM’s education and experience in the field to guide us.
Humans can give us oral feedback that we can use to modify our treatment. Animals generally communicate with us in their own language of body positioning that other animals will be able to read clearly so it is important for an animal massage therapist to learn the language of each animal species that they plan to work with so that we are speaking the same language or at least understanding the signals that they are communicating to us with.
An excellent book for learning the language of cats is
When we arrive at the cats residence we will need to complete a client intake form if we haven’t had the cats caretaker do this before hand. After we have completed a thorough intake, both written and oral, and determined that there are no general or local contraindications for massage we should do a gait analysis to determine if there is any gaiting irregularities. If the cat is in the room moving around during the intake you should watch the cats movements for any irregularities. If the cat is not moving around we can encourage the cat to move with play toys or by having the cats caretaker offer them treats and move around the room to different locations to get the treats. If we do find any gaiting irregularities we should note them on the client assessment form and determine which muscles and or bones are involved before determining our treatment plan. If we can, we should film the cat in motion and keep a record of the gait analysis so we can slow the motion down on our computer and get a clearer picture of what is happening with the cats gait. We can also use this material for reassessment purposes to determine if the massages we have done is helping correct the faulty gait.
The time that we spend on doing a thorough intake and gait analysis will also allow the cat to get familiar with us and scent mark us with their tail and cheeks. If the cat does not mark us during this time we can safely assume that the cat is not acting normally towards us and might have some psychological problems as well, because cats normally mark anything that comes into their domain. If the cat is reluctant to mark us and come to us we can try to entice it with healthy treats or have the animals caretaker hold the cat in their lap so we can approach the cat while the cat is in a safe place. If the cat is still fearful we can use a feather to stroke the cat or put a light towel around the cat leaving the head exposed and allowing the cats legs to be free to move. If the cat has a history of aggression to humans we will need to be very cautious in our approach. Make sure that you have the caretaker put a folded towel on their lap or we should put a folded towel in our lap if we have the cat in our lap so the cat doesn’t scratch us or them while trying to get away. We can stroke the exposed head of the cat with a feather or the back of the closed fingers of our hand so we don’t get bitten. Stroke with the feather over the towel lightly so the cat gets used to this light touch through the towel. Linda Tellington-Jones has a great video on TTouch for cats
that shows the correct approach for aggressive cats. Using her method of TTouch for aggressive cats you should be able to significant progress in a few ten to fifteen minute sessions. Gaining the cats trust is crucial to making progress in a massage with cats. We are trying to get a parasympathetic nervous system response that disengages the fight-flight-freeze mechanisms of the nervous system.
If the cat does mark us and allows us to touch them we should begin with soft effleurage strokes from muzzle to tail a few time and off of the cranial and caudal limbs to determine if their are any hot or cold areas, painful areas that the cat will not let you touch, or particularly empty or full areas of tissue. For a clinical massage therapist we might also do a pulse diagnosis from the traditional Chinese acupressure pulse points along the femoral artery on the medial surface of the caudal limbs or the radial artery pulse on the cranial limbs. A professional animal massage therapist should pause after the initial palpations and create a treatment plan at this point so the animal will benefit from a well planned session that takes into account all of the information that has been gleaned from the written and oral intake, gait analysis, pulse diagnosis and opening palpation.
Every state in the United States regulates professions to protect the general public from unscrupulous business practices. The Department of Consumer Affairs is the California agency that oversees these regulations. The Veterinary Medical Board of California supervises Doctors of Veterinary Medicine, Registered Veterinary Technicians and unregistered veterinary workers. It also sets educational standards and manages veterinary medical practice in the state. While business regulations are meant to protect the public from harm by professionals it is very difficult to see the reasoning behind some of the veterinary regulations when we are killing animals daily and using animals as laboratory specimens to test new medical sciences on. Where does harm to the public begin and end when we are harming animals everyday?
The California Business and Professions Code contains the professional codes that govern any regulated profession in California. Chapter 11 Article 2 Section 4825-4831 contains the definition of what the practice of veterinary medicine is defined as and tells us who may engage in this profession. Two sections of this code are very relevant to massage therapist who work with animals and all other complementary health care practitioners who work with animals, Section 4826 and Section 4827. 4826. Section 4826 states as follows:
A person practices veterinary medicine, surgery, and
dentistry, and the various branches thereof, when he or she does any
one of the following:
(a) Represents himself or herself as engaged in the practice of
veterinary medicine, veterinary surgery, or veterinary dentistry in
any of its branches.
(b) Diagnoses or prescribes a drug, medicine, appliance,
application, or treatment of whatever nature for the prevention, cure
or relief of a wound, fracture, bodily injury, or disease of
(c) Administers a drug, medicine, appliance, application, or
treatment of whatever nature for the prevention, cure, or relief of a
wound, fracture, bodily injury, or disease of animals, except where
the medicine, appliance, application, or treatment is administered by
a registered veterinary technician or an unregistered assistant at
the direction of and under the direct supervision of a licensed
veterinarian subject to Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 4832) or
where the drug, including, but not limited to, a drug that is a
controlled substance, is administered by a registered veterinary
technician or an unregistered assistant pursuant to Section 4836.1.
However, no person, other than a licensed veterinarian, may induce
anesthesia unless authorized by regulation of the board.
(d) Performs a surgical or dental operation upon an animal.
(e) Performs any manual procedure for the diagnosis of pregnancy,
sterility, or infertility upon livestock or Equidae.
(f) Uses any words, letters or titles in such connection or under
such circumstances as to induce the belief that the person using them
is engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine, veterinary
surgery, or veterinary dentistry. This use shall be prima facie
evidence of the intention to represent himself or herself as engaged
in the practice of veterinary medicine, veterinary surgery, or
veterinary dentistry. Section 4827 states as follows: 4827. Nothing in this chapter prohibits any person from:
(a) Practicing veterinary medicine as a bona fide owner of one’s
own animals. This exemption applies to the following:
(1) The owner’s bona fide employees.
(2) Any person assisting the owner, provided that the practice is
(b) Lay testing of poultry by the whole blood agglutination test.
For purposes of this section, “poultry” means flocks of avian
species maintained for food production, including, but not limited
to, chickens, turkeys, and exotic fowl.
(c) Making any determination as to the status of pregnancy,
sterility, or infertility upon livestock, equine, or food animals at
the time an animal is being inseminated, providing no charge is made
for this determination.
(d) Administering sodium pentobarbital for euthanasia of sick,
injured, homeless, or unwanted domestic pets or animals without the
presence of a veterinarian when the person is an employee of an
animal control shelter and its agencies or humane society and has
received proper training in the administration of sodium
pentobarbital for these purposes.
In my next blog we will look at how we can comply with these laws and how we can work with DVM’s to provide the proven benefit that massage and other complementary health care for animals supplies.