AO Training

Becoming an Animal Osteopath (AO) 

Are you considering a career in animal osteopathy? If so, we hope this page will give you the information you need.

Do you have to do a course in human osteopathy to become an animal osteopath?

In the UK, the title “osteopath” is protected by law and to treat humans, you must be registered with the GOsC (General Osteopathic Council) to practice osteopathy. For this reason, to become an animal osteopath it has always been assumed that you must first train at a recognised university to become a human osteopath. More recently, however, the Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners (RAMP) has challenged this statement, backed by the support of a barrister. There is question as to whether the law surrounding osteopathy, remains in tact where the patient in question is an animal and where the practitioner uses a prefix “Animal or Veterinary” in conjunction with “osteopath or osteopathy”. As such, the AAO is in communication with the Institute Osteopathy, GOsC and RAMP and will up date readers as appropriate; and we advise any practitioner seeking to train in animal osteopathy, to be fully aware of this grey area, which if based in the UK, may affect your ability to use the term Osteopath or Osteopathy until this matter has been resolved. 

What qualifications do I need to train as a HUMAN osteopath in the uk?

In order to become a human osteopath you need to complete a degree in osteopathy – this varies between four and five years depending on your chosen path of study. Entry requirements vary, but a basic standard of 5 GCSE passes (grades A-C) and BCC (or above) at A level (including 2 science subjects – Biology, Chemistry, Physical Education, Physics, Psychology, Mathematics, Sport Science as sciences). Osteopathic teaching establishments often provide a summer science course or ‘top-up’ course for students who do not fulfil this criteria, but have other qualifications at an appropriate level.

Is animal osteopathy a regulated profession? 

The title ‘osteopath’ is protected by law. In the UK it is against the law for anyone to call themselves an osteopath unless they are registered with the GOsC. This regulatory body sets and promotes high standards of competency, conduct and safety for human osteopaths who work in the UK. However, as per the statement at the start of this page, GOsC does not regulate animal osteopathy, but rather, ensures that osteopaths who also treat animals, do so within their the professional scope of practice and the boundaries of the OPS (Osteopathic Practice Standards). This has created a grey area, which is currently being reviewed. Not only by GOsC but also by RAMP, GCC and HCPC. AAO will endeavour to keep readers up-to-date as changes in this environment occur. 

What training will I need to become an Animal Osteopath?

There are a number of courses that provide training in animal osteopathy. These range from canine and equine dual modality courses run by Animal Osteopathy International, (which are validated by the European School of Osteopathy), through to a PG Cert. Animal Osteopathy validated by University College of Osteopathy and a Masters degree courses run in conjunction with Mc Timoney Chiropractic. Please note that the AAO does not endorse any specific course, but is in favour of animal osteopaths bettering themselves through further education. 

What are the benefits of treating humans and animals??

There are several different ways in which a two-pronged business in osteopathy can benefit both you and your customers. Take for example the horse/rider combination, where one form frequently influences the other. Here, an osteopath can evaluate both horse and rider to ascertain the biomechanical influences at play, thus eradicating the need for frequent return visits to a horse, whose actual problem is a rider with poor riding posture or technique.

Another thing to consider is that having a human and animal practice offers two routes to income. During the cold, wet months of winter, when days are short and some equine patients require less care, you may be very glad of a warm human clinic where patients come to you. Having said that, those in small animal practice often work within a veterinary environment and this is much closer to the workings of a human practice.

Finally and most importantly, in order to maintain registration with the General Osteopathic Council, thus being able to use the title ‘Osteopath’, you need to complete CPD hours each year in human osteopathy. As a result, animal osteopaths must fulfil some clinical hours with humans as part of their working week.

What are the benefits of becoming a qualified animal osteopath?

As a member of the General Osteopathic Council, you demonstrate that you are suitably qualified to carry out osteopathy on the general public. This signifies that you work professionally, using critical analysis and understand the need for a working hypothesis before creating a treatment plan for your patient.

Also, having a qualification in animal osteopathy demonstrates to owners that you care about the service you provide. For many years, animal osteopaths could only acquire skills through work experience and hours of hands on practice, but the educational setting is changing dramatically and more and more osteopaths want to acquire a formal qualification to indicate their level of skill. All three of the providers listed above, produce courses that can be used to support entry onto the Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners (Stage I application).

We should highlight at this stage that it is an offence for any person (other than the owner) to treat an animal, unless a veterinary referral has been achieved. This should be acquired by the osteopath – not the owner – and acts to ensure that the animal is suitable for osteopathic treatment.

We hope that you have found all the information you require. If you have questions, please contact us on