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 you must be registered with the GOsC (General Osteopathic Council) to practice osteopathy. For this reason, to become an animal osteopath you must first train at a recognised university to become a human osteopath. Courses can be found at at several locations around the UK, including, the European School of Osteopathy (, the British School of Osteopathy ( and the British College of Osteopathic Medicine (

What qualifications do I need to train as an osteopath?

In order to become an 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. It is against the law for anyone to call themselves an osteopath unless they are registered with the GOsC, which sets and promotes high standards of competency, conduct and safety. As such, this means that animal osteopaths, in the UK, must be registered osteopaths, although the AAO would like to make it clear that the GOsC does not regulate animal osteopathy, but rather ensures that osteopaths working as animal osteopaths work within their the professional boundaries of the OPS (Osteopathic Practice Standards). The AAO however, supports animal osteopaths by working tirelessly to ensure that the profession moves from strength to strength.

What further training will I need to become an Animal Osteopath?

There are a number of courses that provide training in animal osteopathy. These range from 3 day introductions (for those wanting to experience AO as a discipline) through to a Masters degree courses (details can be found below). Please note that the AAO does not endorse any specific course, but is in favour of all animal osteopaths bettering themselves through further education.

Courses in Animal Osteopathy

Internally validated programmes (ESO) are run by the animal osteopathic team at the European School of Osteopathy in Kent. These include: Taster Days, Foundation Courses  and a Diploma in Animal Osteopathy for those wanting to learn to integrate osteopathic principles not their animal practice and deepen their animal related knowledge. Courses are run for osteopaths and other veterinary professionals wishing to expand into the field.

For further information please contact the animal team on Tel. 01622 671558. Website:

PGCert, PGDip, MSc in Animal Manipulation – run jointly by McTimoney Chiropractic College and Warwickshire College – Course leader – Tony Nevin

For further information please contact Melanie Goodchild at the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, Telephone: 01235 523336 Web:

PG Certificate validated by the University College of Osteopathy through the Osteopathic Centre for Animals – Course in equine and canine osteopathy – Course leader – Stuart McGregor

For further information please contact 01235 768055 or email:

Further information…

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 postgraduate qualification in animal osteopathy demonstrates to owners that you care about the service you provide. For many years, animal osteopaths could only acquire their skills through work experience and hours of hands on practice, but the educational setting is changing and more and more osteopaths want to acquire a formal qualification to indicate their level of skill.

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