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Giving Reiki to animals

Advice provided by the Reiki Council (The Reiki Association is a founding member)


The following documents have been provided by The Reiki Coumcil and NOS (National Occupational Standards). They relate to Reiki treatment of animals, and the training of Reiki practitioners for giving treatment.
Please read:

Animal Reiki is growing in popularity. There are specialist animal Reiki provider e.g. Equine Reiki. We have compiled some basic guidance for Reiki practitioners drawn to working with animals. The law relating to animals is more restrictive than laws relating to working with humans.

  1. Legal position of treating animals in UK (see below for guidance from RCVS). If working abroad, check the legal position in the country you are visiting. E.g. some countries may have laws forbidding touching wild animals. Research guidance from local wildlife organisations.
  2. Basic requirements: Attuned/initiated to Reiki 2 (as per people).
  3. Animal Reiki specialist: to have studied the typical behaviours, body language and issues that specific animal or animals. To understand the specific health and safety issues related to working that specific animal or animals (e.g. steel toe caps if working with horses in a yard). Some animals may be more safely treated at a distance, e.g. wild animals or large or dangerous animals or highly traumatised animals.
  4. Respecting the will of the animal: e.g. if an animal shows signs of moving away to cease treatment, i.e. treat an animal the same as people, i.e. be aware that the animal will give consent by its body language and follow the animal’s lead.
  5. Keep clear records as you would do with a human client.
  6. Some HE/FE colleges now include Reiki as part of their teaching e.g. Reaseheath College in Cheshire’s Foundation Degree
    Myerscough College in Lancashire offers an introduction to complementary therapies for companion animals

RCVS guidance on Reiki for animals

Please note that the RCVS classes Reiki in the same category as Faith Healing/Spiritual Healing and therefore Reiki is not considered the practise of veterinary surgery. See below.

The RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2008 contains advice on the treatment of animals by non-veterinary surgeons. This information is in part 2F; which states;

The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides, subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons may practise veterinary surgery. 'Veterinary surgery' is defined within the Act as encompassing the 'art and science of veterinary surgery and medicine' which includes the diagnosis of diseases and injuries in animals, tests performed on animals for diagnostic purposes, advice based upon a diagnosis and surgical operations which may not necessarily form part of a treatment. These restrictions are in the interests of ensuring that animals are treated only by people qualified to do so.’

The Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 1962 allows for the treatment of animals by physiotherapy, provided that the animal has first been seen by a veterinary surgeon who has diagnosed the condition and decided that it should be treated by physiotherapy under his/her direction.

Physiotherapy' is interpreted as including all kinds of manipulative therapy. It therefore includes osteopathy and chiropractic but would not, for example, include acupuncture or aromatherapy (see Part 1I, paragraph 2, Your responsibilities in relation to the treatment of animals by non-veterinary surgeons).

Other complementary therapists

All other forms of complementary therapy in the treatment of animals, including homoeopathy, must be administered by veterinary surgeons. It is illegal, in terms of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, for lay practitioners however qualified in the human field, to treat animals. At the same time it is incumbent on veterinary surgeons offering any complementary therapy to ensure that they are adequately trained in its application.

Faith healing

Faith healers are required in terms of the Code of Practice of the Confederation of Healing Organisations, to ensure that animals have been seen by a veterinary surgeon who is content for healing to be given by the laying on of hands.’

If any manipulative therapy is included in the treatment you provide, the Veterinary Surgeon (Exemptions) Order 1962 would apply. The 1962 Order allows for the treatment of animals by phsiotheray, provided that the animal has first been seen by a veterinary surgeon who has diagnosed the condition and decided that it should be treated by physiotherapy under his/her direction. Physiotherapy is defined as including all kinds of manipulative therapy.

Therefore faith healing, spiritual healing (including Reiki) are procedures that would not normally be regarded as the practise of veterinary surgery under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966; though it would be prudent for animal to have been seen by a veterinary surgeon when this is being performed for reasons other than well-being.

If you require further information please contact the RCVS direct: Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Belgravia House, 63-64 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AF.

This information is given without prejudice.

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