USA Animal Body Work Laws
If you are a USA resident intending to take a class and use the skills for business, please be sure to read your state’s individual animal bodywork laws PRIOR to registering. You may reside in a state that does not allow any animal bodywork by laypersons but choose to work in a neighboring state which allows you to practice within the parameters of that state law.
State laws change and we cannot guarantee that the below information is the most current. Veterinary Practice Acts often do not have specific wording in regards to massage and bodywork, and require interpretation by the current vet board. The EquiLearn Institute, Equinology INC and Caninology cannot be held accountable for any information listed in this summary.
When registering for a class, you will be asked to confirm you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions. One of these terms requires you to confirm you have read the below information about your particular state and understand any restrictions that may apply. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|STATE||ALLOWED||ALLOWED with VET REFERRAL||ALLOWED with VET SUPERVISION||NOT ALLOWED||CONFIRM REQUIRED|
ALABAMA: Allowed/Vet supervision
“Animal massage by a massage therapist under the direction of a licensed veterinarian”
No specific wording in state board vet practice act; no specific wording in practice act
Licensure is no longer a requirement to practice animal massage in the state. After a class action suit, vet board and therapists agreed to leave each other be. A signed agreement detailed that the veterinary board no longer require animal massage practitioners to obtain a veterinary license or to work under a veterinarian’s supervision.
§ 17-101-307. License required–Exemptions
(a) No person may practice veterinary medicine in this state who is not a licensed veterinarian or the holder of a valid temporary permit issued by the Veterinary Medical Examining Board.
(b) This chapter shall not be construed to prohibit:
(12) A person practicing or performing equine massage therapy or animal massage therapy.
Proposed wording update: Animal Physical Rehabilitation does not include relaxation, recreational or wellness modalities, including but not limited to, massage, athletic training or exercise.
Must have a degree or certificate from an approved CO school offering postsecondary education or registered with the US Dept of Education (Note from DAP: while I have no problem establishing some qualification of the licensed state school, I do have a problem of CO not accepting other licensed state post secondary private schools. I believe there may violation of antitrust laws)
Sec. 20-197. “the performance of myofascial trigger point therapy by persons experienced in that practice shall not be deemed to be the practice of veterinary medicine…For the purposes of this section, “myofascial trigger point therapy” means the use of specific palpation, compression, stretching and corrective exercise for promoting optimum athleticism, and “persons experienced in that practice” 200 hours required
DELAWARE: Allowed/Vet supervision
Supports activities under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian
H641: Animal Service Providers; provides that chapter 474, F.S., re veterinary medical practice, does not apply to part-time worker or independent contractor who is hired by owner to provide certain services; provides for retroactive effect.
§ 43-50-44. Exemptions from article. This article shall not be construed to prohibit: (17) A person performing soft tissue animal massage or other forms of soft tissue animal manipulation
HAWAII: Allowed/Vet supervision
No specific wording in state board vet practice act; however board offered: “the veterinary licensing regulation allows for those under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian to be able to provide limited services on animals including massage therapy.”
“Massage is not a licensed profession in the state of Idaho; therefore, equine massage is allowed as long as the individual does not diagnose, prescribe, manipulate or adjust”
ILLINOIS: Allowed/vet referral
Previously allowed; now specific wording on AVMA not found in practice act though. Exemptions to the Practice of Veterinary Medicine:
§115/4 (7): “Members or other licensed professions or any other individuals when called for consultation and assistance by a veterinarian licensed in the State of Illinois and who act under the supervision, direction and control of the veterinarian, as further defined by rule of the Department.” Licensed human massage therapist require written vet referral. Those without human license required written disclosure of service agreement or statement which is signed by owner or assigned caregiver.
Specific wording allows equine massage: IC 25-38.1-1-12 “Practice of veterinary medicine” Sec. 12. (a) “Practice of veterinary medicine” means: (b) The term does not include: (2) equine massage therapy
From an email dated 2.5.20: “The Iowa Board of Veterinary Medicine determined that persons other than Iowa licensed veterinarians may perform for others for a fee animal massage for relaxation. Persons other than Iowa licensed veterinarians are not allowed to perform animal massage for therapeutic purposes or to diagnose, treat, correct, change, relieve or prevent, for a fee, any animal disease, deformity, defect, injury or other physical or mental conditions or cosmetic surgery; including the prescription or administration of any drug, medicine, biologic, apparatus, application, anesthetic, or other therapeutic or diagnostic substance or technique, for a fee; or to evaluate or correct sterility or infertility, for a fee; or to render, advise or recommend for a fee with regard to any of the above.”
KANSAS: Allowed/vet supervision
No specific wording in state vet practice act in regards to massage however this particular wording is included in the act: “Independent contractor under direct or indirect supervision of veterinarian as specified by regulation”
KENTUCKY: Allowed/vet supervision
Last retrieved 5.22.22
Animal Therapy Services
Only a Kentucky-licensed veterinarian, or a person who is working under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian, can perform certain alternative services in the Commonwealth. The practice of veterinary medicine, as defined by the Kentucky General Assembly in KRS 321.181, covers a wide range of activities that may be performed to treat, correct, change, or prevent an animal’s deformity, defect, injury, or other physical or mental condition. “Manipulation” of an animal, which includes the services listed below as specific activities that the law regards as the practice of veterinary medicine.
• Animal Massage Therapy
• Animal Acupuncture
• Animal Rehabilitation (a.k.a. non-human physical therapy)
• Laser Therapy
A person who is not a Kentucky-licensed veterinarian can provide these services in the Commonwealth only under limited circumstances. An animal’s owner, or the owner’s employee, may provide these services without a license. In addition, a trainer, sales agent, or herdsman can provide these services under instruction and direct supervision from a Kentucky-licensed veterinarian, provided there exists a veterinarian-client-patient relationship. Other limited circumstances are listed in KRS 321.200.
LOUISIANA: Allowed/vet supervision
Excemption included in practice act: Alternative and collaborative therapy with veterinary supervision from qualified practitioner. Alternative and collaborative therapy includes:
ultrasonography, magnetic field therapy, holistic medicine, homeopathy, animal chiropractic treatment, animal acupuncture, animal physical therapy, animal massage therapy, laser therapy, ophthalmology, cardiology, neurology, radiology, and oncology
MAINE: Not allowed
Specifically lists massage as the practice of veterinary medicine
EEBW Mercedes Clemens won her suit against the Maryland State Board of Chiropractics who tried to pull her human license for working on animals. There is no specific wording in the state vet practice act limiting animal massage
MASSACHUSETTS: Not allowed
No specific wording in state vet practice act however the state boards’ interpretation disallowed in an E-mail response from Jodi B. Bornstein, April 28, 2003: “Currently, no one is able to practice animal massage unless they are licensed as a veterinarian.”
MICHIGAN: Allowed/Vet Supervision
No specific wording currently in state vet practice act: need to confirm. Board failed to respond to email, then postal letter, then certified letter
Broad definition in practice act. Email response from Vet Board by e-mail attachment, July 30, 2003 from Dr. John King, Exec. Director: “As long as the individual is not diagnosing, prescribing or offering treatment plans and providing treatment not prescribed by a veterinarian that individual will not be in violation of the Minnesota Practice Act.”
MISSISSIPPI: Allowed/Vet supervision
Broad wording in state vet practice act however guidelines were provided by the state board: On November 24, 2003, Debranne Pattillo called and had a conversation with Dr. McCrory of the Vet Board who was filling in for Ms, Springer. Dr McCrory said there was no problem for EBWs to provide massage for horses but it had to be under direct supervision of a vet or vet only.
MISSOURI: Not allowed
Currently the pratice act wording considers any complementary and/or alternative therapies the practice of veterinary medicine. This was reconfirmed with an email from the board’s Executive Director, Dana Fennewald, who stated in an email the bodywork would be considered the practice of veterinary medicine 1.24.20
No specific wording in state vet practice act
Response from vet board dated September 16, 2003: “Massage for relaxation and general toning is not prohibited by the board. The board does not restrict animal massage to licensed veterinarians.”
Law changed 1.23.2019 with LB596. No referral needed
§ 38-3321. Shall not prohibit (15) Any person engaging solely in equine, cat, and dog massage practice.
Previously okayed: “Massage isn’t considered veterinary medicine in Nevada, as long as it is just soft-tissue manipulation and doesn’t cross over into physical therapy”; https://www.dvm360.com/view/state-boards-wage-war-lay-persons-practicing-veterinary-medicine. Recently reconfirmed with a conversation between Execective Director J. Pedigo and D. Pattillo 2.3.20
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Allowed
Specific wording in state vet practice act allowing massage. Vet Board Response: Email response from vet board member, Ms. Patricia Duncklee dated May 8, 2003, she writes: “Our administrative rule Vet 101.02 (b) states: The following shall be deemed by the board, pursuant to RSA 332-B:2, to be accepted livestock management practices and not the practice of veterinary medicine: (3) Equine massage
NEW JERSEY: Not Defined
Broad wording in state vet practice act includes the following terms: “Alternative or complementary veterinary medicine” At one point SB310 allowed provisions regarding animal massage in 2004. Since it is unavailable in the current practice act, this will need to be revisited. Broad wording for unlicensed individual acting as assistants under direct veterinary supervision not to be prohibited: (6) Any properly trained animal health technician or other properly trained assistant, who is under the responsible supervision and direction of a licensed veterinarian in his practice of veterinary medicine, if the technician or assistant does not represent himself as a veterinarian or use any title or degree appertaining to the practice of veterinary medicine, surgery or dentistry, and does not diagnose, prescribe, or perform surgery. In an email dated 2.2.20 the board still would not clearly define that law: “A massage therapist may be able to work on an animal under the supervision of a veterinarian, but without additional details and information, the Board would not be able to provide a determination on your inquiry.” Details were given in full at the time of the request for clarification.
NEW MEXICO: Allowed/Vet supervision
188.8.131.52 DIRECT SUPERVISION OF NON-VETERINARIANS: Non-licensed individuals are prohibited from practicing veterinary medicine which includes but is not limited to chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, homeopathy, therapeutic massage, dentistry, embryo transfer or any other related services on animals as defined in NMSA 1978, Section 61-14-2(B)(1), except under the direct supervision of a New Mexico-licensed veterinarian.
NEW YORK: Not allowed
Must be a veterinarian or vet tech under direct supervision
https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ny-veterinary-article-135-veterinary-medicine-and-animal-health-technology and https://www.govjustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Filed-Complaint.pdf
NORTH CAROLINA: Allowed
Broad wording in state vet practice act includes the following terms included as the practice of veterinary medicine: “All other branches or specialties of veterinary medicine” However, a 2017 letter from the Vet board (found in the provided link) was favorable to allow massage.
NORTH DAKOTA: Allowed
Broad wording in state vet practice act includes the following terms included as the practice of veterinary medicine: “All other branches or specialties of veterinary medicine”
Response from Vet Board: E-mail response from John R. Boyce, April 22, 2003: My interpretation is that massage done only to maintain an animal’s health and well being probably would not be covered by the veterinary medical practice act and, therefore, would not be considered the practice of veterinary medicine. Massage done to correct, treat, or relieve a medical condition would be considered the practice of veterinary medicine, and could be done only by a licensed veterinarian or an employee of a licensed veterinarian.”
OHIO: Allowed/Vet supervision
Broad wording in state vet practice act includes the following terms included as the practice of veterinary medicine: “Complementary alternative and integrative therapies”
State Law: Effective Oct. 9, 2006, veterinarians in Ohio must provide direct supervision or be present when a pet receives complementary procedures like massage therapy or chiropractic care. The state practice act, which was modified in May, also stipulates which providers can be used as referrals, said Jack Advent, executive director of the Ohio VMA (OVMA), who said there has been no push back from complementary providers.
OKLAHOMA: Allowed/vet referral
Specific wording in the state practice act: “Individuals certified in animal massage therapy who acquire liability insurance may engage in animal massage therapy after referral from a licensed veterinarian”
OREGON: Allowed/vet referral
Specific wording in the state practice act: “Allied health professionals upon referral from a licensed veterinarian” The link provided states” ” A practitioner of alternative or complementary methods, i.e, chiropractic, naturopathy, massage, may work on animals if the individual is licensed in Oregon in that profession and has a referral for diagnosis and treatment from a veterinarian. Veterinarians may, but are not required to, provide a referral.”
PENNSYLVANIA: Allowed/Vet supervision
Specific wording in the state practice act: “Chiropractic, dental, dental hygiene and physical therapy procedures performed upon animals by licensed individuals in conjunction with the practice of veterinary medicine and under the direct supervision of a veterinarian”
RHODE ISLAND: Not allowed
“The position of the Board has not changed from the last correspondence. The definition of “the practice of veterinary medicine” still refers to anyone who diagnoses prognoses, treats manipulates any disease, pain, deformity of any animal . The licensing Board continues to interpret this phrasing to include the practice of massage for remedial purposes and would consider such practice to fall within the scope of veterinary medicine
“Conflicting reports say it is allowed although there is no specific wording”
SOUTH CAROLINA: Allowed
Specific wording in the state practice act: “Veterinarians may delegate the performance of procedures, therapeutic options and alternate therapies, under certain conditions, including acupuncture, manipulation and adjustment, magnetic field therapy, holistic medicine, homeopathy, herbology/naturopathy, massage, and physical therapy”
https://www.avma.org/advocacy/state-local-issues/scope-practice-complementary-and-alternative-veterinary-medicine-cavm-and-other-practice-act and https://www.animallaw.info/statute/sc-veterinary-chapter-69-veterinarians
SOUTH DAKOTA: Allowed
No specific wording in state vet practice act. Response from Vet Board: E-mail response from Dr. Holland, April 22, 2003: “No new laws considered as of now, no pending legislation. The Board’s policy is that equine massage is not the practice of Veterinary medicine unless advertised or purported to be therapy or treatment.”
Although animal massage is not prohibited, no person is allowed to use the title “certified animal therapist” or “registered animal therapist” unless they comply with § 63-12-203
§ 63-12-203. Training, supervision, and examination
In order to use the term “certified animal massage therapist” or “registered animal massage therapist”, a person must:
(1) Complete at least fifty (50) hours of training in anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, and pathologies in order to gain aptitude in preventing the delay of care to animals;
(2) Complete at least fifty (50) hours of supervised in-class hands-on work, which would include assessment and execution of bodywork skills being studied, benefits of massage, benefits of acupressure, and practice guidelines; and
(3) Take and pass an examination by the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage or a comparable examination that tests the aptitude in the course of training described in subdivisions (1) and (2).
TEXAS: Allowed/vet referral
Session must be cleared with the primary veterinarian
UTAH: Allowed/vet referral
Specific wording in the state practice act in exemption section allows: “by a massage therapist licensed under Chapter 47b, Massage Therapy Practice Act, who has completed at least 60 hours of animal massage therapy training.”
VERMONT: Not allowed
Specific wording limiting work to veterinarians other than by an employee of veterinarian under direct supervision.
VIRGINIA: Allowed/vet referral
Massage therapy or physical therapy may be delegated by a veterinarian to persons qualified by training and experience by an order from the veterinarian.
Specific wording. Must be from a state licensed school. Exam required
WEST VIRGINIA: Not Allowed
Executive Director Trish Holstein that bodywork is only allowed by veterinarians. Also advised chiropractics is not allowed by chiropractors on animals.
WISCONSIN: Allowed/Vet supervision
No specific wording in state vet practice act however, state board interpretation offers these guidelines:
Response from Veterinary Board: In a letter dated November 17, 2003 from Wayne Austin; counsel to the Veterinary Board he wrote: “In Wisconsin animal massage would be considered the practice of veterinary medicine if provided for the purpose of treating animal disease or pathological condition. This does not mean, however that an unlicensed person may not provide massage services to animals. Under the board’s administrative rules, a veterinarian may delegate such services to an unlicensed person under the direct on-premises supervision of the veterinarian, the board has recently discussed the possibility of liberalizing its position o the ability of unlicensed persons to provide complementary services, but it appears that a statutory change would be necessary, and no such change is currently contemplated.”
WYOMING: Allowed/Vet supervision
In an email dated 1.24.20 the WY State Board of Veterinary Medicine responded: “Under Wyoming statute, any practice concerning an animal’s health needs to be done by a Wyoming licensed veterinarian or a person who is supervised by a Wyoming licensed veterinarian. The type of supervision is not specified. The veterinarian would take responsibility for any of their supervisees’ actions”