Canine Life

Healing your dog with Massage or Reiki

Canine Reiki

Reiki, whether for people or animals, is a gentle and non-invasive hands-on or hands-off complementary and holistic energy therapy that can benefit the mind and body. It may help on a physical, mental or emotional level and may help with behavioural issues in dogs. Reiki is known to be relaxing and to improve the feeling of well-being. Reiki translates as "universal life force energy" and its origins date back thousands of years, although the therapy as we know it today was developed by Mikao Usui in Japan in 1920. It requires the practitioner to project calm, strong energy which is acquired through meditation and other grounding practices. They will then be able to tap into this Universal Life Force Energy to help others near and far.


Canine Reiki involves more than just applying human Reiki knowledge and skills to a dog. Reiki is offered to animals, not given or provided, the animal is in charge and chooses whether or not to accept it. The practitioner must also comply with other regulations and be able to recognise serious conditions which need to be reported to the relevant departments and no treatment offered.

Knowledge of the benefits of complementary therapy/natural healing and specifically energy healing for humans and dogs is fuelling a growth in Reiki healing. Animal Reiki is becoming increasingly recognised as a complementary therapy in its own right; with specific additional training advised for anyone wishing to work professionally with animals and become recognised by a UK Reiki Council member organisation such as the Reiki Association, of which I am a member as an Animal Reiki practitioner member, RfA. Practitioners require a good understanding of animals as well as Reiki. The Reiki Council has established basic standards for training. This is a profession in its own right and not just an add-on to Reiki. All Reiki Council member organisations agree that a common set of standards is the best way to optimise the credibility and professionalism of RfA.

Animals do not communicate with us in the same way as we do with each other. They are all individuals with unique ways of communication discomfort or pleasure. They are often not truly understood and similarly they do not always understand our communications or actions. However, animals are much more ‘aware of’, ‘sensitive to’ and ‘understanding of’ energy. They have used it historically to determine if strangers are friend or foe and many naturally appear to be very accepting of this calm energy.

Reiki is not a magical cure and is not an alternative to conventional veterinary care but it is a natural, calm therapy that promotes the body’s natural process of self-healing and is enjoyed by many dogs.

Practical reasons for offering Reiki to dogs:

  • It is non-invasive requiring nothing but a Reiki practitioner and her/ his hands, no equipment or technology
  • It may be given anywhere at any time, hands-on, hands-off or distantly in a vets practice, its ‘home’ environment or in fact anywhere, so no need to move or disrupt them if they are not able to move freely
  • It complements and supports conventional veterinary care
  • The animal is in control at all times, Reiki must not be forced upon an animal. They chose to share it for as long as they like and how they like so we must let the animal take charge
  • Reiki always works for an animal’s highest good
  • It is relaxing, so may help pre-treatment /post-op
  • It can give greater comfort
  • Improved feeling of wellbeing
  • Promotion of relaxation which sometimes can lead to sleep
  • When the body is relaxed, it is in a state when it is best able to naturally heal itself and recover from illness, injury or other stress to the body, like when we sleep.
  • Greater sense of self, encouraging and supporting positive personal choices which may help animals cope better with life’s challenges and changes in ownership and home.
  • Reiki is can often help animals with behavioural issues
  • Reiki can also give a peaceful transition for animals’ ready to pass over
  • Depending on the situation and the dog, one session may be all that is required or a number of sessions may be necessary. Every dog is a unique individual and so natural variances will apply.

Although there is no legal requirement to request or obtain veterinary consent before Reiki is offered to animals, it is recommended that any known or suspected physical health issues are diagnosed by a vet before a Reiki treatment takes place. I will always suggest we get a written authority to treat from your vet and also any extra information about your dog I would need to know. A veterinary check would also be prudent prior to Reiki commencing if the Reiki is being sought for sudden changes that are noted in an animal’s behaviour. Such behavioural changes may have arisen as a result of a physical health condition.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) set standards for veterinary care and training. Their position on Reiki is:
Reiki is not a defined act of veterinary surgery provided there is no element of diagnosis.
Practitioners offering any complementary therapy must ensure they are adequately trained in its application. Veterinary surgeons are not expected to offer therapies that are not backed with scientific evidence. (This includes Reiki). As per Section 27 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 and Chapter 19 of the Supporting Guidance for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons;

Responsible Reiki Practitioners MUST NOT:

  • 1
    Make a diagnosis of disease in, or injuries to, animals including tests performed on animals for diagnostic purposes
  • 2
    Give advice based on such a diagnosis
  • 3
    Give any medical or surgical treatment to animals
  • 4
    Perform surgical operations on animals

Reiki is not a replacement for conventional veterinary medicine/ treatments but supports traditional veterinary care and works well alone or with other complementary therapies.

However with greater training and regulations Reiki practitioners will hopefully increasingly work alongside vets, building good working relationships with local veterinary practices to optimally benefit animals.

Some pet insurance companies are starting to include Reiki treatments within their pet insurance policies, this may require a vet to refer your dog for their Reiki treatment(s) or to give consent. I will always do this before working on your dog, although many other Reiki practitioners who also include Animal Reiki do not realise the importance.

You, the owner also have responsibilities. Owners and carers of dogs should make clear any known situations that could result in safety risks for the dog or anyone concerned when a session is to be offered to an animal. If I suspect an acute or infectious condition, problems of urgent concern or symptoms of a notifiable disease, I will advise you to take your dog to a vet before I treat as you are legally required to report notifiable diseases to local authorities. Animal welfare is a matter of concern for all professionals working with animals and if any animal neglect or cruelty is observed or suspected, depending on the circumstances it may be appropriate or necessary for me to report it for the animal’s sake.

Reiki is evolving into a more regulated practice since it started in 1920 by Dr Usui in Japan. Some Reiki practitioners have progressed to do National Occupational Standards [NOS] (Level 3) Professional Practice training, which enables registration on the UK Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) Register of accredited Complementary Therapy Practitioners. This allows GPs to refer patients to them. Reiki for Animals is also evolving and will also have National Occupational Standards [NOS], level 2 Practitioner level and [NOS] Level 3 Professional Practice qualification The quality of Reiki training for specifically working with animals varies enormously. Since there have been no official training standards, The UK Reiki Council member organisations, in conjunction with the LANTRA, have worked to develop National Occupational Standards (NOS) for offering Reiki to Animals.

Three NOS specific to Reiki for Animals have been developed in conjunction with LANTRA*see below.

The standard also requires Animal Reiki Practitioners to comply with the Reiki Council Code of Conduct and Ethics, to work within relevant policies and base their practice upon accurate and up-to-date information. This necessitates continual training at all levels to include in-person training or assessment.

There is also a need to comply with general standards for animal care and animal complementary and natural/holistic complementary therapies, which includes this National Occupational Standard (NOS) see the links below:

  • LANACT 1

    Assess and define an animal’s needs for complementary and natural/holistic healthcare. Published June 2018

  • LANACT 2

    Develop and agree plans for complementary and natural/holistic healthcare for an animal Published June 2018

  • LANACT 3

    Offer Reiki to animals Published June 2018

  • Additionally, LANAnC10

    Observe and be aware of the behaviour of animals is expected to be met

* Lantra has worked with the Agricultural, Environmental and Animal Care sector for over 50 years, initially as a National Training Organisation and now a Sector body. It has worked with employers, trade bodies, professional organisations, regulatory organisations, industry experts, voluntary organisations, trade unions and other partners throughout the UK to develop and review National Occupational Standards (NOS), qualifications and apprenticeships for occupations at all levels.

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