Canine massage therapists sue Arizona

Three canine massage therapists have sued the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board after receiving cease-and-desist orders based on the state law that categorizes massage as a medical treatment. The trio claim the statute’s definition of veterinary medicine is overly broad.

The American Veterinary Medical Association Model Veterinary Practice Act classifies massage and other forms of complementary medicine as veterinary care, which means it can be performed only by a licensed veterinarian. Each state’s licensing board may write its own regulations, however. As of October 2014, about 20 states restrict massage to licensed veterinarians, while about 20 additional states require veterinary input, such as supervision or referral. See AVMA’s summary of state regulations and exemptions for massage and other forms of complementary medicine.

“Ultimately state veterinary medical boards have the authority to interpret and enforce provisions of veterinary practice acts.  If you have a question about how a particular state law provision applies to individual circumstances in that state, please contact the state's veterinary medical board,” the AVMA website cautions.

Medical massage is a fast-growing rehabilitation service for chronic conditions and following surgeries. A number of veterinary colleges and other organizations offer training, sometimes through state veterinary medical associations.

Learn more
The July 2014 issue of Trends offers a balanced, in-depth look at canine medical/therapeutic massage, including the scope of work, current status, evidence, and policy issues.

AAHAVets on YouTube presents tips for canine medical/therapeutic massage by Dr. Narda Robinson, Director of CSU Center for Comparative and Integrative Pain Medicine.

Coming soon from AAHA Press: Canine Medical Massage by Narda Robinson, DVM, MS, DO, and Shelley Sheets, CMT, CMAAT.

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