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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

A Questionnaire Study on the Use of Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine for Horses in Sweden

Gilberg, Karin; Bergh, Anna; Sternberg-Lewerin, Susanna


Simple SummaryAs the scientific basis for most methods used in CAVM (complementary and alternative veterinary medicine) is not well-founded, there is a need for evaluation of the efficacy as well as safety of many methods. In order to better understand what evidence and knowledge are most urgently needed, we must know what methods are used, by whom and for what reasons. We asked Swedish horse owners, equine veterinary practitioners and CAVM therapists about their use of CAVM. CAVM appears to be common in Swedish horses; most horse owners used it for both prevention and treatment of injuries. The two most frequently used methods were stretching and massage. There is some collaboration between equine veterinary practitioners and CAVM therapists, which might provide an opportunity for proper diagnoses by veterinarians before CAVM therapy. Most of the study participants wanted CAVM to be more regulated, to facilitate communication and ensure animal welfare.Complementary or alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM) includes treatment methods with limited scientific evidence. Swedish veterinarians are legally obliged to base treatments and recommendations on science or well-documented experience, but most CAVM methods are not well documented in animals. The aim of this study was to explore the use of CAVM in Swedish horses. Electronic questionnaires were distributed to horse owners, equine veterinary practitioners and CAVM therapists. Of the 204 responding horse owners, 83% contacted a veterinarian first in case of lameness, while 15% contacted a CAVM therapist. For back pain, 52% stated a CAVM therapist as their first contact and 45% a veterinarian. Only 10-15% of the respondents did not use any CAVM method for prevention or after injury. Of the 100 veterinarians who responded, more than half did not use CAVM themselves but 55% did refer to people who offer this service. Of the 124 responding CAVM therapists, 72% recommended their clients to seek veterinary advice when needed, 50% received referrals from a veterinarian, and 25% did not collaborate with a veterinarian. The two most common methods used by the respondents in all three categories were stretching and massage. Most veterinarians and therapists were not content with the current lack of CAVM regulation.


CAVM; CAM; treatment; rehabilitation; therapist

Published in

2021, Volume: 11, number: 11, article number: 3113
Publisher: MDPI