UK Reiki Federation - Animal Reiki

What is Animal Reiki?

Animal Reiki is the offering of Reiki to animals (see: What is Reiki?) but it involves more than just applying human Reiki knowledge and skills. Animals do not communicate with us in the same way as we converse with one another. They are often not truly understood and similarly they do not always understand our communications or actions. However, animals are inherently more ‘aware of’ 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.

As with humans, Reiki may benefit animals with physical, mental or emotional issues and consequently this holistic complementary therapy may also be of help for animals with behavioral problems that have an emotional basis or influence.

Many Reiki practitioners love animals and offer Reiki to them. Some offer it just to their own animals and those of friends and family where they know the animal. A number offer Reiki free of charge to residents in animal rescues and sanctuaries and others work professionally on a paid basis with animals. It is very rewarding for a Reiki practitioner to see and feel an animal push its body into their hands to show exactly where it wishes to receive energy healing and express its gratitude afterwards. This, coupled with the positive response from animals and their owners, is fueling a growth in this form of ‘natural 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 Reiki Council member organisation (including UK Reiki Federation) as an Animal Reiki practitioner member.

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

Why offer Reiki to animals?

Animals suffer from physical illnesses and health conditions. At times, they sustain injuries or may require surgery. Aches and pains frequently emerge as they age. Mental health and emotional issues are common too and the latter often triggers behavioral problems.

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

Practical reasons for offering Reiki to animals:

  • It is non-invasive requiring nothing but a Reiki practitioner and her/ his hands
  • It may be given anywhere at any time – hands-on, hands-off or distantly in a vets practice, hospital, clinic, its ‘home’ environment or elsewhere
  • It requires no equipment or technology
  • There is no need to move or disrupt an animal. It can be given to them wherever they are
  • It complements and supports orthodox veterinary care
  • The animal is in control at all times. Reiki cannot be forced upon an animal. They chose to take it for as long as they like and how they like
  • It is relaxing, so may help pre-treatment /post-op
  • Reiki always works for an animal’s highest good

Depending on the situation and the animal, one session may be all that is required or a number of sessions may be necessary. Every animal is a unique individual and so natural variances will apply.


The difference between Reiki and Animal Reiki

The Reiki that is offered to humans is exactly the same Reiki that is offered to animals. The differences when working with animals compared to humans could be simply described as follows:

  • Unless an Animal Communicator, two-way communication does not exist between the animal and Animal Reiki practitioner as it does between a human and Reiki Practitioner so we must let the animal take charge
  • Reiki is often requested to help animals with behavioral issues that benefit from additional skills and techniques taught in Animal Reiki training
  • Reiki is often given to animals in their natural surroundings where they feel familiar and safe. They are also likely to settle down more quickly compared to sniffing around a new environment
  • When working with animals professionally we should understand some basics about the species we are working with, especially when we do not know that particular animal well.

Rather than just working on the animal client there may also be a need to offer Reiki to the owner or carer. Animals are very sensitive to energy and without realising it, if their owners or carers are stressed or anxious, their animals pick up on this and it can trigger or exacerbate emotional and behavioural issues in them. As a result, there is a need to sometimes work with both the owner and the animal to help resolve an animal’s issue.

Example: Someone may be nervous riding a particular horse or walking a dog in certain situations and this can make the animal nervous, causing them to react in an undesirable way. Reiki may help the animal to overcome its fear related reaction but if next time they are ridden or walked by this same person and they detect the anxiety; their symptoms can come flooding back again. When the person is their owner or carer they will be regularly subjected to the anxiety and here it is especially important to help the owner too.

Reiki encourages and supports positive personal choices and may help animals to better cope with life’s challenges. This energy is gentle and can be given to any animal or bird of any age should they wish to receive it.

What are the benefits?

Accepted benefits for animals receiving Reiki

  • Greater comfort
  • Improved feeling of wellbeing
  • Promotion of relaxation which sometimes can lead to sleep
  • Greater sense of self
  • Peaceful transition for animals’ ready to pass over

In addition to the points above, Reiki practitioners and those who own and care for animals have repeatedly observed benefits beyond these. When the body (human or animal) 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.

Reiki encourages and supports positive personal choices and may help animals to better cope with life’s challenges. This energy is gentle and can be given to any animal or bird of any age should they wish to receive it. They do not need to be physically awake to decide. If their body does not wish to receive Reiki, the energy will not flow and when they have had enough again it will stop flowing as they no longer draw it from the practitioner.


What happens during a session?

Before a treatment starts, notes will be gathered from the owner or carer. This will include details about the animal, the reason Reiki is sought, the animal’s lifestyle, a brief case history and any diagnoses. Whether or not Reiki has been offered before, and if so, further relevant details.

The above information will determine how Reiki is best offered for the best results and to ensure safety for all. Any treatment plan will always be subject to your own preferences, and can be changed at any time in line with progress.

The Animal Reiki treatment is non-diagnostic, non-interventionist, non-manipulative and no pressure is applied.

A session is typically carried out in the animal’s familiar surroundings where he/ she is most relaxed and comfortable. External noises and distractions should be minimised and if the animal is unknown to the practitioner or has not received Reiki before a hands-off approach is often how the treatment commences.

Reiki may be experienced as a flow of energy, mild tingling, warmth, coolness, other sensations, or nothing at all. Some animals may wish to sniff a practitioners hands or step away slightly. Others may come closer offering their sore parts to the practitioner.

Reiki may be offered to animals in open or enclosed spaces e.g. in a stable, bird cage, field etc. as well as on their bed or where they like to relax.

The length of Reiki sessions may vary, but are usually half to one hour in duration.


How often are sessions required?

Even one single Reiki session can make a difference, however a course of regular treatments may be more effective. These may be weekly, fortnightly or less often depending on the needs of the animal.

Any treatment plan will be discussed, agreed and reviewed as necessary and always subject to the preferences of the animal’s owner or carer, with the option to change it at any time according to progress.

Reiki encourages and supports positive personal choices and may help animals to better cope with life’s challenges. This energy is gentle and can be given to any animal or bird of any age should they wish to receive it.

Thinking of Reiki for animal(s) you care for?

Veterinary requirements and considerations

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. A veterinary check would also be prudent prior to Reiki commencing if sudden changes are noted in an animal’s behavior and this is the reason for Reiki being sought. Such behavioral changes may have arisen as a result of a physical health condition.

Unless also a vet, Reiki practitioners should not be asked for a diagnosis. This is not part of their remit or in fact legally permitted to be given. 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. Whether a veterinary surgeon or not, anyone offering a complementary therapy must ensure they are adequately trained in its application.

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, 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 orthodox veterinary medicine/ treatments but supports traditional veterinary care and works well alone or with other complementary therapies.

Interest in animal complementary therapies including Animal Reiki continues to grow based on the benefits of Reiki observed in both humans and animals, and scientific evidence primarily from human studies to date. As time progresses we foresee a future where Animal Reiki practitioners will increasingly work alongside vets, building good working relationships with local veterinary practices to optimally benefit animals. We also anticipate a growth in more holistic animal centres, following the popular US trend. However, it is early days and our current focus is to ensure that anyone registered with us as an Animal Reiki practitioner will have completed suitable Animal Reiki specific training in addition to already being a recognised Reiki practitioner.

In addition to growing public awareness, individuals professionally trained to work with animals are becoming increasingly interested in holistic therapies and we anticipate this developing notably in the years ahead. A small number of our organisation members are professionals in animal work and we are happy to liaise with any others seeking more information about any aspects of Reiki.

As an organisation, we are keen to develop Animal Reiki with well trained professionals and we will increasingly provide more information to explain and support its use with animals.


Pet insurance cover

Some pet insurance companies are starting to include Reiki treatments within their pet insurance policies. However, it is recommended that you check as this may require a vet to refer your pet for their Reiki treatment(s) or to give consent.


Choosing an Animal Reiki Practitioner

When choosing a Reiki practitioner to work with an animal for whom you care, it is generally best to choose a practitioner you feel drawn towards and ideally someone fairly local if you wish for an in-person Reiki treatment rather than distant healing. However distant Reiki can be just as effective, so distance need not be an issue.

Historically many Reiki practitioners have also offered Reiki to animals but now Animal Reiki is becoming a profession in its own right and the industry is encouraging specific additional training for anyone who wishes to describe themselves and be officially recognised as an Animal Reiki Practitioner.

We are currently working on a project with the Reiki Council, an organisation made up of a number of professional Reiki organisations, to create official Animal Reiki training standards and use these as a benchmark for the training and professional body recognition of Animal Reiki practitioners.

Animal Reiki practitioners can work with a wide variety of animals but a number specialise for example in canine, equine or small animal Reiki.

Reiki encourages and supports positive personal choices and may help animals to better cope with life’s challenges. This energy is gentle and can be given to any animal or bird of any age should they wish to receive it.

Animal Reiki Practitioners and Animal Reiki training

Knowledge and skills required to work with animals

In order to be proficient in offering Reiki to animals it is essential to understand and be confident with animals as well as being a confident Reiki practitioner. Animals read energy and are very trusting. They need to feel confident that they can trust in the Reiki practitioner for the best results to ensue.

Animal Reiki training standards will therefore require knowledge and practical awareness and understanding of the following:

  • additional Reiki skills and tools to help with emotional and behavioural issues in particular
  • animal body language
  • animal behaviour
  • animal handling
  • basic anatomy for the animal type(s) a practitioner plans to work with

Some of this additional knowledge and skill may come naturally, have been gained by experience or via prior training and some may need to be learned.

Animal Reiki practitioners will also be required to have a certificate for human Reiki to a minimum of level 2 Reiki (i.e. Reiki practitioner) and be insured to work with animals.

All students in Animal Reiki should be given a lineage from their teacher (see: What is a lineage?)


UKRF plans

Once officially approved, Animal Reiki training standards will be issued with supporting guidelines. Training courses that meet the guidelines can be approved and both Animal Reiki practitioners and Master Teachers will have the opportunity to be listed on our website. This will take time but the results will be worth the wait and will drive this sector of animal care forward in a positive way to deliver a high-quality service to animals nationwide.

We will also then actively promote Animal Reiki supporting our members and anyone who may wish to join us.



Reiki practitioners must only offer treatments in a manner so as to put the safety of all concerned first.

Owners and carers of animals should make clear any known situations that could result in safety risks for the animal or anyone concerned when a treatment is to be offered to an animal.

If Reiki or Animal Reiki practitioners suspect an acute or infectious condition, problems of urgent concern or symptoms of a notifiable disease, animal owners will be advised to take their animals to a vet and 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 to report it for the animal’s sake.


Animal Reiki in veterinary and rescue settings

We recognise that many veterinary professionals seek scientific evidence to support therapies not within the scope of veterinary surgery or veterinary training. Although there is little research on Animal Reiki, substantial scientific evidence exists for Reiki in human medicine in the form of a significant number of published studies, Government supported National Occupational Standards and the formal agreement for GPs to refer clients to Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) Accredited Reiki Practitioners.

Examples of Reiki’s increasing use/ development:

  • In branches of well-known UK cat and dog rescue centres are also in some smaller independent rescue centres
  • At horse racing yards, stables and horse sanctuaries
  • General support for veterinary care or where veterinary care has not been able to diagnose the issue or find a helpful treatment
  • To benefit some animals with behavioural issues
  • To improve quality of life for older animals



Animal studies to show the benefit of Reiki have not been conducted to the extent that human studies have. A small number are emerging but much more work needs to be done. Below are two published clinical studies of which we are aware. More will be logged as we locate them and we hope in the future be fortunate enough to lead or be part of a partnership project to conduct further trials.

“Personal interaction with a Reiki practitioner decreases noise-induced microvascular damage 
in an animal model” in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2006 Jan-Feb;12(1):15-22.

“Reiki Improves Heart Rate Homeostasis in Laboratory Rats” in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (14(4): 417-422, 2008)

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