Our policies

Complementary medicine

What's the issue?

Complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) are treatments that fall outside of mainstream veterinary care.

There is ongoing debate amongst the veterinary community, and more widely, regarding the efficacy of CAM and the associated ethics of offering such treatments.

What's our view?

We support evidence-based treatment decisions which combine clinical expertise and the most recent and best available scientific evidence, and which also take into account patient circumstances and owners’ values. We cannot endorse the use of any medicine or treatment making therapeutic claims which have no proven efficacy.

Where complementary medicines or treatments are offered:

  • they should be complementary to conventional medicine and not offered as an alternative;
  • they shouldn't delay or prevent the use of conventional medicine, in order to avoid any potential health and welfare harms;
  • the veterinary surgeon has a legal duty to animal welfare and the client, as well as the integrity of the profession, to disclose the evidence base to support the efficacy of the complementary medicine or treatment, and any side effects and human and animal safety concerns, such that the owner can make an informed choice; and
  • the veterinary surgeon has a duty to ensure that the complementary medicine or treatment is safe, does not interact negatively with conventional medication or treatment, and does not compromise animal health and welfare.

Complementary and alternative medicine policy

Complementary medicine policy (132 KB PDF)

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