LSU Vet Med first vet school to offer animal osteopathy to its veterinary care offerings in U.S.

December 22, 2022

Musso examining dog

Anaïs Musso examining a dog.

Musso examining dog

Musso examining a cat

Anaïs Musso examining a cat.

Musso demonstrating a horse exam

Anaïs Musso demonstrating an equine exam for DVM students.

Written by Sandra Sarr, MFA

Anaïs Musso, animal osteopath, has joined LSU School of Veterinary Medicine and will make available animal osteopathy treatments to patients through LSU Vet Med’s Integrative Medicine and Equine services as a complement to our other medical services. 

LSU is the first school of veterinary medicine in the United States to include a non-veterinarian animal osteopath on its team. 

Animal osteopathy is a manual therapy that aims to remove bodily tension and restrictions and encourage healing in the animal’s musculoskeletal system. It is often administered for pain relief, improved movement, enhanced performance, and injury prevention. 

The osteopathy services Musso provides involve:

  • Structural: mechanical joint adjustment for enhanced movement
  • Myofascial: soft tissue techniques, vibratory stimulation, massage, tendon recoil 
  • Craniosacral: light touch to examine membranes and movement of spinal fluids in and around the central nervous system to relieve tension in the central nervous system and promote health and immunity
  • Visceral: mobilization of the internal organs such as the liver, stomach, kidneys, intestins completes the osteopathic treatment by ensuring that the organs are at their place and function properly

Musso treats a variety of species, including equine, bovine, canine, ruminants, birds, and reptiles.

“I start by getting a case history and understanding how the animal lives in its environment. Then I observe the animal’s physical dynamics by watching how it walks and stands. I then palpate to get a sense of tissue texture and feel for where there are hot areas (indicates recent dysfunction) and cold areas (indicates prior dysfunction). Next, I test joints, muscles, fascia, and viscera. From there, I list all the dysfunctions of the animal which helps me determine what to treat first and then what to treat next—this is called a compensatory chain and establishes a course of preventive therapy to avert illness and injury,” Musso said.

An animal undergoing osteopathic treatment is not anesthetized.

“Pain is information for me. My hands are trained to identify where there is pain, which indicates an area of dysfunction. If a hind end is fragile, for example, I will start examining the front end. The animal is more inclined to trust me and cooperate,” she said.

She establishes a relationship of trust with her patients by remaining completely focused on the animal. She also believes her positive relationship with the owner is important for the animal to see.

“If the owner trusts you, it’s likely the animal will too. The most important thing to do is to approach the animal with the intention to help and heal. They’re very instinctual. They know,” she said.

Musso worked for a year on 12 dogs who were members of the French Army, two of whom were trained attack dogs.

“You never look a military dog in the eye. It’s a challenge to gain trust. The owner/handler muzzled and held the dog trained to attack. I told him to remove the restraints. I waited on the floor, not looking at him. It took 30 minutes for the dog to come to me, and when he did, he allowed me to treat him,” she said. 

Musso, who graduated with animal osteopathy and master’s degrees from the European School of Animal Osteopathy in Lisieux, France, is passionate about teaching.

“I need to share the knowledge I’ve spent years acquiring. I can’t teach it all within two-week clinical rotations, but I can provide students with simple tools to help their entire career,” Musso said.

A research focus for Musso is to document how osteopathy helps post-surgery racehorse injuries heal and to measure its efficacy using diagnostic testing of blood and determining muscular quality and density.

Musso was born in Saudi Arabia to a Brazilian mother and a French father whose career in the helicopter industry led to Musso living in France, Sultanate of Oman, and Hong Kong. In China, she was exposed to holistic approaches to healing, including energetics and traditional Chinese medicine, which are used in tandem with traditional Western medicine.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call the LSU Small Animal Clinic at (225) 578-9600 or the LSU Large Animal Clinic at (225) 578-9500.

About LSU Vet Med: Bettering lives through education, public service, and discovery

The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is one of only 33 veterinary schools in the U.S. and the only one in Louisiana. LSU Vet Med is dedicated to improving and protecting the lives of animals and people through superior education, transformational research, and compassionate care. We teach. We heal. We discover. We protect.