Reiki for Animals

Reiki has become a common practice for restoring balance and wellbeing for people, but it is also a healing modality that can also be used for animals. Our pets are usually the first ones who come to us when we are in need of mental, emotional or spiritual healing. We are already energetically connected with them. When they are in need of help from us, Reiki can be a beautiful, healing and compassionate gift.

My first experience with energy healing and animals took place 26 years ago when my husband and I owned a small horse farm. We also had an adorable black pygmy goat named Elvis. One day, one of the horses accidentally stepped on Elvis’s pastern bone and broke it. I began calling around to veterinarians, and at that time there wasn’t a large selection for farm animals, so I called the one and only number I could find. The vet came out to the farm, examined Elvis, and taught me to hold my hands a few inches above Elvis’s pastern and allow energy to flow. I was incredibly skeptical as I had never heard about energy healing, but I did it, and it worked! After several weeks of daily treatment, his pastern bone was completed healed.

After I learned Reiki in 2007, I began to use it for my family and my pets. My horse, Starr, had developed a small bump on her chest that began to increase in size. My veterinarian biopsied it and the results came back as pre-lymphoma and she suggested it be monitored. In the meantime, I started sharing Reiki with Starr and within a few months it completely disappeared. Several years later, my son’s dog Dharma, was hit by a car and had a traumatic brain injury and broken paw. For several days she had to be kept at the veterinarian’s office to receive intravenous medication and fluids and I would go there each day, crawl in her crate and gently share Reiki with her. With the help of traditional medicine and Reiki, her brain injury resolved.

During all of these experiences, I used Reiki intuitively with the animals, but wanting to learn more, I invited my friend, Kelly McDermott-Burns, who is a student of Kathleen Prasad, the global leader in animal Reiki and founder of Animal Reiki Source to come teach an animal Reiki course in our area. Kelly brought an entirely fresh perspective on offering Reiki to animals in a way that made complete sense. Just like offering Reiki to humans, she instructed us to ask the animal if they would like to receive Reiki and then set an intention that the energy go where it is needed most for them. The next part was quite different than what I had been doing previously. Kelly suggested that we sit in a space of quiet meditation, allowing Reiki to flow from every pore of our being and wait for the animal to come to us when they were ready. This was different than the direct hands-on practice I had been doing previously. The animal will lead the way; if they are ready to receive, they will come to the practitioner. There is no need to do a series of hand positions because more than likely, the animal will turn his/her body towards the area where they would like to receive it.

A few weeks after the Animal Reiki Class, I had the opportunity to try this new technique. One of the horses where I board my horse had come down with a case of colic. This is a very serious condition in horses and the owner asked me to try Reiki to see if it would help. I quietly entered her stall and could see that she was in distress. She was anxiously touching her nose to both sides of her belly, which is an indication that she was experiencing pain. I stood in the corner of her stall, took a few deep breaths, set an intention and asked if she wanted to receive Reiki and allowed the energy to flow. After about ten minutes she walked over to me and pushed her belly up against my hands and stayed there for several minutes. Then she walked away for several minutes and then came back, offering me the other side of her abdomen. After a few more minutes she walked away again, turned her hind end towards the opposite corner and was able to move her bowels. In a horse with colic, that is exactly what you want to happen. The horse’s owner and I looked at each other, smiled and then cheered with relief.

All of these experiences have helped me to grow in my own Reiki practice. I know that Reiki is not an “on/off” practice. The goal of facilitating the healing of others, whether it be animals or humans, is “being” the energy all the time. How we do that relates directly back to the outcome of the system of Reiki, the Precepts. For today only, do not anger; do not worry, be humble; be honest in your work; and be compassionate to yourself and others. We can’t help to heal our animal friends if we come from a place of anger or if we are worried whether or not it is working. If I go into a session with an animal thinking I know what is wrong, then I’m coming from a place of ego, which is not humble and will not be helpful. Being honest in my work is in perfect alignment with being true to my way and my being, just like our animals. They come to us without judgment; they are open and accepting. Being compassionate to ourselves might be jump-started by first showing compassion to our pet; it is a reciprocal action.

The Reiki journey is always interesting and insightful. My 14-year old Jack Russell Terrier, Ruby, has always been very aloof to receiving Reiki. She would sometimes come to receive it, but then would jump off the sofa after less than a minute and take a spot on the floor and go to sleep. Lately, however, she is my constant partner in my daily meditation practice. She anxiously waits for me to prepare my tea in the morning and when I ask her if she is ready to go with me to do my Reiki meditations, she hops down the steps to my studio and snuggles next to me on her meditation blanket. She is also a constant presence when I teach my Reiki classes. She picks one student and cuddles up with them for the day. She has even participated in a session that I had with a young child. He was slightly nervous and she wanted to get on the massage table with him. They both received and shared the healing, calming and loving energy of Reiki.

Animals shelters and rescue organizations are also now recognizing the value of Reiki in helping to bring calm and peace in an incredibly stressful environment. Reiki helps to restore balance and ease the body towards healing in body, mind and spirit. It is important to recognize that just as with humans, healing is always on the animal’s own time schedule. We must let go of our own agenda, timeframe and release any expectations that we might have for healing to take place. In shelter and rescue situations, this can sometimes be extraordinarily difficult to do. Having a strong Reiki self-practice and meditation routine can help us come from a very grounded place so that we will be in the best position to help our animals friends. For more information about bringing Reiki to shelters, please visit the non-profit organization founded by Kathleen Prasad, Shelter Animal Reiki Association (SARA) at

Originally published in the Fall 2018 Issue of Therapeutic Thymes Magazine