You love your lil’ fuzzball. You do everything together, regular vet visits, good nutrition and plenty of exercise are all part of your furkid’s routine. However, even with the very best care, our pets can fall victim to accidents, or illness. This is devastating to go through. Your vet should be the first one you consult and have treat your pet if he starts to act sick or gets hurt. Don’t wait, don’t hesitate – get your pet to the doctor!
But what if there was something more you could do to help your BFF get better? Would you consider it? What if it was considered ‘silly’ or ‘quackery’ by some, but others had experienced genuine, positive results?
Merriam-Webster online defines alternative therapies as: “any of various systems of healing or treating disease (as homeopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, Ayurveda, or faithhealing) that are not included in the traditional curricula taught in medical schools of the United States and Britain.”
Alternative therapies are sometimes frowned upon by mainstream medicine – human and animal. I think it’s funny that there are still doctors today who will roll their eyes if they hear the words chiropractor or acupuncture, despite the multitude of studies showing real benefit, and the thousands of patients whose health and quality of life have been dramatically improved by these modalities.
I have worked in hospitals, both human and animal. I can tell you this, absolutely and wholeheartedly – traditional Western medicine is not the only game in town.
It is very, very good, it can save your pet’s life, extend your pet’s life. It may very well be all your pet needs. However, if you are searching for “something more” because traditional veterinary medicine is not giving you complete satisfaction, then maybe it’s time to look at alternative therapies.
Some alternative therapies that are used to help our animal companions include:
- Acupuncture – placing needles in the skin at defined anatomic points to achieve the desired results.
- Acupressure – operates on the same principles as acupuncture but without the needles.
- Herbal and dietary supplementation – using plants and food to treat disease or injury.
- Massage – the manipulation of the skin and muscles.
- Chiropractic – the manipulation of the spinal vertebrae to alleviate pressure on spinal and cranial nerves.
Acupuncture/pressure has thousands of years of Chinese medicine standing behind it, validating it’s effectiveness. It is commonly used to treat pain and nausea, but it can also help digestion and gut issues, anxiety (pets can feel anxious!), even diabetes and stroke recovery. But this is only a sampling – a comprehensive list of all the conditions that can be treated is far too long for this post. Acupuncture and acupressure can complement almost any treatment regimen to speed your pet to wellness, but they can also be used solely on their own to achieve the desired result.
Herbal treatments, supplements and specialized diets are likewise large and complex topics, with a multitude of branchings into specialities. It can be as simple as giving your older dog some glucosamine to help ease aching joints to a strict regimen prescribed by a holistic vet to defeat cancer.
Massage feels so good! The therapeutic benefits of massage are undeniable. It improves muscle function, reduces pain, helps with joint stability, aids in rehabilitation from injury…the list goes on and on. Like acupuncture/pressure, massage complements almost any treatment.
Chiropractic adjustments enable the nerves to operate at maximum efficiency by reducing or eliminating pressure put on them by misalignments of the spine. This alone can eliminate pain and increase mobility, but a fully functioning nervous system allows the body to clearly communicate with its various parts. This clear communication facilitates the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
You may find that your vet works in conjunction with alternative therapy practitioners. These practices are becoming more accepted as more people turn to them and discover their benefits. You can even find holistic veterinarians who practice one or more therapies in addition to traditional medicine.
Search for holistic vets through the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. You can refine your search on this site to specific modalities such as acupuncture, herbal, etc.
The National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage has a member listing of certified practitioners.
Find an animal chiropractor at the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association.
As always, you should do your own research to determine if alternative therapies are right for your pet.
Alternative therapies can help keep your best friend healthy and happy. They are worth investigating to give your pet the best life possible.