Alternative Therapies for Pets

Years back, as a kid I had a very cute and loving german shepherd dog. She was like family to us, a best friend and the cutest creature who would be happy to see me come back from school or sad when we all left her alone in the house. The way she reciprocated love is my most cherished memory till date. I don’t forget her jumping around in excitement when the family came back from any outing. Dogs are so loving and protective, just like parents. But parents do get upset with us and punish us, but dogs – they never leave you. That’s the best part about having a pet. 

Dogs, cats or rabbits, whatever your pet be, they do get sick and make several trips to the doctor in their lifetime. Animals cannot speak and thus it becomes important that they get the right treatment when they are sick. Many medicines given to the pets when they are extremely sick or fighting with a certain life threatening disease, may cause serious side effects just like human beings. As more people use alternative therapies for themselves, they are also seeking them for their pets.

The alternative therapy treatments include, but are not limited to, massage, acupuncture, herbology, homeopathy, and chiropractic. These therapies are nothing new, some of them date back thousands of years. The American Veterinary Medical Association has established guidelines for veterinary acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathic, and holistic medicine.

Before you go ahead with any such treatment, it is important that your veterinarian gives you a green signal to make sure no harm will result from the trial. Referrals work great when looking for the right treatment for your pets. Depending upon your geographic location, the requirement of who can treat the animals may vary. Check with your state government or state veterinary medical association to determine what is legal in your state.

Types of treatments:

Acupuncture and Acupressure: A very old and traditional way of naturally treating a disease is Acupuncture. Traditional Chinese medicine has used it to treat a wide variety of ailments for more than 3,500 years. With more than 300 acupuncture points recognized in animals, each point leads to a specific reaction in the body, stimulating the energy in their bodies to help jump-start the natural healing process. This not only helps the body heal itself but stimulates the flow of energy forces that nourish tissues, stimulate blood flow, and enhance the body’s systems, as believed by the traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. 

Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, but does not use the needles. It is a way of applying pressure to specific areas on your pet’s body to reduce aches and pains. Both acupressure and acupuncture follow the same idea of stimulating the body’s energy to enhance the natural healing process. 

Another benefit of acupuncture and acupressure is cost saving- often the pet owners do not have the means to pay for surgery. This holistic way of treating helps pets and owners when it comes to chronic illnesses.

Massage: Who doesn’t love getting massaged when the muscles are sore and tired. Like humans, animals too enjoy a good massage to soothe overworked, tired muscles. Massage will not cure serious disease but can be therapeutic if performed correctly and with a gentle hand. There are various techniques for massaging your dog. The most common forms of massage include kneading, rolling or rubbing your dog’s skin; and stroking, more of a prolonged petting that helps calm your pet.

In addition to massage, warm or cold treatments may be used depending upon the condition. The massage could be over the whole body, or on specific problem areas which may correspond to certain acupuncture points. A good massage can help promote blood flow, relieve tension in muscles, lower blood pressure and stimulate nerves, thus promoting healing and enhancing the immune system.

Massage should feel good, and your pet must enjoy it. If for some reason, it causes pain and discomfort, discontinue it.

Homeopathy: Homeopathy is also an option when it comes to holistic approach for treatment of animals. 

The animals are treated with the help of homeopathic remedies – extremely diluted solutions of assorted herbs, animal products, and chemicals. The more dilute the substance, the higher the potency. These remedies cause symptoms similar to the current symptoms of the illness. For instance, if an animal is vomiting and has diarrhea, it would be treated with a remedy that causes similar symptoms. The remedy would be stronger and similar to the imbalance observed in the animal and would replace the illness to cure it.

Homeopathy aims to not only cure the symptoms of disease, but all changes in the energy balance of the animal.

Most animals have positive outcomes after homeopathic treatments. It has been in practice for a long time in Europe and is becoming increasingly popular in North America mainly because many physical or psychological health problems can be treated with this approach. 

Chiropractic: The word ‘chiropractic’ comes from the Greek words cheir (meaning ‘hand’) and praktos (meaning ‘done’), i.e. Done by Hand. It is a manipulation and adjustment of the bones in the spine to position the vertebrae correctly. Due to the misalignment of the vertebrae and the bones of the spine, any joint, muscle, nerve, connective tissue, blood flow and function of an area can be affected. A chiropractor will use quick, high velocity and controlled thrust on the specific joint that is being manipulated to restore the normal range of motion and release the pressure to the surrounding tissues. This may result in immediate total relief of symptoms or partial relief. Sometimes it could only be temporary relief in the pain; the animal may have maladjustment again and the pain might come back. This means you may have to make multiple trips to the veterinary chiropractor.

Pets may be given chiropractic treatment for any number of reasons, including difficulty getting up and down, recovery from an illness or injury, or even for upcoming athletic competitions.

Why should you opt for Alternative Medicines?

The main advantage of alternative medicines is that they can treat a number of ailments in a natural way unlike the conventional medicines that involve chemicals with adverse side effects.

It is important to remember that the internet has a lot of information but not everything may be true or work well in your scenario. Consult with professionals before going ahead with any therapy, only he can direct you towards the right treatments.

Also keep in mind that alternative medicine does not mean that your pet may not require any other kind of tests or blood work. In more serious situations, additional tests like blood work, CT scans, ultrasound, etc. or surgical procedures may have to be carried out. Do not refrain from going ahead with these tests because the results of these tests may also help in further treatments. 

Just like us, in any emergency, the best thing to do is seek medical assistance. Certain illnesses require immediate professional guidance and medication. 

Alternative medicines are very effective in treating certain chronic illnesses, but sometimes they have to be combined with regular medicines too. Whatever you decide for your pet, remember that it has a life and you are responsible for it. We all want the best for our pets. Therefore,  whenever possible, avoid chemical drug treatments and go natural. 





Blog Image Credit: Mirko Sajkov from Pixabay

Written by Manali Arora


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