Your pet is a part of your family. You want them to get the very best medical care possible. Many pet parents are turning to holistic treatment options, rather than the drugs or surgical procedures that a traditional veterinarian might recommend.
If your pet is suffering from an ailment, and you are looking for a natural remedy, here’s some information about some of the most common holistic treatments available for your dog.
What is Holistic Treatment?
Holistic veterinarians specialize in alternative, natural treatments for your pet, as a compliment to conventional therapies.
When you take your dog to a holistic vet, they’ll want to get a picture of the “whole” pet – the illness or ailment, the environment in which your dog lives, and the kind of relationship you have with your dog.
The veterinarian will then determine a course of action that will best address whatever problem your pet is experiencing.
The goal of a holistic veterinarian is to uncover the underlying cause of an ailment and look for the least invasive treatment method. This is the best way to ensure not only the physical health of your dog but their emotional and mental health as well.1
Here are just a few of the holistic treatments that have been used to help dogs get on the road to a lasting recovery:
Hydrotherapy is basically physical therapy that takes place in water. It’s a low-impact approach to helping a dog suffering from joint or muscle problems. Hydrotherapy can also be used for older or obese dogs who need a safe form of exercise.
The typical hydrotherapy session lasts about 15-30 minutes. Your dog is placed in a pool of warm water to help soothe their joints. Then, your pup will either swim or walk on an underwater treadmill. Many pets will be fitted with a life jacket or harness to ensure their safety. Not only does hydrotherapy decrease stress on your dog’s joints, it also helps increase mobility and stimulate circulation of the blood.2
Like many holistic remedies, acupuncture is more closely associated with humans. But dogs and other pets can benefit as well. It’s been popular in the U.S. since the 1970s, but it took several more years to gain acceptance regarding treatment of pets. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association didn’t approve acupuncture as an alternative therapy for pets until 1988.3
Acupuncture helps to release chemicals in certain areas of your dog’s body, such as the brain, spinal cord, and muscles, to promote healing. Conditions treated include pulmonary, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and many other disorders. These include joint disease, disc problems, and even epilepsy and asthma.
When properly performed, pet acupuncture can, in some instances, eliminate the need for a surgical procedure. It is a safe, non-invasive treatment that doesn’t cause any serious adverse reactions in the vast majority of cases. Minor side effects of pet acupuncture may include mild swelling or bruising.4
Massages can help your dog in many ways. It helps to relax muscles, stimulate the flow of blood, and reduce stress. If you give your dog a regular massage, for example, it will help strengthen your bond. And it will also let you know if your pup is developing any strange lumps that need to be checked out. Always check with your veterinarian if you come across anything odd.
Professional dog masseurs are another option. A dog masseur will use several different techniques, all designed to help reduce pain, relax your dog, and improve their circulation. One of these techniques is known as “effleurage.” This is performed from the paws to the torso, and from the rump to the head. He helps stimulate blood circulation, and it may also help to reduce swelling.5
Another type of dog massage is known as “skin rolling,” or petrissage. This is also designed to improve blood circulation. Chopping, or concussive strokes, is also used during a pet massage. The masseur will move the edge of their hand in a quick chopping motion over a large area of muscle, such as the back.6
Herbs are often used to address skin problems in dogs, such as demodectic mange. This disease is caused by mites. It can cause severe itching, leading to raw areas and, in many instances, the loss of fur. Many holistic veterinarians use herbs to reduce the inflammation and itching associated with demodectic mange. Commonly used herbs include chamomile, valerian, and St. John’s Wort.7
Magnetic Field Therapy
This unique natural remedy involves the use of magnetic fields in order to address your dog’s injury or illness. It’s typically used to help speed healing from a wound or to treat a joint or tissue condition.8 You can buy permanent magnets, such as wraps or beads, for use at home. Other products containing therapeutic magnets include pet beds and harnesses.
A more advanced form of magnetic therapy is known as Pulsed Electromagnetic Field, or PEMF, therapy.
A veterinarian delivers pulses of electromagnetic energy to the area that is causing problems.
Sessions usually last about an hour each. Use of PEMF was originally limited to large animals such as horses. However, advances in technology have allowed veterinarians to use PEMF equipment on smaller animals.
PEMF equipment can only be used under a prescription. It can only be administered by a therapist or a veterinarian. PEMF has been used to treat a wide range of health issues in pets, including tendonitis, joint disease, and hip dysplasia.9
Other Holistic Treatment Options
These just scratch the surface of the many holistic remedies that are available to your dog. Here’s some brief information on a few others.
· Laser therapy – Low-level laser light is sometimes used to reduce inflammation and pain in a pet. It is also used to hasten the healing of wounds.10
· Osteopathy – This natural treatment involves manipulating joints and muscles in order to help address issues such as joint stiffness and muscle tension.11
· Stem cells – Stem cells from fat can be used to treat degenerative conditions in dogs, such as muscular dystrophy and osteoarthritis. This form of therapy has also been effective in repairing tendons and mending fractures.12
Wrapping it Up
If your pet has recently suffered an injury or been diagnosed with an illness, consider talking to your veterinarian about holistic treatment. There is likely a natural remedy available that will be a safe, non-invasive alternative to conventional therapies, such as drugs with side effects or potentially debilitating surgical procedures.