Friday, October 30, 2009

Alternative Therapies for Dogs

By Ruthie Bently

There are many kinds of alternative therapies nowadays, not only for us but for pets as well. Just like us, our dogs can benefit from them. Alternative therapies can have an unseen benefit, especially if the medication your dog is on does not work, or makes them ill from its side effects. If your dog does not respond to a medication, they may get relief from an alternative therapy, as they don’t tend to produce the side effects that a chemical medication can.

Acupuncture is an ancient alterative therapy that has been practiced as far back as 7000 years ago in India. One of the earliest documented cases of its use in veterinary medicine was about 3000 years ago in India, to treat elephants. The man usually credited with the use of acupuncture in veterinary medicine is Shun Yang from China in 480 BC. Where traditional Western medicine considers one specific issue of a body, acupuncture considers the whole organism in the diagnosis of a health issue.

Acupuncture uses small gauge needles applied to various parts on the body to create a physiological response in the treatment of many diseases and conditions, and has been proven successful in pain relief. It has also been used to treat conditions that affect the entire body. The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society is the professional group for veterinary acupuncturists in the United States.

While each dog is different, acupuncture has been found to help with cases of chronic respiratory conditions, arthritis, neurological disorders, gynecological issues, male and female reproductive problems, skin issues, immune system issues, cardiovascular issues, gastrointestinal issues, musculoskeletal issues and thoracolumbar and cervical disc issues.

Acupuncture has been show to enhance the efficiency of antibiotics when used for canine otitis, which is an inflammation of the ear. Acupuncture has also been suggested as a surgery alternative, if the surgery may have possible complications for your dog. Before deciding on treatment of any kind, you should always get a professional diagnosis and consider all of your options, as in some cases acupuncture may not give the results you desire.

Aromatherapy is as old as 18,000 BC, based on cave paintings discovered in France that show the burning of aromatic plants for medicinal use. It’s believed that aromatherapy got its start in ancient Egypt, though the Chinese were using it around the same time. The term “aromatherapy” was coined by a French chemist, who while working in a laboratory, burned his hand and immediately immersed it in lavender oil. He was surprised at how quickly his burn healed and began doing research into the healing powers of essential oils.

Aromatherapy treatments are done with scents or fragrances made from herbs and flowers. These natural compounds can be made from roots, leaves, fruits, seeds, plant resins and the wood of certain plants. Aromatherapy can be used for an ongoing cure or as a preventative measure. Though humans have been using aromatherapy for healing for centuries, it is a fairly recent practice for animals. Aromatherapy is used by homeopathic veterinarians to help dogs that may be stressed, fearful, anxious or depressed. For example, if you have a dog that gets fretful going in the car, you could use an essence made to calm them down. You should consult a homeopathic veterinarian before beginning any course of aromatherapy for your dog.

Animal chiropractic is a specialization for veterinarians and chiropractors to provide manipulations to the spine, joints and manual therapy for animals; it’s primarily used for neuromusculoskeletal conditions in dogs and horses. It is controversial, and the AVMA does not recognize it. From a legal aspect, only licensed veterinarians are allowed to practice on animals in the United States. However, there are some doctors who hold degrees in both veterinary science and chiropractic, as well as some practitioners that are neither, which causes a legal issue.

Findings show both benefits and increased risk of problems in animals that have been adjusted. Dr. Sharon Willoughby, DVM, DC formed the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) in 1989 with a group of chiropractors and veterinarians to further the profession of animal chiropractic. In theory, animal chiropractic can benefit animals with symptoms related to neck, leg, back and tail pain. Some symptoms include: disc problems, arthritis, injuries from slipping or falling, weight loss due to pain and uneven muscle development. The jury is still out on this one and probably will be for some time.

Reiki is a hands-on energy balancing technique believed to have originated in Tibet. It resurfaced in Japan in the early 1900s before coming to the West. Reiki translated means “universal life energy,” which is our life force. When a dog’s life force is flowing correctly, they are healthy and happy; when it is blocked or lacking a dog will get sick or their body won’t function properly. Practicing Reiki is like giving your dog a shot of the life force that surrounds us in the universe, by tapping into it. This in turn can bring balance back to your dog.

After being trained in Reiki through a series of attunements, a master is able to channel healing energy to the dog’s body. Depending on the master, a dog can be treated either directly or from a distance. To send energy remotely the master needs a picture of the dog and the dog’s permission to send the Reiki to them. Some of the benefits a pet can have from a Reiki treatment are relaxation and decreased stress, improved mood, and reduced or removal of pain. Reiki can improve a dog’s medical condition, help accelerate healing and can help other therapies work better for your dog.

This article is intended as a general guide to alternative therapies for dogs. Please consult with your vet if you have any health concerns or questions about caring for your dog.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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