In recent times, we have seen more humans and pets living longer lives. With these longer lives comes the emergence of complex problems. For example, changes in lifestyle have increased the rate of obesity in both humans and their pets. In addition, the continued popularity of purebred dogs and poor breeding practices means increased genetics risks in some pets. Autoimmune diseases are also on the rise. And of course, with longer lives comes diseases associated with old age, such as osteoarthritis, cancer and chronic renal failure in cats. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of treatment options for pets, both traditional and holistic. Veterinary acupuncture, veterinary chiropractic, veterinary hydrotherapy, cold laser therapy, Ayurvedic herbs, and veterinary homeopathy are all holistic modalities that can help your pet manage chronic issues.
Veterinary acupuncture is one of the most popular modalities for helping pets with pain management. It is the ancient Chinese practice of using needles to stimulate specific points along the body. In pets, it is used to treat pain. Some methods use only small, thin needles, but other methods involve the use of subcutaneous vitamin B-12 injections or saline administration. Other methods involve the use of mild electrical stimulation to enhance the healing effects of the treatment. Acupuncture is safe and effective for muscle injuries, back issues, osteoarthritis, and degenerative disc disease. It can be done in biweekly, weekly, or monthly sessions as determined by the veterinary acupuncturist at the pet’s first consultation. Veterinary acupuncture is one of the fastest growing holistic modalities for pets.
Pet owners today are also getting veterinary chiropractic services for their pets. What is veterinary chiropractic? According to Dictionary.com, it is “a therapeutic system based primarily upon the interactions of the spine and nervous system, the method of treatment usually being to adjust the segments of the spinal column.\" Veterinary chiropractic can help with a variety of issues. It can help relieve neck, back, leg, or tail pain. It can also be used to treat muscle spasms or nerve problems. In addition, many dogs receive veterinary chiropractic care for intervertebral disc disease, in which the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column bulge or herniate into the spinal cord space causing nerve damage and paralysis. Cats and dogs also can benefit from veterinary chiropractic after injuries from accidents. Chiropractic has many uses and applications for your pet!
If a pet needs veterinary chiropractic, a consultation can be set up with a certified veterinary chiropractic practitioner. A qualified practitioner will be certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association and will have extensive training in this field. She or he will have learned the quadruped spine and its dynamics (which differs from the bipedal spine of humans). He or she will have the acronym CVC after DVM in their title. X-rays may need to be taken to evaluate the problem. If appropriate, chiropractic can be done in a series of sessions that may be twice a week in some instances, or once a month according to the patient’s needs.
Another treatment for surgical recovery and arthritis is treadmill therapy. Veterinary hydrotherapy, formerly known as hydropathy, is a form of treatment for pain and paralysis in which the patient performs exercises in a pool or an underwater treadmill. For pets, this is often a small pool kept at about 92-96 degrees Fahrenheit. The treadmills are similar to a general walking treadmill, but the treadmill is submerged into a water tank designed for dogs that draws water into itself. Hydrotherapy has many uses and benefits such as helping with paralysis, osteoarthritis, and obesity. The warm water stimulates nerves, and the buoyancy helps obese or injured animals move without pressure on the joints. Like chiropractic, your will typically have multiple sessions.
Veterinary Cold Laser
Another holistic modality that can help your pet regain mobility is the use of veterinary cold laser. If a pet is suffering from aches and pains or trauma, it may benefit from cold laser therapy. Cold laser is a safe form of intense light therapy that promotes healing. It works by stimulating the cell’s mitochrondria (the “energy house” of the cell) and creating more adenosine triphosphate for the body’s energy needs as well as other cellular products necessary for healing and growth. Cold Laser therapy has many benefits: it is painless, safe, and requires minimal restraint of the pet. It may need several treatments before improvement begins to take effect. It has been used for arthritis, tendon and tissue injuries. Also muscle sprains, intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) and even lick granuloma.
eterinary Ayurvedic Herbs
Another different form of alternative care for pets involves the use of Ayurvedic herbs. Ayurveda is the oldest holistic system of medicine dating back to 6000 years BC originating in India. Ayurvedic herbs and modalities have been in use for thousands of years and have a proven track record of safety and efficacy. The majority of Ayurvedic herbs are well researched and backed by clinical trials. Combinations of herbal products stabilize the energetics of other ingredients, leading to a balanced product. The combination herbs can be easily prescribed to treat many problems, even before the clinician studies the basic theory, philosophy and principles of Ayurveda to allow deeper healing. Some examples of herbs used in Ayurveda include ashwagandha, boswellia, curcumin, and trifal.
Veterinary homeopathy is another alternative modality that may be helpful to some pets. It is defined as the treatment of disease by minute doses of natural substances that in a healthy pet would produce symptoms of disease. The principle is “like” can help treat “like”. These particular substances are diluted in sterile water as a tincture. One example is Apis mellifica that is derived from the honeybee. This homeopathic treatment can be used to treat symptoms of burning pain similar to bee stings. Allium cepa, which is derived from onions, can be used to help treat watery eyes due to allergies and colds.
With the wide variety of treatment options available for your pet, in addition to traditional medicine, find a holistic veterinarian to help determine which modality is right for you with a consultation. Some pets may be able to use several different modalities—for example, herbs combined with acupuncture—or sometimes just one is needed. Some modalities may not be appropriate for your pet. Your vet will inform you which will work best. In addition, some pets may need several treatments to assess if they are working. A good, ongoing relationship with your holistic vet will help both of you determine which treatments aren’t working as well and which ones are working fantastically so that care can be adjusted accordingly. Your pet’s path to wellness can be short or long, but your holistic veterinarian can help both of you safely navigate that path with a myriad of new and ancient holistic modalities.
Dr. Tejinder Sodhi is a certified Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), certified Veterinarian Chiropractor (CVC), with over 30 years of experience treating small companion animals holistically.