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Complementary Therapies for Pets

Veterinary care is an important part of pet care. Sometimes, however, pet owners are reluctant to go ahead with surgeries or give harsh pharmaceutical drugs to their pets. Concerns can include healing time, success rates, costs, or the toll it could take on ill or aging pets. Complementary therapies offer options for pet owners. Here are just a few to investigate.

Supplements

Many types of supplements are now available for our pets to help combat arthritis pain and skin conditions, to try to boost immune systems, and more too. Here are two of the most commonly used supplements for pets:

  • Glucosamine / chondroitin: commonly used to alleviate pain from joint problems, arthritis and hip dysplasia in pets. Both glucosamine and chondroitin are naturally found in our pets' bodies, especially in cartilage. But cartilage can wear away with injury or age.

    Giving these supplements can help to promote the healing of joints. Once started, pets need to take it every day. Often the dosage for the first 2 months is increased before dropping down to a "maintenance level". Some pets who are taking pharmaceutical drugs for arthritis may be able to be weaned off them, after the glucosamine / chondroitin supplements start having an effect.

  • Salmon oil / fish oils: Fish oils provide "good fats", like Omega-3 fatty acids. Supplementing your pet's diet with a high-quality fish oil can help to alleviate allergy symptoms and to improve the condition of your pet's skin and coat. Omega-3 is also a mild anti-inflammatory, so can help with arthritis too.

Always consult your vet first before adding a supplement or drug to your pet's routine.

Acupuncture Treatments

Acupuncture, the practice of inserting and manipulating fine needles in the body, is an ancient technique that has garnered significantly more interest in recent times when it comes to treating pets. People have long used acupuncture treatments for a variety of ailments ... and now veterinary acupuncture is also becoming more mainstream.

Acupuncture is said to provide pain relief (for example, from arthritis) and improve circulation, among other things. Pets may need multiple initial treatments to determine whether or not acupuncture will work for them. If it does, treatments can eventually be spaced out over a longer period of time depending on the animal's needs.

The needles do not cause discomfort and some pets will even relax enough to fall asleep during the treatment.

Always be sure to consult with a qualified veterinary acupuncturist.

Physical or Rehabilitation Therapy

Physiotherapy can be helpful for dogs of all ages. Dogs who are recovering from surgery or injury, for example, may find that it helps them to recover strength and mobility faster. Very active dogs, like those who participate in agility or other dog sports, can improve strength and endurance and thus lessen the chance of injury. Older dogs with chronic pain issues may also benefit from physiotherapy.

Some physiotherapy clinics also have an underwater threadmill. Hydrotherapy, or water exercise, is particularly useful for dogs with joint issues. The buoyancy of the water takes pressure off the joints while still providing enough resistance to build up muscles and improve mobility.

Complementary therapies are not a substitute for regular vet care. They should be used in conjunction with any medical help your pet requires. Any complementary therapy you are considering for your pet should first be discussed your pet's primary care veterinarian.

 

"A dog wags his tail with his heart." (Martin Buxbaum)

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