There are many reasons to consider exploring alternative therapies for your companion animals. First off, like us, our animals enjoy a massage or acupuncture so they can relax. Your dog or cat may have anxiety and relaxation is exactly what the vet ordered! In addition to relaxation, these therapies can provide pain relief, improve flexibility and the immune system, reduce age-related issues like arthritis and hip dysplasia discomfort,
So the top alternative therapies for animals we focus on include massage, acupressure, laser therapy, aromatherapy (essential oils), and acupuncture. Do you live with a senior animal? Senior pets will benefit from all of these alternative therapies so you should talk with your vet about one or more of the below as their aging bodies need extra TLC and support! Aging pets will thank you!
All of these modalities complement veterinary medicine and recommendations for these five therapies should come from your vet or DVM. A holistic veterinarian may have their acupuncture or small animal massage certification. Pet owners should discuss the benefits of alternative medicine with their vet to determine which will be the most helpful. Veterinary acupuncture is a very helpful therapy and combined with herbal medicine will speed up the healing process.
1. Massage Therapy
Massage is a proactive therapy that addresses future health and wellness issues.
The Canine Journal tells us,
"Canine massage therapy is a form of alternative therapy that promotes a dog's health. It is proven that the touch given to a dog through massage can improve not only a dog's physical but also his emotional well-being. Massages are great for dogs who suffer from nervousness, anxiousness and hyperactivity."
Gentle pressure is applied during a typical acupressure session. How does it work? Well, if you have the acupressure points on the meridian chart, different points are aligned with various locations on the body.
Animal Wellness Magazine explains,
"There are two more acupressure points, also called "acupoints", that you can add to your dog's session to enhance his relaxation and bring down his stress level - the An Shen points located behind his ears (see photo above), and the Bai Hui point located in the center of his sacrum where there's a little flat spot (see photo below). These are classical canine acupoints known to specifically reduce stress and anxiety."
3. Laser therapy
Laser therapy is wide-ranging and there are many diverse benefits but this modality will need to be discussed with your vet as they can recommend a specialist if they don't have a laser at the clinic. In addition to decreasing inflammation, this therapy:
- Skin Wounds
- Tendon and ligament injuries
- Edema (tissue swelling)
- Muscle injuries
- Nervous system injury/surgery
- Post-operative incisions and tissues
4. Aromatherapy (Essential oils)
Did you know that chamomile is very soothing and relaxing to the emotions and to the skin? Experts often use chamomile tea as a rinse for itchy and inflamed paws during the summer months. It smells wonderful!
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Sometimes it's called essential oil therapy.
Many practitioners will diffuse "safe" essential oils including lavender as it's known to be the safest and promotes calm behavior when inhaled.
Staff Tip: Cats are missing some detoxifying liver enzymes (when compared to dogs or people) and are highly sensitive to "hot" oils like cinnamon, oregano, clove, wintergreen, thyme, and birch. Skin application of 100 percent tea tree oil has caused liver failure in some cats, for example.
As our dogs get older, they can develop a range of health issues, from arthritis and disc disease to age-related anxiety and appetite loss. Acupuncture is one modality that can help address these and other health issues in dogs of all ages but especially senior dogs.
Our staff writer takes her senior dog to see a practitioner every two weeks to help with disc disease and arthritis. Doxies are known for being predisposed to spine issues so proactive therapy really helps her aging pet!
You can also consider a veterinary chiropractor which is another of the many holistic therapies you can talk to your vet about. With that in mind, many pet parents have seen positive effects from alternative veterinary medicine. It's very helpful for animals with joint pain and our editorial staff saw a real difference with their senior pets. As we discussed, laser therapy can help as a postoperative therapy for dogs that are undergoing surgical procedures.
Don't forget about mental health! Anxiety is often treated with conventional treatments but integrative medicine including acupuncture should be considered as it truly helps anxious pet relax. We've seen it with our own eyes!
Does your dog or cat enjoy any of these alternative treatments? Please leave us a comment below!
WATCH NOW: Dogs Are the Best Valentines
Love reading about pets?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.