Here's How Holistic Therapies Can Help Ailing Pets

Posted by Stacey Venzel
Colony Veterinary Hospital

Acupuncture and other alternative medicines are on the rise for animals.

While human patients and doctors have dabbled in alternative medicine, pets and veterinarians are now starting to explore the field.

Traditional medicine goes by many names, such as mainstream, modern, or allopathic. Alternative medicine is often referred to as holistic. It involves a number of branches including acupuncture, laser therapy, herbalism (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine), massage therapy, nutrition, and homeopathy.

Naperville Animal Hospital
Naperville Animal Hospital

Specifically increasing in popularity are the needling technique, known as acupuncture, and laser light therapy. Both stimulate blood flow and nerve endings to promote healing. Common injuries and illnesses treated by holistic means include joint pain, muscle weakness, hormone, and blood deficiencies, anxiety, urine crystals, GI issues, cancer support, and more.

Holistic or "whole body" medicine aims to treat the entire body. It follows the notion that an ailment is caused by an imbalance in the body. Instead of treating symptoms with a pill as with allopathic medicine, holistic doctors work on treating a patient's entire body to bring it back to a balanced, ailment-free state.

Many pet owners are opting to use both holistic and traditional means to care for their pet, oftentimes with referral from one doctor to another. Some allopathic veterinarians are even getting licensed in specific holistic therapies.

Both types of medicine can be practiced together. For example, a hyperthyroid cat or hypothyroid dog could benefit from thyroid pill supplements while also receiving herbal treatment and acupuncture to re-balance the body's internal hormone levels.


Holistic medicine typically takes patience, so modern medicine can be used to see more immediate results. Over time, the patient can be weaned off of medication and stick to holistic means. In many cases, the holistic medical pathway hopes to rid a patient of the need for long-term treatment. However, some pets, such as ones with arthritis, would benefit from continued treatments, though less consistent as time progresses.

Raw food diets for dogs and cats are also on the rise. When recommended by a trained medical professional, a pet owner can guarantee that his or her furry friend is getting all the nutrients it needs to be healthy.

Whether holistic or allopathic, a pet owner is simply trying to better and lengthen the life of a loyal companion. Dogs and cats aren't the only ones to benefit from holistic therapy, though. Birds, turtles, horses, and other creatures can all heal via this means. They can even reap the benefits of yoga.

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Here's How Holistic Therapies Can Help Ailing Pets