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alternative therapies include acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicine and CBD.

There has been an increasing fascination with alternative therapies for pets lately. Many pet owners are increasingly turning to holistic and natural methods. This shift in approach reflects a growing desire to prioritize natural and alternative solutions for pet care. Traditional veterinary treatment has often been relied on for pet conditions and to keep pets healthy. However, these solutions do not always match your pets’ unique needs or specific health conditions. In this post, we’ll explore the different types of alternative therapies available for pets and how they can positively impact their lives.

What Are Alternative Therapies?

Alternative therapies (complementary or integrative therapies) represent a diverse spectrum of treatments and practices outside the conventional medicine field. These unconventional approaches to healthcare are often utilized either alongside or as a replacement for traditional medical techniques.

Types of Alternative Therapies for Pets

There are several alternative therapies available. Plus, each has its own unique set of benefits and advantages. Many of the alternative therapies available for pets often utilized are:

Acupuncture for Pets

It is an ancient Chinese therapeutic practice that involves the strategic insertion of thin, sterile needles into specific points on the human body.

Benefits of Acupuncture for Pets

Acupuncture can be very effective at helping pet animals manage chronic pain from conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia, limber tail syndrome, and backbone problems.

A 2017 study investigated the effects of acupuncture alone or combined with analgesics on chronic pain and quality of life in 181 dogs. 

It did reduce the pain scores by 65% in dogs with hip dysplasia characterized by pain and joint damage. It also improved mobility and decreased pain signals in 83% of these animals. Therefore, acupuncture is a relevant treatment to alleviate pain and improve the quality of life in dogs. Acupuncture is one of the popular alternative therapies for pets that might be covered by pet insurance too. 

All pets experiencing musculoskeletal problems (characterized by pain and limitations in mobility) can benefit from increased mobility and greater flexibility. This treatment or therapy has the potential to significantly enhance the well-being and overall quality of life of these beloved animal companions.

Acupuncture may reduce inflammation. Therefore, when it comes to pets, it can manage a range of inflammatory conditions such as allergic reactions, inflammatory bowel disease, and dermatitis.

In this therapy, you have specific points triggered to enhance the functioning of the body’s immune system. As a result, pets are better able to overcome illness and infections.

This method might have a soothing impact on the nervous system. As a result, it can assist animals that are struggling with anxiety, stress, and problematic behaviors like aggression.

Herbal Medicine for Pets

Herbal medicine is the practice of using plant-based remedies. This approach may manage a variety of health issues in both humans and animals. It has resulted in pet owners embracing herbal medicines, demonstrating an increased awareness and enthusiasm for alternative, non-pharmaceutical forms of healing.

Benefits of Herbal Medicine for Pets

Herbal medicine harnesses the medicinal qualities of plants to address a wide range of health issues, offering a natural substitute for artificial medications.

Herbal remedies are frequently chosen over traditional medications because they have fewer side effects, making them a potentially safer choice for prolonged use. It is particularly appealing for individuals seeking options that may be gentler on the pet’s body over an extended period.

Herbal remedies can effectively help with long-term conditions like arthritis, gastrointestinal issues, and skin issues.

A study used a Boswellia herbal extract used by 24 dogs with osteoarthritis of joints or spine. After six (6) weeks, anywhere from 40 to 70% of the dogs were symptom-free. The signs with statistically significant improvements were lameness, pain, and stiffness.

Herbs such as valerian root are often paired with chamomile as they help alleviate anxiety and stress. Therefore, they have calming and soothing properties.

Chiropractic Care for Pets

Chiropractic and massage are great alternative therapies for pets

Chiropractic care is another alternative therapy that has crossed over from human to veterinary medicine. It focuses on the alignment and proper functioning of the spine and joints. 

A 2021 study explored the occurrence of spondylosis, which affects the vertebral bones of the spine in dogs. Half of the Boxer puppies from 17 litters were given veterinary chiropractic treatment at monthly intervals from eight (8) weeks old until one year old. The rest of the puppies received no treatment. The frequency of occurrence was significantly lower in the treated dogs at 25% than in the controls at 46.5%. Therefore, veterinary chiropractic treatment may reduce successfully the probability of early development of spondylosis in dogs. 

Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Pets

Chiropractic adjustments can relieve pain associated with misaligned vertebrae, joint issues, and musculoskeletal injuries. A 2008 study investigated chiropractic treatment effectiveness in relieving back pain in horses. The study specifically examined how chiropractic adjustments affect the movement of a horse’s back and limbs.

Chiropractic manipulations had a small but significant effect on reducing thoracic back extension, decreasing pelvic inclination, and improving pelvic motion pattern symmetry.

Pets with stiffness or limited mobility can benefit from chiropractic care. Thus, this can enhance their range of motion and flexibility.

Proper spinal alignment can improve the functioning of the nervous system, leading to better overall health and well-being.

Chiropractic care can aid after surgery in the recovery process by promoting faster healing and reducing pain and inflammation.

Regular chiropractic adjustments can help maintain proper alignment and prevent injuries, especially in active or working pets.

CBD for Pets

One of the most talked-about alternative therapies for pets in recent years is the use of CBD (cannabidiol) for pets. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant, and it has gained popularity for its potential therapeutic benefits.

CBD is a great alternative therapy for dogs

Benefits of CBD for Pets

CBD is known for its pain-relieving properties, making it great for pets suffering from chronic pain, arthritis, or injuries. A 2023 study review investigated CBD use on canine osteoarthritis (OA), a degenerative disease with chronic inflammation and cause of pain in dogs. They found that in dogs with OA, treatment with CBD oil may reduce pain.

Reduction in Anxiety and Stress

CBD can have a calming effect on pets, helping to reduce anxiety, stress, and behavioral issues. A Cornell study had dogs given CBD chews before a stressful event. 83% showed a decrease in stress or anxiety-related behaviors.

CBD offers promising anti-inflammatory effects that can help relieve pets suffering from various conditions, including allergies, skin problems, dental diseases, and inflammatory bowel disease.

A 2023 study had dogs with idiopathic epilepsy (IE) receive CBD or placebo for three (3) months. There was a 24.1% decrease in seizure days in dogs getting CBD and a 5.8% increase in dogs receiving a placebo. Therefore, CBD can help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in pets with epilepsy.

CBD has potential benefits for pets with gastrointestinal issues or those undergoing treatments like chemotherapy. It can help stimulate appetite and improve digestion in these animals.

Integrating Alternative Therapies for Pets with Conventional Medicine

A crucial benefit of alternative therapies is that they can complement traditional veterinary medicine. But to enjoy the benefits of both forms of treatment, it is necessary to have a healthcare strategy or plan for your pet that integrates conventional and alternative therapies to attend to your pet’s health. This strategy can offer thorough care, improving overall health and quality of life.

Additionally, it is vital to regularly monitor and make adjustments when using alternative therapies for pets. Pets’ needs can evolve, and treatments may need to be adapted accordingly. While alternative therapies can provide many potential benefits for pets, it’s vital to understand that not all treatments may be ideal for every animal. Therefore, before starting any new form of treatment, it is essential to seek the advice and guidance of a qualified veterinarian.



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