I often get a lot of people that are reluctant to start medications for different things, but we still need to do something. There is a really great place for holistic medicine during this ‘“in-between” phase, and also that we can add on when our current medications just aren’t quite cutting it. I will talk about a couple of holistic options, knowing that a fully trained holistic veterinarian has even more options available.
The main alternative therapies which general practitioner veterinarians use are acupuncture (veterinarians must be trained in this), therapeutic laser, supplements, chiropractic care, and herbal medications. Each of these has an important place in veterinary medicine and can help decrease the amount of other “traditional” medications needed in many cases.
Acupuncture is a practice from ancient Chinese medicine. Acupuncture evaluates chi throughout the body and the channels it flows through. An initial acupuncture exam involves a complete history, a thorough physical exam, and an examination of deficient acupuncture points.
Sometimes the acupuncture exam will yield deficient points that don’t necessarily line up with what owners report, but makes a big difference once done! Acupuncture is a complex medical art form that requires intensive studying to integrate physiologic conditions with acupuncture points and meridians.
Acupuncture points are often where lymphatic and nervous system points are concentrated.
Many of the actual theories don’t translate to easy article talk, especially as one who isn’t well versed in it. What I DO know is that I see some fairly amazing results from patients that our other veterinarian does. We see a lot of dogs with osteoarthritis that responds beautifully. This lets us delay the start of medications, decrease the amount needed, or add in when the effectiveness of medications has hit a wall. It also treats anxiety, organ disorders, and neurologic issues. It is a wonderful add-on for dogs with disc issues.
Often we know within the first few sessions if the acupuncture is going to work, and the results can be pretty amazing. By stimulating that spot we can release endorphins that make the pets feel good. I always encourage people to try because there is no downside. Even our anxious dogs often just relax and nap for their session.
Supplements are a very easy additive that can make a big difference. Dogs and cats respond very well to glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. I encourage people to purchase veterinary brands because they have very strict quality control. Only a very small amount needs to be added to over-the-counter products, while this amount might not be therapeutic. Veterinary-approved brands run frequent quality control checks so we know that the proper amount is included.
Many therapeutic foods can have huge benefits too. These are supplemented for things like joint disease, liver disease, and bladder health. These are a nice intermediate step before we start medications that can bridge the gap and keep diseases at bay longer.
Chiropractic care is similar in pets to people. This should be done by a certified veterinarian. These veterinary chiropractors can help adjust and realign pets so that their bones and muscles can work in better harmony. This is wonderful for dogs who have slight problems or are very active and just need to be aligned a little bit.
We can often improve quality of life, delay the start of medication and reduce the number of medications needed by adding in holistic care.