Not everybody embraces alternative therapies for humans, let alone our four-legged friends. It is understandable that some people feel certain alternative therapies are as useful in the modern age as swallowing a frog to cure a sore throat! This is because veterinarian's can now treat almost any ailment with medicine and surgery, and so not everyone sees the relevance in alternative therapy in today's world. However you may actually be surprised to know that certain therapies are recommended by vets as a supplement to their medical treatment because the vets believe they offer genuine benefits to the patients. Alternative therapies should not be seen as a replacement for veterinary attention, and certainly not a way to save money. Usually they will not be cheap, costing more than the average vet bill. Here is a run down of the most popular therapies for dogs :
Hydrotherapy has become a well-respected therapy with clinics up and down the country. It is suitable for dogs suffering with arthritis, orthopaedic conditions, muscle injuries and limb loss. It may also be considered as a helpful therapy for dogs with mental problems as it has calming effects. Hydrotherapy works by placing the dog in a pool of water, sometimes in a harness for support, and using swimming as a way to relax, heal and exercise muscles in a gentle way that does not put stress on damaged tissue or sore joints. The action of swimming uses all the joints, toning and strengthening them with every movement. Warm water is used to improve the circulation through the muscles. If you are wondering why you can't just take your canine down to the local river, well there are very good reasons for this. The only reason for using canine hydrotherapy is that the dog has a condition that would benefit from it, which means that it would be unsafe to take a dog with a medical problem to a river or lake instead. Canine hydrotherapy is carried out by trained practitioners who know how to utilise the therapy for each individual condition in a controlled environment, with safe, temperature controlled water. Ask your vet if your dog would benefit from canine hydrotherapy.
Another canine therapy that is growing in popularity is massage. Massage is used for a variety of problems and can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve circulation, remove toxins from organs and relieve pain. Massage provides the same benefits to animals as it does to humans, however it requires different techniques and an expert knowledge of the dog's anatomy. Like all alternative therapies, massage can be very expensive and so if you have a session with a therapist ask them for techniques you could do by yourself at home with your pet.
Unlike massage and hydrotherapy, acupuncture isn't something that you will normally find recommended by vets (although this varies and some vets strongly advocate acupuncture) and has the least scientific basis behind it. Acupuncture is an ancient chinese medicine that is widely used for humans and is becoming more popular for use on pets. There are a few well-respected pet acupuncture centres in the country where you can get advice regarding the therapy. Acupuncture is used to treat basically any illness you can think of and if your dog finds the insertion of needles stressful then lasers can be used instead.
Herbology and homeopathy are completely separate healing methods but both use the power of plants. Herbology is the use of herbs and flowers as a natural medicine because many of the medicines we use today are derived from plants. If you research this therapy thoroughly you may find that you can give your dog the treatment without shelling out for a session with a herbologist. However you should always consult your vet before giving your dog anything that you are unsure about. Homeopathy is different in that it uses plants and naturally occurring chemicals that stimulate the immune system. Neither of these treatments are scientifically proven, however they are both perfectly safe for your dog to try. Again there are very few illnesses that herbology and homeopathy do not have a cure for.
Some dogs respond to alternative therapies really well, whilst others show no difference in their condition whatsoever. Often it is a case of trial and error, however if you find something that has a positive affect on your dog's health then all the effort will have been worth it.