Complementary and Alternative medicine is the term given to any treatment that falls outside Western medicines. Examples include reiki, acupuncture and homeopathy. These medicines are increasingly popular for people but there is a growing market for their use for animals too.
It is important that before you go to an alternative practitioner that you furst go to your vet for a diagnosis of the problem. Even if you feel that pharmaceutical methods are not for you, it is dangerous to go to any practitioner without an official diagnosis. Often people like to run alternative/ complementary therapies alongside conventional treatment whereas for other dogs that react to drugs or where there is no known cure they can act alone.
The range of alternative medicines that can be used to treat dogs is fairly comprehensive however you should never use one without either going to a qualified animal practitioner or knowing exactly that the treatment is suitable for animals. Just because something is suitable for humans doesn’t necessarily mean that it is OK for dogs.
Homeopathy can be used to treat a wide range of complaints in dogs such as skin problems, colitis, diarrhoea, heart problems, allergies, stomach problems, coughs, itch, sore ears, and behavioural changes. Homeopathy works by giving the patient (in this case your dog) a highly diluted substance which aims at triggering the body’s natural healing responses. Treatments in this case are normal given in tablet form which may be mixed with your dog’s dog food.
Another treatment that can be used to treat a wide range of ailments is the range of Bach Flower remedies. These are based on the healing powers of plants and are especially good for emotional problems such as anxiety, fear, aggression etc. There are specially designed animal remedies available online or in some pet supplies stores and these are normally dropped into your dog’s water.
Aromatherapy can be used very successfully for some ailments and is especially good for treatment of ticks and lice. Oils such as lemongrass, citronella, cedarwood, eucalyptus and lavender oil are all effective insecticides and can either be misted with water onto your dog’s coat or dropped onto their dog bed.
For muscle, bone and joint problems massage, chiropractic, hydrotherapy and osteopathy can all be used. Whilst behavioural problems, malaise, digestive problems and skin conditions can be trated using Reiki, Bowen Therapy, acupressure, acupuncture, herbal remedies and even colour and sound therapy.
Whichever remedies you choose ensure that you look for a qualified and preferably recommended therapist. Some vets may be able to point you in the right direction or alternatively ask pet supplies stores or for personal recommendations. Opinion is often divided as to the efficacy of alternative treatments and as recovery from any disease or injury is often slow it can be difficult to tell. However, it is certain that these treatments are growing in popularity and you can be sure that you are doing everything you can to make your pet comfortable.