When treating any animal, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) requires that the “health and welfare” of the animal is the foremost objective at all times.
Though traditional veterinary care is often the most appropriate method of treatment for an animal, there are times when a pet’s well being is best approached through safe alternative medicine.
In fact, some veterinarians are incorporating holistic remedies into their current practice.
The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) was founded in 1982 with the mission to educate the public on the value of alternative and holistic approaches to veterinary medicine. Some specific alternative approaches include, among other modalities, acupuncture, chiropractic care and homeopathic remedies.
Acupuncture for Animals
The AHVMA notes that acupuncture has been used on a quarter of the world’s human population for more than 35 centuries. Acupuncture is known to strengthen the immune system and stimulate the body to heal itself. It relieves pain and improves the functioning of organ systems.
This holistic treatment method has been gaining popularity among veterinarians, as more professionals are starting to use it in their practice.
Arizona veterinarian Tim Patterson has been using acupuncture in his practice for more than 24 years, ever since he was seriously injured in a car accident. Conventional medicine had very little effect on his physical improvement. It was not until he turned to “acupuncture, chiropractic and other remedies” that he was able to heal.
Patterson’s personal experience inspired him to learn more about alternative approaches for treating animals. Patterson works extensively with horses that respond to acupuncture. He notes that, at first, while horses may seem somewhat apprehensive when the needles are first inserted, it is not painful for the animals if the needles are inserted correctly. Within a few moments, endorphins are released and the animal feels a sense of relief.
Chiropractic Treatment for Animals
According to Carrington College, in addition to many alternative approaches in veterinary medicine, veterinarians and vet technicians are frequently using chiropractic care with their animal patients. When the spine and other bones, joints or muscles cause pain in humans or animals, using chiropractic techniques may be one possible alternative method of relief.
The AHVMA believes that there are some healing potentials found through chiropractic treatments that are not “achievable by other forms of therapy.” In addition to acupuncture, the aforementioned Dr. Patterson uses chiropractic adjustments for some of his animals, including horses that have trouble standing.
Michael G. Savko is a veterinary chiropractor who provides his animal patients with orthopedic manipulation, which comforts them and eases their pain. He treats primarily cats, dogs and horses, but has even used chiropractic care on other animals, including pot-bellied pigs. Savko is passionate about his work and his ability to improve pet health with the use of his chiropractic skills.
The use of homeopathic remedies dates back to the time of Hippocrates. In 1995, the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy was established to emphasize the value of homeopathic treatments for chronic illnesses and diseases in animals. Homeopathy can even be used to treat traumatic injuries.
Homeopathic treatment focuses on diet, exercise and removal of stress. This method of alternative care uses natural substances, such as those made from herbs and minerals (which may be toxic if given without dilution) to treat a patient.
In small doses, these herbs and minerals are believed to cure the same symptoms they would cause if given in large doses. These remedies are formulated to treat specific symptoms exhibited by the animal and they rely on the ability of the body to heal naturally.
Some veterinary and veterinary technician programs are now incorporating alternative approaches to veterinary medicine into their curriculums.
If an alternative remedy works for humans, it will most likely work for animals.
Veterinarians are not necessarily abandoning traditional treatment methods, but incorporating holistic knowledge into their practice to achieve the best possible outcome for their animal patients.