The Water Bowl
Breed & Health Resources

Holistic Therapies For Our Pets

By Claire Gillenson

 Alternative therapies have been employed to help humans heal for thousands of years. Our animal friends suffer the same kind of ailments we do, but because of their high threshold for pain, they sometimes have a hard time letting us know they are hurting. Our pets can suffer everything from back/neck pain and hip/shoulder dysfunction to digestive challenges and emotional pain.

In this article, we’ll focus on 3 non-invasive holistic practices; veterinary chiropractic, Reiki energy medicine and acupuncture, sharing how each can be used to promote healing for your beloved animal companion.

Veterinary Acupuncture:

Traditional acupuncture (TCM) has been used for over 3,000 years in China. Acupuncture promotes healing by helping correct energy imbalances in the body.

Bringing acupuncture into veterinary context is a happy meeting of science and healing. Based on the premise that we are all connected and energetic beings, our pets are perfect candidates as they bring balance to our emotional and physical well-being with their endless love, companionship and affection!

Used in conjunction with western medicine, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) is very complementary. The wonderful thing about veterinary acupuncture is that it can help both in the treatment and prevention of illness without unfavorable side effects.

A question Amy Stillwell-Graff of Choice Vet in Manhattan Beach gets asked a lot is: “Is acupuncture good for senior pets?” TCVM is great for geriatric pets because it can provide pain control and support for your pet’s body without the dangerous side effects that can be associated with some modern medicines.

It is especially wonderful for pets that are unable to take certain medications long-term because of the risk of aggravating other conditions. Further, TCVM isn’t only for treatment of illness and pain, but also for prevention. How? The use of veterinary acupuncture may delay the onset of illness by maintaining balance, clearing stagnation within the body systems, and generally helping the body “fix” itself.

An important thing to remember when using TCVM to treat our senior pets is to be realistic while being optimistic. “Acupuncture cannot turn your 16-year-old Rottweiler into a puppy again, but it can help improve her quality of life,” says Dr. Stillwell-Graff.

She has seen first hand what veterinary acupuncture has done for pets who were considered beyond help. “I used to think acupuncture wasn’t real…that people who had acupuncture treatments for themselves merely convinced themselves it was helping, much like a placebo. But our pets have no idea what those tiny needles are supposed to be doing! The first time I helped a dog walk that had been unable to stand for days despite all the typical modern medicine, I knew acupuncture was an amazing and real treatment alternative.“

The practice of TCVM and veterinary acupuncture just requires an open mind and a different way of thinking about things. One may not be able to physically see how it works, but the benefits and positive effects are undeniable.

Energy Medicine/Reiki:

Another holistic practice we may not be able to track physically is animal Reiki healing. Reiki stands for “universal life energy” in Japanese and has been around since the late 19th century. In CAM (complementary and alternative medicine), Reiki belongs to a domain (area of knowledge) called energy medicine. In this domain, therapies are based on the belief that disturbances in energy cause illness.

Energy medicine practitioners seek to improve the flow and balance of energy in a positive manner. The definition of Reiki as given by NCCAM (National Institute of Health): “A therapy in which practitioners seek to transmit a universal energy to a person (or animal) either from a distance or by placing their hands on or near the person (or animal). The intent is to heal the spirit and thus the body.”

Angel Guides for Animals™: An innovative healing practice in Los Angeles focuses on bringing Reiki healing to pets in distress. Dr Ming Chee-Brown, a Reiki master and healer, says, “Reiki treatment can provide relief from surgery and behavioral issues while promoting emotional healing and easing transitions for senior pets. For healthy seniors, Reiki maintains health, providing peace and contentment. Reiki for animals can treat ailments that may be currently inhibiting your senior companions whether you notice them or not. It can reduce stress, relieve pain, headaches, stomach upsets, asthma, back problems, sinus, respiratory, canine hip dysplasia, anxiety and more. It can help with abused animals and neglected animals too. For senior pets getting ready to transition, Reiki is a gentle way to provide comfort to and keep them from being afraid and anxious.”

Veterinary Chiropractic:

Last, but not least, veterinary chiropractic gives love and attention to the health of the neuro-musculo-skeletal system. Since the nervous system coordinates the body’s ability to heal and regulate itself, veterinary chiropractic provides healing to senior pets in various ways.

Below are some signs that might mean your senior pet could benefit from some chiropractic TLC.

  • Senior pets have a tendency to get weaker in the hindquarters first. Notice if your pet is having difficulty getting up, lying down, walking up or down stairs, or has a change in her gait.
  • Check to see if she reacts in pain between her shoulders and lower neck.
  • Notice if there is a constant licking of the paws. This can signal your pet is experiencing physical discomfort and is using the licking to distract her from the pain.

When the body is misaligned, it affects the nervous system. The altered function can lead to pain, disease, fatigue, muscle weakness, immune suppression, and more. Manual adjustments can help bring balance back between the nervous system and spinal column. If our pets are ill, on various medications, or if their liver or kidneys are compromised, chiropractic adjustments can help.

“Part of my work is about enhancing the quality of life for my aging clients. Preventative care is a big part of a senior wellness plan. I am so honored when they bring the seniors in to see me. One of my regulars, Boomer, a large Lab weighing over 90 lbs., has very large, bad inflammation in his hind legs. He has trouble walking and traveling in the car so I go to him. After his adjustments, his family reports that he sleeps very well at night, and overall is happier and more willing to move around. It has been a matter of day and night for him,” says veterinary chiropractor, Dr. Heidi Bockhold.

Today, we’ve share three ways preventative care can help in creating an improved quality of life with your beloved furry family member. Why not use all the tools available to provide a well-rounded treatment plan that covers more bases and provides us with a broader chance of resolving or preventing illness?

Thoughts to ponder:

What alternative therapies do you think would be beneficial for your beloved furry family member?

Take some time out to spend quiet time with your furry friend. See what they may have to share. What changes do you notice? Sometimes we are so busy with our days we don’t notice changes until there is something “wrong” or your sweetie is not quite herself.

This quality time will strengthen not only the love connection you have, but your “intuition” with your pet as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Pet Insurance & Alternative Therapies: Some pet insurance providers cover alternative therapies. When purchasing a policy, check to make sure there is not a monetary limit or an additional fee for the alternative therapy coverage within the policy. Embrace Pet Insurance fully covers veterinary acupuncture and chiropractic on all policies.

Mind if we pay your vet bills?

Connect with Us

Pet health insurance is administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency, LLC and underwritten by one of the licensed insurers of American Modern Insurance Group, Inc., including American Modern Home Insurance Company d/b/a in CA as American Modern Insurance Company (Lic. No 2222-8), and American Southern Home Insurance Company. Coverage is subject to policy terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, underwriting review, and approval, and may not be available for all risks or in all states. Rates and discounts vary, are determined by many factors, and are subject to change. Wellness Rewards is offered as a supplementary, non-insurance benefit administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency in the United States. © 2020 American Modern Insurance Group, Inc.  Wellness Rewards not available in Rhode Island.