Thursday, 7 February 2008

'C' is for Complementary Therapies

Continuing with the medication theme we'll take a look at complementary therapies.

IMPORTANT. I am not recommending any particular type of treatment for any animal or person. Any products or therapies I mention are not a recommendation for you to use on your dog or any other living thing. If anything suggests itself to you, you must consult your vet first. Remember I have never seen your pet, or know what is wrong with it, so how could I possibly recommend a suitable treatment.

Complementary therapies are also known as alternative therapies. That isn't a name I like, it suggests an either or situation. These therapies are best used in conjunction with conventional medicine.


A proper examination and assessment of your dog's condition is absolutely necessary before any kind of treatment can be undertaken.

I will give you some examples.

- If your dog has bloat (twisted gut) or your female dog has a pymetra (an extremely serious infection of the womb) ,then your dog needs immediate surgery. If not then they will die a very painful death in a matter of hours! There is no alternative to surgery. However, complementary therapies can be used to help with healing.

- Some herbal products do not mix with prescribed drugs, e.g. St.John's Wort, used by people. You need to discuss things with your vet.

- You can ask for a referral to a homeopathic vet, who will need to consult your vet anyway.

Do not under-estimate the powerful effect of top quality nursing care on a sick dog.

I never cease to be amazed at the recovery powers of a dog. They can be at 'death's door' one moment and a day later eating and wanting fun.

Sometimes there is no adequate scientific explanation of how a therapy works.
Some people then talk about 'mumbo-jumbo'. Well complementary therapies is where mumbo-jumbo meets science!

If you are ill you just want to feel better. If something works, are you really going to care about a scientific explanation?
There will be talk of the placebo effect. Try to get a proper explanation of how that works!

Sick dogs don't imagine they are getting better. We can see that for ourselves.

A few 'alternatives' which are accepted are :
- Milk Thistle. This herb is widely recognised as being able to support liver function.
- Arnica. Recognised as able to reduce bruising.
- Devil's Claw Root. A herb which has anti-imflammatory properties, useful in the relief of arthritis.Do not use as well as other anti-imflammatories.
- Severe skin problems, e.g. such as Westies can suffer. A change of diet!

That isn't a complete list, by the way.

Specific types of complementary therapy include:
- Homeopathy. And don't the arguments just rage about it! But I've seen it work. Please do not buy into the idea that it can do everything. Nothing can.
- Herbal remedies. I've mentioned a couple already. Add in nettle to condition the coat. Chudleys Mobility herb mix is reported to help with less severe arthritis and stiff joints.
- Flower remedies. Probably the most well-known is Rescue Remedy for use in shock. But do not give it to an unconcious or seriously injured dog. It can be useful if your dog is fearful of fireworks.
- Swimming. Well accepted because of the weight support of water while exercicing.
- Osteopathy
- Magnets. I've heard good reports from people who use magnetic bracelets,etc on themselves. Dog owners have also spoken of improvements.
- Tellington Touch. A sort of massage. You do need to be taught properly. Reported to help relax a dog, and help with behaviour problems.
- Healing Hands. No explanation at all for this! Definitely at the edge of things.

If I've missed anything please forgive me.

To repeat myself, because it is very important : Talk to your vet before carrying out any complementary therapies on you dog or any other animal.

Do use a registered practioner with a good track record.

I hope that I've given some food for thought.
See you again soon,

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