Not all medical treatments come in the form of a pill or a surgical procedure. Alternative veterinary medical therapies are rapidly growing in popularity as research and personal experience demonstrate repeated success in improving pain control, healing, and quality of life. Pet owners want to learn more about alternative therapies and how they can help their beloved pets live their best life. In many cases, alternative therapies, such as physical rehabilitation, spinal manipulative therapy, and acupuncture, used in addition to conventional treatments, can address a pet’s medical condition from multiple angles.
Veterinary physical rehabilitation for pets
Veterinary physical rehabilitation, which can be used independently or in conjunction with other treatments, includes many therapies, including:
- Treadmill therapy
- Underwater treadmill therapy
- Massage therapy
- Passive range of motion exercises
- Neuromuscular stimulation
- Laser therapy
- Therapeutic ultrasound
- Therapeutic exercises
Physical rehabilitation can benefit pets by:
- Reducing pain
- Reducing inflammation
- Increasing range of motion
- Improving balance and coordination
- Restoring normal movement
- Restoring normal muscle mass
- Increasing muscle strength
- Helping obese patients lose weight
- Improving overall quality of life
Veterinary physical therapy can benefit almost every pet who is recovering from an injury or wound, or suffering from a chronic musculoskeletal inflammatory disease. The therapy can be particularly helpful for pets with degenerative joint disease, spinal injury, and those with weakness or paralysis. If physical rehabilitation is recommended for your pet, VVC’s certified rehabilitation practitioner can collaborate with your family veterinarian on a personalized treatment plan for her medical condition.
Veterinary spinal manipulative therapy for pets
Veterinary spinal manipulative therapy, or veterinary chiropractic care, focuses on restoring normal joint mechanics and surrounding soft-tissue function to improve movement and overall pet health. Trauma, chronic injury, and degenerative joint disease can impact a joint’s range of motion and sensitize nearby nerves, leading to pain, weakness, reduced function, and efforts by the pet to compensate for the deficiency, which can lead to further injury. Veterinary chiropractic treatments can also be used to help healthy and athletic pets maintain proper structural alignment for optimal function of muscles, nerves, and soft tissues that support their joints.
During a chiropractic treatment session, a quick, low-force maneuver is applied to a specific area, at a specific angle, to restore normal spinal alignment and joint motion. Veterinary spinal manipulation, or an adjustment, should be performed only by a certified animal chiropractic professional, who may be a veterinarian or a human chiropractor trained to perform animal chiropractic treatments.
Veterinary spinal manipulative therapy can benefit pets with a number of conditions, including:
- Traumatic musculoskeletal injuries
- Muscle strains
- Back injuries
- Nerve problems
- Athletic injuries
Veterinary acupuncture for pets
Acupuncture involves the placement of thin, sterile needles into specific body points to stimulate healing and control pain. Acupuncture is one component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which is based on the philosophy that the body’s life force, or Qi, flows along channels called meridians. A Qi imbalance is believed to cause disharmony and disease, and needle insertion at specific points along the meridians stimulates beneficial effects, including:
- Pain relief
- Increased blood flow
- Nerve stimulation
- Muscle spasm relief
- Release of endorphins and cortisol
Acupuncture may benefit pets with conditions, such as:
- Chronic musculoskeletal problems, including arthritis, intervertebral disc disease, and neck and back pain
- Post-surgical pain
- Nerve conditions
- Traumatic injuries
- Slowed gastrointestinal motility
Acupuncture is extremely safe when performed by a veterinarian who is a certified veterinary acupuncturist. The needles are thin, insertion rarely causes pain, and most pets become relaxed and may fall asleep during treatments. Acupuncture is an alternative treatment, and therefore can often be used in patients who cannot take medications, such as those with liver or kidney disease.
Alternative therapies do not replace conventional veterinary treatments, but can often be used in conjunction with your veterinarian’s primary care to provide a more holistic approach to your pet’s medical condition. If you have questions about alternative therapies that could help your pet, or would like to consult with our medical team, contact us.