Therapies I have found helpful for my dogs

Over the many years that I have owned dogs I have found complementary/alternative therapies a really useful addition to traditional veterinary care.

I am by no means knocking the veterinary profession, I have had some superb vets over the years.

Since discovering holistic/homeopathic vets however, I am a big fan of them. These are veterinary surgeons who have completed all the usual training and have then also trained in these therapies. Practicing holistically means they spend more time getting to know each animal in order to prescribe based on the animal’s character and health status. They also have more tools in the toolkit so can often minimise the use of drugs and/or surgery which is obviously beneficial for the animal.

In my early days of having dogs, two of my dogs sadly had anal furunculosis (AF). This is a horrible auto-immune disease quite common in German Shepherd Dogs. Treatment involved cryosurgery and was awful.

When a second dog, Valkie, got AF in the late 1990s, I looked for something better. I ended up taking her to the Veterinary Hospital near Potters Bar where they were researching the disease.

I also did a lot of my own research as well and was instrumental in getting a safer treatment for this disease introduced to the UK (I found a research paper from Australia that showed promising results for a product called Tacrolimus that could be applied topically so used in lower dosages than the Cyclosporin drug that was at that time used).

Unfortunately, Valkie died fairly young due to kidney failure, probably as a result of the drugs, in 2003. I do wonder now what holistic therapies might have been able to do for this horrible disease.

Alongside veterinary care I have used a few things – I have listed some of them below.

Canine massage

The first time I heard of canine massage was many years ago. My middle-aged German Shepherd Dog, Chad, was very stiff around his hind quarters. Someone at the local dog club recommended massage as a way to loosen up competition dogs with injuries so I thought I would try it for him. The person I went to, Ron, had originally been a sports massage therapist for footballers. He then started treating racing greyhounds, finding that often surgery could be prevented by using massage and sonar therapy. 

After Chad’s first visit, I was immediately impressed to see he was able to jump back into the car. Previously he’d been putting his front legs up for me to lift his hind quarters in. His range of movement in the back legs had doubled. Needless to say I was convinced and continued to see Ron with Chad.

Ron had moved away by the time I needed support for Holly so I went to Natalie Lenton who was, at that time, just starting the superb Canine Massage Guild near Kidderminster. Over time she has trained many people around the country so I have visited graduates of her school nearer to home.

 

These days, Kiwi, our 12 year old Golden Retriever, now enjoys massage from Sally Walker, Flexability Canine Massage.

He gets sprains due to imbalances from a thickened left hock and he absolutely loves seeing Sally – just look at his smile in the photos!  I highly recommend massage as a way to keep your dog more mobile into older years. It is superb also to keep competition dogs in peak form.

Hydrotherapy

I started hydrotherapy for Chad to help with his CDRM. The water takes the weight off the dog’s legs and forces him/her to use the legs more evenly to swim and keep the head above the water.

We got half hour sessions at the pool I went to and soon I was taking young Holly along as well (half an hour swimming was too much for Chad). They had a whale of a time competing to reach toys (Chad really pushed himself to beat her!) and absolutely loved the visits there.

The facility had a lovely ramp the dogs walked down to get into the pool. Once the dogs had got the hang of coming out that way they could be let loose to swim free. After swimming, there was an area they could be showered down to get the chlorine off, and hairdryers and towels in a separate room to get them dry and warm while the next visitor was in the pool. Unfortunately, this facility is no longer in operation.

Homeopathy & Holistic Veterinary care

Naturally, these days I am a homeopath so I do give my dogs remedies for day-to-day acute ailments. They also each have an e-Pendant on their collars so I can give them bio-resonance sessions regularly for general wellbeing.

For more serious conditions I consult my local vet or a homeopathic vet.

Chad’s CDRM was significantly slowed by homeopathy. I was told he would live six more months when he was aged six in 1999 by one vet. He lived to be nearly fifteen, still managing to get around largely on his own, and died of a brain haemorrhage in the end. Homeopathic remedies also got him off Metacam, which he hated.

Holly also had CDRM which developed much later in her life than Chad’s. Unfortunately, the homeopathy did not have such a helpful effect for that and she did end up with some wheels for the last eighteen months.

Remedies did help her in many other ways though, very notably they eliminated her urinary incontinence and gave her back her dignity (she got very distressed at ‘leaking’) and nothing from the local vet had worked.

She had seemed to be ‘losing the plot’ a bit at one point in time and the holistic vet pointed out that she was on an opiate painkiller that would cause that. We got her off that and she returned to her normal bright and happy self.

Kiwi suffered a suspected cruciate ligament injury a few years ago. The local vet wanted immediately to do x-rays, surgery etc. and so I went for a second opinion from an holistic vet. He gave three treatments of Laser Acupuncture (Kiwi even showed the vet where to put the laser for the acupuncture so was engaged in the treatment). Then the vet referred us to a specialist surgeon who could operate if necessary but could be trusted to only do surgery if required. After a short appointment we were sent away with no need for surgery and the injury has never returned. This saved us a lot of money and Kiwi from the painful surgery.

I have more examples but you can see that a combination of mainstream and holistic veterinary care really does have its place and can benefit the animal massively when used appropriately.

 

 

Another thing I focus on is minimising the drugs my dogs receive. I have not wormed my dogs for many years because I get a wormcount done regularly to find out if they need it and so far they have not.

 

CAM4Animals

In the UK, the RCVS (Royal Collage of Veterinary Surgeons) decided in November 2017 to issue a statement that drugs must be prescribed at the earliest opportunity, even if one of their members considered that another course of action was more appropriate. This led to CAM4Animals being formed to support holistic vets and promote the use of Complementary and Alternative (CAM) therapies for animals. I am a supporter of this campaign. Find out more at www.cam4animals.co.uk

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