Alternative Medicine for Dogs

A comment from a reader inspired this post, about “alternative” medicine for dogs (see the comments for April 15th). In her comment, she expressed great disappointment that I bought into “…wackadoo absolutely scientifically unsupported claptrap.” This is not the first time I’ve been told that my interest in Chinese medicine, acupuncture, chiropracty and natural foods is a kind of a betrayal to my scientific background. And yet, it is exactly my background in science and research that causes me to make the choices that I do for my own health and for that of my dogs.

One of the things that one learns when getting a Ph.D. is that “science” is a fluid creature, moving this way and that, depending on the state of our knowledge (and the culture) at the time. You also learn that there is a profound amount that we don’t know, that many of the things that we think we do know turn out to be wrong a few years down the road. In addition, it becomes stunningly clear that, at any given time, science may acknowledge a particular observation or result, but not understand the mechanism to explain it. It was my experience in graduate school that helped me see the difference between result and  mechanism: not understanding why or how something works is not a good reason to argue that it doesn’t work. That said, I have tremendous respect for Western medicine, and there is absolutely nowhere in the world I would rather be if I was in a serious car accident, or had a dog who needed surgery. I have a James Herriot kind of regular veterinarian, perhaps one of the kindest and most wonderful vets you can imagine. He has never once rolled his eyes when I talked about the “alternative” medicine I was planning to add to my dog’s health care, and has joined with me in changing our practices as we learn more through the years. (He feeds his dog a lot of table scraps now, after researching and thinking about my contention that it couldn’t be good for otherwise healthy dogs to eat nothing but the same processed food, day after day.)

I also am of the firm belief that there are many products out on the market that are of no use in human or canine health, and that we all need to be very careful about not jumping on this or that band wagon of the supplement/medicine/food-du-jour. (That is true of all fields, including western medicine, I would humbly suggest.)

That said, here’s the health care I use regularly: Besides my regular vet (John Dally of Spring Green Animal Hospital), my “sports medicine” vet is Dr. David Ettinger of Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Care in Madison. He and I are in conversation about Willie’s shoulder… final decisions about surgery awaiting more time to see if Willie will respond to Chinese medicine by summertime. I have spent many a day at the University of Wisconsin Vet Clinic, seeing specialists too numerous to name for various and sundry medical crisis. Once a month, Lassie and Willie go to a chiropractor board certified in animal chiropracty, Dr. Mark McCann through Middleton Veterinary Hospital. The difference it makes, especially with old Lassie, is obvious and observable as she walks out of the clinic. (Many years ago a chiropractor saved me after five months of abject misery due to a serious whip lash accident. I had been to three physicians, including a neurologist who said that if I didn’t have 3 cervical vertebrae fused I would lose the use of my right arm. I wanted to avoid surgery and a permanent disability, and was referred by a friend to a chiropractor. After one treatment I was 85% improved and got the first relief I had had in months. I have a lot of back trouble, and can’t imagine living without a good chiropractor. Of course, a bad one can cause all kinds of trouble, and I’ve been to a few, but that’s no different than any other doctor. As a pharmacist told me once “If it has the power to do good, it probably has the power to do harm.”)

My dogs also see Dr. Jody Bearman through AnShen Vet once month. Dr. Bearman is a DVM who has spent years studying Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine is indeed based on a completely different paradigm than western medicine, and I won’t pretend that when I was first listening to chinese doctors talk about it my eyes weren’t spinning around like a cartoon character’s. I’m actually not sure that I buy the ‘energy flow’ explanations for why certain types of acupuncture work, neither do I have a certainty that certain forms of protein are better for some dogs than others. However, there is a growing body of solid (‘western’) science showing that acupuncture is indeed effective for relieving certain conditions, just as there is overwhelming evidence that chiropractic medicine is significantly more effective than “traditional medicine” at curing certain problems (back pain for one.)

I read one study not too long ago (sorry, don’t remember where… Sci Am Mind?) that compared 1) acupuncture needles placed in areas as prescribed by chinese medicine practioners, 2) acupuncture needles placed randomly around the body, and 3) sham acupuncture with no needles actually penetrating the skin. In this study, needles placed anywhere into the body were successful at alleviating pain, while the sham treatment was not. The western medicine explanation is that the needles stimulated the body to produce hormones that act to inhibit the sensation of pain, not that Chi or energy flow was being released, as explained by chinese medicine. (That relates to what I said earlier that often we don’t understand the mechanism until many years after we discover the action of a substance or a procedure.) I am not convinced that anyone knows the exact mechanism of why acupuncture is so successful, but there is no question in my mind that it is a legitimate medical therapy.

The fact is, what used to be considered “alternative” medicine is now called “complementary” medicine by most progressive physicians, hospitals and research institutions. The UW Vet clinic here does acupuncture. Here at UW and at Harvard there are centers for the study of “Integrative Medicine,” as it is becoming increasingly clear that health is more than a collection of happy cells and nerve fibers. I took “Mindfulness Meditation” through the UW Hospitals and Clinics, one of the many places that is doing research showing that meditation increases immune function, decreases pain and increases focus and overall reports of “positive affect” (the rest of us just call that being ‘happy!’).

Right now, Lassie and Will receive acupuncture, chinese herbal medicine and I take Dr. Bearman’s advice about what protein to use for the both. I truly don’t know if feeding them both duck, fish, beef and eggs, and avoiding chicken and lamb, really does help them, but because they are getting a good, varied diet, I can’t imagine it hurting. I can tell you that Lassie is not just 15.5 years old, she is spunky and playful and doing astounding well, even after being diagnosed almost two years ago with “Stage 2 Kidney Failure.”  Do I know that the chinese medicine helps?  No, not directly, but I tried to cut back on some of her meds awhile ago, giving her fewer of her “Body Sore” pills that are supposed to alleviate arthritis. A few days later her forelegs began to take on the salmon-colored glow of fur that’s been licked a lot….so she’s back on her usual dose. I should add that she also takes a 1/2 tab of Tramadol that also makes a big difference in her pain level, as well as a Omega-3 tablet and a homeopathic medicine I’ll talk about in another post.

One last thing about these two practices, chiropracty and chinese medicine. What is important to me is that I see real experts in those fields, not people who have degrees in other practices and have learned to dabble in another one. My dog’s chiropractor is not just a degreed doctor of chiropractic medicine, he is board certified to work on my dogs. My chinese medicine vet is a DVM veterinarian, and has extensive training in both perspectives. The biggest harm that I have seen is from people who don’t take the complimentary medicine seriously, take a weekend clinic on it, and then add it to their practice without enough training or experiene. Again, if something has the power to do good, it probably has the power to do harm.

One more comment, about a response to my post that I add Probiotics to Willie’s meals. Just to be clear for those of you who aren’t familiar with them, Probiotics have long been accepted by physicians, nutritionists, etc etc. as an important addition to the diet of individuals who are “digestively challenged,” as Willie was when he was a young pup. (If giving Willie sheep manure that I had to pre-digest myself would’ve stopped his projectile diarrhea I would have done it. There is just so much cleaning of poop off of walls, floors, crates, carpets and one’s own jeans if you happened to be standing at the wrong place at the wrong time that a girl can take. Seriously.) Several nutritionists argue that everyone should be taking prio-biotics (which replace the natural, healthy bacteria in our guts that facilitate the absorption of nutrients), because so many of our foods are nutrition poor. In Willie’s case, the addition of Pro-biotics was essential for the first year of his life. I’ve found I can skip them for a night or two now that he’s older, but if I add anything out of his usual menu he needs the Pro-biotics to keep his stool healthy.

If I haven’t lost you already in the land of “claptrap,” it gets worse. If you really want to hear how Dr. McConnell has gone “wackadoo” (I am becoming quite fond of that word), follow along for another post soon to come, about my reliance on Arnica, Traumeel and Zeel, homeopathic medicines which, to my mind, shouldn’t work at all, based on their proponents description of how they work. Except they do. Go figure.

Meanwhile, back at the farm. The main flock is now out on grass, sparse though it may be, and they are loving it. We had a few interesting moments when Barbie, my most protectively aggressive ewe, chased Willie a good fifty feet across the front yard, but things are settling down. Here’s they are on their first day up the hill with their young lambs:

Here they are waiting for their grain in the evening by the barn. They love to sleep outside, but close to the barn. I am still nervous about the coyotes, but so far, so good.

And here’s another spring ephemeral, Bloodroot, as it is closing up for the night. It’s called Bloodroot because the sap is a reddish orange. It’s a gorgeous early flower, and it is spreading up the hill behind the house. Makes me so happy…

Comments

  1. Shannon says

    I’m also a “wackadoo” in the past year switched from a traditional vet to one who practices both Chinese and western vet medicine and I’ll never look back. In fact, we just saw her yesterday for our annual check up. My almost two-year-old Aussie has been suffering from itchy skin for several months now. No fleas, lice, mites or known allergies. No flakey skin, no redness. She did her western evaluation and said he in perfect health. So with my old vet I would’ve walked away knowing in my heart something’s going on but told the opposite is true.

    When my new vet then did the Chinese exam, she found that his “Chinese liver” was lacking blood flow and he was dry and hot. He’s now on herbs to help correct this, which may also help lessen his anxiety (also linked to the “hot” he’s experiencing). Yes, it sounds flakey even when I heard myself telling all this to my sister last night…but it can’t hurt to try where western medicine has failed, no? We’ve tried anti-anxiety meds from western medicine with no avail, why not try something else?

    For myself, I see a naturopath in conjuction with my regular doctor. Massage therapy and chiro for a chronic pain condition I suffer from that no western medicine has a cure for. I live in Canada (land of social medicine) and also have an additional health plan that helps cover much of the costs, so I’m lucky that I can try a bit of everything and see what works for me.

  2. terry pride says

    i too have benefited from complementary, alternative or wackadoo medicine or therapies, LOL -
    as have my beasts, domestic, exotic or the temporary visitors from the wild (those who were sick, hurt or orphaned early, and later released).

    more than 20-years ago, i was the passenger in a one-car accident; the acquaintance who was driving used a power-pole on a turn to stop the car at about 35-mph. i was asleep in the front-seat, with a seatbelt that would not reach the staple to hook, held across me by my left hand.
    needless to say, his assurance that he would ‘drive carefully’ meant nothing, and the seatbelt only slowed me down; it did not restrain me. i hit the dash with my face, breaking my nose away from my cheekbones and crushing some sinus bones. i hit the courtesy-light in the ceiling with my head, resulting in lacerations that took 0ver 36 stitches – a YARD of stitches on one;s head, all above the hairline, is a lot.
    the impact on my spine reduced my HEIGHT from 5-ft 8-inches to 5-ft 6-and-a-quarter.
    yup – U read that right, it is not a typo.

    the doctors at the local hospital were OK on the stitches; the ER Dr refused to believe my nose was broken, after i went into the bathroom to wash the blood off my hands (from cupping the dribble as we went to the hospital), and saw my face in the mirror — i looked as if i had oh-so-cleverly caught a baseball with my right cheek, indenting it + bending my nose at a sharp angle.
    i came out and said that my nose was broken – and the Dr retorted, no it was not.
    having looked at my face for more than 20 years, i was pretty sure what i looked like;
    and this was not my usual.
    concussed as i was, i had to ARGUE with the ER Dr to get X-rays, and after he got them,
    he grudgingly admitted that by DoG, my nose was broken… as were my cheekbone and a sinus.
    however… i never got a SKULL x-ray.

    i consider myself very lucky to be alive;
    even more, i am deeply grateful to the chiropractor who treated me, when the hospital physicians
    kept telling me that my inability to BREATHE was a) nerves, b) stress, c) sore muscles in my
    ribcage, or frankly d) all in my head.
    THREE weeks after the accident, i was having to lie-down on the floor at work to sleep for 2 hours,
    between lunch and dinner prep; my ears, toes + fingers had pins + needles (classic oxygen deprivation,
    tho i did not know that!).
    the Drs still insisted i was just fine, despite my repeated statement that i could NOT take
    a deep breath — i felt as if i wore a girdle to my neck.
    20-mins into my first chiro-treatment, i was crying silently face-down, from the pain of spasmed muscles,
    but i was BREATHING, deeply and easily; i had fluid in both lungs, and had been using one-fourth
    of my left lung and half of my right, for the previous 30 days. i coughed-up fluid and gunk for another
    10 days or so, but the tingling extremities were gone… and i could work a full day without exhaustion
    midway thru it.

    after 18-mos of chiro-treatment, i was able to walk up stairs without stopping halfway on every
    flight; i was able to walk a considerable distance, but not STAND more than 15-mins in one place.

    it took over 6-years to regain over an inch of my lost height; 10-years later, i was back to 5-ft 8-inches.
    i will never be as fit as i was, but i am healthy, active, and still relatively flexible; i credit the 10-years
    of yoga i had done pre-accident with my eventual recovery of most of my flexibility.
    i credit my CHIROPRACTOR with keeping me out of that (lousy) hospital by preventing pneumonia,
    which given accumulating fluid and NO diaphragmatic function, i think was inevitable.

    i credit the VOLVO my acquaintance was driving, with saving me from dying on the scene.

    my experience of their trauma care and after-care was not a shining moment in the history of
    Centre County Community Hospital — i am sure other ERs and other Drs could have done better,
    but listening to the patient is important; telling me that my nose is not broken, and that i am
    breathing just fine, is simply asinine.
    it evidently never occurred to the Drs there to check my lung-capacity; they were so sure
    that i was malingering, and that they were right.

    since then, accupuncture has helped dogs and cats to better function; massage has helped post
    surgery; probiotics saved my life after 2 back-to-back antibiotics wiped out my gut-flora
    (i lost 14 pounds in 10 days); T-Touch has helped semi-feral and terrified animals to become
    human habituated; Anxiety-Wrap has helped feral pets become adoptable; aromatherapy has
    helped me to sleep under great stress, and helped many an animal to cope with a new life
    or new circs…
    the list is long, and all of it has been without side-effects.

    DAP is complementary therapy, too – and IMO and experience,
    it is the single best thing in B-Mod for dogs ever — no bias, there!
    ;–)

    if i break a limb or have a severe crisis, i go to an allopathic Dr;
    for most other things, i seek alternatives; i am also big on prevention!
    i do the same for my pets and other non-human dependants.
    so far, this has done excellently by us all, of many species.
    cheers,
    —– terry

    terry pride, APDT-Aus, apdt#1827, CVA, IPDTA, TDF
    ‘change behaviors — not pets!’ [tm 1985]

    PS – hey patricia -
    is Barbie the dark-bodied sheep with a half-diamond of white pointing /\
    up her face, and another half-diamond pointing down? she is alerting to
    something out of camera in the photo, with her twins beside/behind her.
    just curious… she looks ready to rumble!, LOL.

  3. Trisha says

    Good call Terry! Barbie is looking at Will who is outside the fence in stalking posture. (And what a story you’ve told, so glad you got the help you needed—finally.

    Trisha

  4. Dave says

    Sign me up as another person with a hard science background that absolutely believes in using “alternative” medicine and therapies. Why? Direct, verifiable experience. I was SO against homeopathy for a long time, but when you see it work consistently with babies and animals you can’t keep saying that it is all just placebo.

    Also, as you mentioned, 95% of holistic vets also are DVMs first.

  5. ABandMM says

    Ever since I have had my own dogs, most of the time we have been fortunate to live near a Vet School and I have taken them to the small animal clinic for their annual check-ups and other incidents that occur. At both schools, there were always 2-3 “staff vets” whereas the students rotated in and out. I looked at these visits as part of my dog’s socialization to have her examined by many different people. The only exception was when we lived in OR and went to a vet in private practice.

    While in OR, I had to leave my dog in a kennel for 1 1/2 months during an extended business trip from Dec-the end of January, the rainy season and outside activity is limited due to rain and mud. Unfortunately, I did not know anyone who could house sit for her. While in the kennel she developed a lick granuloma on her hind leg. When we moved to IN, we tried laser surgery. After several rounds of laser surgery, it never completely healed and she was put on prozac to mimize some of the obsessive behavior she had about licking it. We managed it, and kept it from getting worse. I know she had arthritis (she was on rimadyl) and that probably contributed to the licking (made feel better?). In hindsight, I wonder if an alternative acupuncture type of treatment might have helped her. I wasn’t too thrilled about putting her on prozac (even if one of the side effects was that she was *much* calmer during thunderstorms!), but I couldn’t stay and watch her all day to make sure she didn’t lick, and she was miserable in the E-collar and barely tolerated post-surgery.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t know (and wasn’t made aware) of that acupuncture and homeopathic approaches might have helped. She never seemed to be in any obvious (to me) pain, and was able to go on neighborhood walks up until she died suddenly due to a rupture tumor. Fortunately, my current dog has had any serious medical issues, but when she does, I will ask about all the options including eastern treatments.

    I did have a few comments on diet (I tried posting last week, but think I hit back and not submit and whoosh it was gone). I used to get miffed at my parents when I returned home to visit and they would give my dog table scraps such as steak, fish, baked potatoes, some green veggies. In fact my dad would go to great lengths to distract me in order to give my dog the scraps. Morgan was fed a very good quality kibble (hey I was a grad student, I couldn’t afford meat!) and the accompanying dog biscuits and seemed to do fine. On the few occasions she would get sick, I gave her boiled chicken, rice and cottage cheese until she was back to normal.

    With my second dog, Abby, I have been more lenient in part due to obedience training and positive rewards and that dry kibble is not considered a “reward” by most dogs. The majority of her diet is still a high quality kibble, but it gets supplemented with cheese, lamb, chicken liver training treats, and home made fish (tuna or salmon) treats (with whole wheat flour and eggs). She won’t eat raw fruits or veggies, but as I discovered the other night, cooked celery and carrots were ok. I usually give her some what I’m eating for dinner (cooked pasta, lamb or chicken) and have been better about mixing things like organic chicken broth and yogurt with active cultures in with her kibble and giving her omega fatty acids which make her coat better (before it seemed like she had dandruff).

    My mom has a 14.5 yr old chow that has always had scraps from the table mixed in with her kibble. The dog won’t eat plain kibble, it has to have leftovers mixed in with it. I used to chide my mom about this, but hey at 14.5 she is doing very well, a bit of arthritis and her hearing seems to have gone a bit (if she’s asleep, she doesn’t always hear people coming home). So maybe getting chilean sea bass 1-2x/ week isn’t such a bad thing.

    Until something necessitates a change, her diet will be mainly kibble based, but I am trying to make more of an effort to make her dog treats (or at least get them from pet bakeries that use “human quality” ingredients) and incorporate more variety into her diet. (Though I must note, I don’t find anything wrong with eating the same thing for breakfast, oatmeal, every morning!)

    Thanks again for your thoughts on these topics. It is good to know what options are available to our pets and to have some information to serve as a starting point for doing our own research and then consulting with our vet about what changes (if any) might be beneficial for the overall health of our beloved pets.

  6. Joanna says

    Trisha, can you tell us what kind/brand of probiotics you use? I would like to add them to my dog’s diet. I know lots of people use yogurt but he is allergic to dairy.

    Thank you for this post. The more I learn about, well, everything, the more I lean toward an integrative approach to medicine. As you said, just because we don’t understand why it works, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. I hope my dog will benefit from all the learning.

    Your post reminds that I need to get to work developing a home-cooked diet for him, now that I’ve figured out most of what he’s allergic to!

  7. says

    Cheers! This is a super post. One of my dogs suffered with ambiguous GI issues for more than a year before I took him to see a Certified Homeopathic Vet. The change is amazing. Both of my dogs get regular chiropractic adjustments, are fed a raw diet, etc.

    Hopefully this post will help people realize, while they don’t need to accept alternative and complementary medicine point blank, to close their mind to it is to limit the possibilities.

    It is exciting to me that someone with your name recognition (a scientist to boot) in the canine community is open to these different modalities.

  8. Libbye says

    Well, sign me Dr. Wackadoodle too. I am a vet, trained in the Western way. I’ve been in practice a very long time and I’ve learned that just because we don’t understand how something works doesn’t mean it’s not a valid treatment modality.

    Animals don’t exhibit a placebo effect as far as I know. If something works, they feel better. And I’m fine with whatever makes them feel better.

    I learned to do “Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation” some years ago. It’s a sort of a hybrid technique that uses a chiropractic activator and it’s been really helpful for many, many of my patients. It looks wackadoodle, but the dogs tell me it works great. And that’s all I need to know.

  9. Nicola Brown says

    I’ve tried acupuncture (&physio, which some of the vets at my local practive consider alternative) on my dogs’ arthritis & spinal problems. Unfortunately, my arthritic dog writhed & screamed about acupuncture. I felt there was some improvement, but not worth her panic levels. The physio (by a human physio with a masters in animal physio, doing her PhD) gave my dog with spinal problems a new lease on life. It didn’t help the kelpie much – I may have to have her elbow fused, but I will try anything, with anyone suitably qualified, to let my 10 year old kelpie walk more easily. I cannot imagine being happy at leaving a dog in her level of pain, just to satifsy my prejudices.

  10. Liz F. says

    Excellent post- so glad to hear that people and animals are finding relief, avoiding unnecessary surgery and improving the quality of life.

    I have an art background, have interest in diverse cultures, and believe that there’s always a handful of different ways to try to solve problems. That said, I had no reservation about trying alternative medicine. I have great respect for the skeptical mind because it’s just not who I am, and I wish I had more of it in me sometimes. So it’s interesting for me to read of skeptics who had reservation at first but could not overlook the results for themselves or their animals.
    My brother, a brilliant skeptic with a science background, received a traumatic crush injury to his hand. He was given stitches and pain meds. and told to wait 4-6 weeks before any follow up could be done (swelling had to go down). The worst part was the build up of unrelenting pressure that increased with every heart beat. You know what they say about desperate times, so I got him to my acupuncturist. My brother, as gruff and silent as they come, said with tears in his eyes and a smile, “I can’t believe it,” and had significantly decreased pressure/swelling for the remainder of the day.
    I wished he would have talked more about his ‘acceptance,’ as it seemed like a moment when he grew as a person… regardless after more treatments and minimal therapy, he now has two normal hands.

    I love the idea that the mechanism isn’t as important as the result, and it provides a basis for me saying ‘Sure, Why Not?” when others say “Wait a minute, Why?”
    Love and respect all the different perspectives… Thanks for sharing.

  11. Debby says

    I’m a physiscian assistant who practices pretty traditional western medicine at clinic in the Appalachian Mountains. I know how much we do NOT know even within that scope to think that we couldn’t learn from other cultures and disciplines.I am sure for example that within 50 years people will look back at our practice of giving cancer patients such harsh chemicals that the patient barely lives through the treatment and suffers nausea and vomiting and hair loss and consider our treatments barbaric compared to treatments that What ? target short strands of DNA or RNA? with little disconfort to the patient. Or someting else considered completely wackadoo now.
    One of the traditionally trained MDs in town went back to school to learn acupunture and now has opened “Ways Meet” (I love the name) which has on staff An MD and acupuncturist, massage therapists, yoga instructors and a psychologist. Would that this area of the country had a public that was as accepting of complimentary medicine for pets. When 3-4 years ago, the first physical therapy practice for dogs opened in a nearby city, there were a lot of snide comments about pools for dogs and underwater treadmills by TV reporters who covered its opening- as far as I know, it does a thriving business. I have not yet found a vet here who is open to much of anything but traditional medicine. I keep trying and give give my vets interesting books as Christmas gifts. They have received “Both Ends of the Leash” and “For the Love of a Dog” among others.

  12. Maggi Burtt says

    Great post.
    Whether you want to call it Wackadoo or Woowoo or mystical claptrap…it is also quantum physics. “Energy medicine” is becoming more and more accepted into the western allopathic model and as we develop more and more accurate diagnostic tools (the fMRI comes to mind) there will be better ways to prove that there are fundamental changes that occur in the neurochemical pathways of the brain when these modalities are used in treatment. (and yes I agree with the previous poster about DAP, it has been a GODSEND for my SA dog).

    I am a professional dogwalker, trainer in training, Reiki II practitioner and behaviour geek. My Reiki practice is tightly woven into all of the other fields..it creates relaxation in stressed animals, helps to relieve pain and reduce inflammation…all of this from simple touch or in some cases focus from a short distance.

    Just because we can’t SEE it doesn’t mean it aint there!

    Good for you for being open. We all have so much to learn, we just need to be open and able to SEE it.

    Maggi

  13. Mary Ellen says

    I do not know how it works, but acupuncture does. I need acupuncture after a serious injury resulted in permanent nerve damage to my left arm and hand. I have been amazed that the nerves have begun to grow a bit more, there fore more feeling and more dextarity. I can feek hot things now and i have less nerve pain, a lot less. I have a box of lidocaine patches going bad because I do not need them anymore. I have not had the opportunity to take Floyd to a Chiropractor (our local dog chiropractor is booked 6 months ahead!), but he does get alternative medicine and has had therapy for a pulled groin via a doggie PT. She used massage and stretching and cold laser to help. My cat Jackcrash has a new lease on his bad attitude after seeing a Chinese medicine vet—no more hot foods and he stopped having a temper and chasing the dog around.

    I know people are skeptics, but ‘new’ medicine is not ‘new’ it’s been around for thousands of years. And there are tests for acupuncture and pain through NIH so that’s good enough for me.

  14. Tracy says

    We here in the US and most of the Western world are raised to view Science very highly, and that makes it easy to forget that science is a process. We’ll never be “done” with scientific pursuit. Just because something came into being before the current technological age doesn’t mean it’s some mystical nonsense that people did before they “knew better” (like we do now). Sure, we don’t know how it works. Neither do we REALLY know how most of our Western medicines work. The mechanisms of action are not known on most of those, either (especially the psychoactive ones). Scientists have taken their best guesses, and if they end up working and don’t cause something worse, that’s good enough for us. As it should be. And just as it is with acupuncture, meditation, energy healing, aromatherapy, homeopathy, etc. If it works, and it is less invasive or more tolerable than a Western alternative, why on earth NOT try it?

  15. MLR says

    This may not be the right place to ask – but I am desparate to find a “antidote” to SKUNK ODOR!!! You mentioned a home made cure on Larry’s program “from contents right in your home” but I can’t find it and the program directed me to your website for details…………….I’ve tried everything (everything re weblinks as well as everything for the odor) Help!

  16. Trisha says

    For those of you who asked, I use Florajen Probiotics, because that’s the kind offered by the two pharmacies I trust, and I’m comfortable putting my faith in them.

    To Nicola whose dog screamed when receiving acupuncture: Well, first, ouch! That’s not acceptable at all. I should tell you that my dogs have responded very differently to acupuncture. Pippy Tay loved it from the beginning, never flinching in the slightest as the needles were inserted. Once all the needles were in she appeared to be in such a relaxed and blissful state I always felt badly waking her up. Lassie shot the vet a Darth Vader look the first few times (she looked so angry we both burst out laughing) but as the sessions went on, she began to try to horn in on Willie’s sessions.

    Willie flipped out his first session, I mean thrashing, eye-rolling panic when the first needle was inserted into his forearm (for his problem shoulder). Jody immediately took the needle out, we all did some deep breathing and left it at the calming needle in his forehead. (I needed one myself after that.) I know from experience, from when I injured my shoulder, that that site is an especially sensitive one, and Willie has always been like the princess and the pea… hyper-reactive to touch, sound, diet, you name it. So we let it go at one ‘easy’ needle the first time, did 2 needles the next, etc. Now he gets sessions monthly, ignoring most needles, looking just a bit concerned at others. Dr. Bearman is amazing, she is extremely sensitive herself to a dog’s reaction, and takes needles out instantly if a dog looks uncomfortable. I should say I have seen very different reactions depending on the practitioner. I’ve been very lucky, but I did go to one acupuncturist who seemed to bother even Pippy. It might just have been the day, I couldn’t say… cuz I didn’t go back.

  17. m says

    I’m certainly not calling you wackadoo and I love this blog, but the “what harm could it do?” response I hear floating around is just not acceptable. I think it is very important to be skeptical. I don’t mean dismissive, and I don’t mean scientistic, but actually skeptical. It is of course true that science is an ongoing process and some things do “work” even though we don’t yet understand why. But scientific trials are needed to show that a medicine works (and isn’t harmful) even if the mechanism is unknown– not just personal judgment. I think this is even more important when the patient is an animal and can’t speak up. We need to be humble about how our personal interpretations of what is “working” can be shaped by our own hopes and fears.

    I think Trisha made it pretty clear in her original post that she is in conversation with her regular vet about these alternative practices. I am not knee-jerk opposed. I just worry about the possibility of folks going to alternative practitioners without speaking to their vets about the risks.

  18. Mary Beth says

    Trisha, as with many of the other posts, my animals and I have both benefited from alternative therapies, mostly chiropractic. I like to do a lot of research on it and often run out of time to look into the fine print on many of the things I’d like to try.
    For recovery from whiplash, I’m seeing phenomenal results from two books that I’ve read. One is Active Isolated Stretching by Phil Wharton and the other is Chi Running by Danny Dreyer (also there’s a Chi Walking). Unbelieveable how much better I feel. I can keep up with my four legged friends now!

  19. Martha says

    Chiropractic has worked wonders on my 14 year old Lhasa Apso. After a lifetime of idiocy on the leash, I knew she would benefit from a chiropractor, but I couldn’t find one in Ohio. After moving to Madison I did find one and WOW. I have a whole new dog. We got a sample of Traumeel recently and I’ve started taking that myself.

  20. says

    The hospital isn’t the only place you can go to get treatment. As a matter of fact, all around the globe, people go to all kinds of strange and different places, and they find cure for their respective illnesses.

  21. says

    I agree with you that chinese medicine, acupuncture and chiropracty all have a place to help aid recovery. My organisation sees lots of whiplash recovery treatments which often use these ‘alternative medicines’ successfully.

  22. says

    As a Dr. Of Chiropractic I have witnessed many of amazing healings. Admittedly , chiropractic isn’t a wonder cure and may not help everybody. I does offer the answer for recovery for many. Try It you might just surprised . If you live in wichita Ks or the surrounding area, Call us at Dopps Chiropractic In Wichita Ks

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