Complementary Therapy for Pets
Nov 30, 2022
There are numerous complementary therapy options for pets of all sizes. Many of these therapies can work well for rehabilitation or as an alternative to surgery, offering your pet a whole new lease on life. With proper veterinary guidance, complementary therapies can offer great results for most pets. Read on to learn more about complementary therapy for pets and whether your pet insurance will cover the cost.
There are four main types of musculoskeletal treatments: physiotherapy, osteopathy, hydrotherapy, and chiropractic treatment. These therapies do not need to be handled by a vet but instead utilise highly trained techs at a vet-led therapy centre. Your vet will decide which therapy options are right for your pet based on what the therapy entails and the benefits for each, including:
Physiotherapy is quite versatile with animals of all sizes reaping benefits from the procedure. Your tech will use a combination of exercise, heat, and massage, depending on the pet’s needs, to help them recover from injury or disease. The treatment focuses on joints and muscles. Physiotherapy can help reduce pain and stiffness in pets, allowing them to enjoy a full range of movement as well as improved quality of life. If an animal cannot come to the facility, a physiotherapist may be able to come to your home. This can be quite helpful for cats, anxious dogs, and pets of owners with limited mobility.
Although osteopathy has the same goals as physiotherapy (reducing pain and giving the animal a full range of movement), the two treatment plans use different methods to get there. Osteopaths focus much more on massage to manipulate the joints and muscles while a physiotherapist relies more on exercise and movement. They also will not focus strictly on one area. Instead, they focus on the pet’s entire body.
We’ll keep this short as hydrotherapy is a form of physiotherapy, but it’s important to note that this therapy takes place in a large tank of water. The pet may require a harness to help it stay in the water and align the body correctly. This therapy is commonly used for obese animals but also helps those with severe diseases and injuries that limit the ability to walk, if at all, outside of the tank. This should not be confused with a fitness swim which simply means your dog is swimming for exercise.
Chiropractic therapy is quite similar to both physiotherapy and osteopathy; however, treatment focuses exclusively on the spine. The chiropractor also most likely can work on humans as well but has taken extra training to include working on animals. Chiropractors can help with neck and back pain as well as muscle spasms, lameness, and osteoarthritis as long as it is connected to the spine. Although some may recommend exercises to help the animal heal faster, the actual treatment will consist primarily of manually manipulating bones and joints.
Acupuncture can only be provided by a vet. Just like with human acupuncture, Pet acupuncture consists of small needles being inserted in specific points to help alleviate health issues. Acupuncture may help with pain relief, arthritis, epilepsy, and even allergies; although, studies show this may be the owner thinking the treatment works rather than a marked change in the pet.
Other complementary therapies
In addition to the five complementary therapies listed above, the following are sometimes used as well:
- Herbal medicine
- Laser therapy
- Animal behaviourist
Your vet will discuss your options with you on what complementary therapy options will work best for your pet.