Alternative therapies, also known as complementary therapies, are those used in addition to, or occasionally in place of, traditional Western therapies. They include acupuncture, laser therapy, chiropractic care, and other holistic techniques. Many of these options can be great choices for pets with a variety of conditions. Listen to Fido the dachshund as he discusses alternative therapy with his dog-mom. 

Fido: Hey, Mom? You know, I’ve been dealing with this back problem for a while, now. Several weeks ago, you took me to my veterinarian after I jumped off of your bed and I squealed in pain. Remember?

Mom: Yes, I do. Are you still hurting, little guy?

Fido: Well, yes. My veterinarian said I likely have mild intervertebral disc disease and recommended that I rest and take some pain medications for a few weeks. I think it helped, but I still feel back pain. 

Mom: I’m so sorry to hear that, Fido. What do you think we should do about it?

Fido: Well, I was talking with some friends at the dog park last week. Luna and Baxter have both had success with laser therapy and acupuncture for their problems. 

Mom: But, Luna and Baxter have different conditions. Why do you think these alternative therapies would help you, Fido? How do these methods work?

Fido: Well, I’ve been doing a lot of research lately. Low-level or cold laser therapy, for instance, is a great modality to help promote healing and decrease inflammation that works by using a specific light frequency to make changes in the body on a cellular level. It’s really quite fascinating. With acupuncture, a fine needle inserted into the skin at a specific acupressure point promotes energy and blood flow. Luna receives routine laser therapy to help with a skin wound that wasn’t healing properly. Baxter receives acupuncture for his chronic arthritis. I’ve also heard of using these therapies to help with intervertebral disc disease, nerve pain, allergic skin disease, and gastrointestinal problems. For most conditions, complementary therapies work alongside other treatments, such as medications, exercises, and diet changes. 

Mom: I’ve heard about laser therapy and acupuncture for people, but I didn’t know they were used in pets. That’s interesting. Are you sure they are safe?

Fido: Laser therapy and acupuncture are extremely safe. In fact, there are minimal, if any, side effects, unless you consider feeling better a side effect. Some lasers can harm the retinas in the eye, so all people and pets need to wear protective goggles during a laser therapy treatment. Some alternative therapies may be contraindicated in certain conditions, such as tumors, cancers, coagulopathies, and pregnancy.

Mom: Interesting. How long do you think you would need therapy?

Fido: That is a great question. I think it depends on the condition and its severity. For instance, an acute injury or wound may respond and heal more quickly with alternative therapy than a chronic condition, such as arthritis or anxiety. Some pets need a series of only a few treatments, while others receive treatments routinely for long periods of time. 

Mom: How much is this going to cost me, Fido?

Fido: The cost varies, like the length of treatment. A typical laser or acupuncture treatment can range from $40 to $100, but many facilities will bundle treatments to make alternative therapy more affordable. 

Mom: Well, I suppose we should talk this over with your veterinarian to see if you are a good candidate for one of these alternative therapies. While we’re at it, I may bring Sassy along. She hasn’t been climbing on her cat tree lately, and perhaps she would benefit from acupuncture or laser therapy.

Fido: That’s a great idea, Mom. Just please don’t make me sit next to her in the car. Please?

Complementary therapies can be excellent choices for a variety of health conditions in pets. Consult our veterinary team to learn more.