Alternative therapies are not just for people, it seems. Animal lovers everywhere are increasingly turning to ideas such as acupuncture to cure their pets’ ills.

Alternative therapies are on the rise, with even the NHS increasingly accepting alternative medicine as a viable approach to injury, illness and psychological problems. But now animal owners are turning to these therapies in an attempt to cure problems in their pets. Predictably, perhaps, it was in the US where this approach took off first with horse owners in particular working with acupuncturists, naturopathy and physiotherapists to cure all manner of ills, but even here in South Wales, pet owners, are looking towards new and different ways to help us keep our pets healthy.

ANIMAL THERAPY TREATMENTS ARE ON THE RISE

Private practices are springing up all over South Wales offering the kind of therapies that most of us probably wouldn’t spend money on for ourselves. Treatments such as kinesiology, reflexology, aromatherapy, colour healing and even reiki are becoming popular with pets. These animal therapy sessions see practitioners working closely with animals including dogs, horses and cats, taking information from owners on the specific issues they have had before deciding which particular therapy would best suit the case.

These sessions can help to heal injuries, improve muscle tone, relieve respiratory, urinary and skin problems, solve psychological issues such as spooking and depression and even simply improve the relationship and communication between animal and owner. Massages are offered for both dogs and horses and, like with human massage, can be used to diagnose and relieve areas of muscle tension. Many practitioners also offer training sessions in which owners can learn to treat their own pets, again improving the relationship between man and beast.

This is a short look at pet acupuncture with Duluth Animal Hospital’s certified acupuncturist, Dr. Corby Holson. Corby says acupuncture can be used in conjunction with medication and physical therapy to treat a wide variety of problems such as orthopaedic and neurological issues, kidney and liver diseases, skin conditions, and even behavioural problems.

Alfie the Labradoodle used to “walk like Bambi” before he started the alternative treatment at The Firs Veterinary Surgery, part of Willows Veterinary Group. You can watch his transformation below.

Aromatherapy is surprisingly effective in animals. Indeed, considering the innate ability of animals to know what foods are edible and which aren’t, it stands to reason that they can also choose which plant oils and extracts will benefit their condition. Likewise, reiki treatments, with their light touch and ability to promote relaxation, are ideal for animals with personality and communication issues or those who are easily upset meanwhile reflexology, applied to legs, feet and ears can be beneficial in posture and co-ordination. Again, any of these treatments can be taught, at some expense, to owners.

Now it seems somewhat strange to imagine animals being treated in this way, but in a time when our pets are considered a member of the family, we take out medical insurance and pay thousands in vets bills, pet portraits and even burials and cremations to pay respects to the pets when they’ve passed it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that, as we start to pay more attention to our own bodies and spend time and money relieving stress and finding new ways to fight injury and illness, we have started to do the same for our animals.

In fact, in sports such as horse racing, massages and other alternative treatments have long been successfully used in animals that can be worth literally millions to their owners and to the punters backing them. Where they lead, pet owners are following and their beloved companions are often becoming more pampered than their owners.