As humans, we love our pets. Pets have moved into our houses, onto our couches and into our hearts. With that has come a demand from pet parents to have the very best care for their loved ones - and for many pet owners, that may involve seeking care that extends beyond traditional veterinary care.

As with human health care, integrative therapies are available now for pets to enhance traditional care. Examples of integrative therapies include: Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine includes acupuncture, acupressure, electro-acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy, food therapy and Tui-Na, a type of therapeutic massage. Acupuncture is the most widely used of these modalities and involves the insertion of thin sterile needles into specific points in the body to cause a therapeutic change.
Massage therapy - can be a valuable component of physical therapy. It is also used for maintenance of our canine athletes and as an adjunct therapy for aging pets to help manage pain.
Laser therapy - uses specific wavelengths of light to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation and increase healing in a specific area.
Chiropractic care - the practice of spinal manipulation. Chiropractic adjustments may provide relief from pain and improvement in overall mobility.
Physical rehabilitation - utilizes a variety of exercises to improve balance, endurance and muscle strength.

Emma, a 10-year-old Bearded Collie, suffered from generalized pain for more than two years. Despite numerous medications, her pain was not managed well. With acupuncture, she is playing with toys, bounding across the yard and jumping - activities she had stopped doing years ago.

Ben, a 7-year-old rescue kitty, had lived with congestion, nasal discharge and sneezing for years, even after a wide array of conventional treatments. With acupuncture, acupressure and food therapy, his respiratory signs have completely resolved.

These are just two of the countless stories about the benefits of integrative therapies in pets.

With only conventional veterinary medicine, essential tools can be missing that are needed to treat pain, to provide relief for those with chronic or terminal diseases, or to support geriatric pets. By blending traditional medicine and integrative therapies, veterinarians have an expansive set of tools available, opening new doors for patient care.

Jennifer Blair, DVM, CVA, CVFT owns St. Francis Animal & Bird Hospital in Roseville.

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