For any pet suffering from an illness, experiencing chronic pain or recovering from an accident or surgery, conventional veterinary treatment is usually rightly the first port of call for pet owners. However there are sometimes health conditions and even behavioural issues for some pets which can benefit from alternative therapies rather than treating them solely with traditional medication.
For those owners with pet insurance, some may be surprised to find that their policy could actually cover some alternative therapies as well as the more traditional types of vet treatment. To find out what is covered by your policy, read the associated paperwork or contact your insurer for a full breakdown on types of treatment which you can put in a claim for. You might be surprised to find that a recent survey of UK pet insurance policies found that in 96% of cases, some alternative therapies and treatments were covered.
What types of alternative pet therapies are available?
With pet treatments and technology running parallel to medicine for people in many ways, it should come as no surprise that many of the alternative therapies available to humans are also available to our pets. In most cases, these are used in combination with conventional treatments to help manage ongoing conditions and pain, recovery from illness or accident, or to help reduce pets’ stress levels as a way to try and prevent potential conditions from developing or worsening.
As with human alternative therapies, some people can be sceptical about the benefits of so called ‘complementary medicine’, but many owners find that their family pets do seem to find it helpful for some conditions. The fact that many of these types of treatments could be covered by the pet insurance that they already have in place, can mean that owners are more likely to try something different, alongside conventional vet care and accurate diagnosis of the problem(s), to try and give their pets the best possible outcome for their health. Many vets will refer pets to specialist practitioners for these types of alternative therapies when appropriate. Read on for an outline of some of the main types of alternative treatment for family pets.
Hydrotherapy for pets
Often used as part of physiotherapy to aid recovery from an accident or surgery, hydrotherapy pools specifically for dogs exist all over the UK. It essentially involves exercising the animal through supported swimming to build muscle and strength, without the need to bear weight, making it ideal for those animals who can’t exercise in a normal way. This could be because of an injury to limbs or fairly common cruciate ligament issues, or because of a chronic condition such as dysplasia. Hydrotherapy can also be a way to exercise obese dogs who can’t walk or run normally because of the stress this places on their body and to help maintain good body condition in the meantime of pets which need surgery or further treatment at a later date.
Acupuncture for pets
Acupuncture for animals has been around for thousands of years as part of traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM) but has been used more widely on pets such as dogs, cats and horses since the 1970s. It is generally used to treat painful chronic conditions such as arthritis, and dysplasia of the hips or elbows, but can also also be used on some animals suffering from nerve or spinal damage and even as treatment for some digestive or respiratory issues.
Herbal medicines for pets
There are many natural remedies and products which can help to treat animals which suffer from chronic conditions, those which are are recovering from injuries and also as a preventative measure or to help stop or slow down the progression of some illnesses. Many of these natural elements contribute to conventional human and animal medicine too, but one of the main benefits of homeopathy is that these products have no side effects, and yet can still be highly effective in treating a wide variety of conditions, both short and long term.
Some of the many herbal or homeopathic medicines available can treat conditions including arthritis, allergies, anxiety or stress, cystitis, hip or elbow dysplasia, some skin conditions and a variety of kidney and liver problems. Some pet owners also use herbal remedies to prevent flea infestations and as an alternative to conventional vaccinations.
In addition to those already outlined,there are many other kinds of alternative therapies for pets of all shapes and sizes including massage, osteopathy, chiropractic treatments and physiotherapy.
Speak to your vet about alternative treatments
Some alternative therapies can successfully be used alongside or even in place of conventional veterinary treatments to help minimise the unwanted side effects of some medications when treating certain ailments or conditions. It’s important to get a clear diagnosis from your veterinary practice to ensure that the treatment can be tailored to your pet appropriately. It’s also vital to then discuss all of the available options, both conventional and alternative, with your vet and even your pet insurance provider before deciding on the most beneficial path forward for your pet(s).