By Jackie Dobrinska
All pets—whether furry, feathered, or finned—are special creatures. They cozy up to our hearts, entertain us with their antics, and give us a grounding presence to come home to. We nourish their unconditional love with food, treats, play, attention, and, of course, good veterinary care. These days, as people turn to holistic practices for their own health, many are also seeking similar holistic care for their pets.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), for people and animals, seeks to treat more than just the symptoms of a disease. Its goal is to address the root causes of an issue in the least invasive manner possible and with the fewest number of side effects.
Common CAM therapies include acupuncture, homeopathy, massage therapy, herbal medicine, and energy healing, among others. These can be used alongside—and in some cases as alternatives to—more intense conventional procedures, such as surgery and pharmaceuticals.
Flower essences can be a powerful addition to your pet’s care. I initially used them to ease my dog’s separation anxiety, and since then have seen them work for territorial issues, constant barking, fear of storms, hyperactivity, and other behavioral concerns. Generally, they work best to address emotional issues, but can also help alleviate physical complaints, such as hot spots.
Another common CAM modality for animals that has few side effects is homeopathy. It is based on two maxims—the law of similars and the law of infinitesimals. The first suggests that whatever causes your symptoms might also cure it. The law of infinitesimals on the other hand, says this is only the case if taken in extremely miniscule doses. For example, caffeine keeps you awake. A highly diluted homeopathic dose of caffeine is the homeopathic remedy for sleeplessness.
Vets have reported success using homeopathic remedies. They cite examples that include arnica to prevent pain and stiffness after physical exertion, ruta for ligament issues, and aconite to reduce fear. They also use various remedies to treat common issues like aggression, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Another powerful approach to noninvasive pet care includes acupuncture. For thousands of years, this modality has been used in China to treat ailments such as joint issues, allergies, immune conditions, and gastrointestinal issues. Small needles are placed painlessly on specific points along the body. They stimulate nerves, blood circulation, hormones, and an energy referred to as qi. This pressure can help all bodies heal themselves.
And don’t forget about your herbs. Garlic can treat ear mites and fleas for dogs and cats; neem can repel ticks; wormwood can expel worms; and anise can improve bad dog breath. Some herbs are used internally and others topically, and not all herbs that are helpful for humans are suitable for pets. Always consult a veterinarian with herbal knowledge before using herbal remedies on your pet.
Whether or not you include any of these therapies in your pet’s health care regimen, always make sure to feed them a good diet that includes natural and appropriate food, as well as a hefty dose of your loving care and attention. In turn, they will take care of you in the most wonderful ways.
This article contains general information about medical conditions and complementary treatment, and is not to be considered expert advice. Always consult your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any herb or beginning any new treatment, diet, or fitness regimen. Jackie Dobrinska (herbalyogini.com) is a wellness coach and owner of Herbal Yogini who offers consultations locally and by phone.