Alternative therapies, or natural therapies, have been used throughout history, and their popularity is on the rise. Many people who rely on natural therapies for their own health care are seeking the same treatment choices for their pets. Because of this increase in demand by their clients, more vets are now offering these treatment options. Natural therapies can be a part of the treatment of many illnesses in your pet. However, some natural therapies can have side effects, so they need to be treated with respect.
How do you define a natural therapy? A natural therapy often uses a whole body approach to healing and tries to avoid the use of surgery or drugs. When given the right conditions, the body is able to heal itself, and this ability is a very important part of the effectiveness of these therapies. Conventional treatments are usually used with in conjunction with natural treatments in pet care, although some people do prefer to use only natural remedies for their pets.
According to a 1997 study by The American Animal Hospital Association, 42% of pet owners had tried alternative therapies on their pets. The main reason people sought this type of therapy was to provide a safer, less invasive natural treatment than everyday conventional drug therapy. Also, some people may have had great success themselves with natural therapy in relation to their own health care, and wanted to give their pets the same benefits.
Some natural therapies that are available to animals are chiropractic, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and homeopathy. However, the boundaries between natural therapies and conventional treatments can be blurred. One example of this is nutritional therapy. When pets have good quality nutrition, they have all the nutrients and energy they need to remain healthy. Good nutrition can also help them recover from illness. Is this common sense or is it therapy? The drug aspirin is another example. The active ingredient in aspirin is derived from willow bark, although it has always been thought of as being a conventional treatment. Does that mean that it is also a herbal remedy?
Conventional doctors usually don’t regard natural therapies in a good light. They believe that they can in fact be harmful, and that there is no scientific evidence that proves they work. Treatments that are natural aren’t necessarily safe. Tea tree oil has been used by people as an insecticide to get rid of fleas. However, many dogs have died as a result of using this toxic oil. The plant Foxglove contains a chemical that affects the heart. This chemical has been extracted, and used to create a conventional medicine to treat heart disease in both people and animals.
There are natural therapies that have been scientifically shown to be effective. For example, there is evidence that fish oil is good for joints, as is turmeric. Under these circumstances, I see no reason to not use them as part of a dog’s health care regime. If there is no proof, then it’s not something I recommend. Even if the natural treatment doesn’t cause harm, it may lull an owner into a false sense of security and they may delay seeking more effective treatment for their pet.
It doesn’t matter if a chemical has been produced in a laboratory or grown in a garden, it still has the same effect on the body, and should be used with care.