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Your Dog’s Health

  • Heidi

Alternative Therapy for Dogs

As humans have begun incorporating alternative therapies into their own health care regiments, many have explored it as an option for their pets too. While there may not be a lot of scientific research to support the benefits at this point, anecdotal feedback from proponents of alternative therapy is overwhelmingly positive.

Alternative, complimentary, or integrative medicine is an approach to medical care that incorporates non-traditional therapies into the treatment of a health condition. When used in tandem with traditional veterinary care, some alternative therapies can be beneficial when treating dogs, especially when they have chronic or degenerative conditions. A few alternative therapies that rise to the top include hydrotherapy, chiropractic and/or massage therapy, and acupuncture.


In hydrotherapy, dogs are encouraged to walk on a treadmill while partially submerged in warm water. The water keeps the dog buoyant while offering resistance; this provides a dog with muscle strengthening exercise while reducing stress on their joints. Hydrotherapy can be extremely beneficial for dogs with arthritis, crippling injuries, muscle pain, or overweight dogs who need low-impact options to encourage weight loss. See some happy recipients of hydrotherapy:

Chiropractic and/or Massage Therapy

The use of chiropractic and massage treatments date back to ancient civilizations for good reason. The concept behind these therapies is to encourage healing by stimulating nerves, encouraging blood flow, relaxing muscles, and relieving stress. Some conditions that might benefit from these therapies include joint pain or stiffness, skin conditions, some cases of urinary incontinence, and some digestive upset. These treatments should be pursued with a professional, but there are simple ways to bring the benefits of dog massage into your own home. An added bonus? Massage is great preventative health care because it can help owners discover lumps, bumps, or sensitive areas in their dogs early. Learn a few massage techniques that you can do at home:


Acupuncture is a type of Chinese medicine that has been an approved by the American Veterinary Association since 1988 as an alternative therapy. The theory behind acupuncture is that it stimulates the release of endorphins which naturally reduce pain in addition to improving tissue blood flow, oxygenation, and the removal of wastes and toxins. Acupuncture can be especially beneficial for dogs with arthritis, neurological conditions like seizures, skin disorders, thyroid imbalance, heart conditions, and more. See veterinary acupuncture in action:

To learn more about alternative therapy, and to see if it might benefit your dog, talk to your veterinarian.

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