Monday, May 14, 2012

Alternative Medicine Helps Heal Animals Too

I've been wanting to include a segment once a month about how to care for your animals that care for you. With the 2012 Wordcount Blogathon that I'm participating in I've found the perfect person to kickstart this series for me.

Peggy J. Noonan is a health writer for national magazines, newspapers, and websites whose interest in alternative medicine led her to create a blog where she shares news and tips about how to use alternative medicine on

Here's her post:

Alternative medicine isn’t just for people – it can be a great help for animals, too. In fact, a dog introduced me to alternative medicine and convinced me that this ancient method of healing could – and did – actually work. (If you’d like to read more about that, take a look at Vitamin E Opened The Door.

Alternative medicine is also called holistic or natural medicine. And there’s a new version called “integrative medicine” that blends the best of both -- conventional and alternative medicine – to use whatever will work best or be most appropriate in a particular situation. 

Finding the remedy that worked for Duffy opened the door to a whole world of healthier, more natural healing methods.

Some alternative medicine treatments such as acupuncture should be performed by a veterinarian or other trained expert. But there’s also version of this 4,000-plus-year-old technique called acupressure that people can learn to do at home.

It works the same way except instead of using super-fine needles, you use fingers and hands to apply pressure to acupuncture points (or “meridians”) that ease pain and promote relaxation, flexibility, mobility, and healing.

Therapeutic nutrition – using diet to correct various health problems – may involve foods or vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. Many problems dogs and cats have can be traced back to what they eat. Food sensitivities and allergies can cause many different symptoms – everything from dull, brittle coat with excessive shedding and bad odor to irritability and behavior problems.

If you try it, start with supervision or a good reference book to guide you. It takes patience and determination to work through the process of finding out which foods are triggering your animal’s symptoms, and then to create and stick with a diet that will relieve the problems and keep your critter healthy.

If you don’t have a vet who can help you with this, check books on alternative medicine for pets and other animals. The one I liked best and found most helpful for nutrition therapy and many other conditions was Dr.Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn (Rodale, 1995). It’s still available on and in some health stores and book stores.

Many plants are used in various forms of herbal therapy and can be very helpful for people and pets. Some are brewed as tea for drinking or applying to skin. Some work best when mixed into a paste or cream. Others may be taken in extract or capsule form. Many herbal remedies such as calendula (marigold flower) for irritated, injured skin and aloe vera for burns are easy for most people to prepare and use. But others require more knowledge so, for your animal’s safety, it’s a good idea to consult a holistic vet or read several books on herbal medicine for animals before you try herbal therapy.

There are many types of massage and touch therapies people can use to relieve their pets’ muscle soreness and stiffness, improve circulation and speed healing. Even gentle stroking touch such as petting or brushing can soothe, comfort, and calm your pet.

Some people swear by chiropractic manipulations for their own health and have no qualms about using in on their animals. Others consider it too risky. If you’re thinking of trying it, make sure the person who provides the service is a qualified professional who has ample experience using chiropractic animals like yours.

And there’s so much more… If you’re interested in learning how you could use alternative medicine to help your animals, you’ll find a handy guide to the basics at The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA)’s What Is Holistic Medicine?. And there are lots of books available at health stores, book stores, online retailers, and public libraries. You’ll even find how-to videos on

© 2012 Peggy J. Noonan All Rights Reserved

Thanks again Peggy for helping me get started! Make sure to check out her website to learn about other alternative healing methods that are good for you.

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