What’s the definition of insanity? It’s often said that it’s doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. As veterinarians, we only have so much in our toolbox when it comes to healing our patients. When we strike out with various traditional methods, it may be time to try multiple modalities, which in combination are referred to as integrative medicine for dogs. If your veterinarian has suggested this as a possibility for your canine companion, you’ve likely hopped online to do some research, and we’re glad you landed here! At Duxbury Animal Hospital, we want to help you avoid the misinformation that you can find on the web, so we’ve taken FAQs on integrative medicine for dogs and answered them thoroughly to give you the facts you deserve.
If you’re looking for a highly trained veterinarian in Duxbury, MA, we’d love to see if your dog is a good candidate for integrative medicine to heal their ailments, so please call us at (781) 694-6490.
What is integrative medicine, and how can it be helpful to my dog?
Integrative medicine is the combination of multiple treatment modalities that, when you combine those modalities of treatment; you get a better effect than using an individual therapy alone.
As Today’s Veterinary Practice points out, the term can sometimes be confused with the terms “holistic” and “alternative medicine” but neither of those is exactly right. As the article notes, “Other terms, such as holistic and alternative medicine, have been used to describe integrative therapies. However, holistic medicine suggests that conventional medical approaches do not account for the whole of a patient’s health, while alternative medicine implies that its therapies are outside, and separate, of conventional medicine. Therefore, neither term describes a system of medicine that incorporates efficacious aspects of conventional and complementary care.”
What are the different types of integrative medicine?
There are quite a few types of integrative medicine, and we will gear our treatments to your dog’s specific issues.
Some of the types of integrative medicine are as follows:
- Herbal medication
- Tui na, which is a therapeutic massage
- Food therapy, or using different foods to get an effect that we're trying to accomplish
- Spinal manipulation—similar to chiropractic in people
- Shockwave therapy
- Physical therapy and sports medicine
- Loop therapy
- Veterinary spinal manipulation
- Ozone therapy
- Regenerative medicine, such as stem cell or platelet therapy
- Hyperbaric oxygen
There are also some homeopathy-type treatments that we can try either by themselves or as a complement to other methods.
How does integrative medicine impact the health and well-being of my dog?
Integrative medicine is very beneficial in helping to control illness, injury, or pain. It often allows you to reduce the amount of pain medication you may need. And it also gives you a different approach if you have that pet that's having a negative reaction to some of the standard medications we might use.
How old does my dog need to be to start integrative medicine?
We can start integrative medicine for dogs at any age. There are no age restrictions as far as that goes.
What are some medical conditions that would benefit the addition of integrative medicine?
There are quite a few conditions that we can use an integrative approach on for your dog.
Some of the most common conditions that we can often help with the addition of integrative medicine for dogs are:
- Bone and joint disease, specifically arthritis
- Chronic back pain
- Chronic hip pain
- Slipped disc
- Partially or completely paralyzed back limbs
- Muscle strains
- Ongoing chronic illnesses, specifically cancer patients.
What is the benefit of a joint supplement for my dog?
Joint supplements are good for your dogs because, depending on which one you're on, they can do quite a bit in terms of slowing down the progression of arthritis. If you have a very athletic dog, joint supplements can help protect cartilages and help keep them nourished and lubricated. Another benefit is that these supplements can sometimes help you decrease the amount of actual pain medication you may need, which is beneficial to your dog’s kidneys.
When would a veterinarian recommend NSAIDs for my dog?
NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, have been a mainstay for pain control for a long time. And if we detect that your pet is in pain, especially if it's affecting their daily life, then we'd likely recommend an anti-inflammatory. But that recommendation also depends on other conditions. Does your pet have any underlying issues, such as kidney or liver problems? Some things would prevent us from using NSAIDs, and we might have to pick a better approach for your dog. And again, that's where integrative medicine is convenient. It gives us more tools to use for pain management.
Why is it important to avoid treating my dog with medications and supplements before consulting my veterinarian?
Many of us make mistakes out of good intentions. We think we're doing the right thing. But when it comes to the biology of our dog patients, it's different than humans. You could easily get the wrong dose or give the wrong medication. You could easily give too much and cause them some issues that are perhaps difficult for us to treat. It’s always crucial to consult your vet or your vet clinic before giving your dog any type of pain medication you have at home.
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