Managing Dog And Cat Pain Holistically

With the arrival of Animal Pain Awareness Month, it’s an excellent time to remind animal guardians look at a more holistic, complete perspective on health as a means to pain management.

One of the first points I stress to new clients is that holistic medicine is not only the basis of excellent health, but also the key to treatment of many chronic conditions. I also stress the importance of a fresh meat-based diet, especially a raw diet.

To quote Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, “let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food.” Not only do many processed commercial foods contain cheaper, less digestible ingredients, they also contain toxic preservatives and byproducts that can lead to free radical production in the body, resulting in inflammation and worsening pain.

By making the transition to a fresh, preferably raw-meat-based diet, clients often remark of an almost immediate improvement in energy and mobility that they have not seen in a long time. The ingredients in fresh diets detoxify and fortify the body in regaining health and balance on so many levels.

After we change the diet to fresh alternatives, we can then explore the varied options that holistic medicine can offer in helping to manage not only acute pain, but also chronic degenerative painful joint and/or spinal conditions.

In my opinion, one of the most important bases of a pain-free lifestyle is the incorporation of chiropractic care for our animals, as well as ourselves. There is an increasing number of veterinarians skilled not only in chiropractic care, but also in offering various aspects of physical therapy, including rehabilitation services, specialized swimming pools and equipment, etc.

Massage therapy and Tellington TTouch are also quite effective in relieving sore muscles and backs, but chiropractic care is still critical in relieving painful subluxations of the spine and musculoskeletal systems. By relieving these areas, nerve flow to internal organs is restored, which in turn allows optimal functioning of the internal body.

Homeopathy offers a wonderful plethora of options in pain relief in our companion animals. Acute homeopathic remedies such as Arnica, Rhus Tox, Ruta Graveolens, and Hypericum can be employed for acute back or joint pain. For chronic conditions, it’s best to consult with a classical homeopath, who can individualize a homeopathic remedy treatment for the pain based on the animal’s unique mental, emotional and physical constitution and history.

One of the more popular holistic alternatives for pain relief is the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, which is a system of medicine that has been around for 5000 years. In fact, acupuncture is almost equally as effective as strong conventional medications often chosen first by traditional veterinarians.

Finally, there’s an ever-increasing number of nutritional supplements, herbs, and antioxidants that can be added to a good dietary regimen that offer potential for dramatic pain relief in our companion animals. Herbs such as white willow bark, cat’s claw, boswellia and turmeric, as well as supplements containing glucosamine, MSM, grapeseed extract, and omega-3 fatty acids are immensely helpful for pain relief in many clinical situations.

In recent years, the expanding use of CBD products have also helped animals with acute and chronic pain. They’re becoming increasingly available from suppliers like PetMeds.

Dr. Michael Dym, VMD

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