Natural Therapies for Pets
Acupuncture is the ancient Chinese art of inserting fine needles at selected points in the body. The Chinese believe that energy flows through the body along channels or meridians and by inserting needles at points along the meridians, the energy flow can be stimulated, sedated or balanced. This is the basis for treating a whole range of diseases. It is particularly applicable to arthritis, back problems and muscular and nerve disorders, but can be used to treat almost any condition.
Most animals tolerate acupuncture sessions very well, and feel little or no discomfort. Needles are sterile and are used once only, so that there is no risk of infection to the patient. The needles are left in a place for anything from five to twenty minutes, depending on the problem being treated.
Response to acupuncture therapy is usually good, at least 75% of patients receiving acupuncture show improvement in symptoms.
bach flower therapy
The Bach Flower essences are named after Dr Edward Bach. He was a well respected bacteriologist and homoeopath, who turned his attention to the healing powers of a wide range of flowers and trees. He discovered that the healing properties of flowers corresponded to the mental and emotional state of the patient concerned. For instance, the Bach Flower Mimulus helps patients who have specific fears, such as fear of noise or fear of the dark. Because physical illness is often linked with the mental and emotional state of a patient, Bach Flower therapy will not only relieve mental and emotional problems, but also physical illness and disease.
The essences are in the form of liquids that are either given directly by mouth, or diluted first and then given orally, or in drinking water. The remedies are safe to use, and no side effects are seen. Cats seem to respond particularly well to Bach Flower Therapy, but any species of pet can benefit - even birds!
herbal medicine (phytotherapy)
Herbal Medicine is probably the oldest system of natural medicine used by man. Nothing could be more natural than harnessing the healing powers of the herbs and flowers around us to cure our diseases and those of our pets. Animals in the wild have an uncanny ability to seek and eat plants which will help when they are ill.
Modern drugs are often isolated extracts of herbs, or are more likely to be synthetic derivatives of these substances. Aspirin (derived from the bark of the Willow tree) and Digitalis (derived from the Foxglove) are two drugs still in common use today with herbal origins. However isolated extracts and synthetic compounds are more likely to cause side effects and have less total healing power than the herb itself. Herbal medicines are gentler, safer, yet no less effective than their conventional counterparts.
Herbal remedies are now available in tablet form, making dosing easier as tablets are often more acceptable to pets than traditional herbal tinctures or teas.
In the late 18th century a German physician, Dr Hahnemann, discovered a new system of medicine - homoeopathy. He found that minute doses of certain poisonous minerals and herbs could cure the symptoms which the poisons themselves would normally cause. So, for instance, a 'homoeopathic' dose of Arsenic will relieve symptoms of food poisoning, whereas giving Arsenic itself would cause similar symptoms to food poisoning. This is known as the law of similars, or more simply, 'like cures like'. Although often produced from poisonous substances, a homoeopathic remedy is so diluted as to be safe to use and is very gentle but powerful in its healing effect.
Homoeopathy is a holistic therapy. At a homoeopathic consultation, information is obtained about the patient as a whole and not only the specific problem present at the time. Remedies are chosen which correspond with the individual nature of each patient, including likes and dislikes, as well as the way in which the specific illness is affecting the patient. So two patients with the same disease may need completely different remedies. Homoeopathy is particularly effective for chronic problems such as eczema, colitis, bronchitis and arthritis, which conventional drugs may be unable to deal with.
The therapeutic effects of manipulation are well known for human back and joint conditions, but are equally effective for pets. Back problems are surprisingly common in pets, often leading to weakness in the hind legs. Back and joint problems may occur as a result of accidents and injuries, congenital defects, arthritis, and for many other reasons.
Joint conditions that are unresponsive to conventional treatment may respond to osteopathy. Relief from pain, increased mobility, and decreased stiffness, are all effects that can result from osteopathy, which can help symptoms of spinal problems, and most forms of joint and muscle disease.
Osteopathy for pets is available from Barbara Sherringham , who has been with the Centre for over twenty years
In a sense, healing, (often known as Spiritual Healing or Faith Healing), is the purest form of treatment for illness. It involves no pills, no needles and no equipment. The laying on of hands to heal disease is of ancient origin, and in all societies and cultures people with healing powers are acknowledged.
Most reputable healers abide by the code of the National Federation of Spiritual Healers, which was drawn up in conjunction with the Royal Collage of Veterinary Surgeons. It ensures that healing is carried out in a professional and ethical manner.
Healing can help any illness or problem from which our pets suffer, and can often help in 'incurable' diseases such as cancer. Even if a cure is not achieved, animals will almost always seem to feel better after healing sessions, with a reduction in any pain or discomfort.
Healing is available from Helen Hilliard, who has been holding healing sessions at the Centre for almost twenty years.
Animal Herbal Choices (applied zoopharmacognosy) is a behavioural-led method of allowing animals to utilize their innate ability to self-select plant extracts for their wellbeing. In the wild animals naturally forage for local plants, minerals and other medicinal compounds to self-medicate, either to prevent or treat disease. The study of this process is called zoopharmacognosy from the ancient Greek words 'zoo' (animal), 'pharmaco' (remedy) and gnosy (knowing). A herbal choice session utilizes this process by offering a range of plant extracts to the animal to self-select what it needs. These extracts include dried herbs, floral waters, plant oils and herbal powders. The client animal may choose to sniff, inhale, ingest or apply topically by rubbing against the extract. Case studies of herbal choice sessions have shown it can help a variety of issues, both physical and emotional, such as poor skin/coat, digestion problems, infections, chronic pain, and emotional fears / anxieties.
Each session is unique to the individual animal's requirements and responses to the herbal products. At the end of the session, samples of the extracts selected by the animal are provided to continue offering at home. A consultation includes guidance on this method, how to recognise the behavioural signs of self-selection, and the properties of the plants chosen by the animal, as well as a post-session summary report. Suitable for dogs and cats.
Animal Herbal Choices is available from Rita Lymboura, an animal complementary therapist.
'You are what you eat' is a philosophy that applies as much to dogs as it does to humans. As more and more dogs are developing health problems which can often be directly related to poor nutrition, it is becoming increasingly necessary to return to Nature's simple, safe and effective methods to cure many of their ailments. A healthy diet with the addition of specific nutritional supplements can be vital in helping the healing process. Richard will advise on any change in diet and any supplements that will be beneficial as part of the consultation. We can also recommend the services of a specialist adviser on canine nutrition, Kristina Johansen