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Using Alternative Therapies To Ease Your Dog's Pain

Updated on April 10, 2012

Your dog can suffer pain without you realizing it. They experience it, but do not show it as easily. Nor, are they able to tell us when, where and how much it hurts. Your veterinarian is best at diagnosing it. He or she can tell you about chronic pain such as arthritis, muscle and joint injuries and pains of various sorts. Once armed with the information, you can address how to ease the pain.

There are conventional means. Various forms of medications are available to help block, prevent and/or ease the aches. If you have tried these and find them too hard on your dog’s system, or if you simply wish to try other means to achieve relief, you do have options. Talk to an integrative veterinarian or one who practices holistic methods. They can offer you some suggestions. Among the most common are acupressure/acupuncture, energy working, hydrotherapy and massage.


For management of pain such as back pain and nerve pressure, as well as anxiety, some individuals turn to acupressure of acupuncture. These methods rely on an understanding of the energy points and concepts involved in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In order to ensure the right pressure is applied to the right spot for a positive result, do not turn to anyone unless he or she is a veterinarian trained in this form of pain relief. Only a skilled practitioner will understand what the trigger points and sensitive areas are and exactly where to apply pressure or insert the needle.

Energy Working

This refers to a variety of different non-touch and touching methods. Among the most popular are Reiki, Qi-Gong and Tellington Touch (TT). These forms of healing all promote emotional as well as physical healing based on the oriental concept of balancing the energy (chi/qi). In Reiki, the healer places and moves their hands above the canine companion and moves them above the affected part of the body. The purpose is to send healing energy to help clear any blockages and to balance the energy to restore health and wellbeing. In Qi-Gong, the idea is to help the canine by opening the channels and directing healing energy into the meridians. With TT, the method involves gentle touching using circular motions.


Hydrotherapy is the use of water to aid in the recovery of canines and other animals. It is frequently used to help restore mobility in senior dogs and those with reduced mobility. It also helps canines who are overweight to exercise in a safe and healthy environment. The animal may actually swim or use an underwater treadmill to exercise.

The water has a natural buoyancy that supports the dogs limbs and prevents the problems associated with weight bearing on an affected limb. Exercising in the water lessens the stress on the joints. At the same time, it helps increase breathing through putting pressure on the lungs to function. The increase in oxygen and the disposing of carbon dioxide helps the canine breathe easier and the animal to feel better.

Hydrotherapy is suitable for senior dogs with joint problems, canines recovering from certain surgeries. In water, a canine can move more freely and can achieve a sense of balance and co-ordination. This carries over to their activities on the ground. For overweight and obese dogs, it is an excellent way to exercise without placing undue stress on the body’s limbs and joints.


Stroking your dog is beneficial for both you and your favorite companion animal. The physical contact helps relief your stress. If you turn stroking into massage, you can also reduce pain in certain instances. Massage helps your canine to relax his or her muscles. When done properly, massage can release those “feel-good” endorphins, increase circulation of the blood, elevate the levels of oxygen and even accelerate the healing process.

Research indicates that massage is appropriate as it helps strengthen the immune system and reduces inflammation. Before you consider this method, talk to your vet and contact a qualified canine massage therapist. While you can learn how to perform the techniques yourself, you should always talk to and learn what methods are best suited for your dog and its condition. One method touted in books is called the Healing Touch.


There are ways you can help your dog obtain relief from pain. Sometimes it is necessary to use medications. At other times, you may find it is possible to turn to alternative therapies. If you decide to follow this path, do your research, and then talk to your veterinarian. He or she may be able to suggest some form and someone licensed in the particular field.


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    • profile image

      Diane Ward 

      6 years ago

      Very unusual and interesting ideas


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