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Is Complementary and Alternative Medicine Right for Your Dog?
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“Immediate, life-threatening emergencies such as snake bite, road trauma, acute infections, eclampsia and the like require ... regular veterinary interventions,” says Dr. Gilchrist. “Having said that, there are specific acupuncture interventions that are often life-saving while waiting for veterinary treatment to commence.”

Dr. Narda Robinson, DVM, DO, Dipl. ABMA, FAAMA, founder and director of continuing education programs in complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM) at Colorado State University, is concerned about the trend of non-vets treating dogs. “There’s no profession, other than veterinarians, that has adequate knowledge of animal health and disease,” she says. “So often we’re seeing non-veterinarians making recommendations on diet, giving supplements that are really inappropriate for animals or doing procedures that can result in injuries. Veterinarians have the understanding of when an animal is in pain [and] what to do if something goes wrong.”

Dr. Haussler takes a more moderate view on the subject of selecting a CAM practitioner. “Ask about their training. Make sure that if the person working with your dog is not a veterinarian, he [or she] is at least a licensed professional, whether a [human] licensed massage therapist, [human] physical therapist… As long as they’re working together with a veterinarian, I think that’s great.”
 
I did end up getting acupuncture for Powell, which improved his stability during the last months of his life. But what if years before, I had known about the myriad complementary and alternative choices available? Would chiropractic adjustments, a homeopathic remedy or acupuncture at the time of his injury made his later years more comfortable? It’s too late to know in Powell’s case, but the time may be right for your dog. If nothing else, CAM’s varied, gentle and less invasive treatment protocols offer options, and if you’re facing hard choices about your dog’s health, isn’t that good to know?

 

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 33: Winter 2005
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