Alternative Therapies Popular for Pet Use

CAM therapies are widely used in pet care, and include herbs, nutritional supplements, chiropractic care and acupuncture, according to a recent study.

In "Alternatives used in pet care, study reveals," the Colorado Tribune reported that "more than half of pet owners surveyed by Colorado State University veterinarians use complementary and alternative medical approaches to help their cats and dogs."

Surprisingly, homeopathy was not mentioned; homeopathic care is widely used among pet owners, including, I have been told, owners of horses. In fact, many pet owners insist they are having positive results and that their pets, unlike human subjects, cannot possibly have a "placebo effect" (unless, of course, you subscribe to the view that animals have far greater intelligence than that normally ascribed to them -- and that has to do with other kinds of intelligence than those that give kids high math scores; I might argue that pets pick up on signals from their owners and might be subject to a placebo effect, but that's another story).

According to the article: "Complementary therapies such as herbs, nutritional supplements, chiropractic care and acupuncture were used by 65 percent of pet owners whose dogs and cats were being treated for cancer at the university's Animal Cancer Center, which attracts patients from around the world. The pet owners were part of a survey of 254 clients at the center.

"While the survey showed that a high number of animals receive complementary and alternative treatments from their owners, the study also shows that many owners don't tell their veterinarians that their pets receive these treatments and don't seek out veterinary experts for reliable information. This means that owners may be putting their pets at risk of interactions with drugs or other complications of alternative and complementary approaches that aren't administered or, if given, adjusted correctly for pets.

"'Although alternative and complementary medicine are considered to be helpful in improving the health and well-being of both animals and humans, their use without proper information can be dangerous,'" said Dr. Narda Robinson, the Shipley Complementary and Alternative Medicine professor at Colorado State's College of Veterinary Medicine who was involved in the study."

In that respect animals taking CAM therapies are no different than humans. A thorough medical history should include use of complementary as well as conventional therapies.