Q&A: Alternative Therapies – How Much is Too Much?

When your animal friends are suffering, it’s tempting to throw every alternative therapy out there in the mix in order to make them better, but is that really the best idea?

I will confess that I am guilty of doing this, both with myself and with my late dog Sadie. I start one therapy, then, either secretly worried that it won’t work, or trying to fight something from every possible angle, I add another, and another, and another…

Aside from the fact that this approach makes it impossible to know what is actually working, is it doing more harm than good? And are there certain therapies that work better together than others? When it comes to natural healing, how much is too much?

Lisa RuthigLisa Ruthig, Bancroft School of Massage Therapy/Doggone U & Lively Dog/ Lively Horse Animal Massage:

That is a hard question! The scientist in me always want to change only one thing so I can see what is working, but when your animal is suffering, that can be a hard choice. Always tell your veterinarian everything you are doing in case one treatment interferes with another, or one substance potentiates another (makes it more potent than intended, which can have consequences). There are holistic veterinarians that can coordinate more conventional care with alternative methods. Remember to give their recommendations enough time to work and let them know about side effects right away.

Shirley-MooreShirley Moore, Save a Dog:

I don’t think it’s ever a waste of time to try homeopathy because it is safe and gentle and works with the wisdom of the body to stimulate healing.


Caroline ThomasCaroline Thomas, Hoof and Paw Emotional Healing for Animals:

From my experience, on one hand too much is never enough and equally, less is more. When an individual holistic therapy is done with the exact correct vibration for the animal you are offering healing to. The approach of less is more often produces the best results. Our animals are so sensitive to energy that it is often our ‘ego’ of trying to heal that gets in the way. As I have become more experienced I have trusted my experience to stand back and to let things unfold in the animals time frame.

There are times when nothing seems to work and I will then combine a couple of holistic therapies together such as Reiki and aromatherapy, flower essences and aromatherapy, etc. There is usually a way forward when you let go of the outcome and attachment.

Amy SnowAmy Snow, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute:

With most of the energetic therapies such as acupressure, Reiki, and homeopathy, the watch-word is to work with the energetic level of the animal’s body. When an animal is sick, stay at a low level of energy input so you don’t overwhelm the body. If the animal is relatively healthy you can offer more because the body can respond to more. And, as the animal improves, you can scale up but not overwhelm.

One thing to keep in mind, the more you know about energetic therapies, the better you will be able to gage how best to help the animal. A good motto is – if you have any doubt or question, don’t work with the animal. Less can be more a lot of the time.

Beth InnisBeth Innis, DVM, Sleepy Dog Acupuncture And Holistic Home Care:

There are so many products out there, so many testimonials on their success, so many recommendations… it is so tempting to throw everything into the mix when we are worrying about our pet’s health.

I do, however, think, it is better to take it slow. I have seen a lot of pets who are on so many supplements it is making them feel worse, not better. Firstly, EVERYTHING can have potential side effects. If you are to start one thing at a time, if something doesn’t agree with your pet, you know exactly which product it is and can stop or decrease the dose without giving them anything else to struggle with. Not only do I encourage starting one product at a time, but I often recommend starting with one quarter the dose and building up slowly, just in case. Secondly, there are a lot of products out there made by people who are not trained at all, or well, and there are products that come from historically good combinations, but unsavory manufacturers make substitutions that can be ineffective and even toxic. For my practice, I choose companies who have the proper training in making the supplements that they make, follow good manufacturing practices and I limit my ordering to them. That gives me plenty to work with. It is really important to have a veterinarian who can help you with this. It is also important to tell them EVERYTHING you are giving, so they can make sure the products are good, they are appropriate to be giving, and they do not interact with anything else your pet is on.

When it comes to alternative therapies, in a perfect world, I would say separate the different modalities by at least a week at a time. In a crisis, use everything including the “kitchen sink”!

Cattie Coyle

Cattie Coyle

Founder and Editor at Animal Wellness Guide
Cattie is the founder and editor of Animal Wellness Guide. She is a freelance photographer, graduate of Bancroft School of Massage Therapy’s small animal program, and has studied Applied Zoopharmacognosy. Learn more about Cattie
Cattie Coyle
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