Caring for yourself and other living creatures can be a lot to handle, which may be why holistic medicine and alternative care treatments are becoming more and more popular. Hydrotherapy, massage, and acupuncture are all part of the holistic care field that can help pet owners care for their pets at any stage in life. Working with trained professionals like massage therapists, pet death doulas, and veterinary teams to provide any number of holistic treatments could easily make a big difference in you and your animal’s life!
Like with humans, veterinary acupuncture involves inserting needles into specific points on the body to help produce a healing response. For small and large animals, acupuncture seems to help with issues like arthritis, asthma, diarrhea, nonsurgical colic, and allergic dermatitis. While it involves needles, the good news is that this treatment is safe and virtually painless for animals and humans alike. However, it should never be done without a formal diagnosis and ongoing health assessment from a veterinarian.
For humans, massage therapy can be a relaxing and therapeutic way to deal with stress, increase blood circulation and joint flexibility, and so much more. We’re not the only species to benefit from massage therapy, as there are plenty of animals that also benefit from different massage techniques. Some benefits of massage therapy for animals include relieving muscular tension and pain, reducing scar tissue, increasing circulation (both blood and lymphatic), decreasing blood pressure, and increasing dopamine and serotonin levels.
There are times in which massage is not the right answer, like if an animal is in shock and experiencing low blood pressure or if there are other health issues. Talking with your vet about animal massage will be an important step, as the practice is actually covered under veterinary licensing laws in roughly 40 states. Your vet can determine if massage therapy is the best option for your pet and might be able to suggest a license animal massage therapist.
While hydrotherapy for humans has been around for quite some time, hydrotherapy for dogs is still relatively new. Swimming or walking in water are both exercises used by canine rehabilitation therapists to help treat issues like ACL injuries, post-surgical healing and recovery, and arthritis. These exercises are great workouts for dogs that can increase stamina and endurance while not adding too much pressure onto a dog’s joints.
Pet Death Doulas
The good news is that while pet care, particularly end-of-life care for pets, can be stressful at times, there are folks who can help. For most, the term ‘doula’ is associated with pregnancy and birth and for a reason. Doulas are trained companions who, for the most part, help physically and emotionally support individuals going through a significant health-related experience, particularly those going through pregnancy, birth, or other related medical experiences. Death doulas work with folks at the end of their life and there are even pet death doulas.
Note: doulas aren’t technically health care professionals and don’t have formal obstetric or other medical training. The term ‘doula’ is an ancient Greek term that means ‘a woman who serves’, which refers to the doula’s role of emotionally, physically, and educationally serving and supporting people through health issues like pregnancy and death.
Losing a cherished pet can be a difficult thing. Dogs, cats, and other pets can be in a person’s life for years, even decades, so the decision to say goodbye often isn’t taken lightly. In many cases, using a quality of life scale can add to a decision, as can conversations with your vet. Caring for pets at the end of their lives isn’t something owners have to go alone.
Pet death doulas are non-medical professionals that help owners navigate the process of caring for their pets during the end of their life. Services offered by some pet death doulas include working together to create an end-of-life plan for the pet, arranging euthanasia services (whether at home or at a vet’s office), after-death care, and creating a memorial/legacy project.
These treatments and people are all great ways to provide your pet a great life at any age. While massage therapy, hydrotherapy, and other types of holistic care can all beneficial in many different ways, each one can’t be individually used to solve a problem. Holistic care makes the point to care for the mind, body, and soul of a patient (regardless of species) and part of that is addressing an issue from different vantage points.
While dealing with your pet’s injuries, illnesses, or even just end of life issues can be incredibly stressful at times, it’s not something that you have to go through alone! Canine rehabilitation therapist, massage therapists, pet death doulas, and veterinarians are just some of the folks that can help you and your pet. In fact, these treatments should really only be done by licensed and trained professionals.
Holistic care for humans and animals alike can help treat all sort of problems and trained professionals can help provide the best kind of care for your pets. These treatments and professionals can help in all sorts of ways to provide your animals with the best life possible.