Alternative therapies in veterinary medicine

Vets and Vet techs have been turning to alternative therapies to treat animals.Medical care and services used to treat humans and those used to treat animals often overlap. And just as alternative therapies have become increasingly prevalent in the treatment of people, they are also making headway into the world of veterinary technology and medicine.

In Arizona, Dr. Tim Patterson applies Eastern-inspired medical principles like acupuncture and homeopathy to his veterinary practice, while in Westmoreland, Pa., Michael Savko uses a popular therapy for people – chiropractic medicine – to treat his animal patients.

Zen and the art of veterinary medicine

As a holistic veterinarian, Dr. Patterson has spent much of his career trying to help animals recover from illness and injury by using techniques not often associated with the profession.1 Along with limiting the use of pharmaceuticals, he uses massage and chiropractic therapies to practice a form of veterinary medicine that is gaining wider acceptance as it becomes more mainstream among human patients.

“Fifteen or 20 years ago, owners weren’t even willing to talk about the fact that they used acupuncture or chiropractic on their animals. We’d have to do it out behind the shed. Now, we don’t even have to advertise,” Patterson told The Arizona Republic. “With Western medicine, you typically look more at the symptoms and treat those symptoms only. Eastern medicine looks at the root cause and goes after that. Typically, that requires less medicine.”

Patterson is also known for making house calls, driving around the state treating mostly dogs and horses using alternative therapies whenever possible, and his many long-term patients have seemingly come to anticipate his visits.

Betsy Tatlock, who owns Dark, one of Patterson’s equine patients, says the horse loves Patterson’s electro-magnetic treatments – Dark leaves the sessions much more calm and relaxed than beforehand.

Chiropractic medicine makes its way into the animal kingdom

Many veterinarians and certified vet technicians have been turning to chiropractic techniques in their effort to find more naturalistic approaches to treating animals. Michael Savko began his chiropractic career using his skills to alleviate pain in people, but about three years ago he began applying his methods to animals, according to Triblive.com.2

In that time, Savko has built a loyal following, including Danielle Fusco and her miniature Dachshund Chayenne. Chayenne has a bulging disk that left her back legs paralyzed. But after a few months of treatment with Savko, she was back to normal.

As more people turn to alternative therapies to treat their own ailments, veterinary and vet technician schools are becoming more aware of how those same services can be applied to animals, and that increased awareness is leading to changes in the way some professionals in the industry practice their craft.

1 McKinnon, Shaun, “Veterinarian Uses Eastern-Influenced Techniques to Heal Animals,” The Arizona Republic, Aug. 30, 2013. http://www.azcentral.com/news/arizona/articles/20130815veterinarian-acupuncture-heal-animals.html?nclick_check=1
2 Federoff, Stacey, “Westmoreland Veterinary Chiropractor Diagnoses, Treats Ailing Cats, Dogs, Horses, More,” Triblive.com, Sept. 15, 2013. http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/4654855-74/savko-chiropractor-veterinary#axzz2f4CUBD8t

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