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Animalia: February 2012

By catalyst

Ideas, profiles, products & news for all things animal.

Acupuncture, developed in southern China, follows the philosophy that normal health is the result of a continuous circulation of energy called Qi through the body. Interruption in the flow of this energy creates blockages which may lead to illness. These blockages can occur through trauma such as wounds or exposure to wind, damp and cold.

The object of acupuncture treatment is to re-establish normal energy flow. Needling releases endorphins and changes the way the brain and the nervous system recognizes an area of disease, a sort of “waking up” of the immune and circulatory systems. Acupuncture can help treat hip displasia, back pain, incontinence, epilepsy, and other problems.

Far Infrared Therapy (FIR) has been around awhile in the form of ceramic heaters for poultry farms, aquarium heaters for reptiles, and leg wraps and blankets for horses. Infrared is a radiant energy source, providing heat similar to the warmth felt in sunshine without harmful ultraviolet rays.

The dry heat of this modality does not encourage sweating. For pets, FIR is available in several options such as wraps, beds, panels and lights.

Every cell that FIR penetrates (about three inches below the fur) is surrounded by water that vibrates, releasing toxins, pain and blocked energy, stimulating blood flow and regenerating tissue growth for healing wounds. Helpful for post-surgery recovery, arthritis, injury, accident recovery, painful strains, muscles or joints and pets who require extra warmth and care.

Homeopathy is based on the principle “like cures like.” This system of medicine utilizes microdoses of natural substances such as herbs, bark, seeds, berries, flowers and minerals.

Homeopathic and herbal remedies (such as Bach Flower Essences’ Rescue Remedy Natural Stress Relief for Pets) calm the animal in stressful situations like separation anxiety, adapting to new surroundings, fear of loud noises, or excessive barking or hissing. There are behavioral treatments for everything from compulsive behavior, hyperactivity and socialization problems, as well as treatments for physical issues such as incontinence, digestive problems and blood sugar levels.

Hydrotherapy, also known as aquatherapy, has been around in some form or other since ancient Egyptian times. In our modern animal world, it focuses on physical rehabilitation through exercise in water by swimming, or walking on a submerged treadmill. This encourages a full range of motion without causing stress on damaged tissues, promoting muscle tone and tissue repair.

Hydrotherapy is used to treat arthritis, orthopedic conditions, neurological conditions, muscle, ligament and other soft tissue injuries. It also improves general fitness, cardiovascular stamina and muscle tone, and is considered a natural anti-inflammatory through its ability to reduce tissue swelling.

Laser therapy is an advanced modality for the treatment of inflammatory or painful conditions like arthritis, back pain, wounds, ear and nasal problems, bladder problems, and surgery.

Continuous laser acts quickly on inflammation, stimulating blood and lymphatic circulation, and induces fast reabsorption of fluid build-ups. Pulsed laser emissions have an immediate effect on pain but not much effect on inflammation.

Massage therapy addresses physical and mental health by increasing circulation and helping to eliminate toxins and wastes from the body, improving joint flexibility, muscle tone (particularly beneficial for older and performance animals), attitude, and ability to focus for behavior, training and performance.

Behavior and temperament problems are helped by the trust that is gained through touch, calming a nervous or hyper pet, helping a shy or submissive pet feel more secure and relaxing an aggressive or dominant pet.

Massage also helps injury recovery or chronic conditions by providing relief from muscle soreness and spasms, helping atrophied muscles work correctly, and relieving pain and discomfort that come with arthritis and hip dysplasia.

Reiki, meaning “spiritual energy,” is a Japanese energy healing system used originally for spiritual development and used today for “hands-on” physical, mental or emotional healing. Reiki works toward perfect energetic balance; it always finds the origin of the problem and rebalances and clears energy flow.

For healthy animals, Reiki enhances relaxation and provides a sense of peace and contentment. For sick animals, it is a complement to western medicine and all other forms of healing, and for dying animals, Reiki provides comfort, relief from pain, fear and anxiety, and eases the transition to death.

This article was originally published on February 2, 2012.