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4 Unconventional Health Care Options for Your Pet

Pet-lovers are thinking outside the kennel for health solutions. Here, a few alternative care options. 

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Veterinary Chiropractic

Taking Fido to get his spine realigned offers myriad health benefits-just as it does for humans-especially when it comes to improving geriatric quality of life, managing chronic pain and even preventing health problems in the future.

For animal athletes, chiropractic can also improve performance. Mississauga resident Lynda Siewert takes her 10-year-old competition dog, Susie Q, in for adjustments every six weeks. “Working dogs are not just dogs. They are your partners and deserve to be well-kept and fit,” says Siewert.

Cost: At Toronto’s Pets in Motion chiropractic clinic, an initial adjustment costs $100, with follow-ups $60 each.

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Laser Therapy

This procedure involves the use of a Class IV therapeutic laser to stimulate tissue repair following injury or surgery, or as part of a regular regimen in treating inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Dr. Nina Speyer of the Amherst Veterinary Hospital in Vancouver believes that it’s a great alternative treatment for pain management, adding that the procedure is quick and non-invasive. Because a technician can easily administer laser therapy, it’s also low in cost.

Cost: Individual treatments range from $15 to $50. The Amherst Veterinary Hospital, for example, offers six-session therapeutic packages for about $200.

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While the jury’s still out on the scientific efficacy of acupuncture-the insertion of ultra-thin needles into certain points on the body as a means of rerouting energy flows-many swear by it as a pain relief method, even for pets. “I’m a believer,” says Kim Hart Macneill, whose Toronto vet recommended the treatment for her 18-year-old cat. The “catupuncture” worked: immediately, the aged feline walked straighter and could jump up more easily onto her owners’ bed.

Cost: While pricing varies, most veterinary acupuncture sessions fall within the $60 to $90 range across the country.

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Medical Marijuana

Pot for pets? It sounds far out, but not according to Dr. Kathy Kramer of the Vancouver Animal Wellness Hospital. “I think it’s absolutely worth exploring,” she says. Kramer supervised an elderly cat‘s dosage of a cannabis tincture last year at the request of his owners. She found the results were positive: despite the cat’s many ailments, which included chronic kidney failure and pancreatitis, medical marijuana restored his appetite and stabilized his lab charts.
Veterinarians across Canada can’t legally prescribe marijuana, but Kramer hopes that will change. In the United States, dispensaries like the La Brea Compassionate Caregivers in Los Angeles recommend medical cannabis products specially formulated for pets.

Cost: While vets can’t legally prescribe marijuana, some are willing to supervise doses. Health Canada’s current price for medical marijuana is estimated at $5 a gram.