Homeopathy and acupuncture for your dog?

April 4th, 2008 - 9:31 am ICT by admin  

By Andrea Loebbecke
Frankfurt, April 4 (DPA) Alternative medicines such as acupuncture or homeopathy can be effective remedies for the pains and aches of a horse or dog but it is not a cure-all for every ailment, experts pointed out recently. “A growing number of veterinarians are using such medicines at the request of pet owners,” says Astrid Behr, the head of the Frankfurt-based German association of veterinarians.

Alternative medicines such as homeopathy or physiotherapy have become an established part of the treatment spectrum for humans in German medical practices.

“Animal owners are asking for therapies that have a reputation for healing,” says veterinarian Heidi Kuebler, chairwoman of the association for holistic veterinary medicine (GGTM). But she points out that some people want their animal to “have a proper medicine”.

“A good medical practitioner will know their limitations,” Kuebler says, adding that alternative therapies such as acupuncture have been particularly effective in treating ailments of the skeletal system, psychological disorders or organic pains.

“In principle the alternative therapies used for humans can be just as effective for animals if the dosage is adapted accordingly,” Kuebler says.

However, she warns that the use of conventional medicine is unavoidable in emergency cases or serious ailments.

Astrid Behr agrees, saying, “It is important to know when to apply the one or other therapy.” Veterinarians with additional training in acupuncture and homeopathy are normally the best people to assess the situation.

For lesser ailments, the pet owner can even acquire the basic knowledge to apply some of the alternative treatments themselves. Bach Flowers can for instance be used to calm excitable or frightened animals.

The problem with alternative medicine is that there are usually hardly any set standards for treating animals. It is difficult for a layperson to judge whether someone calling themselves an “animal or alternative healer” has adequate training.

Jutta Schroeter, who heads the German alternative animal healing association, advises pet owners to ask around among for the names and addresses of reputable healers. In Germany, giving a horse acupuncture costs between 65 and 80 euros ($100-124). A comprehensive first homeopathic consultation for a dog costs about 80 euros ($124).

Experts such as Heidi Kuebler warn that an initial consultation should be done carefully and by a properly trained person because “even homeopathy can have serious side-effects”. For acupuncture the rule is: “The more training, the better the treatment”.

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