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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

* This is the Veterinary Version. *

Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Pain

By Peter W. Hellyer, DVM, MS, DACVA, Associate Dean for the Professional Veterinary Medical Program, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University

Natural and holistic pain relief methods for pets, like those for people, have become a topic of much interest. Many different vitamins, herbal preparations, nutraceuticals, and natural remedies are available. Most of these therapies have not been tested in scientific trials, so they are not guaranteed as safe and effective. Some may prove neither helpful nor harmful, a few might be helpful, and others might actually be harmful. If you are interested in giving your pet a nutritional or herbal supplement, consult your veterinarian to make sure it will not interact with any other drugs your pet is taking.

Several scientific trials have been conducted using acupuncture as a pain relief technique for pets. Soft tissue manipulation and massage may also provide relief from musculoskeletal pain, especially of the neck, back, and hips. Further research is needed to determine the optimal combination of pharmacological (drug) therapies and complementary or alternative techniques for various types of pain.

* This is the Veterinary Version. *