Exploring Alternative Veterinary Care for Your Pet

Most of you who know me know that I am a big fan of alternative care, for both myself and my husband, and for our pets. I have fed a raw, species-appropriate diet for years, and I don’t do any other toxins than what is required by law (multi-year rabies only). Three of my four pets are getting older, and with age comes an increase in age-related problems, like incontinence, weakness, loss of eyesight and/or hearing, and organ failures amongst other issues. The following story occurred in September 2017 involving one of my old pups, 12-year old Lucy (a.k.a. Monkey Bear and Little Fatty, Fat, Fat):

Lucy: The Younger Years

Lucy is without a doubt, the most loyal, sweetest dog in our house. She doesn’t cause trouble (other than pilfering cat food), will walk right by your side without a leash, and always wants to do the right thing. One Sunday morning in early September, Lucy wasn’t feeling well. She would drink almost a whole bowl of water, then tip her head down and it would literally all come falling out of her. She did this three times in the span of half an hour, and I knew I had to take her to the emergency vet.

At the ER, they put her on anti-nausea meds and IV fluids to rehydrate her. An ultrasound revealed an inflammed pancreas with secondary liver inflammation. So the conventional vets diagnosed Lucy with pancreatitis, pumped her with fluids and more anti-nausea meds over the next couple of days, successfully fed her a few bites of food, then discharged her. She came home, ate a meal, and the evening was uneventful. By the next morning, she was nauseous, not eating, regurgitating water again, and just feeling plain awful. Back to the ER we went for more fluids and anti-nausea meds. She came home again and ate a second meal (her second meal in about a week). This time she vomited and aspirated a lung, causing pneumonia. She was very weak and wobbly at this point. It broke my heart to watch a vet tech pick her up and carry her to the back, because she couldn’t walk on her own.

While Lucy was in the ER recovering from pneumonia and still dealing with the pancreatitis, I had been in touch with their regular vet, a very gifted homeopath, to try to make an appointment for Lucy when I had her home. We finally connected via text on a Saturday morning (two weeks since Lucy fell ill), and I updated her on the situation. Her diagnosis, without even seeing Lucy, was the opposite of what the conventional vets said! She said that Lucy had liver disease with secondary pancreatic inflammation. The next thing she said was the kicker – “Lucy needs an organic coffee enema now.” What?! I was definitely taken aback by that recommendation, but this vet had never steered me wrong before, so I immediately started trying to wrap my brain around how I was going to give my dog an enema. She told me to look up how it is perfomed on people and just apply it to dogs. 

Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom (the ER), the vet taking care of Lucy called me to tell me that she just wasn’t eating for them. My only options at this point were: a) a feeding tube (both me and my husband were not liking that idea at all), b) discharging her and trying to get her to eat at home, or c) euthanasia. We weren’t ready to euthanize her yet (but we had already had “the talk”), and neither of us wanted her to have a feeding tube, so I discharged her and brought her home. 

I had gone to the store earlier that day to buy the stuff for the enema. I went to a few different websites and read instructions on how to perform the enema. Then I went to the vet, brought Lucy home, brewed the coffee, then we headed downstairs to the back deck after the coffee had cooled with the enema bag filled. It didn’t go quite as planned – I was able to get a little bit of coffee in and keep it in for about 30 seconds before Lucy leaped up and ran off the deck into the yard to do business. 

I didn’t attempt it again – I thought I would wait and see what happened. About 10 minutes after the enema was completed, Lucy coughed up a large phlegm ball from her aspirated lung, and then I asked her if she wanted to eat, and she showed more enthusiasm than I have ever seen her show in her life. She ate and ate and ate. She demanded all the meals she had missed. In one night. My girl was back! Fast forward to now, mid-February 2018, and she acts like she was never sick. She goes on long walks and eats with gusto. What the conventional vets could fix after over $7,000 of treatment, my homeopath fixed with a $25 enema kit.

The lesson that I want people to take away from this is to simply open your mind to other options. Homeopathy and holistic medicine is not hokey pseudoscience. It has a place, just like conventional medicine has its place. I truly believed that my vet saved Lucy’s life. She is not a miracle-worker, just a homeopathic vet with years of experience and a wealth of knowledge in natural healing modalities. 


The Benefits of Canine Massage


Whether young or old, weak or strong, injured or not, fit or could lose a few pounds, canine massage benefits all canines. Below are a few of the ways in which massage can benefit our dogs:

  • Improves function and tonality of muscles
  • Decreases muscle soreness, fatigue, weakness and tension
  • Improves joint mobility and flexibility
  • Improves circulation
  • Encourages flushing of metabolic waste
  • Improves digestion
  • Improves coat quality
  • Improves skin tone
  • Helps reduce restlessness and calm anxious pets


  • Performance Dogs – Dogs that compete in agility, flyball, field trials, obedience, and other activities can benefit from massage and stretching, which improves muscle tone, lengthens their stride, increases range of motion, allows for more fluid movement, and in turn reduces the rate of sports-related injuries.
  • Show Dogs – Dogs that compete for conformation titles must exhibit the proper balance, reach and gait and conform to a specific standard for their breed. It is imperative that they be moving fluidly and comfortably in order to perform their best, and massage helps to achieve that ideal fluidity of movement and balance in gait. Show dogs can also be calmed and focused by receiving a massage prior to getting into the ring. Massage can give that dog the competitive edge over other dogs in the ring and be the defining difference between a dog that is “Best in Breed” or “Best In Show” to a dog that was also shown.
  • Working Dogs – Herding dogs, police dogs, service dogs, hunting dogs, search and rescue dogs, drug/bomb detection dogs, and other dogs who provide a service to us humans in the work they do can also benefit from regular massage. Massage can reduce the tension and muscle soreness from pulling against a harness, walking over rough surfaces for long periods, climbing over rubble or debris, or racing through the woods after a downed water fowl. It also helps to counteract the low-level stress that some dogs acquire along with their demanding jobs.
  • Anxious/Nervous Dogs – Shelter dogs recently adopted and brought into a new home, or just dogs that have a nervous personality can benefit from the calming effect of a massage. It helps build confidence and trust in human touch for those dogs that have trust issues.
  • Post-injury/Post-Surgery Dogs – Whether recovering from soft tissue damage or orthopedic surgery to have a joint or ligament repaired or replaced, veterinarians are increasingly recommending swim therapy and massage therapy in order to speed up the rehabilitation/healing process and to ensure the animal makes a full recovery. Rehabilitation massage can be beneficial when used in conjuction with veterinary care to shorten recovery time, keep muscles from reaching a state of atrophy, aid in preventing re-injury, decrease pain and discomfort of recovery, and ease the transition back into normal movement.
  • Young Dogs/Puppies – Puppies and young dogs are highly active and are still in the process of learning how their bodies move. The constant activity level of these spunky little devils, combined with growth spurts, and put stress on their bodies and cause a moderate amount of pain (growing pains). Massage can help ease the discomfort of rapidly growing bones and muscles, as well as help the young pup to calm down and relax, and help to reduce injuries induced by rough-and-tumble play.
  • Older Dogs – Just like with humans, dogs experience aches and pains with getting older, including stiff joints, a decrease in flexibility and range of motion, and fatigue or atrophy in certain muscles from lack of use. Massage helps to improve muscle tone and restore balance to dogs who may have weakness or atrophy in certain muscles from lack of activity. It aids in joint flexibility and an increase in range of motion and can help pets achieve a higher level of movement with more ease/less discomfort.
  • Pregnant Dogs – Carrying and whelping a litter can be highly stressful on a dog’s body. Massage can not only aid in adjusting her displaced bones and easing the stress in her taxed joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments from carrying extra weight, but it can also help to alleviate the psychological stress of carrying the litter. Massage can benefit her once the litter has been born by helping to calm her throughout the whelping and weaning process. Just like a new human mom would benefit from a little stress-relieving break, so would a new dog mom!
  • Dogs with Joint Conditions – Dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, or other similar disorders can benefit from massage. When combined with a proper diet and exercise, massage can increase flexibility and range of motion in a dog’s joints and muscles, allowing for more mobility. Regular massage of dogs with joint disease or malformations can play a significant role in keeping their joints moving and comfortable.



  • Dogs with Fever/Contagious Disease – If your animal has a fever or a contagious disease such as ringworm, a skin infection, anemia, or leukemia.
  • Dogs Exhibiting Human Aggression – If your animal exhibits human aggression, a massage may not be possible.
  • Dogs with Severe Fear or Trust Issues – A massage is not recommended for these animals, as they may never fully relax and enjoy the benefits of a massage.

Pet massage is similar to human massage in some ways. It is to be used in conjunction with regular medical care and is not to be used as a treatment for an illness. It cannot reverse or cure diseases. *Animal massage practitioners are not qualified to diagnose, give prognoses, or treat any suspected medical problems.* You will be referred to a veterinarian if any new problems are identified that contraindicate massage. Massage practitioners may work in conjunction with your veterinarian to address your pet’s specific problems. You can find a certified animal massage practitioner in your area by searching the member directory, located here: IAAMB Member Directory