A Holistic Veterinary Approach to Dog Leg and Knee Health Challenges, and So Much More
At Ortho Dog, our number one priority is to improve dogs’ quality of life. While we rely on bracing to improve dog mobility for a range of leg and knee challenges, you may want to also consider complementary treatments that provide a more holistic and balanced path to healing. To learn more about integrative veterinary treatments, we spoke with Dr. Laurel Davis of Sunvet Animal Wellness, a holistic veterinary practice in Asheville, NC.
About Sunvet Animal Wellness
Sunvet Animal Wellness offers a unique synergy of conventional, preventative, intuitive and alternative advice and treatment recommendations. In every appointment, they work to strengthen the relationship between human and animal companion, which is the basis of true and lasting healing.
Q and A with Dr. Laurel
(The last question and answer is the best!)
How does holistic care differ from typical veterinary care as it relates to conditions like ACL/CCL tears, arthritis, and hip dysplasia?
Holistic veterinary care encompasses traditional veterinary care plus a vast array of other modalities like physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, craniosacral therapy, homeopathy, applied kinesiology and herbology. This means that although holistic veterinarians may start treatment for a CCL tear with a non-invasive therapy like cold laser, a knee brace and/or acupuncture, they may decide that a specific patient would do much better undergoing surgery and then resume cold laser and acupuncture treatments post surgery.
As a holistic veterinary practitioner, I am open to taking whatever route is the best way to have an animal thrive. This differs from conventional veterinary care in that holistic veterinarians are, for the most part, more likely to try minimally-invasive options first.– Dr. Laurel, Sunvet ANimal Wellness
How can you tell if a dog is in pain?
A dog in pain may be more nervous and perhaps more protective or defensive of themselves, have an increased respiratory rate, or be more vocal about having to move and/or moaning even when stationary. Mobility issues are a key indicator of pain as well, so look for signs like: shaking, unable to get comfortable and settle down, not wanting to go on walks anymore or stopping part way through a normal walk. There is one more telltale sign that is often missed… a change in behavior, such as a gentle, lowkey dog becoming grumpy.
What homeopathic techniques are available to assist dogs with pain or challenges associated with ACL/CCL tear?
We carry a homeopathic mix called T-Relief that helps with the bruising, swelling and discomfort that can be part of the initial injury and the ongoing inflammation that occurs as the dog continues to use the injured leg.
What types of treatments do you recommend for dogs with chronic conditions like arthritis or hip dysplasia?
Cold laser therapy, acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, underwater treadmill therapy and chiropractic manipulation.
Ortho Dog founder Elizabeth has two tripod dogs that she takes for chiropractic twice a year as a preventive measure, and she uses acupuncture regularly with her dog that has hip dysplasia. Can you tell us more about how acupuncture and chiropractic help dogs with these conditions?
Both acupuncture and chiropractic are wonderful ways to relieve blocked energy areas in the poochs’ bodies. When part of a dog’s body is not functioning normally, as is the case with a CCL tear, other areas of the musculoskeletal system are bound to be stressed as they take on an added workload. Chiropractic and acupuncture can alleviate this additional stress, which helps the dog heal. An additional benefit of acupuncture is that it can be applied directly in the area of the injury, targeting specific areas of inflammation and irritation.
Are there specific supplements or treatments that can be done in conjunction with Ortho Dog leg braces that can further support improved health, wellness, and healing?
Feeding your dog good, well balanced, raw or freeze dried food is an excellent way to keep their joints and ligaments in tip-top shape.
Some supplements I turn to are fatty acids (like those found in salmon oil)l, glucosamine, curcumin, hyaluronic acid, homeopathics, anti-inflammatory herbs, and animal-based dietary supplements.
Some treatments: Cold laser, acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, underwater treadmill therapy
How do you determine when surgery is the best option?
Surgery can be better if the dog is very active, and larger, heavier dogs may need the added advantage of surgical stabilization. Also, a completely torn CCL may require more stabilization (through surgery) than a partially torn CCL.
What surgery alternatives do you recommend at Sunvet Animal Wellness Clinic?
Strict confinement, only outside for pottying and only on a leash, glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, homeopathics, chiropractic care, underwater treadmill therapy, cold laser, and now… an Ortho Dog brace!
How do you determine when it is time for compassionate euthanasia for a dog that has long struggled with chronic conditions?
I consider a number of things when assessing quality of life. Is the dog able to get up on their own or walk around? Are they in constant pain, not eating for a period of time, or generally depressed? Are their people tired and wanting to see their friend end their suffering? Also, when the dog says it’s ready to have its transformation (yes, I ask them).
What is your favorite part of working with animals and their humans at Sunvet?
The conversations that we all (the animal, their humans and I) have and figuring out what their problems are and how to help them thrive.
Every animal and person that walks into my practice is a gift.– Dr. Laurel
They are blessed packages to unwrap, and I never know where a consultation or conversation is going to go.
What words of encouragement would you offer to those who are wanting to support their pets during difficult times of pain or chronic health conditions?
To let any feelings of guilt float away with the breeze. To move forward, one decision at a time and know that the decisions you make are the correct decisions at that time. To not look back and say, “I coulda, woulda, shoulda done this, that or the other thing”. Also, to know that each and every minute is precious. And so it is!