Feature Archive

Alternative Medicine for Rover

Thousands of pet lovers are turning to alternative approaches for their four-footed friends. New professional associations for veterinary acupuncturists and chiropractors have been created. But do the alternative treatments they promote really work?

WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson

Cleo was only 4 years old when an accident damaged her spine. Veterinarians predicted that infections would soon torture the little dachshund, filling her lungs. "It was awful," remembers Joan Caruso, the Connecticut business consultant who owned Cleo. "One veterinarian after another said there was nothing they could do for her, and that the kindest thing would be to put her to sleep."

But Cleo lived, and Caruso credits alternative medicine for keeping her dog's immune system vital and her lungs clear.

Thousands of pet lovers are turning to alternative approaches for their four-footed friends. New professional associations for veterinary acupuncturists and chiropractors have been created. But do the alternative treatments they promote really work?

Advocates and Skeptics Square Off

In 1996, the largest organization of veterinarians in the United States -- the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) -- all but gave its seal of approval to alternative remedies for pets. In new guidelines, the AVMA stated that "sufficient clinical and anecdotal evidence exists" to suggest real benefits from a number of unconventional approaches -- including chiropractic and homeopathy. As for acupuncture, the guidelines called the use of needles "an integral part of veterinary medicine."