Utah Stories

Helping Fido Heal

Discover healthy alternatives for treating your ailing pet.


Underwater treadmill therapy can benefit older and injured dogs. Photo by Jeri Abel

Western medicine is the current mainstream health care option for our society’s pets, but alternative and holistic options are gaining in popularity. Unfortunately, herbs and acupuncture still will not cure cancer, but taking your pet to a provider who uses natural remedies to correct system imbalances is a great way to help your four-legged friend.

Dr. Debbie Hadlock, VMD, and Dr. Kimberly Henneman, DVM, of Animal Health Options in Jeremy Ranch, have an integrated practice. Both are trained in traditional western medicine and in holistic health care including acupuncture, Chinese herbology and Tui Na, one of the five branches of Chinese Medicine.

Tui Na has been practiced for over 3,000 years and is similar to acupuncture, but without using needles.

“Tui Na is a very good thing to offer clients that have older animals not up to needling,” Hadlock said. “I knew there had to be something else besides treating animals with antibiotics and steroids. The holistic approach views medicine differently. Using a holistic philosophy, you view symptoms as a clue to a bigger problem, which connects in the whole body. The objective is to strengthen the whole body, not just one organ.”

Dr. Hadlock has had great success treating large and small animals using alternative methods. From food therapy to herbology, she goes to great lengths to connect to the animal and treat them according. She recently treated a 5-year-old Labrador with paralysis of his hind end. Hadlock was able to access the animal using her western neurological training and determined that the dog had a lesion high up in his thoracic area. She then chose to perform electro-acupuncture on the dog. After treatment, the dog sat up, and started to wag his tail.

“If you can’t define a specific diagnosis, then you need to make a list of differential diagnoses and problem solve through each of those. That’s how I approach my cases,” Hadlock said.

Tena Hosie, PT, CCRT of Alta Dog Rehabilitation uses physical therapy and/or massage on dogs with orthopedic or neurological issues, and injured or elderly dogs. Hosie was a human physical therapist for 26 years before becoming certified in canine rehabilitation.

“I think one of the advantages with canines and felines is that by nature they are athletes. They are very motivated to participate and do all the things we ask of   them, so it is a very effective treatment, especially in injured or elderly animals,” Hosie said. “One of my patients is an amputee and his parents were telling me he was getting grumpy. After doing some physical therapy treatments on him, and swimming on the underwater treadmill, he seems a lot more comfortable.”

Hosie has found that using these alternatives allows owners to cut down on pain medication. Hosie also uses cold laser, electrical stimulation and stretching along with massage, often with great results.

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