Alternative Health Care For Dogs


Isn’t it amusing that we humans need a push to get us out of our rut and into learning mode? Often we embark upon a new path because of a need to "fix" a problem that has come up. That is what started it all for me.

Deuce, our 180-pound Newfoundland and my best friend, developed Lyme disease. It was a terrifying ordeal and I was royally annoyed that he had it! He had received the Lyme disease shots and I had used the monthly topical tick repellents, and yet he still was a very sick big baby. As I "googled" my way through all the info I could find, I discovered a lot of new information and exciting concepts.

This is not an article to try and convince you to feed your dog raw Wildebeest or never to give any vaccinations. There are plenty of books, internet chat lists and websites for all of that. What I do want to do is share positive new ideas I have discovered.

I also have to smile at how many of us will put off a much-needed visit to the dentist or our own check-ups, but let the dog sneeze or just "look funny," and we are tearing to the vet, charge card in hand and shrieking, "I don’t care what it costs, just make my baby WELL!" It also seems that many people are drawn into a more holistic, natural or whatever you want to call it way of life via their dogs. That is how it happened at my house.

To help you sort through some of what is out there, here is a quick definition of some of the main modalities used in caring for pets. As my area of knowledge is dogs, I do not feel comfortable in giving advice on cats. Please refer to feline books or websites. Oh yes, here is the official disclaimer that we all know and love: this information is in no way intended to take the place of regular veterinarian care. Please, seek the advice of a veterinarian. This is an adjunct to regular health care, not in place of.

Acupressure – Traditional Chinese medicine that uses a firm, yet light touch to balance the flow of energy (Qi or Chi).

Acupuncture – Traditional Chinese medicine that uses needles to activate a meridian system in the body. Many dogs have had remarkable results with acupuncture treatments and they should be considered for acupuncture, just as we would.

Animal Communicators – The information shared by these intuitive people can be the catalyst for amazing work. Here are a few tips on selecting an animal communicator. First and foremost, you should get a good feeling from the communicator when you chat to set up the appointment. You should feel confident about them and their approach to the appointment. Check their website or brochure for testimonials and letters of recommendation from satisfied clients. It is also a big plus if they have studied with teachers that are recognized as leaders in the field. Penelope Smith, Carol Gurney and Marta Williams are just a few, and there are many others. Remember, this is an intuitive reading. While the info may be eye opening and wonderful, it is the interpretation of a person based on their interaction with your pet. Use your discretion in analyzing the information and do not jump to conclusions.

Aromatherapy – The use of essential oils that have been distilled from flowers, roots, etc., to help heal emotional and physical issues. Dogs can be even more sensitive to oils than people, thanks to those super powerful noses of theirs. When beginning to use oils, always dilute them in the Young Living Oil V6 base (recommended) or use a high quality jojoba oil, almond oil or such. I use a mix of about 1 part oil to 3 parts base. 

Ways to use essential oils on your dog:

  • Tip the ears (apply diluted oils to your hands and rub your dogs ears in a circularmotion from the base to the top of the ear)
  • Rub diluted oils on paw pads
  • Spritz in air above your dog
  • Spray their coat!
  • Use a household diffuser – Diffusing will not only make the room smell fabulous,it will also disinfect, clean and deodorize!
  • Add a few drops of Lemongrass or Lemon to rinse cycle when washing dog beds
  • Add 1-2 drops of Lemongrass to pet shampoo to repel bugs

Here are just a few tips using three of the most readily available essential oils:

Lavender is the most versatile of all essential oils and has been highly regarded as soothing to the skin. It can be used to cleanse cuts, bruises, scrapes and skin irritations, including hot spots. Lavender has also been studied for its relaxing effects, both physically and emotionally. It is helpful for puppies to sleep all night, thus allowing you to sleep all night!

Lemon can serve as an insect or flea repellent and may be beneficial for the skin. Add a few drops to distilled water and spritz on your pet for a refreshing lift after an active day.

Peppermint is soothing to the digestive system. It is useful for digestive upset and to enhance your pet’s appetite. Put a few drops in a spritzer with spring water and spray in mouth to get rid of doggie breath.

I must stress that you use only therapuetic grade essential oils of the highest quality on your dog. And, as always, this info is not meant to replace veterinarian advice…

Crystal Therapy – It is felt that crystals have metaphysical properties that come from their shape, formation or type. Crystals and gemstones are used in essences, elixers and are placed on the patient or in grids. You can incorporate the crystal that relates to the chakra that your dog needs work on to begin with. Just take it easy, be relaxed and do not force anything on your dog. If she walks away or seems stressed by the work, then stop! Yes, dogs have energy centers or chakras. Here is a rundown on how our dog’s chakras work:

  • Root Chakra – Color: red or black. Stone/crystal: Carnelian, red jasper, garnet,ruby (for energy) and obsidian, hematite, jet (for grounding) or clear quartz. TheRoot Chakra is about being physically there and feeling at home in situations. Ifit is open and balanced, your dog probably feels grounded, stable and secure anddoes not distrust people. They are confident and feel they have sufficient territory.If your dog tends to be fearful or nervous, their Root chakra is probably under-active.If this chakra is over-active, your dog may be very greedy, a toy or food bowl guarder,possibly obsessed with being secure and resistant to change.
  • Sacral Chakra – Color: Orange. Stone/crystal: Citrine, carnelian, tiger’s eyeor clear quartz. The Sacral Chakra is about feelings and sexuality. When it is openand balanced, your dog’s feelings flow freely, and are expressed without being over-emotionalor frantic. They are open to affection and can be loving and lively. If your dogtends to be stiff and unemotional or guarded, the Sacral chakra is under-active.If this chakra is over-active, your dog may tend to be emotional all the time. Theywill be very emotionally attached to people and may have separation anxiety.
  • Solar Plexus Chakra – Color: Yellow. Stone/crystal: Citrine, yellow topaz, yellowamber, yellow aventurine or clear quartz. The Solar Plexus Chakra is about your dogasserting themselves in a group. When it is open, you feel in control and you havesufficient self-esteem. When the Solar Plexus chakra is under-active, your dog maybe passive and timid. If this chakra is over-active, your dog may be domineeringand probably even aggressive.
  • Heart Chakra – Color: Green for Healing or Rose Pink for Love. Stone/crystal:Malachite, emerald, green agate, rose quartz, watermelon tourmaline, rhodochrositeor clear quartz. The Heart chakra is about love, kindness and affection. When itis open and balanced, your dog is compassionate, loving and friendly. When your Heartchakra is under-active, your dog may be fearful, cold and distant.
  • Throat Chakra – Color: Clear Blue. Stone/crystal: Turquoise, lapis lazuli, blueagate, azurite, aquamarine, clear quartz. The Throat chakra is about self-expressionand talking. When it is open and balanced, your dog will have no problems expressingherself and being understood. When this chakra is under-active, your dog may be introvertedand shy. If this chakra is over-active, your dog will tend to bark or vocalize toomuch, usually to domineer and manipulate.
  • Third Eye Chakra – Color: Indigo. Stone/crystal: Sapphire, tourmaline, sapphire,sodalite, azurite and clear quartz. The Third Eye chakra is about insight and visualization.When it is open and balanced, your dog will be intuitive and well balanced betweenthe world of people and that of dogs. If it is under-active, your dog will not benot very good at thinking for herself, and you may tend to rely on you too much andmight even get confused easily. If this chakra is over-active, your dog may livein a world of fantasy and only play.
  • Crown Chakra – Color: Violet or white. Stone/Ccrystal: Amethyst, moonstone,sugilite, sodialite, fluorite, clear quartz. The Crown chakra is about wisdom andbeing one with the world. When this chakra is open and balanced, your dog is quiteaware of the world and her place in it. If it is under-active, your dog may be oneof those that just does not fit in. If this chakra is over-active, your dog may worrytoo much and not take care of her own needs.

Healing Touch for Animals® / Komitor Healing Method, Inc. (HTA/KHM) – The use of bio-field therapies to integrate, balance and clear the energy body. It is recognized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It works by releasing endorphins to establish a deeper relaxation and state of being, allowing the body to function at a greater level. By allowing muscles to relax, circulation is increased, sending more oxygen, nutrients and hormones into the body to support healing. HTA/KHM Techniques work on all levels of the body: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. These techniques allow the animals to come into a deeper instinctual presence and knowing of their body. Source:

Herbal Therapy – Use of plants, herbs, roots, barks, berries and flowers to be used as a preservative to treat symptoms or illness. Many Chinese herb are now widely used on our pets. This is an area in which you should work with a trained professional.

Homeopathy – The underlying concept is that substances that cause certain symptoms in a healthy animal can cure the same symptoms in one that is sick. I would urge you to delve into the area of homeopathic medicine under the care of a trained homeopathic practioner.

Massage Therapy – The manipulation of muscle, skin and soft tissue to help an animal relax, for pain relief or more flexibility.

Reiki/Energy Healing (Lightarian®, Chios Energy Healing, Healing Touch, Therapeutic Touch, Qigong, etc.) – These modalities promote physical healing, mental sharpness, and relaxation. Exact procedures may vary from one technique to the next, but all strive to balance the flow of energy/universal life force/Chi by aligning the chakras (see Crystal Therapy).

The Tellington TTouch – A specialized approach to the care and training of our animal companions. It is based on cooperation and respect, offers a positive approach to training, can improve performance and health and presents solutions to common behavioral and physical problems. It also helps establish a deeper rapport between humans and animals through increased understanding and more effective communication. Using a combination of specific touches, lifts and movement exercises, TTouch helps to release tension and increase body awareness. This allows the animal to be handled without provoking typical fear responses. The animal can then more easily learn new and more appropriate behaviors. By using the TTouch and a variety of other tools, like the Confidence Course, you can assist the animal in experiencing self-confidence in previously frightening situations. Even the most difficult problems are often eliminated. You can also learn how to apply the Tellington TTouch to assist with recovery from illness or injury, or just enhance the quality of your animal’s life. Source:

Vibrational Essences (Flower, Gem and Environmental Essences) – Essences are high-frequency electrical emissions that have the vibrational patterns of whatever they are made from. Vibrational Essences work on the mind and the emotional make-up of us all (humans and animals). There is absolutely no way to harm using essences, no way to overdose, no way to have a reaction (unless it is to the brandy or whatever is used as a preservative). I am a very emotionally, intuitively based person and I truly believe that many of our own physical issues, and those of our pets, are caused by emotional or mental stresses. Most of us are familiar with the work of Dr. Edward Bach. His Rescue Remedy® is used worldwide to calm stressed or excited pets (and people). Personally, I find that my dogs respond amazingly well to essences, and we use them on a daily basis. 

There are many other cutting edge modalities out there that can help us enrich our lives that we share with our pets. Don’t hesitate to try something different on occasion. You might be thrilled at the results and, guess what? You just might learn something new. One of the things all of this exploring and learning has done for me and my husband is to really open our eyes to a healthier way of life. Once again, our best friends have led us into a better way of life. 

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Kathy Dannel Vitcak
Kathy Dannel Vitcak is a member of the Dog Writer's Association of America and has written for many award-winning dog magazines during her 20 years of involvement in dogs. She also shares her life with: Deuce, the Newfie; a mini-horse, Nyker; and a small herd of top-winning French Bulldogs (who are pretty bored with the competitive part of it). She has begun a holistic dog business, The Blissful Dog. She and her husband also have a fishing resort in northern Minnesota that not only accept pets, but welcomes them! Visit and for more info. Copyright © 2006 Kathy Dannel Vitcak. All rights reserved


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