Pet Health Education Handouts

Dogs + Alternative Therapies

  • This is a broad topic that includes a variety of therapeutic options including herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, nutraceuticals and supplements. There are few controlled studies to show that any of these treatments are effective in pets.

  • Calcium supplements are given by mouth or injection and are used on and off label and over the counter to treat low blood calcium levers in many species. Give as directed by your veterinarian. Side effects are uncommon but may include constipation. Do not use in pets with high blood calcium. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Most omega fatty acid supplements are made primarily from fish oil or flax seed oil (see the separate handouts on these products in this series), although some products may include other oils such as evening primrose oil, hemp oil, or borage oil.

  • Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are complex molecules composed of proteins and sugars, and are found in a variety of bodily tissues, including the blood plasma, joints, and the mucosal (mucous membrane) lining of a variety of organs, including the gastrointestinal tract and the bladder. Various compounds exist. Heparan and dermatan coat the urinary tract of cats while glucosamine and chondroitin constitute the major GAGs in the joint.

  • The term 'nutraceutical' was coined to represent compounds found in food and herbs that are not technically considered nutrients such as vitamins or minerals, but which may have a profoundly beneficial impact on the health of the body. Common examples of nutraceuticals include glucosamine, used in the treatment of arthritic conditions of dogs and cats, and antioxidant compounds that help in the prevention of cancer.

  • As a modern society, we understand the importance of food quality in maintaining or improving our health. We know that we need to eat good quality food in the appropriate quantity and balance for optimal health.

  • Platelet rich plasma or PRP is a form of regenerative medicine where the platelet and protein fraction of blood is retrieved from a patient and then injected back into the patient at the site of inflammation. PRP contains growth factors that appear to promote tissue regeneration and reduce inflammation. It is a promising field of research and may help with wound healing and osteoarthritis. The procedure is not yet widely available and should only be performed by a veterinarian with special training in this area.

  • Stem cells are unspecialized cells that are capable of renewing themselves though cell division. Under certain conditions, they can become a specific tissue or organ cell. Stem cell therapy commonly refers to the process of placing stem cells from the body into diseased or damaged tissues, such as a torn ligament in the knee or perhaps an arthritic joint. This process is often referred to as regenerative medicine. Adult stem cells are capable of repair and regeneration of various tissues because they have the potential to differentiate into specialized cells of an organ. The most common use of stem cell therapies has been in the treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs and cats. Currently, there are no current guidelines with respect to stem cell therapy. Stem therapy should only be performed by a veterinarian with special training, who understands the benefits and limits of this therapy. It is important to have realistic expectations as positive outcomes cannot be guaranteed.

  • A supplement is a concentrated nutrient source that is added to a basic diet for either a nutritional or a therapeutic effect. There is a great deal of confusion that surrounds the terminology of food additives, and sometimes terms are used interchangeably.

  • A supplement is a concentrated nutrient source that is added to a basic diet for either a nutritional or a therapeutic effect. There is a great deal of confusion that surrounds the terminology of food additives, and sometimes terms are used interchangeably.