FORNEY — Four-year-old Teddy the terrier has learned to scoot since a stroke a couple months ago left his hind legs paralyzed.
"I've had a couple people say, 'Why don't you put him down? It's a lot of work for you,'” said Kristen Sims, Teddy’s owner. “But I don't really see it as work. It's just what you do."
What Sims is doing now to help her 4-legged family member may seem very strange to some.
"Teddy is getting underwater treadmill, because he can't bear is his weight normally,” said veterinarian Dr. Akos Hartai.
Underwater treadmill therapy is helping retrain Teddy to walk again.
A veterinarian helps support Teddy while the treadmill moves slowly. The therapy helps retain muscle tone, as well as trigger reflexes.
“It gets these nerves to think, 'How can I walk? How can I move?’" Hartai said.
From water therapy to lasers to chiropractic care, alternative veterinary therapy is helping pets get healthy or stay healthy. Many have failed traditional therapies, including surgery and medication, and might otherwise have been euthanized.
"We're able to solve some conditions that otherwise we may not be able to with conventional medicine," Hartai said.
He may be located in rural Forney, but Dr. Hartai regularly incorporates medicine more common to China. He uses it for everything from stomach issues, rehabilitation, chronic pain, to performance enhancement for show animals.
A few weeks ago, 11-year-old Sampson, a Great Pyraneese, could barely walk due to his arthritis. Pain medication didn't work for the dog.
"When he started crying and not being able to walk, we were going to have to make the decision,” said Dianne Klepin, Sampson’s owner.
Before “the decision,” Klepin decided to try acupuncture.
"After two treatments, he stopped whining,” Klepin said. “After three treatments, he started getting up and coming to the kitchen table like he used to and he would beg, and we were going, 'Who is this dog?'"
While he still limps, twice-monthly acupuncture sessions have dramatically improved Sampson’s quality of life. Each treatment costs about $50, though many veterinarians sell packages to reduce the costs.
Sampson’s owner says he is no longer in any pain.
There are even fewer studies to scientifically support alternative medicine in pets than people. But there are now veterinarian school that specialize in teaching non-traditional therapies. The practices are generally the same for pets as they are for people.
Kristen Sims doesn't expect a miracle for her Teddy, but she says will try anything that isn’t hurtful to improve the quality of life of her best friend.
RESOURCES FOR ALTERNATIVE PET THERAPY
- Find a traditional Chinese veterinary medicine practitioner
- International Veterinary Acupuncture Society
- Colorado State University Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians - Find a Grad
- Canine Rehabilitation Institute - Find a therapist
- Amierican Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians - Find a Vet