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Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Pets

Should your pet try acupuncture, homeopathy, or herbal medicines?

Risky for Your Pet?

Complementary/alternative therapies are generally regarded as benign, if administered by an experienced practitioner.

But the use of nutriceuticals or herbs can be risky. Supplements aren't approved by the FDA. There is also a risk of overdosing or creating a bad reaction between drugs.

"We worry about herbal remedies interacting with conventional medications or chemotherapy agents, which can be life-threatening. But that's not to say they're wrong. We don't have enough evidence to condone their use, but more and more I think we'll get that," Looney says.

Wynn cautions pet owners to make sure their veterinarian uses herbal medicines and supplements that come from reputable labs that have good quality controls in place.

"Don't try things without a veterinarian involved," she says. "Get a diagnosis before treating with nutraceuticals or herbs."

Licensure is not required to perform complementary/alternative therapies, but certification is offered in acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and chiropractic. Look for the certification when seeking the help of a vet; the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association maintains an online database.

Reviewed on June 11, 2010

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