Meet the new age animals
by ANASTASIA STEPHENS, Daily Mail
Complementary health is booming, but these days it's just as likely that the clients booked in for a session of acupuncture or an invigorating massage will be our beloved pets.
Practices are springing up offering our four-legged, feathered or even scale-covered friends anything from homeopathy to hand-healing. We spoke to the pioneers of animal therapies - and found the results they are getting are extraordinary . . .
Andrew Prentis is a veterinary surgeon who specialises in osteopathy at the Hyde Park Veterinary Centre in London.
He says: 'I often see cases that conventional medicine cannot find an answer for - a dog might be in excruciating pain without showing any physical signs of strain.
'Using mechanical adjustments and soft tissue techniques, we aim to rebalance the muscular- skeletal system in a way that reduces internal stress.
'Recently, I saw a ten-year-old schnauzer called Bobby who had been hit by a car. The accident left him with so much jaw pain he couldn't chew on a bone or yawn properly. Bobby also became lame in his front right leg.
'The constant pain made him anxious, yet various vets were unable to help. Using cranial osteopathy and soft-tissue work, we managed to release the muscular stress around his jaw and in his leg. He can now chew bones and yawn, and the function in his front leg has almost been restored.'
The horse masseur
Catarina Elander-Vickers, 41, is an equine massage therapist who works in Chester.
She says: 'Just like people, horses suffer painful muscle spasms from hard work. I usually work from the head right down to the legs, using medium to light massage strokes and pressure points.
'Massage is particularly useful for horses in hard training. It helps rid lactic acid from the muscles, which can improve their performance. It also restores elasticity after an injury.
'I also massage my own horse, Salome. She's now 25 and used to go lame in her front left leg for weeks at a time. I eventually found she had a problem in her shoulder muscles. I started giving her regular massages 18 months ago and she's been better for a year.
'The wonderful thing about massaging horses is the expression on their faces. They close their eyes, start licking and make some very appreciative snorting sounds.'
The homeopath and acupuncturist
Veterninary surgeon Nick Thompson specialises in homeopathy and acupuncture at several practices in the South of England. He says: 'I help animals with chronic and immune-related diseases which conventional medicine can't treat.
'Homeopathy - which uses remedies that mirror the disease symptoms - triggers the body's own healing mechanism.
'I've cured cats with asthma, horses with hay allergies and dogs with food intolerance.
'Horses, like humans, can develop Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome, or ME. They become exhausted and apathetic. With homeopathy, I can achieve an almost full recovery in anything from six weeks to six months.
'Because many pet foods are processed, contain additives and are fairly poor in nutrients, I often see cats and dogs with food allergies and irritable bowel syndrome.
'In these cases I treat the food allergy with homeopathy and advise the owners to switch their animals to a healthier diet of raw meat and bones, with raw fruit and vegetables mixed in.
'I also use acupuncture to alleviate chronic pain such as arthritis in old cats and dogs.
'My most recent patient was B, an 11-year-old cat who slipped a disc in his upper back 15 months ago. He couldn't walk properly and had lost control of his tail.
'After giving him acupuncture sessions every two weeks for three months, B was walking and using his tail properly.'