Local practitioners provide holistic healing to furry friends
Albertans love their pets.
Airdrie had 7,156 licensed dogs in 2012 according to Colleen Kinley, chief license inspector for the City.
Our neighbours in Calgary have the largest number of off-leash areas and the largest amount of combined off-leash area with more than 3,088 acres or almost 1,600 Canadian Football League fields, according to the City of Calgary website.
“Pet food has been affected by the same health and wellness trends that have influenced human food, including claims of health and naturalness, as well as innovations in functionality,” according to a 2010 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Trade Service report.
The same report values the North American dog-care market, which consists of food, chews and treats, at $7.6 billion USD in 2008.
Is it any wonder those same health and wellness trends are making their way into the way we approach pet health care?
“Currently, I would say I see anywhere from 90 to 100 animal patients a month,” said Josée Gerard, an animal chiropractor with Kiro4Pets in Balzac.
She adds she sees a range of cases, from new puppies receiving treatment for preventative care to last-case scenarios where the vets have suggested expensive surgery.
“It’s a lot easier to prevent than it is to try and fix later on,” Gerard said.
Gerard, a certified animal chiropractor, retired from human patients about four years ago and has been focusing on animals ever since.
She said the treatment is very similar to that of humans but does not result in the “cracking” commonly associated with chiropractic treatment because animal treatment is gentler with no twisting of the neck.
“Pretty much all animals can get chiropractic treatment,” said Gerard, adding she mostly sees dogs and some cats in her practice but has worked on llamas, cows, goats, and even injured birds she finds on the side of the road.
She said benefits of the treatment include improvements to the immune system and joint functions, a decreased need for medication and risk of arthritis, optimal physical endurance, rest and metabolism.
“The only difference (between animals and humans) is animals react to the treatment faster,” she said, suggesting this could be because humans don’t always follow doctor’s orders.
Debra Howe, owner of D.H. Petcare and Service located in Calgary, is an animal health technologist who specializes in pet massage, Reiki and Healing Touch for animals, echoes this thought.
“The only difference between working on humans and pets is the hand position,” adds Howe, who comes to patients for the treatment and will travel to Airdrie.
Howe has worked on a wide variety of animals from wildlife at rehabilitation centres to household pets.
Healing Touch uses energy medicine therapies, recognized by the National Institutes of Health, to integrate, balance and clear the energy body, according to Howe’s website.
Reiki is a natural therapy that gently balances life energies and is said to bring health and well being to the recipient.
Howe said there is a laundry list of benefits from these types of therapy including a preventative health care, veterinary support, recovery from injury and trauma, as well as helping with behavioural issues stemming from fear or anxiety.
“It influences every cell of the body,” Howe said of the treatments, “because it’s all connected, it’s all tied in.”
Both Howe and Gerard look for signs from the animals to let them know what hurts and when the animal has had enough of the treatment.
“Animals can’t tell you where they hurt but the (exam) process is almost the same as with humans,” Gerard said.
She added she looks for signs from the animal such as a head whip or yelp when she is using her hands to feel for misalignments.
Howe starts the exam with a massage to relax the animal, get the critter used to her and to feel for tight spots.
She added the animal will let her know when the treatment is complete by licking her, moving or simply getting up and leaving.
Both women said holistic animal treatments are slowly becoming more popular as word spreads from clients and veterinarians.
“It’s growing,” Howe said, “it’s just taking time.”
Gerard requires veterinary consent or referral for her patients and said the initial consultation costs $115 plus tax and lasts about 40 minutes. Follow-up visits cost $48 plus tax and are usually only take about 15 minutes.
For more information, visit www.kiro4pets.com
Howe charges $30 for a 30-minute treatment and $60 for 60 minutes. The length of time needed depends on the type and size of animal. She said cats tend to take less time because they tend not to like the hands-on treatment as much as dogs.
For more information visit dhpetcare.com