If you’ve been following me on social media, I’ve hinted at the recent health issues of my older dog, Lola. She’s 13 year old and has struggled with arthritis, hobbling around for a few years already. About a month ago she stopped using one of her back legs, making it impossible to walk on her own. I’ve tried all sorts of things to help her over the years so today I’m giving you the low down on holistic care for your senior dog and how much it costs.
We’ve tried acupuncture, laser therapy, essential oils, supplements and most recently chiropractic treatments. I think all of these treatments have had a positive impact on Lola’s quality of life, so I want to share our experience. Everyone loves cute puppy photos, but eventually those puppies become senior dogs, so hopefully a lot of people can benefit from this info on holistic care.
Holistic Care for Your Senior Dog + How Much It Costs
Acupuncture, about $60 per session
A few years ago, another dog ran into Lola at full speed at the dog park. It knocked something the wrong way in her front shoulder and we had to call to get a ride home, then she couldn’t walk for three days. This is when I first got into holistic care and visited the acupuncturist for the first time. In this treatment, a trained animal acupuncturist will insert special needles into key places on your dog’s body. Once the needles were in, the vet left Lola and I alone to chill for about 15 minutes. After the first treatment I was completely impressed with the results! Lola walked right back out to my car and jumped in! We went back for several treatments but didn’t have such dramatic results as the first time. This vet was located an hour from my house, so between that and the cost adding up, we discontinued going after getting some great results for a while. I highly recommend trying acupuncture treatment on your dog.
Laser Therapy, about $30 per session
The same vet that did Lola’s acupuncture a few years ago added laser therapy to our visits. The laser is cool to the touch and is focused on areas of chronic or acute pain for short periods of time. It enhances your dog’s own healing powers by stimulating cellular activity. The vet told me that it would draw more blood to the painful area to help heal the tissue faster. The jury is still out on this treatment in my opinion. Since we did it in conjunction with acupuncture, it’s hard to tell if it would be effective on it’s own.
Essential Oils, about $15 per bottle
I recently learned about the benefits of many essential oils thanks to Holistic Pet Owner on periscope. She saw me scoping about Lola’s walking troubles and recommended a combination of Frankincense and Peppermint Oil massaged onto Lola’s feet and hips. I think the massage definitely helps, and the oils certainly have warming and invigorating properties. They also smell great and make for a great ritual between you and your dog. I found that making the essential oil mixture in a little softened coconut oil encouraged me to spend a longer time massaging Lola each night then if I didn’t have the oils. I also bought a bottle of Lavender oil and put a few drops of that in a diffuser each night when I put Lola to bed. I think it helps calm down everyone in the house and sets us all up for a good night’s rest, which is essential to healing! Bonus… put plenty of peppermint and lavender oil in the diffuser and run it for the max time to get poop or puke smells out of your house!
Supplements, $35-50 per bottle
I’ve always had my dogs on joint supplements like Connectin, which has glucosamine and chondroitin in it. This is important for any big dogs to keep their joints healthy. The chiropractor we started seeing recommended this Pet Joint Plus supplement which supports joint health and immunity. Lola’s been taking that daily for the last three weeks along with Tumeric which is a natural anti-inflammatory. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if supplements make a big difference. But, over the years I’ve run out of something and sometimes needed to wait for a new order. When that happens I notice a difference in the spring in my dogs’ step if they don’t have their supplements for a few days.
Chiropractor, about $65 per session
This is out most recent holistic care experience. When Lola stopped using one of her back legs a month ago I panicked. The holistic vet who treated her with acupuncture and laser therapy a few years ago had moved to New York, and I knew our regular vet would just prescribe stronger pain pills that seem to make Lola loopy and nauseous. So, I did some googling and discovered Dr. Michael Savko who does a variety of holistic treatments for pets who have lost mobility. When I take Lola in for treatments with Dr. Savko he uses a special took to adjust her spine, hips, knees, ankles and more. he uses a few different tools, then gives her a quick massage with a powerful healing magnet. We’ve been going weekly for 5 weeks at this point and I do think it’s helping. Lola isn’t able to walk on her own, but she is moving the injured leg now.
Should you try Holistic Care for Your Senior Dog?
After all of these experiences, I strongly believe in holistic care for my dogs. The prescription pain pills our regular vet put Lola on made her puke every day. Since weening her off of them she seems much happier and the essential oils, supplements and chiropractic treatments are doing their jobs trying to get her body to use that one leg again. Holistic care can be much safer than drugs and surgery that a traditional vet might push you to do. However, there are always risks associated with everything and you should make sure to only go to a licensed professional for these treatments. If you can, I recommend keeping your own copy of your pet’s veterinary records so you can take them with you on any visits outside the regular vet’s office.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, so I’d love to hear about other holistic treatments you’ve done with your pets. I’ll work on a follow up post about diet and aids for senior dogs who slip around on the floor (we’ve tried so many things to help Lola stand again!).
*This post contains affiliate links. I’ve spent a small fortune taking care of this dog, so just doing what I can to offset it a bit!