Aging Animals Get Human Medical Treatments

PHOTO: Dr. Paul Rowan, right, makes chiropractic adjustments on Dakota, a senior poodle, as his owner Don steadies the dog at Dr. Rowan's office in Isle of Wight, Va., May 17, 2006.
Dave Bowman/Newport News Daily Press/Getty Images

As our pets age, they face the same aches and pains as the rest of us, including arthritis or scoliosis. And veterinarians, animal owners and even zookeepers are increasingly taking medical treatments designed for people and using them on aging animals to ease their pain.

We've put together a list of the five most surprising medical treatments used to treat animals.

Animals Getting Human Treatments

PHOTO: Bino, the albino alligator, receives acupuncture treatment in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Aug 27, 2013.
Ana Pereira/AP Photo
Bino the Alligator gets Acupuncture

Turns out even the scaliest skin can benefit from acupuncture. For years Bino, an albino alligator, couldn't get relief from his scoliosis, and other ailments that left him barely able to move his tail. This year Brazilian zookeepers started to administer weekly acupuncture treatments and found that a few well-placed needles helped to dull the reptile's pain. And Bino wasn't the only animal to receive the treatment.

Owners Swear by Pet Acupuncture

Simon Flynn of the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture told The Associated Press that there had been a 50 percent increase in veterinarians among the society's membership over the past few years.

"There are many zoo veterinarians who use acupuncture, a number of equine practitioners who treat race horses with acupuncture, it's proven to be a useful treatment," Flynn said. "It's common with dogs, and it's becoming increasingly common with cats. More veterinarians are seeing the worth of the treatment.

Animals Getting Human Treatments

PHOTO: Dr. Paul Rowan, right, makes chiropractic adjustments on Dakota, a senior poodle, as his owner Don steadies the dog at Dr. Rowan's office in Isle of Wight, Va., May 17, 2006.
Dave Bowman/Newport News Daily Press/Getty Images
Animal Chiropractors Fix Spines and Tails Out of Alignment

If too much tail-wagging has put your dog's spine out of alignment, you can always turn to an animal chiropractor. Not only will these specially trained chiropractors treat dogs and cats, but some will make house calls to treat show horses, guinea pigs, turkeys, even elephants.

GPS Tracker Tells You If Your Dog Is Just Lying Around

Rod Block, an animal chiropractor in Southern California, wrote a book called "Like Chiropractic for Elephants."

"I really want to illuminate the differences between what allopathic (mainstream) veterinary medical care does and what chiropractic does, and how the two integrate well even though they are at opposite ends of the pole," Block told The Associated Press.

Fans of animal chiropractors say putting the animal's spines into alignment can help with pain or limited mobility.

Animals Getting Human Treatments

PHOTO: Dr. Douglas Kramer treats his dog Mason with cannabis oil inside his mobile surgical truck, Feb. 8, 2013. Mason has already undergone multiple surgeries to remove cancerous growths.
Oscar Anaya/AP Photo
Vet Recommends Medical Marijuana for Animals

After seeing many animals in pain get euthanized, one Los Angeles veterinarian recommended that pet owners treating ailing animals with medical marijuana.

Doug Kramer told The Associated Press that medical marijuana could help ease an animal's pain if the animal has cancer, similar to how it's used in humans. Kramer is part of a growing movement of veterinarians and pet owners who have found that small amounts of medical marijuana can help pets regain their appetite and give them relief from pain.

"I grew tired of euthanizing pets when I wasn't doing everything I could to make their lives better," he said. "I felt like I was letting them down."

While experts caution that there have not been studies on the effectiveness of the drug, some pet owners swear by it.

Laura Bugni-Daniel told The Associated Press that she gives cheese with a does of marijuana to her elderly bulldog every night.

"It's really nice to see your sick pet, for his last moments or weeks or months, be happy and not real sick and dealing with needles and surgery," Bugni-Daniel said.

Animals Getting Human Treatments

PHOTO: Leo, an 11-year-old German Shepard from N.J. receives cold laser therapy treatment for his severe hip pain.
ABC News
Vets Treat Aging Dogs With Lasers

Even the most energetic of dogs can lose the spring in their step with age. But now veterinarians are using cold lasers to help ease joint pain in older dogs. Using technology originally designed to help athletes overcome inflammation and pain, veterinarians can help animals become more mobile again and enjoy a few more games of fetch.

Bill Dougherty took in his German shepherd Rex for laser treatments at the Village Animal Clinic in North Palm Beach, Fla., after Rex experienced shoulder pain and started limping.

"We always say that Rex is going to the spa when he goes to get his laser treatment," said Dougherty. "He used to hate going to the vet, but now he loves it. It's where he can go to relax and listen to Beyonce."

Animals Getting Human Treatments

PHOTO: Eddie the sea otter plays basketball to exercise his arthritic elbows at the Oregon Zoo in a youtube video posted by the zoo called, "Sea Otter Hoop Dreams," Feb. 19, 2013.
Oregon Zoo/YourTube
Arthritic Otter Shoots Hoops

For people who have from arthritis, a daily exercise routine can actually help reduce pain and stiffness in the joints. This advice apparently also works for otters.

A Dog's Emotional Reunion With Owner Captured on Video

At the Oregon Zoo in Portland, Ore., zookeepers were worried that a sea otter named Eddie wasn't getting enough exercise to help soothe his arthritic elbows. Eventually, Jenny DeGroot, the zoo's lead sea otter keeper, figured out how to get Eddie to exercise his elbows, he could shoot hoops.

"We had to get creative," DeGroot explained on the Oregon Zoo's website. "There aren't many natural opportunities for Eddie to work those arthritic elbow joints, because sea otters don't use their front limbs to swim. They swim by moving their back legs and flippers."

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston stopped a would be smuggler from bringing nearly 7 ounces of cocaine into the country in tamales, Aug. 22, 2014.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Real Housewife Phaedra Parks Lists Home in Suburban Atlanta
Real Housewives of Atlanta star, Phaedra Parks, has listed her 4,000-square-foot home with 5 bedrooms and 6 baths for $340,900.
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine.
(Courtesy George W. Bush Presidential Center/AP)
Photo: While being a stay-at-home parent can beneficial, transitioning to a single income family can be difficult.
Lina Aidukaite/Getty Images