"); Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings NYC & Long Island

Addressing Lameness in Pets with Integrative Medicine

By Dr. Michel Selmer

Is your pet limping? Having difficulty walking? How can Integrative Veterinary Medicine help?

Lameness refers to an abnormal gait or difficulty walking, and it can result from various underlying causes, including musculoskeletal injuries, joint problems, or neurological issues.

Integrative Veterinary Medicine offers various treatment options for lameness in pets. Here are some common integrative approaches for managing lameness, such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, food therapy, and veterinary medical manipulation.

The Diagnosis

A complete history will be taken regarding your pet’s medical history, including the onset and duration of lameness, any previous treatments, and other relevant information. You will also be asked about your pet’s overall health, appetite, digestion, sleep patterns, and behavior.

Then, your pet’s gait, posture and movement patterns will be observed. The practitioner will look for signs of asymmetry, stiffness, weakness or favoring of certain limbs. Next, a physical exam will be performed paying attention to areas of tenderness, muscle tension, or abnormalities. 

Based on the information gathered from the above steps, a diagnosis can be formulated by identifying the patterns of disharmony in your pet’s body. A Chinese Pattern Diagnosis is made based on the imbalances in your pet’s body. The specific diagnosis is dependent upon the individual pet and the certified practitioner’s expertise.

It's important to note that an integrative approach must be used in conjunction with conventional western veterinary care and should not replace it. Western diagnostics like X-rays and blood work are often integrated into formulating a diagnosis.

Integrative Medicine Treatments for Lameness

Acupuncture: Acupuncture can help reduce pain, inflammation and muscle tension associated with lameness. Acupuncture may also improve blood circulation and nerve function.

Herbal Medicine: Specific herbal formulas aimed to address underlying imbalances that contribute to lameness are prescribed based on your pet’s specific Chinese Pattern Diagnosis. Herbal formulas can be used to strengthen bones and tendons, reduce inflammation, reduce pain, and improve circulation, among other benefits.

Food Therapy: Nutrition plays a crucial role in your pet’s health and overall well-being. Specific food recommendations are made to address imbalances contributing to the lameness. Dietary adjustments may be recommended to support the musculoskeletal system, reduce inflammation, or provide necessary nutrients for tissue repair. Foods with cooling or warming properties may be prescribed based on your pet’s needs.

Veterinary Medical Manipulation (VMM): VMM, also known as veterinary chiropractic care, is a field within veterinary medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders in animals. It involves the manual manipulation of the spine and other joints to improve the overall function and mobility of the pet’s musculoskeletal system.

Veterinary medical manipulation should only be performed by a licensed and certified veterinarian who has received specialized training in these techniques. One common application of veterinary medical manipulation is in the management of lameness in pets. These techniques can help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and restore proper joint and muscle function, thereby improving the pet’s mobility and reducing lameness.

If your pet is experiencing lameness, it is essential to consult with a licensed, qualified and certified veterinarian in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Medical Manipulation to assess your pet’s condition and determine the most appropriate treatment options.

Remember, alternative/complementary/integrative veterinary care is not intended to replace the services of conventional western veterinary medicine, but instead should be integrated with it. If your pet has persistent lameness, it’s important to rule out any underlying western medical conditions.

Michel Selmer, DVM, MS, MS, CTCVMP (integrative medicine), CVMMP (chiropractic), leads the Integrative Medicine Department at Long Island Veterinary Specialists. If you think TCVM could benefit your pet, book an appointment for your four-legged friend by calling 516-501-1700 or visiting livs.org.