Naturopathy and complementary medicine are fields of growing interest for veterinarians and pet owners. Despite this, data on the actual use of these treatment options in veterinary medicine are scarce, are not specific to small animal practice, or have been investigated only for particular treatment modalities.
To understand the real use of this type of alternative medicine, German researchers have carried out a study with the aim provide information on the use of naturopathy and complementary medicine in the small animal clinicbut without providing evidence of the validity or effectiveness of the treatment options.
To carry out the research, they were collected, between 2016 and 2018, a total of 870 questionnaires to be evaluated. The questionnaire included questions about the use of treatment modalities such as homeopathy, herbal medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), biophysical treatments, manual treatments or Bach flowers.
After reading the results, the study authors concluded that the 85,4% of all questionnaire participants used naturopathy and alternative medicine. The most used treatments were complex homeopathy (70.4%), phytotherapy (60.2%), classical homeopathy (44.3%) and biophysical treatments (40.1%). On the other hand, the most common indications for these treatments were orthopedic, geriatric and metabolic diseases.
Likewise, the authors indicate that, “during the last five years, demand for naturopathy and complementary treatments by owners was rated as growing by 57.9% of those surveyed”.
Veterinarians indicated that the sources of information they used most frequently were magazines and scientific publications on naturopathy and complementary content (60.8%).
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES
As for the most commonly mentioned advantages in the use of veterinary naturopathy and complementary medicine, they were the increasing expansion of treatment modalities (73.5%), client satisfaction (70.8%) and the reduction of side effects (63.2%).
On the other hand, the ambiguity of the studies, as well as unclear evidence of mode of action and effectiveness (62.1%), and high owner expectations (50.5%) were the most frequently mentioned disadvantages.
According to the researchers, “this is the first study which provides data in Germany on the actual use of naturopathy and complementary medicine in small animal science”.
The featured study “supports the need for a discussion of evidence, official standards, and the need for recognized qualifications due to the widespread application of veterinary naturopathy and complementary medicine.” Therefore, “more data are needed on the efficacy and mode of action of these treatments”, they conclude.