Holistic Veterinary Care
A number of growing practitioners that are becoming attuned to the fact that health should be approached from the standpoint of prevention rather than putting out fires. This can be accomplished through an approach to health that encompasses the whole individual as opposed to merely looking at the part that appears to be affected. I approach health with my patients through nutrition, good quality supplements, good exercise, minimal invasive drugs/surgery, and a positive environment.
Good nutrition is the first part of the preventative formula. As of late there has been a shift in the way we feed our pets. Commercial raw food diets, dehydrated whole food products (thehonestkitchen.com) home cooked diets with appropriate supplementation (balanceit.com) , vegan diets with appropriate supplementation, high quality commercial canned and dry foods are all acceptable. as well as vegan options ( drpitcairn.com). I feel personally that feeding a raw food diet actually maximizes the nutrition that our pets can absorb. There are excellent quality prepared diets that are made through low heat processing which tends to preserve more nutrients in the food. These can be supplemented with a good quality multi vitamin to give the pet adequate nutrition for repair and maintaining their health. Depending on the individual’s needs, certain vitamins can be of help at certain points and under certain conditions. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids have also shown a benefit in both skin and coat as well as to joints. Other types of supplements such as glandulars and cell extracts can be added to the diet to optimize health.
Exercise, as we all know, maintains the body in optimal shape and as such allows the body to use the nutrition provided in a maximal effort to repair and maintain itself. The correct amount and type of exercise depends on the breed and size of pet that you have. As a rule of thumb, I usually let them make that decision. With rapidly growing puppies, there are some theories out there that as the bones grow and the cartilage form on the bone ends, you should avoid potential traumas to the joints in the form of excessive high distance jumping. Toy chasing at their own pace every day is and should be adequate for most puppies until they tire. I would do this at least 2-3 times daily and can range from minutes to hours in length. Regular walks or romps for mature dogs are a must. There are some good books that describe local “dog friendly” areas and “dog friendly” hikes.
We are taught in Vet school that approximately 85% of disease will eventually get better on their own. Over the years of practice, there are situations where this adage has certainly come to light. One thing I have learned is that minimal invasiveness is the route to go, as there is such a desire within the body to heal itself. I have learned through judicious use of homeopathy for example that this is indeed the case. To my thinking, homeopathy (the use of extremely dilute substances to affect cure) is like using the carrot on the stick to show the body how to heal itself. I have seen this work in situations where surgery and other more invasive treatments were indicated from a conventional standpoint. I suppose the way I look at this is that surgery can be useful in many ways, but I try to minimize the need when it comes to taking out parts with which the body comes. In a certain way, to keep the body whole. In a surprising number of cases, this can be done through the correct use of homeopathics, herbs, vitamins and diet.
The other aspect of health that I see as an important one is the environment. I always encourage new puppy owners to link up with a good training facility that pushes positive reinforcement and firmness in their training. I also encourage the whole family to be involved, as consistency is probably the most important ingredient to a well-adjusted pet. Just as with children, you should be firm and fair with your pets. This allows them to understand clearly what they are allowed to do and not to do (and this is certainly dependent on what boundaries you choose for them).
The term holistic can mean different things to different people. What it means to me is that there should be no limit on the tools one uses to attain health. Holistic practitioners tend to use this blueprint when they provide treatment to their patients. I encourage pet owners to speak with their veterinarian regarding these matters as I’m sure you’ll be surprised at the number of growing practitioners who can help guide you to your pets’ improved health. The philosophy that I adhere to is good solid building blocks, minimal intervention and lots of exercise, which will translate into good health.