Holistic Pet Care
Article by Jeffrey A Weber
There is a common misconception concerning holistic medicine. In order to make an informed decision concerning any type of holistic treatment we must first have a clear understanding of what it is.
The basic concept behind holistic medicine is to treat the patient as a whole being. Instead of treating just the physical health issues, the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects are addressed as well. Holistic medicine also strives to prevent illness by focusing on optimal health.
Complementary medicine is a term that is often used in place of holistic medicine. There is a difference though. Complementary medicine uses nonconventional treatments such as massage, chiropractic or herbal therapies.
Holistic medicine combines more traditional medicine with complementary treatments and it isn’t just for people anymore. Holistic medicine is gaining popularity among pet owners in addressing their pets’ health needs. Employing a holistic approach to your pets’ health will almost certainly prove beneficial.
Let’s have a look at some of the treatments that would fall under the umbrella of complementary medicine.
Acupuncture is often credited to the Chinese who have used it for thousands of years, however, there are records indicating that it was used in Egypt well over 5000 years ago. The practice of acupuncture involves inserting needles into specific points that are located along the body’s energy meridians and correspond to specific internal organs. Acupuncture has proven effective in relieving muscle spasms, increasing circulation, and pain relief among other issues. Aside from needles other methods of stimulation can be used, such as applying pressure or heat to the points.
Chiropractic care and treatments are a common choice of many pet owners now. Chiropractors operate on the idea that some illnesses are cause by misaligned vertebrae that in turn affects the impulses from the spinal cord to the muscles and organs. By adjusting the vertebrae and joints the appropriate flow of impulses are restored. Like people, pets can suffer from spinal injuries such as slipped discs or pinched nerves and chiropractic treatment may prove very effective in addressing these issues.
Physical therapy is often employed after a surgery or severe injury. The types of therapy are no different than those used for people. Therapies such as stretching and or exercises, the application of heat or cold packs and even hydrotherapy may be used depending on the desired results.
Massage therapy is another common treatment. The therapist uses their hands, elbows, and body to massage the soft tissues in an effort to address issues such as cramps, soft tissue injuries or circulation stimulation.
Although many people are not familiar with homeopathy it is not a new concept by any means. The practice of homeopathy can be traced through many cultures and back thousands of years. The concept of homeopathy is really very simple. It is used to treat and prevent disease by giving small doses of a substance that if taken in large doses would cause the same symptoms of the disease to manifest. This helps the body build its own resistance to a particular condition or disease. This is no different than say, the annual flu shot that many people receive. A small dose of the flu virus is administered; the body’s immune system then goes to work creating antibodies and thus the immunity to that particular strain of flu. The primary difference between pharmaceutical drugs and homeopathic remedies is that pharmaceutical drugs only treat the symptoms of a disease. For example, over the counter flu medications only help to ease the aches and pains or clear sinus congestion. They do not address the flu virus itself. Homeopathy, on the other hand, addresses the cause of the symptoms (i.e. the flu virus itself). Eliminating the cause of the illness clears the body of the symptoms as well. These natural homeopathic remedies are based on elements found in nature and have traditionally been used to treat many ailments and illnesses. They are all natural and completely safe.
Botanical medicine, sometimes referred to as herbal medicine, uses plants to create remedies for a wide variety of ailments. Many of the medications we use today are derived from plants. One example would be aspirin. Since some plants and herbs can be toxic to animals it is important that your veterinarian or the doctor they refer you to is educated in botanical medicine and treatments.
Nutritional supplements that are created from plants and animals are called Nutraceuticals. Sometimes referred to as whole food supplements, nutraceuticals are derived from whole foods, organ and tissue extracts, and botanicals and are used to fill the nutritional gap created by feeding processed foods. Nutraceuticals are used to maintain optimal health as well as address health issues such as joint problems or digestive difficulties.
If you are interested in any of these treatments for your own pet, talk with your veterinarian. If they don’t offer the treatment options you are interested in, they may be able to refer you to someone who does. In the case of a referral, be certain there is ease of communication between everyone involved to ensure the best possible care for your pet.
About the Author
After several illnesses and or injuries with pets that eventually ended positively but not without struggle Jeff and his wife began to wonder if there was something more that could be done besides surgery and prescription medications. They began to research the idea of holistic pet care and share some of their findings here. You can also see their website at