Keeping our Beloved Pets Healthy The Natural Way
By Shari Lynn Rothstein-Kramer / April 1, 2014
We love our furry, four-legged companions so much. They fill our lives with joy. They're always around to play, cuddle, or offer comfort when we're not feeling our best.
But what happens when our pets are unwell? How do we "fix" them? Even more important, how can we take precautionary measures to ensure that they're getting what they need to keep them healthy?
We, as a society, are eating more unprocessed foods, looking into organic remedies, and want to be generally healthier. It makes sense that we want to achieve the same result for our pets. Vitamins, minerals, and balanced diets help keep our animals strong, just like they do for us. But this is not enough. What does one do when traditional medicine isn't the direction to take? Alternatives exist.
Holistic and/or homeopathic approaches to health are the road less traveled. Many disregard this unconventional method of health care, preferring traditional vaccinations, pharmaceuticals, and anesthetized dental cleanings. But people who have discovered the holistic approach know it's a viable and exciting option.
Holistic medicine, as defined by The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, is "the examination and diagnosis of an animal, considering all aspects of the animal's life and employing all of the practitioner's senses, as well as the combination of conventional and alternative (complementary) modalities of treatment."
In other words, holistic veterinarians look at the overall big picture; they don't treat just ailments but, instead, look at the patient as a whole. Physical exams are important, but so are the dog/cat's behaviors, temperament, stress triggers, genetic makeup, nutrition, environment, relationships, and more. Once all present factors are analyzed, the patient's medical and dietary past is addressed.
Armed with this knowledge, holistic medicine asks, "Why?" Testing and observing the patient should ultimately lead to finding the cause. Once the true root source of the pathology is determined, a path of treatment can ensue.
Protocols/treatments in holistic medicine include acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, behavior modification, therapy (cold) laser, herbal medicine, homeopathy, mega-nutrients, augmentation therapy (also known as orthomolecular therapy), veterinary chiropractic, and more.
Dr. Vanessa Pisano, DVM, Medical Director of VCA Hillsboro Animal Hospital in Coconut Creek, is certified in acupuncture (since 2001) and works with therapy lasers. "Acupuncture can be used for almost everything," says Dr. Pisano. "It has been around for thousands of years. I use it mainly for arthritic animals, but also for pain, to reduce inflammation, for systemic cancer, and more. I began studying holistic medicine because, for many diseases, only pills for pain were available. They don't cure the disease and there are side effects. I wanted to explore safer alternatives. "
According to treehugger.com, a website specializing in taking green subjects mainstream, natural solutions to pet issues abound. A few include putting freshly squeezed orange or lemon juice on your pet's fur to repel fleas and adding rose geranium essential oil to a dog's collar to keep ticks at bay. Chamomile tea soothes irritated skin. Brew the tea, save it in a spray bottle, refrigerate it, and spray it when and where necessary. That same tea bag soothes aching feline/canine eyes. The answer to a pet's dry skin is vitamin E, rubbed in.
Feed kitty some butter to fight hairballs. Fine-ground oatmeal plus water equals itch-fighting paste. Apply to affected areas for relief.
According to Dr. Robin C. Valentine, VMD, of Valentine Vet in Boca Raton, herbal chemotherapy is one alternative to chemical chemotherapy. "There are plenty of potent anti-cancer herbs available to shrink and heal various cancers," she explains. "Herbal meds include homeopathy, homotoxicology, and, obviously, herbs."
With a variety of medicines, styles, and practices available, which is correct? It's for the patient [the dog's/cat's parents] to decide, but there's no right or wrong. Integrative wellness, according to Dr. Valentine, is a good option.
"Regular medicine certainly has its place," Dr. Pisano adds. "Holistic medicine (more specifically, acupuncture) is safer and gentler, so why not try it? They're not mutually exclusive ... as a matter of fact, [traditional and holistic] complement each other nicely."
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