Tuesday, May 29, 2018

6 Guidelines for Holistic Pet Care

Thinking about the health of your animal can be a lot like thinking about your own health.

With your own health, your choices may reflect your current health status and any medical conditions you may have. And you make choices based on the current health care system and insurance options.

You may look for healthcare professionals who have the same mindset for health and wellness that you do. You may explore alternative therapies for your ailments as well as your continued wellness. What you may not know is that many of these same treatments and therapies are available for your animals.

In fact, there are three overarching categories that share many of the same practices but follow different methodologies in healthcare:
  • conventional Western (“allopathic”) medicine
  • holistic medicine
  • integrative medicine
The current medical industry mostly follows the conventional Western practice of looking at the patient as a series of symptoms. You only go when you are hurt or sick, get a diagnosis and a prescription. Disease puts a negative connotation on the situation.

With all of these possibilities for your own health care, it should come as no surprise that veterinary care has followed a similar trajectory. Unfortunately, depending on the species of your precious family member, research and best medical practices for health, wellness, and treatment may not be as well developed as those for other animals or humans. 

This can make holistic medicine a very useful approach for the treatment of your pet. Holistic health care looks at health from a different point of view.

Holism or holistic thinking attempts to understand your pet as a whole. This means looking at your animal from many angles: genetics, physical body, mind, behavior, age, spirit, nutrition, exercise, the physical environment. The focus of holistic medicine is overall health including prevention, complementary or alternative therapies for your pet. 
Holistic treatments are more realistic, more proactive, creating overall health. Health is not just an absence of disease symptoms: it's a continuum of higher and higher levels of well-being.  A pet that is at a high level of health is going have a higher quality of life. – Margaret Ravenel, CARP

Here’s what you need to keep in mind when considering holistic health care for your pet:

1. If you are looking for a holistic vet, make sure you understand what “holism” means to them, including their experiences as a holistic vet, training and how they came to be a holistic vet. 

2. Make sure you understand your veterinary office’s philosophy of animal health and wellness in general. This is vital if you are advocating an alternative therapy or treatment with which they are unfamiliar.

In a recent experience with a veterinarian, she did not want to talk about nutrition. It made me want to ask her, “Well, do you pay attention to what you put in your body?”  And if so, why wouldn’t you want to pay attention to what you put in your animal’s body? – Margaret Ravenel, CARP

3. Observation is key. Keeping notes about your pet’s diet and behavior may seem trivial, but a pet care professional may see trends that can help address an issue. Making small changes to your pet’s care can lead to monumental changes in their overall health, such as shifting away from pet foods that have artificial dyes or adjusting the humidity in the air to prevent dry skin and excessive scratching. 

4. Ask questions about the pros and cons of the alternative therapy that you think may help your pet. Whether asking a pet care professional, researching online, or talking with other pet owners on what they have used, learning all you can about a therapy can help you discuss the best options with your veterinarian. Therapies including Reiki, acupuncture, flower essences, nutrition, essential oils, supplements, homeopathy, grounding, applied kinesiology, herbal therapy, or homeopathy may be of benefit to your animal.

5. Keep in mind that every creature is different and responds differently to different treatments. What works for one of your animals may not be an effective therapy for another of your animals.

6. The best practice is prevention. This means creating a healthy lifestyle for your pet that includes proper nutrition, exercise, and healthy physical and emotional environment. 

Help keep your pet healthy by exploring all options for the best therapies available.