Going Holistic

Holistic medicine is a natural healing philosophy, sometimes referred to as alternative medicine, which has been practiced for thousands of years. Today, more veterinarians and dog owners are recognizing its benefits. Holistic medicine focuses on preventing illness and maintaining health. Holistic practices are gentle and minimally invasive, and emphasize love and respect for the patient.

Holistic medical care is easy on your budget. Many natural therapies are generally less expensive than conventional veterinary care over the long-term, especially when you seek treatment as soon as you bring your dog home. Many pet insurance companies offer the same coverage for holistic practices as they do for conventional veterinary health care.

Holistic medicine views health as a balance of body systems — mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Whether directed at humans or dogs, it considers the whole picture and provides support to the body so that it can correct itself. Practitioners devise a treatment plan involving many different kinds of therapies.

The holistic veterinarian believes the dog's emotional and spiritual state can affect his condition. She looks for the true root of the disease or the collection of symptoms by evaluating everything about the dog. What often seems like a simple problem on the surface really has several layers beneath it. The practitioner combines healing arts and medical skills and performs a thorough examination, takes a complete medical history, and asks detailed questions about your dog. These include his ancestry, environment, diet, daily life, and causes of any stress.

Types of Holistic Treatments

When it comes to treating patients, the holistic veterinarian is a strong advocate of preventive medicine. She may use modern veterinary techniques such as medication, laboratory tests, ultrasound, and surgery as well as alternative methods. These treatments may involve:

  • Acupuncture

  • Acupressure

  • Aromatherapy

  • Chinese herbs

  • Chiropractic adjustments

  • Diet and nutritional therapy

  • Flower essences

  • Homeopathy

  • Lifestyle changes

  • Massage

Holistic therapies have the advantage of fewer side effects than conventional treatments. Sometimes there may be no conventional treatments available for a particular condition, or holistic therapies may succeed where traditional medicine has failed.

What is allopathic medicine?

While allopathic medicine may sound like a highly specialized medical term, it's actually just another name for Western or conventional medicine. It refers to treatments that control, stop, or inhibit symptoms of the disease. It comes from two Greek words: allos, meaning “other,” and pathos, meaning “suffering” or “disease.” Allopathy defines health as the absence of disease.

Natural Medicine

Natural veterinary medicine depends upon the body's ability to heal and maintain itself. Many therapies may use herbs and foods rather than surgery or drugs.

Preventive Care

Obtain holistic veterinary care before your dog actually needs help. Since many diseases progress slowly, a visit to the veterinarian for a routine exam, a blood test, and a urinalysis can catch many problems in the early stages. Before your visit, observe and take notes about your dog's eating and bathroom habits, his activity level, and any unusual behavior, such as excessive scratching or licking. This information will help the practitioner evaluate your dog's health. She may be able to identify problems before they become serious and recommend dietary changes, nutritional supplements, and acupuncture as part of an overall preventive treatment plan.

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