From Dr. Cynthia Maro
Taking a more holistic approach to home care and veterinary care can help your pet live longer, healthier lives.
Before diving into holistic care at home, it’s important to get an idea of what holistic care actually is.
There is a common misconception that “holistic” is synonymous with homeopathic medicine (homeopathy is a branch of medical care that requires specific remedies to treat medical and emotional disorders) or alternative health practices such as acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM.
Although holistic care can include the addition of the aforementioned treatments, the term holistic simply means looking at the entire individual or the bigger picture and offering both wellness and disease care, everything from feeding the individual to his or her emotional wellbeing and his or her own physical environment.
In Western medical schools, the education and approach to nursing revolves around identifying a disease, naming it (by confirming a diagnosis through tests), and then treating it with medication to eliminate the disease or symptoms .
Veterinarians are learning this approach, but we also learn a lot about herd health and disease outbreaks, so veterinarians have a more holistic view of treating groups of animals.
Unfortunately, the western medical approach I was taught in veterinary school did not offer a comprehensive wellness plan for individual pets and did not offer options for care in conditions that were considered incurable or untreatable.
The current demand and attraction for holistic veterinary care is based on:
1. Owners are looking for natural alternatives to drug therapy knowing that drugs can have significant side effects.
2. The bond between people and their pets has been stronger than ever since the pandemic.
3. With more reports of drug side effects, increased cancer risk from certain medications, and concerns about hyperimmunization, customers are looking for more logical approaches to both home care and veterinary care for their beloved pets.
4. Many property owners are seeking alternative treatment for serious medical conditions like cancer and autoimmune diseases, both of which show excellent responses to alternative options.
How can owners take a more holistic, health-enhancing approach to daily home care?
1. Include nutritious whole foods in your pet’s diet.
2. Add raw fermented foods to your pet, including lacto-fermented carrots and raw sauerkraut.
3. Talk to your veterinarian about which whole foods and supplements are best for your pet’s life stage.
4. Stop buying so many goodies and products online from dubious websites, including Amazon, that cannot identify their supply and validity.
5. Improve your pet’s mental and emotional health by including playtime that suits your pet’s needs and drives. For example, read about your pet’s breed and create a game that takes into account the breed characteristics of your companion. A herding dog loves to herd, so give him a game that simulates herding and lots of activity. Retrievers need to retrieve, so it makes sense to track a ball and return it.
6. Dogs love to forage for food. So place the food in areas across the yard so they can have fun looking for food and losing the bowl.
7. Cats love to catch their food. So use a feed guard and give your feed exercise.
8. Perform regular health, ear, and eye exams to identify and treat early signs of illness.
At the vet:
1. Talk to your veterinarian about reduced vaccination schedules and titer tests.
2. Increase omega-3 fatty acids and research the best products (many contain heavy metals that can be harmful).
3. Look for an early supplement for arthritis prevention.
4. Use animal chiropractic care to maintain joint health.
5. Ask your veterinarian about your pet’s weight and ways it can achieve ideal weight (reduces cancer and joint problems).
6. Make lists of all your concerns so you can raise them with the vet. Long list? When planning, ask for a longer consultation time.
You can find holistic veterinarians near you by visiting AHVMA.org.
Dr. Cynthia Maro is a veterinarian at Ellwood Animal Hospital in Ellwood City and Chippewa Animal Hospital in Chippewa Ward. She writes a column every two weeks on animal care and health issues. If you have a topic you’d like to address, email email@example.com.