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Holistic Pet Care – What is It?

Holistic medicine works with the understanding that the human or animal body – when in balance – has the inherent ability to heal itself and maintain strong health. Holistic medicine, just like holistic dentistry, is a practice that involves all aspects of the patient’s life when diagnosing and treating a particular condition. This also includes the conditions your pet lives in, both emotionally and physically. In other words,  holistic care is just as good for you as it is for your pets.

More veterinarians than ever are practicing holistic medicine today. Holistic vets look at a pet’s overall health and use traditional and alternative therapies. They rely on lab tests and prescription drugs, but also on acupuncture, massage, and herbal remedies to keep pets healthy. They encourage changes in pets’ diets and lifestyles to help ward off illnesses like obesity, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.

Here are some holistic remedies you can use for your pet that will help remedy any discomfort or pain, help improve your pet’s physical condition (for example when your pet is sick) and will boost your pet’s health and immune system.

Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractors move the bones in the spine and other parts of the body to relieve pain. Pets with neck or back problems can benefit from these treatments, just like people do. But for pets, you won’t hear cracking. There’s not as much aggressive force used. It’s a gentle procedure, and it can make a great difference on the alignment of the spine.

Massage

Massage can improve blood flow, reduce swelling, and help with anxiety issues. Animal massages are different with pets and will have to be performed by someone who is trained to do it. Usually, pets like massages and it can be a powerful tool to improve your pet’s condition.

Aromatherapy

Just like with humans, the pleasant scents of natural oils can help pets relieve stress. Scent is so important in an animal’s life that it can change the way your  pet’s brain functions, whether the pet is feeling alarm or discomfort.

Because pets have a more sensitive sense of smell, ask your veterinarian for advice before trying aromatherapy. Use it sparingly though. Pets can smell over 20 times better than we can, so you don’t need the whole room to smell like lavender to calm them down. A little goes a long way.

Nutrition

A better diet can improve overall health, reduce inflammation and ease symptoms of chronic diseases like arthritis.

Because dogs and cats are carnivores, the higher the protein percentage they take in, the better. Carbohydrate-rich kibble food usually isn’t best for their diets. It’s better to avoid pet food containing corn, wheat, soy, or peanut butter. Talk to your vet before making a food change, though.

Herbs

Herbs can help calm pets. Some holistic vets prescribe the herbs chamomile, kava, or valerian to soothe animals. They may recommend combinations of 5 to 20 herbs that are made specifically for your pet. Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and catnip (Nepeta cataria) are wonderful remedies for nausea and car sickness. Peppermint also regulates peristalsis, so it can help with irritable bowel syndrome, and even with symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.

Glucosamine supplements

Arthritis harms our dogs and cats in many ways. It makes it hard for them to move around and get enough exercise, decreases their quality of life and makes it less likely that they’ll play. And it creates an area of inflammation in the body that is associated with other types of damage, including cartilage destruction.

Most veterinarians usually reach for anti-inflammatory drugs as their first defense, but they often have severe side effects. Consider instead using safer effective supplements and treatments that not only relieve symptoms, but also protect or repair damaged joints. A good alternative is a glucosamine supplement which has independent testing and certification insuring that it’s a standardized product. You can ask your veterinarian or health food store for help to choose the right product.

Slippery elm

Slippery elm (Ulmas fulva) is pretty much a wonder-substance for diarrhea, loose stool, nausea and other digestive upsets. This is actually a food rather than a medicinal substance, and there are no contraindications to its use.

Best is to buy the loose powder, available in bulk at most health food stores. You can mix it with warm water and then add it to your dog’s food, or just let them eat it. It forms a jelly when moistened, which can be fed as desired, and also used as a soothing poultice on minor skin irritations.

It’s slightly sweet, so dogs don’t mind it. Cats hate it, so it’s much less useful for them, although it can be given in a tincture form.

Exercise

Exercising their pets is something people don’t like to do. Hence, the epidemic of fat dogs and cats, which is a shame, because almost nothing is more strongly correlated with longer lifespan than keeping your pet lean.

Fresh air, sunshine and exercise will improve your pet’s mood and health, and it’s good for you, too. It also stimulates your pet’s mind, and improves the bond between human and animal. So get out that catnip toy on a string, take your dog to the park, or see if your old cat doesn’t remember what it was like to wrestle with you when he was a kitten.

Best of all? It’s free.

Questions? Contact us and we can help you make the right choices!

Sources: WebMD, SFGate.com