Dog Health Science - Level 1
What Is Holistic Medicine?
Get an understanding of holistic medicine, what it means and how it can help your dog.
By Shawn Messonnier, D.V.M.
You’ve probably heard the term, but what exactly is “holistic medicine?” If you choose to take your dog to a holistic veterinarian, what can you expect?
The term holistic means two things. First, it implies a more natural, gentle way of caring for your dog. Holistic vets provide, in addition to conventional medical therapies, any number of alternative or complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, laser therapy, chiropractic, herbal therapies, homeopathy, nutritional supplementation and homotoxicological remedies.
Second, a holistic practitioner focuses on the “whole” dog. For example, if your dog has skin allergies, a holistic vet would evaluate your entire dog. A thorough examination might reveal your allergic dog also has heart disease, periodontal disease or thyroid disease.
As far as treatment for these conditions, holistic therapies are comprehensive and might focus on healing the thyroid or supporting the liver and gastrointestinal system in addition to prescribing remedies that help limit itching.
Many people cringe at the term “alternative medicine” because they believe it implies doing something outside the realm of mainstream medicine, which isn’t true. “Complementary medicine” is a more accurate way of defining holistic treatment since it works in conjunction with traditional medicine. “Integrative medicine” also describes holistic care for the reason that any number of therapies designed to maximize your dog’s healing are combined.
A good way to locate holistic vets is they should ideally belong to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. You can view their membership list by visiting www.ahvma.org
Visits to holistic veterinarians are typically very meticulous, especially during the initial visit to establish the dog’s history and prescribe a wellness program. These practitioners focus on getting your dog on the correct diet, proper use of supplements, alternatives to traditional vaccination schedules, reducing toxicity in and on your dog and whatever tests are necessary to discover the cause of obvious or hidden problems. Remember that the ultimate goal of holistic medicine is finding and curing the root cause or causes of an affliction, rather than just treating individual symptoms.
Shawn Messonnier, D.V.M., is the author of “Unexpected Miracles: Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets” (Forge, 2009). He also hosts a weekly satellite radio show called “Dr. Shawn, The Natural Vet” on Martha Stewart Living Radio.
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