As more and more people experience the vast benefits of holistic medicine sometimes coupled with a homeopathic approach when treating their common illnesses, the question often arises if whether or not this same vein of thinking will apply to their dogs as well. Today complementary treatments, therapies, and holistic medicine for dogs are all now gaining more credence as pet owners and veterinarians work together to find effective methods of prolonging and bettering the lives of our beloved animals.
Coming from the word “whole,” holistic medicine utilizes a comprehensive approach to medical care and treats the body as one entire unit, rather than merely focusing on an ailment or its ensuing symptoms the way conventional or Western medicine often does. Some examples of holistic medicine for canines include the use of herbal preparations, massage and physical therapy, chiropractic care, homeopathy, and acupuncture.
In many instances, holistic medicine is used as a last resort or when conventional treatments alone have failed to work. However, there are many circumstances that will call for both modern and holistic medicine to bring about the most favorable results, such as a broken leg that needs surgery to be repaired along with holistic methods used to decrease healing time.
Although there are several different modalities involved with holistic medical care for dogs, many of them rely partly on modern medicines and treatments. Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese form of medicine involving incredibly fine needles, has been used for thousands of years for pain relief and improving overall health and has now made its way into the veterinary world of medicine.
Besides the use of needles, acupuncture may also involve similar techniques like acupressure in which pressure is applied using the fingertips, or even lasers or ultrasound for the treatment of ailments and conditions such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, disorders of the stomach, and to speed up recovery time after surgery. Acupuncture may even take the place of some surgeries and be a natural alternative to pain medication or steroids.
Trigger point therapy is another modality of holistic medical care used to relieve pain in dogs. Trigger points are sore spots in the muscles with restricted blood flow that when irritated cause pain to radiate to other muscles. Through trigger point therapy, which may call for chiropractic care, massage therapy or acupuncture, the trigger points are released to bring about pain relief.
There are a number of herbal remedies used in holistic veterinary medicine and it’s highly recommended to only use herbal medicine that is prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. Although herbal and botanical medicines are natural, they can be rather powerful with some even having toxic effects especially when mixed with other medication or when given to dogs with allergies. Some herbs used for curing dog ailments include licorice as an anti-inflammatory, passionflower or valerian as a sedative, and black walnut or wormwood in place of conventional de-worming medication.
One of the most important principles behind holistic medicine for dogs involves the proper nutrition. The foundation for a long, vibrant life always begins with the right nutritional balance and it’s essential for dogs to eat healthy without an array of added chemicals, by-products, artificial colors. Whole grains, organically grown vegetables, fish, and whole grain-fed beef, lamb, or chicken are highly recommended to give dogs the energy and vital nutrients they need to thrive.
In addition to dealing with current illnesses and conditions already affecting the body, holistic treatment methods in veterinary medicine are also used to ward off disease and improve the dog’s overall health, and hopefully lengthen life span as well.