Holistic Care

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Two Approaches Defined

There are two approaches in modern veterinarian medicine, traditional and holistic. If your preference is holistic, remember that what might work for you may or may not be right for your dog. The only way we can tell if a dog is sick is when the symptoms of the illness are manifested in such a way that we can observe it, be it a limp, lethargy, not eating, etc.

The first thing that many people do is to ask advice from a friend or go online. The first thing you SHOULD do is to have an examination by a veterinarian who can tell if your dog has an illness or condition that merits further attention, medication, or surgical procedure. If the diagnosis is of a chronic or untreatable nature such as arthritis, then holistic care could be appropriate under the supervision of a professional, not under the influence of store clerks recommending off the shelf remedies. There are a growing number of veterinarians, including the one that provided PawPassion with this information, who are practicing holistic alternatives. Below is a quick comparison of the two approaches.

Holistic Medicine

Holistic medicine is a system of health care which fosters a cooperative relationship among all those involved, leading towards optimal attainment of the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of health. It emphasizes the need to look at the whole individual, including analysis of physical, nutritional, environmental, emotional, social, spiritual and lifestyle values. The holistic approach encompasses all stated modalities of diagnosis and treatment, including drugs and surgery if no safe alternative exists. Holistic medicine focuses on education and responsibility for personal efforts to achieve balance and well being.

Traditional Medicine

Traditional veterinary medicine is the application of medical, diagnostic, and therapeutic principles to companion, domestic, exotic, wildlife, and production animals. Veterinary science is vital to the study and protection of animal production practices, herd health and monitoring the spread of disease. It requires the acquisition and application of scientific knowledge in multiple disciplines and uses technical skills directed at disease prevention in both domestic and wild animals.

Information provided by Raymond Avenue Veterinary Hospital, Pasadena, California http://www.petslovingvet.com acupunc

Is Acupuncture Right for Your Dog?

When considering acupuncture for your dog, talk with friends who have dogs which have gone through this procedure. Check out veterinarian’s websites for those who practice acupuncture. Ask these doctors how long they have studied acupuncture. Some have taken only a weekend class while others have studied it for many months.

Acupuncture can be a beneficial adjunct therapy, but it has its own set of dangers, not the least of which is the possibility of a lack of diagnosis or misdiagnosis of problems that routinely would be identified in Western veterinary medicine if you choose not to consult with a veterinarian first. You will find that your community might have several vets who are now practicing a holistic approach to veterinarian medicine.

Anecdotally, acupuncture works, so if you do choose to take your dog to a veterinary acupuncturist, take it to someone who has had success in treating similar problems. I went with a friend who has an elderly dog with severe arthritis for treatment. Her vet had been skeptical about acupuncture. However, besides pain medication, there was little more that could be done for her arthritic dog with traditional treatments.

She had found a veterinarian who had studied acupuncture for many months and has practiced it for years alongside his regular “traditional” Western practice. The fourteen or so needles were placed in various parts of the dog’s body causing us both to wince at each insertion. Her dog, however, didn’t react and seemed comfortable with the entire process.

She continued the treatment for several months. Although acupuncture and holistic medicine results are anecdotal, her regular vet was so impressed that she asked for the acupuncture vet’s cards to pass along to her other clients. Not long afterward, I brought one of my dogs in for a series of acupuncture to treat her arthritis. My dog also seemed comfortable with the needle insertion and the half hour of the treatment.

If you decide after talking to your regular vet that you should try acupuncture, ask for recommendations. If your vet has not one whom you should visit, then go online and check local vets who practice holistic medicine. Make sure though that you continue any medications that your dog is currently taking, especially pain medication for arthritis. It’s not fair to take your dog off pain medication in order to try a holistic approach.

When you do find a trustworthy veterinarian who practices acupuncture, ask the following questions:

• Is there is special rate for a series of treatments rather than paying for them individually?

• How long does the series of the treatments last? Will there also be photon treatments? Photon treatments use a non-heating, low level laser held against the skin for a short time period.

• Is the photon therapy part of the “package” of acupuncture treatments?

When you decide to try any holistic approach, be sure to bring in any current lab test results and x-rays. This could save you a lot of money.

Above all, you shouldn’t expect too much. Acupuncture is not a panacea. If you find it is a success based on a long-term observation of your dog, then great. If the treatments aren’t working out as well as you had hoped, then at least you tried your best for your dog, and isn’t that what being a guardian for your dog is all about?

Written by: Bruce Malter, PawPassion.org