When you’re a pet parent, you know: a pet is more than a companion. A pet is a responsibility. When you take an animal into your heart and into your home, you make a commitment — a commitment to love them as much as they love you, a commitment to be as loyal to your fur baby as they are to you.
And, above all, you commit to making their lives as happy and healthy as they make yours. But giving your pet the best possible life is about more than ensuring their teeth are brushed, their vaccinations are up to date, and their nutrition is sound.
Rather, your best strategy for keeping your pet healthy, happy, and strong for years to come may well lie in holistic health. But what is it, exactly, and how do you know if it is right for your pet?
What Is Holistic Pet Care?
“Holistic” care is actually a pretty general term that can mean lots of different things to lots of different people, as there are many approaches to holistic health, whether you’re talking about human or pet health.
No matter how you define or practice holistic health, though, the central idea is that good health is about the whole being — the whole person or the whole pet. A holistic vet is one who doesn’t just approach care from the traditional “disease” model that informs so much of Western medical practice.
In other words, instead of focusing only on preventing or treating a particular illness or injury, a holistic vet will take into consideration all aspects of your pet’s life. This will include figuring out how factors seemingly outside of the sickness itself might have given rise to it.
For example, if your beloved Siamese is lethargic and not eating, a holistic vet won’t just prescribe some chemical pharmaceutical to increase her energy and appetite. Instead, they’ll ask questions about nearly all aspects of your pet’s life, such as whether a new pet has been brought into the home or whether there’s been some sort of change in the family’s routine.
In a nutshell, a holistic vet won’t just treat or prevent symptoms. They’ll figure out how to build a happy and healthy lifestyle for your pet to get at the root causes. They’ll see — and treat — the pet, not the ailment.
Best of all, though, holistic health does not involve eliminating traditional veterinary care. Quite the opposite. Instead, holistic health involves capitalizing on the best that Western veterinary medicine has to offer, while also supplementing that care with a more comprehensive approach to include diet, alternative therapies, and lifestyle.
The Benefits of Holistic Care
Proponents of a holistic approach to pet care celebrate not only its efficacy but also its safety. And there is a pretty substantial body of evidence to support this. After all, holistic care places significant focus on natural remedies, which means that treatments often have far fewer side effects than traditional therapies.
For example, the kratom plant is increasingly being used by holistic practitioners to treat significant pain in dogs. Best of all, the supplement has not been shown to pose the same risks that commonly prescribed opioid-based analgesics do, including the risk for life-threatening kidney and liver diseases.
But holistic health is about far more than using herbs, plants, and other natural remedies to prevent or treat your pet’s illness. Holistic health is also about lifestyle, and that means looking to an array of alternative strategies to keep your fur baby feeling good and living well. You might opt for acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, or aromatherapy for older pets with orthopedic issues, for example.
When you’re practicing holistic health with your pet, you can also get creative, focusing on healthy and fun activities you can share with your pet. Camping, for instance, is a terrific activity you can enjoy with your dog — just make sure to plan ahead to keep your pet safe in the great outdoors.
Ensure your pet is up to date on her vaccinations and do a bit of research on the area to confirm the site is pet-friendly. And then, get out there with your fur child and enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and companionship — it’s perhaps the best holistic remedy there is!
As immense as the benefits of holistic healthcare may be for your pet, there are also some potential drawbacks to be aware of. First, just because a remedy is “natural,” and just because it appears to be safe for humans, does not necessarily mean that it is safe for pets.
Lilies, for example, can be deadly for cats, frequently resulting in lethal kidney failure. Likewise, even seemingly innocuous foods, such as grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic, can cause life-threatening reactions in both dogs and cats.
So always do your research, and remember that, just because it comes from the earth, doesn’t mean it’s safe for your fur baby.
And while you’re developing your pet’s holistic health regimen, also bear in mind that, if you have pet insurance, certain holistic treatments may not be covered under a standard plan. Again, do your homework, exploring your options for expanding coverage to meet your baby’s specific needs.
When you love a pet, you would do anything to keep them healthy, happy, and well. Holistic healthcare can be the greatest tool in your toolbox for giving your fur baby the wonderful life she deserves!