Holistic medicine, also known as holistic health or holism, is an all-inclusive type of health care that attempts to focus on all areas of a person's well-being – not just any particular malady. Holistic health practitioners take into account a person's physical, mental, and even spiritual status before they dispense care. A type of alternative medicine, holistic medicine is often used alongside traditional medicine for integrative care.
For example, a holistic practitioner looking to treat some sort of cancer may suggest lifestyle changes and even counseling, in addition to other treatments.
Though holistic medicine isn't a fully accepted practice within the mainstream medical community, many people turn to it to improve their overall well-being. Most likely, you may have heard about this before - but did you know that holistic medicine is also being applied to pets?
More and more holistic vets are coming forward to espouse the benefits of practicing integrative veterinary medicine, which they believe can lead to an a true support of total health – not just a single-minded focus on treating particular diseases once they arise.
Once such clinic is the Florida-based Panda Animal Clinic, which offers groundbreaking holistic treatments for pets - especially those who are older in age. Their philosophy is that it's not beneficial to treat certain maladies if you're just going to introduce another problem with the aforementioned treatment.
“As an animal gets older, their organs do not function as well. So if a dog was having a spinal problem, for example, you would want to avoid the use of steroids. The liver could enlarge because the body is producing too much cortisol, and steroids could induce this enlargement. Although I’m relieving the pressure and the pain in the animal, I would be inducing another problem," says a Panda Animal Clinic representative.
The American Veterinary Medical Association‘s thoughts on holistic medicine for animals are as follows: “The AVMA recognizes the interest in and use of these modalities and is open to their consideration...all veterinary medicine (including alternative) should be held to the same standards. Claims for safety and effectiveness ultimately should be proven by the scientific method.”
"The quality of studies and reports pertaining to (alternative treatment) varies; therefore, it is incumbent on a veterinarian to critically evaluate the literature and other sources of information,” they continue.
In other words, be smart and practice caution when looking to alternative treatments and medicines. Examine all practices critically, in the same way that you would look at any traditional methods.
Dr. Barbara Royal, a holistic veterinarian, suggests some practical tips to help get you started with a more holistic way of care for your beloved pets. First, she suggests that you really pay attention to what you're feeding your animals. Good health starts with proper nutrition, and you need to be making sure that you feed your pets based on the diets they require.
Second, exercise is key – not just for the body, but for the mind as well. Dr. Royal suggests varying the terrain on which you walk your pets, in order to give them both a physical and mental challenge. Another tip, and the one most in-line with a truly holistic approach to care, is to not over-medicate your pets.
But most importantly, talk to your vet and work together to decide what is best for your pet's unique needs. As the professionals at Panda Animal Clinic can attest, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to medical care for pets.