With the coming of National Holistic Pet Day on August 30th, this is a great time of year for animal guardians to pay attention to a more holistic health perspective on their pet’s health. A good definition of a holistic health approach/perspective is one that includes viewing the body as whole when it comes to disease management and prevention, while at the same time viewing everything that is put on or in the body as having a potential affect on overall health.
Probably the most important aspect to holistic health involves the feeding of an adequate diet. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, was quoted long ago as saying “Let food be thy medicine.” While veterinarians still generally receive very little formal training on proper carnivore nutrition in veterinary school, there are plenty of wonderful references on feeding pets as holistically healthy a diet as possible. I have found the book Dr Pitcairn’s Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD. most helpful in this regard.
In most circumstances, a proper, balanced fresh homemade, minimally processed diet is still best. Dr Pitcairn’s book gives adequate guidelines on how this is done easily at home. If this is not possible, low carb, low grain diets, such as Wysong Epigen, Nature’s Variety, and Halo represent a few commercial diet alternatives.
In addition to a wholesome diet, supplementing pets with whole body health-supporting supplements like probiotics, fatty acids, and antioxidants are also helpful. Because of the role over-vaccination may play in the development of certain chronic diseases in pets, a more holistic perspective takes a minimalist approach to vaccination, recognizing that the immunity to most core viruses like parvo and distemper likely lasts for many years ,if not the life of the animal. An alternative to yearly vaccinations includes the measurement of antibody titers through blood testing to make sure that pets are protected from certain infectious diseases.
As in people, fresh air and exercise are also important for our animal companions in order to help with cardiovascular and mental health, as well as help prevent obesity and secondary diseases. Finally, while newer drugs, antibiotics and surgical advances have made lots of strides in the practice of traditional veterinary medicine, holistic health day is a good time to also learn about and become more familiar with more holistic options to pet health care disease management and disease prevention. Modalities such as acupuncture, chiropractic and homeopathy may offer medical options to help manage many chronic diseases, as an alternative or in compliment with modern conventional medicine. When using these holistic health options, it is important to look for veterinarians with advanced training in these modalities. Resources in finding vets include the following websites www.drpitcairn.com www.AHVMA.org and www.theAVH.com