Alternative and holistic approaches for what ails your pet
Pet owners who are open minded enough to consider holistic medicine for their pet will find there are many benefits that go along with the alternative approaches to pet's health care.
Here are a few examples of common ailments and alternative holistic approaches for treating your pet.
Holistic veterinarians honor the body’s immune system and believe that it is a far wiser healer than any veterinarian or physician.
Holistic veterinarians will almost always consult their clients on how to support their pet’s immune system by feeding a highly nutritious diets which contains as few toxins as possible. When the pet’s immune system is provided the proper nutrients and relieved of the burden of getting rid of toxins, the pet will be in a much better position to heal itself, stave off cancer and fight off invading viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
These diets are preferably homemade, but there are also commercial diets that can provide superior nutrition and far fewer toxins.
Strengthening the immune system with proper diets and herbs is a much smarter way to protect your pet's body than using antibiotics to fight infections.
When an older dog or cat develops arthritis or damages tendons or ligaments, most conventional veterinarians will use non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (aka NSAID). NSAIDs reduce pain and inflammation, but do nothing in the way of repairing damaged tissue. In fact using NSAIDs long-term can further damage the joints by slowly destroying your pet’s healthy cartilage and may injure the pet’s stomach lining.
Holistic veterinarians, on the other hand, prefer to stay away from NSAIDs and use supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin, vitamin C, Bosewelia, Tumeric, Rosemary and Hops in order to reduce pain and inflammation without the accompanying side effects.
Cytokine therapy, acupuncture and laser therapy are other safe, effective holistic modalities that can be used to treat common orthopedic injuries.
For the all-too-common injury of a torn ACL ligament in the knee joint of a dog, or a ruptured spinal disk, surgery is often the first recommendation of conventional veterinarians.
Fortunately, holistic veterinarians find non-surgical approaches such as prolotherapy, Prolozone therapy, Pulsed Magnetic Frequency (PMF) therapy, oral cytokine therapy and laser therapy to be quite effective.
If a steroid is needed, “natural hydrocortisone” harvested from the yam plant is preferred over synthetic prednisolone because it is “bioidentical” to the body’s own cortisone and consequently produces fewer side effects.
The holistic approach is typically to strengthen the body's immune and detoxification system using nutritional and herbal support, along with any combination of modalities.
Many dogs with epileptic seizures are treated with phenobarbital. Unfortunately, phenobarbital often sedates pets and can change their personality. It can also cause liver damage and, consequently, periodic blood screening should be performed.
Pet owners looking for a more natural approach to preventing seizures will be happy to know that Gaba amino butyric acid (GABA) and Anti interleukin AIL-1 are often successful natural substitutes for phenobarbital because they have little or no sedative side effects and there is no fear of causing liver disease. Also, their use does not require expensive laboratory monitoring.
Implanting gold beads in the ears and on top of the heads of dogs and cats can also be effective in reducing the frequency of epileptic seizures
Rather than using drugs to manage aggressive tendencies in pets, GABA, 5-HTP and Zylkene® (a natural product derived from milk proteins) can be effective in helping dogs living in the same house get along.
GABA is also helpful in controlling aggression in cats. A “flower essence,” such as Rescue Remedy®, given by mouth or in drinking water, is a safe and subtle method for reducing aggressiveness or anxiety in both dogs and cats.
Lumps, Growths and Cancer
When a lump or mass shows up anywhere on your pet's body, the conventional approach is to perform a biopsy and send the specimen to the lab in order to determine whether the growth is a cyst, or if a tumor, whether it is malignant or benign. Unfortunately, this conventional approach usually requires surgery and anesthesia which can be stressful on an older and already weakened animal.
One relatively new, alternative approach is to draw blood and send the sample to a special laboratory for analysis. The resulting report will indicate the likelihood of whether the pet's growth is cancer.
While this blood test may not be as accurate as a surgical biopsy, it does reduce the danger that accompanies surgery/anesthesia...and it's much less expensive.
Another way of avoiding surgery when finding a skin mass on your pet is to have “cryosurgery” performed. Cryosurgery is the application of liquid nitrogen to freeze the growth so that as the mass dies it is reabsorbed by the body. Often, mild sedation, plus a local anesthetic, is all that is needed to perform cryosurgery. Consequently, general anesthesia can be avoided.
Cryosurgery has the added advantage of eliminating the need for suturing and suture removal. The pet is much less likely to lick or scratch the wound and, therefore, post-surgical infection is much less of a concern.
If cancer is confirmed, the question is always, "what do I do next?"
Frequently chest X-rays can be performed to see if the growth has spread to the lungs. Then, depending on the type, location and size of the cancer, the conventional medical approach might be to have more extensive surgery and/or chemo or radiation therapy.
Many pet owners are aware of the risks with anesthesia, surgery, chemo and radiation therapy; and consequently will welcome any alternate/holistic advice.
The holistic approach is typically to strengthen the body's immune and detoxification system using nutritional and herbal support, along with any combination of modalities such as acupuncture, cytokine therapy, systemic enzyme therapy and medicinal mushroom therapy.
If your dog or cat lives to a ripe old age, the chances are that it will finally succumb to chronic glomerular nephritis, more commonly known as degenerative kidney disease. This disease is characterized by kidney failure resulting from slow progressive fibrosis (scarring ) of the functional kidney tissue.
Conventional therapy offers pet owners prescription "kidney" diets, fluid therapy and blood pressure medication. Holistic veterinarians do not claim they can cure degenerative disease, but we do attempt to slow the progressive scarring by using cytokine therapy, systemic enzyme therapy, anti-oxidant therapy and certain Chinese herbs.
So please remember, if your pet develops a chronic disease and you seek options to the conventional medical approach, holistic medicine can often offer alternatives that are safe, less invasive and can provide your dog or cat with additional days of quality life.
Dr. John M. Simon is the owner and only veterinarian at Woodside Animal Clinic in Royal Oak where he has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets and pocket pets for over 30 years using both traditional and holistic medicine. He is a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Association and has served on the board of the American Holistic Veterinary Association. Dr. Simon is the author of 4 pet-care books and has written numerous articles for a variety of magazines and newspapers. Visit website at Doc4pets.com.
The Right Vet for Your Pet
Animals Thrive with Gentle, Safe and Natural Approaches
Pet parents have many criteria to consider when choosing a healthcare provider for their prized pet, and among the most vital is trying to find a doctor that uses holistic therapies, because the advantages are many.
Wellness care is more than vaccines. While many conventional vets consider giving vaccines and flea medications to all of their patients to be their best form of wellness care, holistic vets know these aren’t always necessary and can potentially be harmful. Instead, true wellness care involves careful consideration of proper diet, blood titer testing instead of vaccines, natural parasite control when appropriate and a heavy dose of diagnostic testing (blood, urine, fecal) to monitor organ function, check for parasites, screen for disorders of the urogenital system, liver and pancreas and early screening for cancer and other inflammatory conditions. There’s also a full physical check for common diseases like dental and heart disease and tumors.
Individualized prescriptions for a proper diet and supplements to maintain health are big reasons many owners prefer a holistic vet.
Natural treatments include disease prevention. Many pets treated via a more natural approach have an easier experience with occasional illness than those that don’t enjoy this specialized care. Natural therapies can quickly restore an ill pet to his homeostatic balance without the side effects often associated with multiple drug doses.
A team approach is expected. A holistic practice is a team effort, and the family doctor will suggest options for care, helping an owner decide on the best therapies for each pet.
A fuller range of options is available. While holistic vets prefer a more natural approach, they know that if necessary, conventional therapies can sometimes be an appropriate complement if they follow holistic principles, which means infrequent use of low-dose medications and only when absolutely needed. In general, most conditions can be treated successfully without drug therapy, extending the health and life of the patient and reducing medical costs.
Gentler anesthesia means quicker recovery. A naturally balanced and gentler approach means less drugging if anesthesia becomes necessary, close monitoring of an anesthetized pet, a smooth and quick recovery for prompt discharge from the hospital and natural forms of follow-up treatment to control post-operative pain and inflammation.
New hope rises for the hopeless. Many pets are brought to holistic doctors after conventional care has failed to help them. Some have been turned away by practitioners of conventional medicine because their cases are diagnosed as “hopeless”. Holistic vets and pet parents alike experience considerable satisfaction in helping to give a joyful pet a whole new lease on life.
Shawn Messonnier, a doctor of veterinary medicine practicing in Plano, TX, is the award-winning author of The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats and Unexpected Miracles: Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets. For more information, visit PetCareNaturally.com.