Complimentary medicine, also known as Holistic medicine, covers a large range of therapies. Alternative practitioners and holistic veterinarians often treat imbalances and illness with nutrition combined with specific vitamin, herbal, glandular and nutraceutical supplementation. Other therapies they use address injuries, chronic pain, anxiety and emotional traumas. The goal of Complimentary medicine is to provide wellness for the whole animal.
Wholesome nutrition is the foundation of health and well-being in pets and people. Minimally processed, raw or homemade pet foods made from high-quality ingredients can support digestion and health, helping an animal feel and behave normally. Conversely, poor quality or incorrectly balanced foods contribute to physical and behavioral problems.
Herbs and Botanicals
Synthetic, allopathic medicines can be effective for treating many pet ailments, but often have side-effects. Natural remedies are designed to stimulate and feed the body’s own healing mechanisms without side-effects. Western and Chinese herbs have been used for centuries to treat most illnesses and diseases. Herbal medicines come in whole plant, liquid, pill, powder and solid form (salves).
Homeopathy & Flower Essences
Homeopathy is a gentle, yet powerful healing modality used for more than 200 years. Homeopathy was designed to balance the whole person/animal with the use of one “constitutional remedy.” Some over-the-counter homeopathics are excellent for treating acute injuries, bruising, joint stiffness and post-surgical recovery.
Flower essences like “Bach Rescue Remedy” and many others, are homeopathic-like remedies which effectively address emotional upsets in animals in order to restore health and balance. They are safe to use and non-toxic.
Aromatherapy with Essential Oils
Essential oils are often used to control fleas and ticks among other things, but exercise extreme caution using them on and around animals, since certain oils may be toxic. To be safe, essential oils should never be used “straight” or undiluted on any animal. Cats, small mammals, birds, amphibians, fish and reptiles are extremely sensitive to oils and can get sick or die if certain oils are even used around them—for example, on a dog in the house or diffused into the air. Although there is some disagreement among practitioners, be sure to research thoroughly and err on the safe side.
Massage & Touch
There are many forms of massage available for animals. Some animals prefer gentle touch, others appreciate deep-tissue massage. It’s important for every massage practitioner to learn what each animal responds to and not overdo. The Tellington Touch or “TTouch” and Healing Touch for Animals are excellent forms of touch used for healing, calming and assisting in training.
Chiropractic is spinal/structural manipulation, but it affects the muscles, organs, and all the systems of the body. There are chiropractors who adjust the pets of patients they treat, but it’s best to use a chiropractor trained to adjust pets. The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association is setting pet chiropractic standards. Visit their website: www.animalchiropractic.org.
To learn more about complimentary medicine for animals or to find a holistic vet in your area, go to www.theavh.org
By Sarah Zumhofe