Holistic Medicine for Dogs

Holistic medicine for dogs focuses on treating the patient as a whole, and considers mental and emotional well-being as vital components of physical health. Holistic medicine often uses alternative therapies to help resolve mental, emotional and even spiritual dysfunction while simultaneously attempting to resolve physical medical conditions. Holistic veterinarians seek to balance dogs' emotional, mental and physical states for optimum health.

How Holistic Medicine Works

Holistic medicine for dogs tries to treat the whole dog, not just the medical illness. Holistic medicine uses a range of alternative medical therapies to balance a dog's physical, mental and emotional health. Therapies commonly used by holistic veterinarians include:

  • Reiki
  • Orthopedic and chiropractic manipulation
  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathy
  • Herbal supplements
  • Nutritional therapy

When Holistic Medicine Is the Best Option

Holistic medicine is a good option for dogs suffering from chronic, lifelong illness. Traditional medicine is quite effective at treating acute illness, and even if your dog is suffering from a chronic condition, traditional medicine still has many valuable things to offer. Holistic medicine, however, can help your dog learn to live with illness on the long term. It can also help make him strong enough to resist chronic illness and can help to create a positive living environment for dogs suffering from chronic medical illness.

What to Expect from Holistic Medicine

Traditional medical veterinarians focus on treating the disease itself, either by eliminating the cause of the disease, or by treating the symptoms of the disease. Holistic veterinarians focus on supporting the well-being of the animal as a whole, so that that animal is stronger and better equipped to cope with and fight off disease.

During the initial exam, a holistic veterinarian will want to find out as much as he can about your dog and your dog's illness. He'll need your dog's complete medical history whenever possible. He'll also ask detailed questions about your dog's illness, symptoms and lifestyle. Some of these questions may not make sense to you, but try to answer them as precisely as possible.

Your holistic veterinarian will perform a physical exam on your dog. He'll do all of the same things that your traditional vet does when he examines your dog. However, your holistic vet may also do a few things that your traditional vet doesn't do. He may:

  • Look at your dog's tongue
  • Examine the whites of your dog's eyes
  • Observe the way your dog moves
  • Manipulate acupuncture points

Following the physical examination, your holistic vet may want to perform blood tests, take X-rays, or use other traditional medical techniques to verify the cause of your dog's illness. He may want to examine a stool sample.

Holistic medicine usually requires a long term commitment, especially when used to treat chronic medical conditions. Your holistic vet will recommend a treatment plan that may include dietary and social changes, changes in activity level and one or more types of alternative therapies. Two to four weeks after the initial consultation, your holistic veterinarian will want to check in with your dog to evaluate his progress. You may need to visit the holistic vet several times in the course of a few months before he declares the course of treatment a success, and your dog may need to maintain the changes suggested for the rest of his life.