Holistic Healing for Dogs:
A Whole Body Approach to Wellness

Holistic healing for dogs is an exciting concept, and one that continues to gain in popularity among veterinary professionals as well as pet parents. Many of us are tired of the seemingly limited scope of conventional medicine. We sense that there is “something more” out there, both for our pets and ourselves.

holistic healing for dogs - herbs and flowers

That feeling is exactly what introduced me to the world of holistic healing for dogs nearly eight years ago. I often talk about my four-legged baby, Chase, on this site, and how my husband and I adopted him from the shelter. When Chase came to us, he was not the dog he is today. Most notably, he suffered from severe allergies that caused him great discomfort. He also battled severe colitis which, as you can imagine, was not fun for him – or us!

Like so many well-meaning dog parents, I relied at first on the recommendations of our veterinarian to treat Chase. But I soon grew skeptical. I could see that our well-meaning doctor was not getting to the root of Chase’s health problems or even attempting to uncover a way to heal him of them. He was merely doing what he was taught in veterinary school – giving him medications to alleviate (or mask) his symptoms.

I realized that a lifelong course of steroid shots and antibiotics was not going to heal Chase, and was most likely going to cause many more health complications for him over the years. That’s when I began devouring every book a could on natural treatments, and when my eyes opened to the power of holistic healing for dogs.

Conventional Versus Holistic Approach
to Healing

”Holistic” does not refer to a form of treatment. Rather, it is an approach that looks at wellness in terms of the whole body, mind and spirit. With holistic healing for dogs, the goal is a treatment protocol that addresses the wellness of the entire (“whole”) dog, rather than isolating a specific symptom (or set of symptoms) such as is the approach with traditional medicine (and is exactly what our veterinarian was doing when treating Chase’s allergies and colitis).

If we had taken Chase to a holistic veterinarian, his course of treatment might have been very different. Unlike the conventional doctor, a holistic veterinarian would not only have evaluated Chase based on the condition of his skin. He or she would have conducted a holistic (whole body) exam that would have focused on his other organ systems as well. A holistic veterinarian would most likely have asked us about the foods Chase was eating, when he was last vaccinated and about any herbs, supplements or prescription medications he was taking.

holistic healing for dogs - herbal essence with aloe vera leaf

A holistic veterinarian might even have inquired as to whether he had recently exhibited any signs of emotional change. Only after obtaining all of this information would the holistic veterinarian have decided on the best course of treatment – a course ideally intended to help heal his body of the imbalance that was causing his allergy symptoms, not just to mask the symptoms themselves.

As you can see, there is quite a difference in the approaches between traditional and holistic veterinarians (and, yes, Chase does now have a holistic veterinarian)!

"Holistic" Healing for Dogs Versus
"Alternative" Medicine

Holistic medicine is often confused with “alternative” medicine. Alternative medicine implies that the treatment is different – or “alternative” to – the conventional treatment. However, holistic healing for dogs can encompass both conventional and non-conventional treatment modalities, so long as the health of the whole animal is considered.

In his book 8 Weeks to a Healthy Dog, holistic veterinarian Dr. Shawn Messonier (also author of The Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats) discusses how he prefers the term “integrative” to “alternative” when it comes to describing holistic medicine. Dr. Messonier says that using an integrative approach enables him to select or combine the best treatments from both the conventional and non-conventional worlds, thereby doubling the options he is able to offer his patients.

Treatments Used in Holistic Healing for Dogs Include:

When appropriate, natural remedies can be used to support conventional treatments (such as with herbal remedies, reiki or acupressure) or stand alone as a complete, comprehensive therapy (as is the case with homeopathy). The important thing to remember is that holistic healing for dogs seeks not to merely address a set of symptoms by treating them as isolated and independent, but rather to view the animal as a whole, interconnected system of mind, body and spirit and to create healing and ultimately wellness of that whole.

This is a wonderful time to be a dog parent, since with advances in modern veterinary science as well as a renewed understanding and excitement for natural healing therapies, we now have more opportunities than ever to address our dogs’ health needs holistically. From choosing the freshest, most wholesome nutrition to fuel his body to supporting his immune system with the proper herbs and supplements, it is in our power to take a positive, proactive part in our pets’ health and truly create a “well being”.

To learn more about holistic healing for dogs, visit the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association Web site, which can help you to find a holistic veterinarian in your area.

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Acupuncture for Dogs
Reiki for Dogs
Animal Reiki
Canine Homeopathy
Homeopathy for Dogs
Holistic Treatments for Dogs

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