What is Holistic Healing for Pets?

What is Holistic Healing for Pets?

What is Holistic Healing for Pets?

Have you tried to make an appointment with your vet lately or do you have a new pet who is on a wait list for a vet?  Or are you someone who just has a feeling that there may be ways to support the health of your pet so that you can avoid a costly vet visit? Care for our pets is expanding beyond traditional western veterinary medicine.  This is not just because access to care is becoming both difficult and challenging, it is also because there is a burgeoning consciousness around are furry family members and we are wanting to take care of their health just as our own.  Before we get too far into “why supplements?,” it might be helpful to understand the roles of various systems of healing.  These systems apply to ourselves and to our pets. 

Medical practices can be lumped into two broad categories:  holistic medicine and allopathic medicine.  Allopathic medicine starts with a diagnosis of disease and then looks for a treatment.  In the west, we primarily look to treat the symptoms of an illness with a particular cure, such as with a pill or other medical intervention.  We can use herbs and “natural” cures in allopathic medicine.  If you are ingesting something to alleviate a symptom, you are practicing allopathic, or western based medicine. And, in many cases, an allopathic approach works great.  Sometimes the quick alleviation of an infection with an antibiotic after an injury (like I had to do for my dog last week) just might be needed to save a life. Or maybe your pet has a skin irritation from an allergy and you need a steroid to stop the itching immediately.

Yet most of us know that there is more to a diagnosis than the treatment and there is often more to healing than the right medicine.  We all know that instead of using something to stop the itching of hives, it might be better to prevent the allergic reaction in the first place. This is where holistic medicine comes in.

Holistic medicine is an approach to healing that focuses on utilizing natural or place-based products, non-invasive techniques and existing systems within the body and within the natural environment that then interact to support and sustain wellness.  Spiritual, emotional and mental wellbeing support a healthy body and a healthy body is vital to our mind and spirit; there is a connected system at work. And YES, our pets as conscious beings also have systems of support that are needed for health. Herbs and herbal remedies are frequently used in holistic medicine, but not all holistic systems are the same.  As one embarks on a healing journey for themselves and/or their pets, it can be helpful to be aware of our own personal needs and goals, as well as our own philosophy on healing. 

Here are a few healing systems that utilize herbs within a holistic system:

Ayurvedic Medicine:  An ancient approach from India, Ayurveda medicine focuses on your particular body type and corresponding dispositions to health and disease.  Your constitution is identified and you work to balance the mind, body and spirit through a variety of herbs, diet and meditation. Mt.Sinai Medical Center states that there are over 20 modalities used in Ayurveda (https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/treatment/ayurveda).  Some of them include:

  • Herbal medicine
  • Massage with herbal oil
  • Cleaning the body/detoxes
  • Meditation
  • Yoga

When applying this to pets, there is a focus on foods and herbal medicine, as well as massage to bring about a balanced system for healthy living. Here is a fun article from the Chopra Center on Ayurveda and dogs: https://chopra.com/articles/ayurveda-for-dogs-tips-to-balance-your-furry-friends

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): Chinese medicine is similar in many ways to Ayurveda. Disease is often seen as a result of imbalances in the body and mind.  Your life energy, or “qi” is dependent on the balance of your yin and yang energies. Herbs are often used to maintain and support proper energy flow and organ function.  According to Mt. Sinai (https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/treatment/traditional-chinese-medicine), there are several modalities that can be used for humans:

  • Herbal medicine
  • Acupuncture and acupressure
  • Moxibustion, burning an herb near the skin
  • Nutrition
  • Tui Na Massage
  • Tai Chi and Qi Gong (movement with meditation)

These practices have long been expanded and applied to animals as well. Usually, the following modalities are integrated into Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine:

  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Food Therapy
  • Tui Na Massage

You can find out more about traditional Chinese medicine and your pet here: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/veterinary-tcm

Western Herbalism: Western herbalist employ a wide variety of tools and techniques and philosophies.  In general, western herbalism often incorporates both scientific and anecdotal accounts of herbal remedies starting with the biological being. Simultaneously, western herbalists take in the totality of the individual, recognizing the complex interplay of energy, spirituality and one’s emotional state on healing.  The same philosophy can be applied to your pet.  One of my favorite books for the lay person is “Herbs for Pets” by Gregory L. Tilford and Mary L. Wulff (2009, 2nd edition). You can find it from a variety of online bookstores.

Holistic healing often takes time and there is rarely an exact “dose” or approach, yet holistic healers know there is power in the strengthening of our immune systems, our bodies to prevent a physical manifestation of illness.  Herbal supports can do that for us and our pets!  If you are here, you are probably a lot like us!  You know that our pet’s health, like our own, is multi-dimensional and natural supplements are available to assist our pets in living their best Arogya Paws life.

If you want to dive deeper into any of these modalities of holistic healing, here are a few resources to get started:

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine: https://chiu.edu/about/what-is-tcvm

This Animal Hospital of Lynwood (located in Arogya Paws’ home state!) has a great summary of a presentation about Ayurveda and Animal care: https://www.animalhospitaloflynnwood.com/ayurveda-in-veterinary-medicine/

White Oak Animal Hospital provides a nice overview of various holistic healing modalities: https://whiteoakvet.com/holistic-pet-care-services/eastern-medicine/herbal-medicine/

*Note:  the information in this post is not meant to treat or diagnose a condition.  It is always appropriate to verify information with your animal’s licensed veterinarian.  Please seek immediate attention for your pet if his/her condition does not improve.

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