Updated on December 29, 2020
Conventional veterinary medicine has long been the go-to resource for pet parents. As holistic approaches become more available, with advanced research and education, pet parents are now turning to integrative medicine or depending solely on holistic pet care. Concerns of over-vaccination, pharmaceutical side effects, overall well-being, and large price tags have contributed to the average pet parent’s consideration into holistic medicine.
Conventional medicine is also aimed more toward reducing symptoms associated with a diagnosis in many cases rather than addressing the root cause of the problem. New generations of veterinarians are seeing this trend and, as such, have joined in the effort to discover more natural remedies.
Conventional Versus Holistic
According to Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health For Dogs and Cats, “in our eagerness for quick and easy solutions, we seize on a certain drug that may just cover up symptoms without addressing underlying causes. For example, synthetic cortisone is powerful enough to stop a wide variety of symptoms in their tracks, but inside, the disturbance continues unseen. Animals vigorously treated with such drugs (apparently successfully) go on to develop another condition within a few weeks or months. The suppressed disorder has simply gone on to create more serious inroads in the body.”
A veterinarian’s goal is to ensure your dog (or cat) is living the happiest, most healthy life possible. Conventional medicine does work and we are in no way stating that it doesn’t. But, veterinarians are now seeing that holistic (often referred to as “whole” medicine) looks at the patient in a full-spectrum light. Instead of solely relying on prescriptions from pharmaceutical companies or conventional remedies, holistic care is considered as well. Integrative medicine combines the options available conventionally and naturally.
Continued education and learning, along with discovering the best methods to help a patient, are among the values outlined in the veterinary oath. According to the AVMA, the oath states:
“Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.
I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.
I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.”
In his book, Dr. Pitcairn continued to state “health is not necessarily just the absence of disease, it is rather a universal good condition on all levels–physical, emotional and mental. Naturopathic health is a distinctively natural approach to health and healing that recognizes the integrity of the whole animal.”
Naturopathy is an alternative method of healing that considers natural methods including the following:
If you were to look at indigenous peoples, or animals in the wild, they do not rely on pharmaceuticals to get better when they are ill, or store-bought products to stay healthy. Instead, they look for natural remedies from the Earth to produce the same result. Our dogs (and us), after all, are members of the Animal Kingdom. Western culture leads us to believe that we are different from our ancestors, but our bodies truly aren’t.
Naturopathy also takes the mind and spirit portion of health into account. When you think about it, how much does your mental health affect you? I know, in my case, when I am feeling disappointed or anxious, my physical health is also affected. That’s because mental health has a direct correlation to physical health.
In naturopathy, prevention is the main focus as opposed to what is going to happen once there is an illness or ailment detected. The eight laws of health are critical to naturopathic medicine. The eight laws of health are:
In holistic pet care, it’s all about the balance of the eight laws of health. If one of the laws goes out of balance, that’s when disease or some type of illness begins. If there is an ailment diagnosed, natural methods including herbs, homeopathy, supplements, and nutritional adjustments are among those considered to bring the body back to homeostasis.
Most naturopaths don’t have education or experience with conventional medicine. That’s where the conventional veterinarians come into play. With both of these combined, a whole patient approach is able to be implemented.
The Pet Food Industry
The pet food industry, or pet food as a whole rather, plays a large role in conventional versus holistic medicine. According to Dr. Zac Pilossoph, the Chief Veterinary Officer at CBD Dog Health, veterinarians are often taught about dog food by representatives in the commercial food industry in their formal education. Of course, veterinarians can branch out to learn more about more natural dog foods (and that’s what Dr. Pilossoph has done to encourage a well-rounded perspective on veterinary medicine), but the point here is most veterinarians learn about nutrition from a commercial perspective. There is a sort of ‘fear-based’ approach when it comes to providing a natural diet. Questions arise including:
How can we be sure raw food is safe?
How do we know the raw diet contains all the necessary nutrients for the dog?
What pathogens are inside raw meat that can result in disease?
How do we find raw meat that has been well-researched and managed?
What other alternatives are there?
According to Angela Ardolino, the Founder of CBD Dog Health, “what you put into your body directly impacts what you get out of it. If you eat fast food, you will not feel your best and your health will suffer. The same goes for your pets. The diet that you feed them directly impacts their health and well-being. Unfortunately, some of the most “trusted” dog (and cat) food brands are made with ingredients that have little, if any, nutritional value, and can be full of carcinogens. Even more troubling: the FDA does not heavily regulate pet food.”
This is a topic of discussion that must be considered when speaking with your veterinarian whether he or she is conventional, integrative, or holistic. What food is best for your individual dog? Every dog is different and has a different health profile with a varied history. Nutrition must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Holistic pet care looks at the pet as a “whole.” You can remember it best that way; holistic = “whole-istic.” The diagnostic tests run by a conventional veterinarian or integrative veterinarian help make informed, educated decisions on which route to take next in holistic care. By obtaining the proper diagnostic tests, we are better equipped to explore every option there is available for our dogs or cats. There is a delicate balance here and naturopathy remains a controversial issue among all veterinarians and pet health professionals.
About Amber Drake
Amber Drake is a highly accomplished, world-renowned, and published book author, freelance writer and editor, inspirational speaker, an inspiring teacher, a well-reputed canine behaviorist, a canine cancer researcher, CEO of Canine Companions, and of course, animal lover. Starting with an Associate of Science degree in Biology in 2007 from Jamestown Community College, she has since expanded her knowledge horizon by acquiring a Bachelor of Science in Biology degree with courses from both SUNY Fredonia and Cornell University, followed by a Master of Arts Degree in Education (2011) from Ashford University, a Post-Master’s Educational Certification, and a Doctorate from the North Central University, Prescott Valley Arizona. Drake is a woman of extreme passion with great love for her work as a canine behaviourist, writer, and college professor.
About Angela Ardolino
Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time that she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association, and has trained hundreds of medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.