As a pet owner, you understand the responsibility for providing the best care for your furry friends (your dog(s)!). While traditional veterinary care is crucial for keeping our pets safe and healthy, there is another approach to pet care that is quickly gaining popularity – holistic pet care. Holistic pet care is an all-encompassing approach that focuses on promoting health and wellness for pets through natural and alternative methods.
Here we explore the different types of holistic pet care, including herbal remedies, acupuncture, and massage therapy, and delve into the details of each to find what type of care may be best for your pet.
What is Holistic Pet Care?
Holistic pet care is a comprehensive approach to pet healthcare that involves caring for the whole pet rather than individual symptoms. It takes your pet’s diet, surroundings, genetics, behavior, and health history into account for a wholesome healthcare approach.
This approach also addresses the entire animal’s mind, body, and spirit using conventional and non-conventional treatments. Most holistic vets champion integrative pet wellness, which combines traditional and alternative pet medicine.
The need for holistic care stems from the pressing importance of seeing beyond symptoms. In many cases, there may be multiple levels of cause for one sign. A disease in one body part can manifest itself in various ways, including showing up as a symptom in an entirely different area.
That’s why holistic care professionals aim to identify the actual cause of an illness to treat it for a successful and long-lasting recovery. Often, this approach presents a path for choosing the most beneficial and, many times, the least invasive treatment.
Now that you have a better understanding of what holistic pet care is, let’s dive deeper into the different types of alternative pet care practices that make up this approach to pet health.
From herbal remedies to acupuncture and massage therapy, there is a wide range of options available to support our pets’ health and well-being. Here’s a deeper look at these holistic pet care techniques:
1. Acupuncture & Acupressure
Acupuncture is a healing method that has been practiced for over 5,000 years, popularly originating in Asia. It is the practice of strategically inserting tiny needles into the body at acupuncture sites, where blood vessels and nerves converge.
Experts claim it has many advantages, including resolving energy abnormalities and supporting the body’s natural healing ability.
Acupressure is another holistic care technique and is like acupuncture but without the use of needles. This practice is used to stimulate energy flow, promote relaxation, and relieve pain and tension in pets. The acupressurist expertly applies gentle network pressure to specific pressure points on the pet’s body, such as their legs, paws, ears, and tail.
These pressure points correspond to different organs and systems in your dog’s body, and the application of pressure to these points can help to balance the flow of energy, known as Qi, throughout the body.
The overall benefits your pet might enjoy with this include pain relief, anti-inflammatory effects, enhanced blood circulation, and less anxiety. It’s a comparatively new treatment method for animals, so you must consult your vet before using it.
Chances are you have heard of aromatherapy for human relaxation purposes. But what if you could use this form of therapy to help your pet?
Using the aroma from essential oils, this type of holistic care promotes physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Whether it’s a human or a pet, the calming effects of aromatherapy oils are incredible and worth exploring.
The oils are typically applied topically or via inhalation. Diffusion is also another excellent route to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy. This especially comes in handy when trying to calm your dog if they experience anxiety from noise, travel, or separation.
Before using pet aromatherapy, it’s crucial to speak with your veterinarian, as some essential oils can harm pets like dogs, cats, and birds.
3. Chiropractic Treatment
Chiropractic care for pets focuses on correcting spinal misalignments and nerve disturbances to improve overall health and well-being. This technique is based on the belief that the body can self-heal when the nervous system functions correctly.
While most people often meet chiropractic adjustments with controversy, it’s worth noting that speaking to the right professionals can help you choose the right treatments for your furry friend. A veterinarian or trained chiropractor will gently adjust misalignments and relieve muscle and joint discomfort.
Chiropractic care can be a great drug-free treatment option for dogs who have trouble with arthritis, chronic pain, gastrointestinal issues, hip dysplasia, mobility issues, trauma from injuries, and overall health.
4. Massage Therapy
Pet massage therapy is another popular holistic pet care technique that involves gentle manipulation and pressure application on muscles and soft tissue.
While massages are not a new concept, many dog owners don’t know that their pets can benefit from massages too! This therapy can take many forms, including deep tissue massage, sports massage, and Swedish massage.
Whether your dog is experiencing tension knots from anxiety or stress, or they have an illness or age-related conditions, the right massage therapy can be life-changing for them.
It’s also safe and natural, and the effects are almost instant! Before you walk out of the therapy session, your doggo will likely already have a spring in its step!
Our fur babies deserve the very best. While some may be picky eaters, others are fine with whatever you can get your hands on. But whether you have a picky eater or not, considering nutritional needs is one of the basic principles of being a pet parent.
If you find that your dog’s health has taken a downturn, it might be time to consider improving their diet. Of course, you’d need to speak with your vet first, but don’t overlook the importance of nutrition as the foundation for a happy, healthy dog.
Your vet can help you build a balanced regimen for pet nutrition and diet that provides all the necessary nutrients your dog needs. You’ll need to consider several unique factors as well, including breed, age, weight, activity level, and potential food allergies.
Under this you might also find lots of herbal remedies and nutritional supplements for dogs ranging from tinctures and capsules to teas and poultices. We reiterate, it’s important to take your dog’s pre-existing diet and allergies into consideration before starting any of these.
Changing your dog’s food might have a significant impact on their health if they have allergies or digestive issues. After some investigation, you and your vet (or pet nutritionist) might find that you don’t need medication or more costly vet appointments – all you need is the right dog food.
6. Sound Therapy
Unleash the power of sound to heal your pet’s mind, body, and soul. Sound therapy is an innovative and cutting-edge form of holistic pet care that harnesses the healing power of sound waves to promote well-being in pets.
This type of therapy involves the use of sound waves and vibrations to stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms, helping to alleviate pain, reduce stress, and promote relaxation and balance.
Sound therapy can take many forms, including music therapy, vibrational therapy, and auricular therapy. It involves playing specially selected music to dogs to help them relax and reduce stress or sound waves and vibrations, as with vibrational treatment.
Why are holistic treatments becoming more popular for animals?
Now more than ever, many dog parents seek holistic pet care for their dogs for numerous reasons.
Many pet owners prefer holistic therapies because they are less invasive and often less risky to the animal’s well-being. That is why many veterinarians are beginning to incorporate holistic concepts into their practice.
Increased awareness of the potential side effects of traditional pharmaceuticals has led people to seek gentler and more natural alternatives for their dogs.
Holistic care relies on natural substances, nontraditional treatment and avoids the use of synthetic chemicals, reducing the risk of toxic exposure and side effects.
It’s also worth noting that these holistic approaches have had some outstanding results for pets regarding longevity and quality of life, however there is a call for more clinical research and scientific proof to back these alternative pet care practices.
Pros of holistic pet care
1. Whole-Body Perspective
Holistic pet care takes a comprehensive and integrated approach to natural pet health and well-being. It views a pet’s health as an interconnected system, where physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects all play a role in overall well-being.
By considering all these aspects, holistic pet care aims to address imbalances and promote balance (yes, those are two different diagnostic modalities), resulting in improved physical and mental health for pets. This approach goes beyond treating individual symptoms or illnesses and instead focuses on supporting the whole pet.
Adopting holistic pet care along with your dog’s traditional veterinary care, can also help you preserve, and even improve, your dog’s health and longevity by seeking to maintain your pet’s body’s homeostasis and promoting well-being. This will, in
turn, help reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses or conditions and ultimately help to prevent health problems before they become serious.
By offering additional forms of therapy in their treatment programs, holistic pet care clinics also assist in avoiding over-medication – a problem many pet healthcare regimens face. This can help alleviate your dog’s health issues while preventing further complications.
3. Gentle, Supportive, and Non-Invasive
While mainstream (a.k.a. traditional or western) medicine does its best to improve your pet’s quality of life and provides life-saving technologies, it also comes with some risk of undesirable outcomes and adverse side effects. It’s in these gaps, where traditional medicine lacks, that alternative pet therapies may be a more suitable option.
Holistic pet care uses gentler and less invasive methods than traditional veterinary care. This makes it an excellent option for pets with complicated health problems that haven’t been cured by traditional vet care, and also for those pets who are anxious or very sensitive.
Holistic pet care’s focus on natural, non-invasive methods may provide a gentler and more supportive approach to your pet’s health and well-being.
Cons of Holistic Pet Care
1. Higher Cost
Compared to traditional veterinary medicine, holistic pet care can also be expensive, especially when using multiple methods. Also, some of these treatments might not be covered by insurance, making it a challenge for your budget.
Accessibility, or the lack thereof, of holistic healthcare practitioners, makes it difficult to explore them with your pet. However, the list of alternative vet care practitioners is growing! You can search your local area on Google for “Holistic Vet” or “Alternative Veterinarian” or you can check out AHVMA’s free holistic vet finder tool.
3. Lack of Standardization
There is a lack of standardization within the holistic pet care field, and not all practitioners adhere to the same principles or methods. This makes it essential for pet owners to research and carefully choose a knowledgeable and experienced practitioner thoroughly.
In Our Experience
Whether your pet should see a holistic vet depends on their unique needs and your personal choice. This decision is influenced mainly by your philosophy and what makes you and your fur baby comfortable. Holistic treatment might be the significant step you take toward real change.
However, check all the boxes before sourcing for holistic veterinarian treatment. Advocates for holistic pet care recommend beginning this approach as early in your pet’s life as possible. Although this method may be a little different, it might mean a world of difference for you and your dog.
It’s possible you might prefer to take a hybrid approach, having a holistic vet in addition to your traditional vet care. In this scenario, we’ve found it useful to leverage pet insurance to aide in covering some of the traditional vet care costs. You can check out our list of the best pet insurance providers to get started.
Be sure that you work with your vet, they may have some recommendations for alternative therapy providers.
And as always, consult with your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet, exercise routine, or medicine and treatment.