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5 Pet Care Myths of Holistic Pet Care

Continuing my five myths series, this month I'm going to tackle the five myths about holistic pet care. As more pet owners turn to his natural style of care, it's only obvious that some people who do not believe in holistic health care might try to dissuade them from choosing holistic pet care. This article will explore the five most common myths about holistic pet care.

In my practice, I have five goals for my patients which form the basis of their holistic care.

  • Goal #1 - Prevent rather than treat disease.
  • Goal #2 - Say no to drugs and use a more natural therapy whenever possible.
  • Goal #3 - Heal the patient rather than treat the disease.
  • Goal #4 - Reduce healthcare costs.
  • Goal #5 - Offer hope for those cases which seem hopeless.

Keeping these goals in mind, I think you will agree that a holistic approach is much preferred to a standard conventional approach. Here then, are the five myths about holistic pet care.


Myth #1 - Holistic care costs too much

Cost is like beauty: it's in the eye of the beholder. While some pet owners feel that spending over $100 on any single veterinary visit is too expensive, many pet owners will spend several thousand dollars on a surgery if they expect to be able to add another 6 to 12 months to their pets' life. In general terms, looking at the long-term health-care cost of owning a pet, holistic care is usually less expensive than a conventional approach. This is because holistic care focuses on preventing disease (see Goal #1 above) and relying on natural therapies rather than conventional medications (see Goal #2 above.) Preventing disease is always less expensive than treating a problem. When you consider that the average cost of eight hours of care for a sick pet can easily run $500 or more, all of a sudden a $100 blood test done twice a year to allow early detection of a problem and prevent the problem doesn't look too expensive.
It is true that some medications cost less than supplements. For example, prednisone, a drug often used for allergic pets, is inexpensive. However, giving prednisone on a regular basis will add to the cost of care since long-term use of prednisone can predispose a pet to other diseases such as diabetes or adrenal gland disease. Additionally, patients taking prednisone on a regular basis should have checkups, blood, and urine testing every 3 to 4 months to allow early detection of these other diseases that can result from long-term prednisone administration. Repeated veterinary visits that would be unnecessary with a holistic approach add to the cost of your pet's care. And when you consider that some medications like prednisone may actually reduce your pet's life expectancy, spending a little bit more on holistic therapy is worth the money if your pet gains several more years of a happy and healthy life.


Myth #2 - There's no proof holistic care works

I love this myth! I just finished work on my latest two books. The first, Nutritional Supplements for the Veterinary Practice: A Pocket Guide, is written for veterinarians. The other book, Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How You Can Win The Battle!, is written for women who want to learn about a holistic approach to preventing and treating breast cancer. In both cases I did extensive research to learn about the latest information I wanted to provide my readers. If you know where to look, there are literally thousands of documents showing the effectiveness of holistic care for people and pets. It is true that nutritional supplements are not subjected to the same standards of testing as our conventional drugs, but that doesn't mean there aren't studies showing their effectiveness (or in some cases lack of effectiveness.) In fact, many studies have shown how holistic therapies can be more beneficial than similar conventional medications. If someone thinks there is "no proof that holistic care works," either he hasn't taken the time to do the research or is simply discounting it, neither of which is beneficial for health.


Myth #3 - Holistic care is wacky

It is true that new things can sometimes appear "different" or "wacky." It's also true that there are mainstream holistic therapies such as nutritional supplementation, acupuncture, chiropractic, and herbal therapy. Other therapies such as homeopathy might appear "wacky" when first studied as this discipline looks at health and disease from a totally different perspective. The same is true when studying an Eastern or Chinese approach to health and disease. However, careful study and questioning of different holistic disciplines can usually allow the patient to determine which therapies seem logical versus which ones seem "far out." In general, if a certain therapy promises a cure or touts itself as the "only" therapy needed for health, I would be very suspicious and likely avoid that therapy. No particular discipline, holistic or conventional, can make promises or guarantee any specific results. Any therapy or provider of therapy that does so is likely a quack, guilty of malpractice, or just interested in taking your money. Once you carefully examine mainstream holistic therapies, I think you'll agree that they make sense and add to our perspective of how health and disease affect the body.


Myth # 4 - Holistic care is too hard and requires too much effort

It is true that holistic care often involves more work on the part of the patient or caregiver than simply popping one or two conventional medicines. For example, I prescribe frequent bathing and 3 to 5 supplements given one to two times daily for my patients with skin disease. For pets or people with cancer, dietary therapy, mind-body medicine techniques, and 10 or more supplements a day are standard holistic care. If you are not able to spend this extra time and effort, or if your pet resists your good intentions, it may be that a conventional approach is best for your pet. However, I have found that most pet owners can easily transition to a holistic disease prevention or disease treatment approach and that most pets respond well to these therapies.


Myth #5 - I can't find a holistic vet

There're certainly fewer veterinarians that offer holistic care than those who offer only a conventional approach. Over time, I have seen that number slowly increase as doctors look for that missing link that can improve their patient care and as pet owners demand something more than simply another magic shot or pill. However, I appreciate the fact that many areas do not have a holistic veterinarian available to see patients on a face-to-face basis. Many holistic doctors, me included, are able to help people via a phone appointment. Phone appointments are very easy and reduce the stress of bringing your pet to the doctor's office. You're able to still work with your local conventional doctor and take advantage of the care that he or she might offer, while the holistic veterinarian is able to prescribe natural therapies to further encourage healing of the pet's condition. If you don't have the services of a local holistic veterinarian, I would encourage you to set a phone appointment with a holistic doctor who can serve as a second opinion and offer additional therapies you may not find locally.


While there's nothing wrong with conventional medicine, like any health care system it only offers one perspective. Holistic care is able to offer many medical therapies, including conventional when appropriate, intends to focus on health more than simply disease. In my practice, I have found the best results occur when pets are treated with proven holistic therapies that usually result in a lower cost to the pet owner and increased quality and length of life for the patient.



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