What is Holistic?

Holistic Veterinary Care = treating the whole patientCat-and-Dog1

Holistic Veterinary Medicine considers all aspects of the patient’s current state of health including their current physical state as well as activity level, behaviour, nutrition, environment and genetics.   People often view Holistic Veterinary Care as providing treatments that are less invasive and that take greater consideration of the patient’s wellbeing and lifestyle.   In contrast Allopathic medicine is a term used to describe that aspect of conventional medicine that uses drugs or surgery to treat or suppress symptoms or a disease process.   These two views may at time appear at odds with each other,  however at Guelph Animal Hospital we believe that all medicine whether considered “conventional” or “alternative” should be approached from a holistic perspective.

Let’s take for example an overweight dog that is being examined for chronic arthritis in the hips and back.  A straight forward allopathic approach would be to prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug to suppress the pain associated with inflammation.  A less invasive approach may involve the use of acupuncture applied to specific points along the back and hips to help increase blood flow and reduce inflammation and pain in the associated area.  Neither of these approaches would be considered “holistic” in and off themselves.   A more holistic approach would take into consideration that this pet is overweight, eats a dry commercial dog food, and gets little exercise, is stiff and sore when first getting up and then gradually improves with exercise.  A holistic treatment plan may involve a diet that contains an increased amount of omega 3 fatty acids including additional nutrients for the joints (such as glucosamine, chondroitin and possibly green lipped muscle), plus the addition of some whole foods rich in naturally occurring antioxidants.  A weight reduction plan designed to achieve an ideal lean body weight can recommended while a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug is used initially to provide comfort while regular daily walks are implemented.  Then acupuncture, chiropractic and or laser therapy can be implemented to help improve blood circulation, decrease inflammation and improve mobility.  Further therapies may also include the addition of narcotic and other pharmaceutical drugs or homeopathic and herbal medicines used in combination to decrease the overall risk of side effects.      Visit http://guelphvet.ca/2012/09/11/integrative-therapy-for-arthritic-pets/  for more information on integrative pain management.

Integrative Veterinary Care makes the best use of all modalities, whether considered conventional or alternative, that best apply to each individual patient and situation.  At Guelph Animal Hospital we believe that by staying well educated in current veterinary therapies, diagnostics, and surgical techniques while also having solid training in several alternative modalities (such as acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal, nutritional and homeopathic therapies) we are better able to choose those therapies that appeal best to our client’s and patient’s individualized needs.   For more information on Integrative and Alternative Therapies visit http://guelphvet.ca/guelph-veterinary-services/alternative-integrative-therapies/ .