Dr. Michael Goldberg
Homeopathic Veterinary Services Vancouver British Columbia Canada. Hudson Place Holistic Veterinary Clinic
Holistic Veterinary Care: What is it?
What does this catch phrase mean in real terms of caring for our pets? There are a number of growing practitioners that are becoming attuned to the fact that health should be approached from the standpoint of prevention rather than constantly putting out fires as they come through the door. How can this be done? This can be accomplished through an approach to health that encompasses the whole individual as opposed to merely looking at the part that appears to be affected. I approach health with my patients through nutrition, good quality supplements, good exercise, minimal invasive drugs/surgery, and a positive environment.
Good nutrition is the first part of the preventative formula. As of late there has been a shift in the way we feed our pets. There has been a controversy as to the cooked vs. raw food diets. There are a good number of companies now whose foods are loaded with the right stuff for our pets. There are also a good number of homemade formulas with very well balanced ingredients. I feel personally that feeding a raw food diet actually maximizes the nutrition that our pets can absorb. There are excellent quality prepared diets that are made through low heat processing which tends to preserve more nutrients in the food. These can be supplemented with a good quality multi vitamin to give the pet adequate nutrition for repair and maintaining their health. Depending on the individualís needs, certain vitamins can be of help at certain points and under certain conditions. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids have also shown a benefit in both skin and coat as well as to joints. Other types of supplements such as glandulars and cell extracts can be added to the diet to optimize health.
Exercise, as we all know, maintains the body in optimal shape and as such allows the body to use the nutrition provided in a maximal effort to repair and maintain itself. The correct amount and type of exercise depends on the breed and size of pet that you have. As a rule of thumb, I usually let them make that decision. With rapidly growing puppies, there are some theories out there that as the bones grow and the cartilage form on the bone ends, you should avoid potential traumas to the joints in the form of excessive high distance jumping. Toy chasing at there own pace every day is and should be adequate for most puppies until they tire. I would do this at least 2-3 times daily and can range from minutes to hours in length. Regular walks or romps for mature dogs are a must. There are some good books that describe local ìdog friendlyî areas and ìdog friendlyî hikes.
We are taught in Vet school that approximately 85% of disease will eventually get better on itís own. Over the years of practice, there are situations where this adage has certainly come to light. One thing I have learned is that minimal invasiveness is the route to go, as there is such a desire within the body to heal itself. I have learned through judicious use of homeopathy for example that this is indeed the case. To my thinking, homeopathy (the use of extremely dilute substances to affect cure) is like using the carrot on the stick to show the body how to heal itself. I have seen this work in situations where surgery and other more invasive treatments were indicated from a conventional standpoint. I suppose the way I look at this is that surgery can be useful in many ways, but I try to minimize the need when it comes to taking out parts with which the body comes. In a certain way, to keep the body whole. In a surprising number of cases, this can be done through the correct use of homeopathics, herbs, vitamins and diet.
The other aspect of health that I see as an important one is the environment. I always encourage new puppy owners to link up with a good training facility that pushes positive reinforcement and firmness in their training. I also encourage the whole family to be involved, as consistency is probably the most important ingredient to a well-adjusted pet. Just as with children, you should be firm and fair with your pets. This allows them to understand clearly what they are allowed to do and not to do (and this is certainly dependent on what boundaries you choose for them).
The term holistic can mean different things to different people. What it means to me is that there should be no limit on the tools one uses to attain health. Holistic practitioners tend to use this blueprint when they provide treatment to their patients. I encourage pet owners to speak with their veterinarian regarding these matters as Iím sure youíll be surprised at the number of growing practitioners who can help guide you to your petsí improved health. The philosophy that I adhere to is good solid building blocks, minimal intervention and lots of exercise, which will translate into good health.
Homeopathic remedies are extremely dilute substances, which may be from the plant, mineral or animal kingdoms, that are used to treat many types of disease process.
A single homeopathic remedy is chosen to treat the whole animal, including their mental, emotional and physical symptoms. This is in contrast to conventional or allopathic medicine where symptoms are suppressed or removed by the use of drugs such as antibiotics or pain killers. Of course there are certain life threatening situations where antibiotics are essential, but homeopathy actually stimulates the body to heal itself, and strengthens the immune system, and consequently leaves the body in a better state of health than before it became sick.
Homeopathic remedies use minute amounts of substances to act as a trigger to the body and stimulate its natural immune system. We are attempting to make your pet as healthy as he or she can be and gradually build up their body to the best that it can be. We are working with the immune system and not against it and aiming for a cure. This can take time and some animals will never be totally free of symptoms, but should live longer and healthier lives as a result of the treatment they will receive. In practice this means an animal can have a so called fatal illness but have an immune system that with the right homeopathic trigger can overcome the illness. The immune system which is encompassed in the term vital force depends on a variety of factors. These include age of the animal, type of disease, duration of illness as well as the innate vital force or that the animal was born with. Drugs, poor nutrition, constant vaccinations, chemical treatments for fleas and ticks all undermine the immune system and should be avoided as much as possible. All these factors lead to the development of chronic disease which is characterized by specific symptoms.
THE HEALING EFFECT
Initially when a homeopathic remedy is taken nothing may appear to happen. The remedy will start to work but nothing may be apparent to begin with. In acute conditions the effect is more rapid, and after a short time some improvement may be noted. One important thing to look out for is an aggravation - this refers to a slight worsening of the symptoms for a short while, followed by improvement. This is the healing reaction to the body, and is a good sign that the correct remedy was chosen. Usually in chronic disease the aggravation may be seen after about three to five days. Then gradual improvement should be noted. In acute disease situations where the onset was more rapid and severe an aggravation might not necessarily occur or be noticed. However, after one or more doses of the appropriate remedy improvement should be noticed. In many cases acute illnesses are really flare ups of underlying chronic disease, so a follow up with more chronic treatment is often advisable and treats the real root of the problem and prevents further episodes of acute disease. In chronic diseases one dose of a homeopathic remedy is usually given, or a daily dose of a lower potency. The effect is observed over several weeks. The aggravation, if it occurs will usually be after about three to five days. Even though there may be some worsening of symptoms, the overall feeling should be better - so the animal may have more energy, and vitality than before, for example.
Giving more than one remedy at a time is also not to be recommended. It is best to give a single, carefully chosen remedy, at the correct potency and dosage. How long the remedy is effective for depends upon the vital force or qi of the patient, the potency of the remedy, the specific remedy that was given as well as the severity of the disease. The first rule of homeopathy is wait, wait, wait. It is important to be observant to notice the effects of the remedy and determine what is happening. Most importantly was that remedy curative, or if another remedy going to be more effective. Often the next time a chronic remedy is administered a higher potency must be given the next time as the body has become stronger and a stronger remedy is now needed to get a healing effect.
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Hudson Place Veterinary Clinic
1300 W 73rd, Vancouver, BC V6P 3E7