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In honor of National Holistic Pet Day, reminds pet owners that nontraditional medical care can produce effective results. In fact, a recent poll revealed that over 63 percent of pet owners would consider holistic therapies (acupuncture, herbal meds, etc.) as an alternative to traditional veterinary medicine.
To some, the idea of holistic medicine may conjure up images of a rustic apothecary and ineffectual diagnostic measures, but holistic medicine is a progressive industry replete with proven practitioners and techniques.
Acupuncture, for instance, can be used to relieve pain and strengthen the body’s immune system; herbal medicines can serve to enhance nutrition, improve body synergy and remedy many ailments; and homeopathy can treat the deepest constitutional causes of dog diseases and cat diseases.
“While the ‘find it and kill it’ Western medical approach may work for infectious diseases, holistic medicine takes preventative measures by treating the whole body,” says Dr. Nancy Scanlan, executive director of the American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Association (AHVMA). “Holistic veterinary care can be much more effective when treating chronic illnesses like heart disease.”
However, few legitimate holistic veterinarians would go as far as to say that Western medicine isn’t useful. For example, emergency situations requiring surgery are far better suited for Western medicine techniques. This is also why many holistic veterinarians integrate Western diagnostic methods in their care regimen, such as X-rays and laboratory tests.
And for those who think all holistic therapies are expensive, they’re not. In fact, some holistic approaches offer cheaper and equally effective results. “Because herbs and nutritional supplements cannot be patented, the holistic vet can offer a wider array of pet remedies,” Dr. Scanlan says. “This can make a significant difference, especially in cases of chronic illness.”

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