Updated: Nov 11, 2020
We’ve all heard the term “holistic wellness”, but what exactly does it mean and is this something we can apply towards our pets? In short, holistic wellness is an approach to being healthy considering your mind, body and spirit and we can absolutely apply this towards our pets. In fact, Holistic Pet Wellness has become increasingly popular among the pet community for a variety of reasons. When applying the holistic approach with our pets, we need to take every facet into account- lifestyle, food and nutrition, supplements, medicine and treatment. Each of these need to work together and stay balanced. Let’s take a closer at how they apply to your pet.
FOOD & NUTRITION
In short, holistic pet foods are foods that are balanced and holistic nutrition is essentially about eating food as close to its natural state as possible. With some of the key components including unrefined, unprocessed, organic and locally grown- it’s no surprise that the veterinary field has seen a favorable outcome as a result of holistic diets. Studies have shown that commercial diets can stress the digestive systems because most pet food is often full of chemicals, preservatives, pesticides, over-cooked oils and heavy metals just to name a few! Pets on holistic diets have been noted to have shinier coats, improved skin, sharper vision, greater heart health and healthier digestive tracts. Pets with sensitive stomachs and senior pets seem to benefit from these diets because formulas tend to be grain free and frequently contain probiotics.
A word to the wise... with many pet food manufacturers jumping on the proverbial bandwagon and quick to label everything and anything as “holistic", it’s up to pet parents to conduct more research into ingredients and read food labels carefully.
BODY & SOUL
Emotional & mental states play a big role in your pet’s overall health and exercise is a wonderful way to keep them healthy. Staying at a healthy weight can help ward off diseases such as diabetes and cancer and can reduce stress on joints. Indoor cats are at a higher risk of becoming obese so if you have a cat that is strictly indoors, encourage activity through playtime (laser pointers are great for this!)
Holistic pet wellness also focuses on the other ways we can take care of the body. Believe it or not, massage therapy is a big one! If you go to the right person, a Therapeutic Massage for your pet is not an indulgence, it’s targeted touch therapy that can alleviate a painful condition, increase circulation and range of motion, stimulate the immune system and eliminate toxins. A licensed therapist will use a variety of techniques ranging from Myofascial release to Swedish massage depending on what issues the pet is having. Not to mention that a nice massage may also help senior pets relax and relieve muscle aches!
Another component of holistic wellness involves aromatherapy. This is something we implement for anxious pets, cats in particular tend to react very positively to it. Scent is so important in an animal’s life and it can change the way the brain functions. Aromatherapy has been known to help with everything from calming nerves, stress and anxiety to helping a sick animal in the recovery phase to building their immune system. I find it particularly beneficial to a pet when they’re going through a major life change. It’s also done wonders for my 19 year old kitty, Scout. She’s particular to lavender which is known for its soothing characteristics.
It is important to note that pets have a much more sensitive sense of smell than we do, so it’s important to seek the advice of an expert or your veterinarian before trying aromatherapy.
Imbalance in the body is said to cause unwanted symptoms, both in humans and in pets. Homeopathy, a system that has been around for over 200 years, is a natural, holistic system for healing that works by removing this imbalance. It's important to note that not all holistic treatments are "homeopathic." It also helps to understand that the foundation of homeopathic therapy explains that there are essentially three conceivable outcomes of treatment: suppression, palliation and cure.
While suppression does eliminate specific symptoms, it drives the illness to other avenues by denying the body's interpretation of the original illness. The strange thing with this is that despite the most disturbing symptom being done, the patient feels worse overall. Palliation aims to alleviate the symptoms, much like Tylenol treats a headache. The problem with palliation, however, is that the medicine needs to be repeated often. The bottom line: by only treating the symptoms and not the entire body, With homeopathy, cure is the only goal. This means that the body rids itself of the entire disease, not just the symptoms.
Homeopathic remedies are made from pure substances such as diluted minerals and plants. Additionally homeopathy uses the rule of "minimum dose." Homeopathic therapies consist of a vast range of substances that can include anything from salt to poisonous plants and snake venoms. Aristotle's argument on this is that "like cures like." The idea being that while a toxic substance can make a healthy person ill, that same toxic substance can cure a person or animal suffering fro the very same symptoms that the toxic element would cause. This is why, in homeopathy, the symptoms are crucial in determining what remedy to use.
Its safety and effectiveness have increased the popularity of homeopathy among any pet owners particularly because of its healing process on more chronic conditions. That being said, pet owners should seek the advice of a homeopathic veterinarian in order to determine the best course of therapy. To locate a homeopathic practice we suggest contacting the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.
A holistic approach may not be for everyone, but there are definite studies that indicate this has shown positive results for many. If you are interested in learning more about holistic pet wellness, please contact us at email@example.com or at (703) 310-9180.
About the Author
The daughter of an award-winning travel writer, Kimberly has followed in her mother’s footsteps and has had articles published in numerous publications. She got her first puppy from Santa Claus when she was four years old and has never known a life that didn’t include four-legged family members. An animal advocate, she has rescued pets, volunteered at shelters and has even been known to nurse an injured sparrow back to health. When she’s not busy running a successful pet care business and providing care to her four-legged customers, you can rest assured that she is pampering her 19-year-old kitty, Scout.