August 30: Pet Holistic Day

Holistic Pet Day was started by pet advocate, Colleen Paige, to encourage owners to look at health care for pets. One of those methods is holistic health, wherein a pet’s diet, lifestyle, and environment are recognized as having a potential impact on its overall health. Some believe that holistic treatments will improve nutrition, increase pet energy, and even manage diseases or cure illnesses.

Some aspects of holistic health seem like typical health care. For example, Pet Meds says that the most important aspect to holistic treatment is an adequate diet. A minimally-processed diet is considered the best option. For dogs and cats, who are carnivores, a low-carb and low-grain diet is the current popular trend. For other animals such as guinea pigs, who are herbivores, fresh vegetables and fruits are standard fare.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) reports that 98 million pets (54% of dogs and cats) living in the United States are overweight or obese. During a pet’s annual exam, inquire about your pet’s Body Condition Score and your veterinarian determine an appropriate weight-loss or maintenance plan. Pets that maintain a normal body condition throughout their life are less-prone to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

Other aspects of holistic treatment are more controversial. For example, pet owners are encouraged to reduce their reliance on prescription medications. One example given by a veterinarian at The Honest Kitchen is that a dog’s pain can be managed by taking a multi-modal approach, including:

  • Environmental modification (making your home, yard, and car ‘pet-safe’, etc.)
  • Physical Rehabilitation (massage, stretching, range of motion, acupuncture, laser treatment, etc.)
  • Nutraceuticals (fish oil-derived omega fatty acids, joint support products, antioxidants, etc.)
  • Healthy weight management (dietary modification, exercise, calorie restriction, etc.)

In conjunction with the above, other alternatives to conventional medicine might include acupuncture, chiropractic and homeopathy.

Although holistic health is growing in popularity, including among veterinarians, not everyone is a proponent. I’d need to do more research to know what I believe. What are your experiences?

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