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What's “Holistic”

Holistic animal care is derived from the concept "wholism" which is the traditional form of health care that encompasses the whole body as well as the total environment. In "wholism", the sum of the body is more than the sum of its constituent parts. In other words, in holistic healing, it would be incomplete to address only one part of an animal's body. Every part and system is interconnected. The holistic view takes into account not just the physical but mental and spiritual aspects of an organic being. Wholesome nutrition is the foundation for holistic health care. Proper nutrients provide the fuel to keep the body functioning at peak performance.

According to Richard Palmquist, DVM, "a holistic viewpoint, is larger than merely a symptom set seen in a patient. Holistic care involves the treatment of patients while respecting the connections they have to all components of Life. Holistic approaches seek to connect the patients back with Life and to improve their abilities to use their biological nature in the pursuit of the actions of living."

There are a number of different modalities that are utilized in holistic healing. Acupuncture, chiropractic and herbal can reduce disease, decrease oxidative damage, relieve pain and promote organ healing. Acupuncture, Dr. Palmquist explains, can reconnect and balance Life energy. Energy healing such as homeopathy, homotoxicology, Reiki, craniosacral therapy can work to align the physical, mental and spiritual portions of an organism.

According to Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM, in order for a holistic veterinarian to effectively treat a dog, the vet should take a complete family and patient history (medical and environmental), conduct a physical examination and ask about the dog's current diet; vaccination and medication history; use of heartworm, flea and tick preventatives; and recent illnesses. The vet should also gain access to any recent laboratory or other diagnostic reports, ordering any needed tests (or repeating tests that weren't done properly.) Only when all this is taken into account can appropriate treatments be prescribed.