Holistic is a word used when medicine becomes an art of healing. It goes beyond symptoms and quick fixes, by looking deeper into the patient’s body and whole life story. As a Holistic Veterinarian, I find the whole story and the whole body very important. I include a routine exam, but want to know your whole animals’ life from birth. I also want to perform a thorough palpation exam to feel the whole body and look for pain or physical changes with my hands. I ask lots of questions, such as:
- Where was your pet born? Did it come from a breeder, rescue or other situation? What was the start of life like? Did your pet have to travel extensively to come to your home?
- Was your pet spayed or neutered at a young age? Was it the runt of the litter?
- How many chemicals were administered into your pet at an early age? Are there any signs of damage to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract such as diarrhea, vomiting or low appetite?
- Have you given probiotics or natural supplements to boost your pets’ immune system?
- Do you allow your pet to walk on yards or sidewalks sprayed with pesticides?
- Do you walk your pet every day or have an exercise program?
- Do you take your pet into the wilderness?
- Do you use a collar and if so, does your pet fight it and hurt its neck or shoulders?
- Is the diet healthy and wholesome, or filled with chemicals and additives? Do you offer any fresh foods? Please quantify and qualify all snacks throughout the day? Do you read the labels?
- What level of stress is in the home, from 1 – 10 (1 is no stress)?
- Is your pet left alone during the day or is someone there most of the day?
- Do you crate your pet and if so, how much room does your pet have and how long is it left alone?
- What medications and supplements does your pet currently take? Please list all the medications you pet has taken in the past.
- Do you take your pet to parks, travel out of state, board at kennels, or visit daycare facilities?
After a barrage of questions, I like to use a low light laser when appropriate, to treat the patients’ whole body, while I perform a massage palpation exam. The exam is done by massaging the whole body while concurrently moving the laser over any areas of pain or tightness. The laser may make a slight tingling sensation in areas of tension, pain, or weakness, so along with massage it helps me map out problems. I also note which areas are strong and healthy.
In older dogs, for instance, if I find lipomas (fatty tumors) during the palpation exam, I note their location and decipher what part of the body has changed its normal gait, thus restricting movement and generating lipomas secondary to some mechanical change. This helps me see which parts of the body may be affected from soft tissue problems or arthritic development.
Once all the information is gathered, we discuss the life plan, including vaccinations, heartworm treatment plus other parasite treatments; based on the environment and life of the pet. Herbal formulas, healthy diets, routine body care (acupuncture, laser therapy, massage) or other modalities such as physical therapy, chiropractic or western evaluations are all considered.
The main goal is to create a healthy lifestyle that helps your pet stay emotionally, physically and spiritually well for his or her entire life. By empowering the family to be good caretakers and advocates for their furry family members, the entire family may enjoy the healthy lifestyle together.