What is Integrative/Holistic/Alternative veterinary medicine?
Complementary medicine: used with conventional medicine
Any Veterinarian who uses therapies outside of conventional medicine and combines them with conventional medicine is an integrative Veterinarian. This style of patient management is designed to minimize adverse effects, maximize successful treatment outcomes and improve the quality of life.
Alternative medicine: used in place of conventional medicine
At the Wainwright Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Judy McFarlen offers Western and Chinese herbal medicine to treat many conditions. She can use a herbal approach alone if that is your preference. Otherwise, we generally use herbs in Veterinary Medicine to supplement other treatment modalities.
Herbal pet therapy needs to be used carefully just like traditional pet medicine drugs. The purchase of internet herbal remedies is not advised. There are many herbs that treat the same condition but may be contraindicated in your specific pets health needs. It is important to seek professional advice from a trained veterinary professional on herbal remedies. The use of these treatments still requires a diagnosis and and examination by the doctor.
Holistic medicine: generic term for any treatment that is intended to treat the individual as a whole.
It is an approach to pet patient care that combines the best of conventional medicine, complementary and alternative therapies.
This type of treatment focuses on treating the whole animal and not just the symptoms of disease. The philosophy is that all things (nutrition, enviroment, personality and genetics) contribute to the single problem.
Often the use of multiple modalities improves treatment success, decreases side effects, and improves quality of life while limiting side effects.
For example we will often use traditional pharmaceuticals, herbal remedies(to improve response and lower side effects), then add in nutritional management and laser therapy for improved success.
A Case Example of Holistic Pet Care
Let’s use as an example the case of an overweight dog that is being examined for chronic arthritis in the hips and back. Traditional allopathic medicine would generally prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug to suppress the pain associated with inflammation. The additional use of narcotics or other pain medication would also be a consideration depending on the patient and clinical signs. The relief of pan and inflammation provides the pet with better quality of life and mobility. The benefits of this application can be considerable and this treatment is effective.
A more holistic approach would take into consideration that this pet is overweight, eats a dry commercial dog food, and gets little exercise, is stiff and sore when first getting up and then gradually improves with exercise.
A holistic treatment plan
- Dietary Nutritional Management using a diet that containing an increased amount of omega 3 fatty acids including additional nutrients for the joints (such as glucosamine, chondroitin and possibly green lipped muscle), plus the addition of some whole foods rich in naturally occurring antioxidants.
- A weight reduction plan designed to achieve an ideal lean body weight can recommended while a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug is used initially to provide comfort while regular daily walks are implemented.
- The use of Chinese or western herbal medicine to either eliminate the need for NSAIDS or to decrease dose or side effects.
- Laser therapy to improve blood circulation, decrease inflammation and improve mobility.
- Anti-inflammatory, narcotics, and other pharmaceutical medications as needed (usually at lower doses and sometimes not required).