Holistic medicine takes many
forms, but there are common beliefs among these various techniques. First of
all, health is considered to be more than simply the absence of disease. It is
a state of well-being expressed as a vitality that resists disease. Health is a
dynamic balance of internal and external forces. From this point of view, there
is a broad spectrum of physical conditions ranging from perfect health to
As an animal declines from health
toward disease, she is first affected by dis-ease.
Dis-ease begins as an imbalance, which may go undetected by conventional means.
If left untreated at this early stage, detectable disease and possibly death
will eventually result. Often, holistic approaches to health can detect
problems at the dis-ease state and correct the imbalance before disease sets
The Energy of Life
Holistic therapies embrace the
vitalist concept that has been abandoned by conventional medicine. The
vitalists believe that there is more to the body than meets the eye. There is a
vital energy that animates the flesh. The Chinese call it "Qi," the
Japanese call it "Ki," the doctors of India call it
"Prana," homeopaths call it the "Vital Force," and
chiropractors call it the "Innate." It is this life force energy that
is the difference between life and death, and it must be nourished to maintain
The Body Can Heal Itself
While conventional medicine fights
disease, holistic therapies generally strengthen the body. The body is viewed
as containing its own pharmacy. Research bears this fact out. You may have
heard of the “placebo effect.” This medical anomaly predicts that 30% of
subjects treated with a sugar pill will improve; no matter what the disease is.
High blood pressure, low blood pressure, allergies—all can be alleviated by the
patients' own bodies. It is considered a case of mind over matter but it proves
that our bodies can heal themselves if conditions are right. The idea of
holistic therapies is to produce the right conditions for the body to produce true
Of course, fighting disease and
strengthening the body are not mutually exclusive approaches to health. For me,
holistic pet care embraces the best of what each has to offer. This concept is
referred to as integrative medicine. There are some cases for which surgery or
antibiotics may be the best option. At the same time acupuncture, chiropractic,
herbs or nutritional supplements may be used to speed healing in conjunction
with or in place of Western medicine.
Diet is the basis of health. It is
very difficult to build a healthy body if you do not supply it with wholesome
building materials. As is so often the case, when it comes to nutrition, the
closer we stick to Mother Nature, the
better off we are. Animals evolved over millions of years eating unprocessed
diets that are much different than what we currently offer them. Eating
strictly processed foods is as unhealthy for our pets as it is for us. Feeding
a balanced raw diet is best for pets.
Vaccines are an important tool for
disease prevention in veterinary medicine. Just like any tool, it can cause
more harm than good if used improperly. Yearly distemper vaccines should be a
thing of the past. Many studies now show that this vaccine lasts for years in
the majority of pets. Vaccinating an animal more than necessary does not make
them more immune to disease. Instead, it damages the pet’s immune system. Pets
should be vaccinated based on their individual disease risk and immune status.
The Wave of the Future
There is a reason that many pet
caregivers are seeking alternatives to conventional care. While Western
medicine can be important in some situations, there are times when holistic
methods work better. Combining the best of East and West is the emerging
paradigm of health care. This holistic-integrative approach to wellness is the
wave of the future, and in my view, is the best option for both pets and
Dr. Doug Knueven
Doug Knueven received his veterinary degree from Ohio State University in 1987.
He owns and operates Beaver Animal Clinic in Beaver, PA (near Pittsburgh) where
he shares duties with 2 other veterinarians. He has earned certification in veterinary acupuncture,
veterinary Chinese herbal medicine and veterinary chiropractic. He also has
advanced training in natural nutrition, massage therapy and homeopathy. Dr Doug
has been practicing alternative veterinary medicine since 1995. He lectures on
the subject at state and national veterinary conferences including the annual
AVMA convention and the North American Veterinary Conference which is the
largest veterinary conference in the world.
written two books on the subject; Standby Me: A Holistic Handbook for Animals, Their People and the Lives They ShareTogether, and The Holistic Health
Guide: Natural Care for the Whole Dog. He also authors the “Holistic Pet
Care” column for Venture Inward
Magazine, available online to members at EdgarCayce.org/members. He’ll
be in Virginia Beach on Saturday, November 16 from 10 a.m. until 12 noon for the
Top Ten Practical
Tips on Holistic Pet Care program, a free event sponsored by the A.R.E.
Bookstore & Gift Shop.