By Dr. Sarah Dayon and Dr. Karen Gellman
Holistic veterinary care can be an alternative or a complement to conventional veterinary treatments. Your pet's health can become compromised through diet, stress, environmental toxins, and other lifestyle issues. Just as many of us humans use nutritional supplements, homeopathic remedies, chiropractic, and acupuncture to maintain our optimal health, pets may feel better and live longer with the added help of these alternative approaches.
Beloved Aging Pets, Itchy Dogs and Cats, and Scary Diseases Your Regular Vet Can't Fix
Vets commonly see aging dogs for weak hind legs, stiff backs, incontinence, and lack of energy. Some vets might prescribe pain medications for these problems, raising the dose as needed until the dog has GI upset or uncontrollable pain. But many drug-free treatment options for older animals exist that have fewer side effects and benefit their overall health: chiropractic, acupuncture, and homeopathy, to name a few. Such treatments can alleviate the cause of the pain instead of masking the symptoms, as well as working safely in conjunction with lower doses of conventional pain relievers where needed. If your old dog has difficulty rising, can't climb stairs anymore, can't jump onto the couch or into your car, it may have a postural abnormality that can easily be helped with manual therapy and a therapeutic toenail trim.
Many geriatric cats are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism or kidney failure, two conditions that make them lose weight and become frail. While there is a medical option for hyperthyroid cats, it has side effects, and there is no treatment for kidney failure other than IV fluids. Both of these conditions, however, are highly responsive to homeopathy and acupuncture. The Wellness Center for Pets regularly sees cats in their twenties! Even very debilitated animals can be helped to live happier lives. However, best results are seen if holistic therapies aren't tried late in the game as a last resort before euthanasia. Dr. Sarah's seventeen-year-old Labrador Retriever is a great example of an elderly pet who enjoys an excellent quality of life well past the age that is conventionally predicted for this breed.
Allergies, whether expressed as GI or skin problems, are some of the most frustrating conditions for vets and pet owners. In these cases, the animal's immune system is over-responding to common substances in their diet or environment. Conventional approaches to these conditions focus on either suppressing the symptoms or suppressing the immune system's normal function. The holistic approach, which is more gentle and has fewer side effects, works instead by bringing the body's immune response back to more normal levels with dietary management focused on unprocessed food, nutritional supplements, homeopathy, acupuncture, or Chinese herbal formulas.
Canine or feline probiotics are especially helpful in managing allergies. Probiotics consist of beneficial bacteria that help maintain the health of the GI system, enable better digestion, and help the body to regulate inflammation. Recent medical research shows that gut bacteria affect not only digestion, but also the skin and the immune system, and they even help regulate anxiety and depression. Animals who have been given antibiotics for an infection have an increased risk of damage to the health and balance of their unique gut organisms, because antibiotics kill microorganisms indiscriminately, wiping out the good along with the bad. Many allergic animals can have their symptoms greatly reduced by judicious use of appropriate probiotic therapy.
On the flip side, cancer is a condition in which the animal's immune system does not respond strongly enough to control the tumor cells. While modern oncology, for both humans and pets, can work miracle cures in some cases, the typical course of animal chemo or radiation therapy causes suffering for the gain of only a few weeks or a few months more. Using minimally invasive therapies, such as medical ozone, homeopathy, immune stimulants, and essential oils, the holistic vet can often help animals manage their cancer, and live long enough to die of old age. More important, these gentler approaches result in a much better quality of life for pets, enabling them to enjoy their usual activities and a more peaceful, often pain-free transition at the end.
Even though conventional or allopathic medicine's strong suit is curing infectious disease, the current epidemic of Lyme Disease in Central New York is posing huge health challenges for dogs. An initial infection, caught early, can be cured with antibiotics, but once the organism gets into the joints, central nervous system, or kidneys, it can lead to a lifetime of debilitation and pain. Homeopathy and immunostimulants can lead to dramatic improvements, even in dogs who have been treated with multiple series of antibiotics with little response.
Dr. Sarah Dayon and Dr. Karen Gellman offer therapeutic options for dogs, cats, and horses at the Wellness Center for Pets. Together, they have almost 50 years of education and experience in helping animals like yours. Available modalities include acupuncture, chiropractic, classical homeopathy, dietary counseling, herbal therapy, homotoxicology, medical ozone, minimal vaccination, nutritional supplements, and prolotherapy. Learn more at their class, held at GreenStar on Tuesday, January 28, 7 – 8:15 pm, or visit www.IthacaPetWellness for more information.