Modern Medicine, Old-Fashioned Care

Nov 6, 2019 | Holistic Pet Care

Holistic Veterinary Medicine


Helping Pets Reach Beyond Their Limits to Healing by Dr. David MacDonald

Published in the August 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings

In holistic veterinary medicine, the individual patient is valued, and the pet’s journey through life tells the story of their uniqueness. At times during this journey, there will be a need to accommodate a twist in the winding path of health our pets follow. One of the inherent strengths of holistic veterinary medicine is that more tools for healing are available to address these emerging medical needs.

A few examples of individual cases may help illustrate these concepts, and by design, help shed light on the Big Picture which is always sought in holistic veterinary medicine.

A Chiropractic Case

A young dog experienced intense localized discomfort following a surgery in which a benign lump was removed from his side. He had traumatized the skin and pulled out all the hair close to the surgical site. Attempts at treatment with conventional medicine, including pain medicine, corticosteroids, antibiotics, failed to resolve the problem. After a complete physical exam, it was determined that a spinal vertebral subluxation was present at the area of discomfort. This patient was treated with a chiropractic adjustment to address the spinal misalignment. In short order, the discomfort was resolved and the skin returned to normal in a few days.holistic veterinary medicine

An Herbal Remedy Case

A dog was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in which her platelets were being destroyed following a severe response to a flea product. The dog was treated with corticosteroids, which is the conventional method of interfering with the immune system. It does so with the intensity of suppressing the patient’s entire immune system, and with significant side effects for the patient – increased thirst, increased urination, gastrointestinal upset and threat of stomach ulcers.

The dog was unable to mount a favorable response to the treatment and was quite sick when the decision was made to offer additional support with Chinese herbs. The herbal treatment was chosen according to the patient’s individual attributes and characteristics of the presenting symptoms, rather than chosen exclusively based on the medical diagnosis. In doing so, the treatment addressed the autoimmune problem by meeting the dog’s needs to rectify the imbalance naturally, while also being able to wean off of the steroids and avoid their side effects. The dog made a complete recovery from the life-threatening illness and returned to a normal life.

Pain Management Cases

Many dogs experience arthritis as they age, thus making pain relief in senior dogs a common necessity. The range of choices for these patients fortunately is much more than just “pain pills.” Natural choices for pain relief include acupuncture, chiropractic, therapeutic laser treatment, omega 3 fatty acid supplements, green-lipped mussel extract, turmeric, and other herbal supplements. Some dogs may require adjunctive support using conventional medications as well. Some dogs may benefit from one, two or several of the above choices. An holistic veterinarian who has experience using all of the tools, natural and conventional, is best suited to offer this type of comprehensive pain management.

Each of the above examples illustrate how holistic veterinary medicine offers our pets an opportunity to reach beyond the limits to healing. In providing this complete health care for our pets throughout their lives, it is possible to negotiate the small bumps in the road, the sharp curves that threaten to send one into the ditch, as well as the meandering, hilly climb that patients experience as their abilities change over time.

Having the full spectrum of clinical tools available almost always improves outcomes. These are scenarios that are seen in holistic veterinary hospitals every day.