Chances are it brings to mind a whole range of alternative medical treatments like acupuncture, aromatherapy, and so on.
This is a common misconception and refers to homeopathic medicine. While these treatments certainly could be part of a holistic approach, holistic means taking a wholesome approach to medicine, treating not only the symptoms but the body as a whole. This means holistic medicine, rather than being an alternative to traditional medicine, works in conjunction with it.
This wholesome approach is growing in popularity with not only people but their pets too. That’s why in this article, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about holistic healthcare for dogs.
What Is Holistic Healthcare for Dogs?
It might surprise you to know that many more veterinarians are taking a holistic approach to healthcare for dogs. For example, hydrotherapy has become a popular treatment for a range of dog health issues from weight loss to long-term lameness.
So while your vet will prescribe immediate pain relief to keep your pet comfortable, many vets are also advising of additional therapies and approaches that may benefit the overall wellbeing of your pet.
This mixed approach is what makes it holistic healthcare, considering the dog’s overall health, not just the immediate symptoms.
Of course, not all holistic approaches are the same. Much of holistic healthcare revolves around preventative healthcare. By this we mean, taking steps to avoid health problems in the future.
This can include a mix of nutrition, exercise, and more to keep your pet in great health throughout its life, from puppy to senior pooch. Let’s look at some in further depth.
Holistic and Nutritional Dog Foods
One of the most common holistic approaches is to ensure your dog is getting all the nutrition it needs. We are what we eat after all!
While the FDA regulates dog foods, the standards for pet food are much lower than for human consumption. This means many name-brand foods are full of additives, artificial coloring, preservatives, and fillers. None of these are inherently dangerous for your pet to eat, but it’s debatable as to whether there could be negative effects on your dog’s long-term health.
Fillers in particular like corn and soy are added to fill your dog up. They contain no nutritional content and for many dogs, they can cause digestive issues.
This is why many pet owners are opting to feed their dogs higher quality, organic kibble or even following a raw food diet.
An organic kibble diet is a great way to ensure your dog’s health. These are free from additives, preservatives, and more. There are also many brands that are grain and filler-free, ensuring that what your dog eats is all beneficial.
You can spot these brands by checking the ingredients list. You shouldn’t be able to identify anything within the list that you wouldn’t find in a human diet.
The other holistic nutrition alternative is a raw food diet. Raw food diets involve feeding your dog non-processed foods. This should include a range of foods like raw vegetables, raw meat, eggs, and more.
Raw food diets for dogs are hard work as you need to ensure your dog is getting a balanced diet to get all the nutrition necessary. For many, this makes the diet too hard to follow as there is a lot of prep work involved!
However, when followed correctly the diet offers significant health benefits long-term.
Natural Dog Treats
There’s little point in following an organic or raw food diet for your pet if when it comes to their treats, you’ll load them up with sugars and fats.
Many of the dogs treats you can buy from eCommerce retailers aren’t safe for your dogs. Rawhide in particular has no nutritional value and presents significant health risks like choking or intestinal blockage. Many rawhide products also use harmful chemicals like bleach and glue in production.
Another common ingredient in treats is Red#40. This is a food additive that helps make treats more vivid in color. But it’s been banned in several European countries due to a link to canine cancer.
There is no end to natural dog treats on offer, so do your research into brands you can buy instead that offer better benefits to your pet’s health. You can also feed your dog a variety of human foods for a healthy treat such as:
- Green peas
Holistic Healthcare and Exercise
Whether you’ve got a puppy or a geriatric dog, exercise is vital in keeping your dog in good physical and mental health. Exercise for dogs provides physical and mental stimulation and reduces the risk of obesity.
Between 25 to 30% of dogs in America are obese. This is astounding when you consider obesity is one of the most preventable diseases in dogs and can be managed through a holistic approach.
Exercise also provides mental stimulation for your pet. When your dog is sniffing around, the brain releases hormones that give them a happy and calm sensation. This can help improve their mental health, especially for intelligent, high-energy breeds like collies and shepherds.
There are so many fun ways to exercise your dog outside of walks around the block, including:
- Bike rides
- Scent work
Holistic Healthcare for Specific Conditions
There is a whole range of other specific holistic treatments that can help with a variety of canine medical conditions. This includes:
- Acupuncture for pain relief
- Chiropractic treatments for pain relief
- Massage for anxiety
- Aromatherapy for anxiety
- Herbs for anxiety
- Sound therapy
You should speak to your vet for specific guidance for your pet before jumping into any treatment. They are the best-placed professionals to advise you for your unique circumstances.
Of course, one of the best ways to ensure your dog’s long-term health is to buy from a reputable breeder to avoid many mental and physical health conditions. Check out Puppy Joy for more information on this.
Learn More About Pet Health
Holistic healthcare for dogs offers a great way to ensure your pet is at its peak health through a variety of natural means. You should always speak to your vet about any potential changes to your dog’s diet or lifestyle for specific advice.
We have lots more helpful articles about pet health for dogs, cats, and more on our website.