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Holistic Wellness is not Always Best

My Lady is a big believer in holistic wellness and holistic healing for pets. But, she also ain’t no dummy! She also believes in takin’ us on our regular checkups and for things we need at the vet’s office. Now, I ain’t sayin’ I like to go there, but I’m sure feelin’ a lot better since I came to my Lady and she has been takin’ care of me. That’s got to count for somethin’ – right? You can get all gung ho ’bout the holistic side of things, but some take it a bit to far – gettin’ all fanatic about it! Some things are just better left for the lady in the white coat! My doc ain’t so bad and she always gives me a nice belly rub. All I know is I’ve been mighty healthy since comin’ to live with my Lady! Actually, I’m a gettin’ a might on the extra-healthy side WOOF! Check out my brother Ozzy! He’s got bright eyes, a shiny coat and just full of energy! Anyway…

Holistic Wellness is not Always Best

Here’s my Lady’s take on Holistic Wellness

I’m a huge proponent of holistic wellness. I firmly believe that in many cases, a natural approach is the best approach. If I can solve a problem for myself or my pets using essential oils, supplements like omega fatty acids or glucosamine, range of motion exercises, and other natural approaches rather than a manufactured pill, I’ll always go that route. However, that’s not always best for me, or for my animals. Just like with us humans, if they need a doctor – you can bet your bottom dollar I will have them there!

Holistic Wellness is Necessary, but not in all Situations

Here’s my stance on holistic wellness. Holistic means a whole body approach to being well. The keyword here is “whole”. In my opinion, holistic health is an overall approach to wellness using natural means when able and more advanced medicine when necessary. For example, if I have a dog with arthritis, the first things I’m going to try are range of motion exercises, omega fatty acids, and glucosamine. These are all proven ways of helping arthritis symptoms and their severity. If my dog still doesn’t show improvement, I’ll then take it to the vet and try another approach. It’s all about balance.

I’ve been seeing more and more information and conversation going around about holistic wellness, and while I’m happy it’s finally really on the radar, I am sometimes frightened by what I hear people saying. I’ve heard people say that they use coconut oil in their dogs’ diets to prevent heartworms. Say what?! Nowhere have I saw reports, or evidence, of this working! Coconut oil is awesomely great for skin conditions, but preventing heartworm?

I’ve heard people say that they treat their dogs for fleas and ticks with certain essential oils. I am heavily into essential oil use and I agree that certain essential oils will repel fleas and ticks. However, I also believe that sometimes in high risk areas such as where I live, other alternatives are needed. While my first go-to would be the essential oils, I am not about to let my pets suffer because I won’t get them the proper treatment all because I am dead set on treating them holistically. There are some cases where we have to bite the bullet and give our animals a pill or a topical treatment that is something other than all-natural. We just have to, if we want to be responsible pet owners.

When is the Holistic Wellness Approach Appropriate

Because there has been so much talk about holistic wellness, I thought I’d make a brief list of when it’s a good idea to try all natural remedies first.

  • Arthritis – As I mentioned earlier, there are many ways to approach arthritis that don’t involve a pill ( range of motion exercises, omega fatty acids, and glucosamine).
  • Skin Problems – Skin problems can be addressed in a number of holistic ways such as changing your pet to a proper diet with limited ingredients to determine food allergies. You can also supplement with omega fatty acids. We have had good luck with adding coconut oil to our pets food for their skin conditions.
  • Minor Pain from Inflammation – Inflammation caused by over exertion or a minor injury can be soothed topically using various essential oils. You can also use alternating hot and cold compresses to reduce swelling and increase blood flow.
  • Diet – This is one of the big ones in holistic wellness. Bargain basement food is terrible for your pet. It would be the same as you or me eating macaroni and cheese all day everyday. A good diet of quality food goes a long way!

When is the Holistic Wellness Approach NOT Appropriate

You should absolutely leave the following to your vet.

  • Vaccinations – There is no substitute for these. I know I will probably get a lot of flack from this, but it is my belief they need their vaccinations. I would rather be safe than sorry. I suppose it is equivalent to vaccinating your child. For me, I fall on the side of the fence that will vaccinate. If you have ever owned a pet that suffered one of the diseases they are being vaccinated against and see the suffering involved, you will agree with me! It is a horrible senseless suffering that is easily preventable!
  • Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Preventative – Again. There is no substitute here. Ticks carry disease, fleas carry worm larvae, and heartworm is only treatable using a form of arsenic. It’s very toxic to your dog, as well as the heartworm. If you remember, we adopted a dog with heartworms and Seager had to go through this excrutiating painful treatment. It was all VERY preventable if his previous owners had given him the medication, yet he suffered the consequences. It took months and a lot of pain for him to make it through. Some pets are not so lucky and die from the infestation! And back to the fleas – not only will they make your pet miserable, they can make your pet anemic and cause tapeworm, which then has to be treated. The fleas will also invade your home – believe me, you do not want this to happen! Have you ever had flea bites? If so, imagine your pet being bitten over and over again and severe itch they go through!
  • Major Arthritis – If your dog has a major case of arthritis, supplementation and range of motion exercises will not help. If you remember, we told you about Sallie and her torn knee ligaments that have led to some severe arthritis. We were able to help her handle the arthritis for quite a while with holisitic treatments, but we have had to step up our game. I am not about to let her suffer all in the name of staying holistic. Stronger management was needed. If at some point we find a more natural way, I will again try that. But, I will not allow her to suffer!
  • Obvious, Intense Pain – Do not try to treat an extremely painful pet after any sort of injury. Get them to the vet immediately. Even if you totally believe in holistic medicine, some injuries are just to serious requiring modern medicine such as xrays, examination and blood work.

Like I said. I’m a huge advocate for holistic wellness, but we have to remember that there are some times when it’s appropriate, and there are times when it isn’t. It’s important to differentiate between the two. If we don’t, we could cause our pets extra pain, at best. At worst, we could expose them to potentially lethal parasites. If you are interested in the holistic wellness approach, be sure to educate yourself. There is a time and place for it, but also a time and place for modern medicine. It’s the best thing you can do for your pet.


Debbie P

Monday 20th of July 2020

I really liked the article. For some important things you must see a doctor/vet.

Maryann D.

Tuesday 10th of January 2017

I do believe in holistic wellness also. But I feel it is definitely necessary to trust our vets and bring our pets for their checkup and vaccines.

sheila ressel

Saturday 20th of June 2015

Great advice. I also prefer the holistic approach but sometimes a trip to the vet is necessary. I love my fur babies and want to keep them around for a long time!


Sunday 22nd of February 2015

Heartworm is a terrible condition for a dog, glad you were able to cure your pet.

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