Holistic? Eh? Wha ya talkin 'bout!
Welcome to Holistic Hound and our approach towards holistic pet care for healthy happy pets. Our mission is to share with you our experience and expertise to enable you to have a more proactive role in your dog's overall health and wellbeing, promoting as much as possible that prevention of "dis-ease" is better than cure!
But what exactly do we mean by holistic?
To expel some common misconceptions - holistic does not automatically mean natural; and natural doesn't automatically mean safe..... cliffs are natural, but are they safe?
I am sure you will agree that good health is a state of complete physical, emotional, mental and social well being not merely the absence of disease. Our aim in our lives and in that of our furry friends is to maintain a state of good health and prevent any form of ill health or distress.
In the most ancient of documented cultures, good health is seen as the union of body, senses, mind and soul.
In Ayuverdic practice every person is thought to be made of five basic elements found in the universe: space, air, fire, water, and earth (vata, pitta and kapha) and good health is when these are in balance. In traditional chinese medicine good health is about maintaining the energy balance to the opposing forces of energy - Yin and Yang.
Diagnostics include includes looking, listening, smelling, asking, and touching; and each and every treatment is very much about the individual.
Unfortunately for both us and our pets our healthcare systems are focused around treating illness rather than preventing it; treatments are generic (how many different illnesses have you had treated with amoxycillan!); treatment is primarily based on visible symptoms; and the focus is on their practice is commercial viability.
Prevention better than cure:
Firstly as pet guardians, one of our priorities should be to learn and understand when our pet is well - what should be considered normal or out of balance. This can be tricky, but it is your responsibility to develop this level of awareness and take care of their health needs. This includes ensuring not only that their nutritional needs are met, and that they are physically well; but that they are well socialised and trained; that they are mentally challenged and stimulated as well as physically; that they are a good weight; that they have good vitality, bright eyes, good coat; and that they are emotionally content with no anxiety.
By adopting good proactive health care standards at home you are taking a huge step towards holistic health and well being.
As part of this, it is also your duty therefore to investigate and make informed decisions on specific illness prevention requirements - such as diet, worming, flea and tick treatments, vaccinations etc. It is in these areas that we will do additional indepth blogs about more holistic and natural based approaches that may be as effective, but in many cases less harmful, than their pharmaceutical counterparts.
It is also important that you get to know your breed; as many dogs are now predisposed to a number of illnesses and physical issues as a result of cross breeding etc. There is a great resource, compiled by the Humane Society Veterinary Association that lists all breeds and their known congenital and hereditary disorders https://www.hsvma.org/assets/pdfs/guide-to-congenital-and-heritable-disorders.pdf
Secondly, we do not see our Vets when our pets are well; because of the current commercial approach it is not their job to keep them well... it is their job to see them when they are sick and get them better.
And when you do see your Vets, they are seeing your pet in firefighting mode… they have a 10 minute appointment to diagnose and medicate, in the hope that they Hence typically you or your pet is treated symptomatically – i.e. based upon the symptoms presented, or symptoms that are easily observed (temperature, hydration etc.) and what you are telling your Vet*. Initial treatment therefore is often not aimed at addressing the root cause, and is looking for a quick fix in the hopes that they hit the nail on the head first time, but knowing that “if it doesn’t clear up in a week or so.. . you can come back” Hence why quite often you will automatically find that you or your pet are treated with antibiotics and steroids without a definitive diagnosis. As an aside: if you are ever told something is idiopathic, this means they don't know the cause!
*As a pet owner you often have a gut instinct that something is wrong without being able to put your finger on it; it is important that your Vet does not ignore this as you and your pet are connected and gut instinct is scientifically proven to have basis (the science of intuition!).
As we know in a lot of cases this doesn’t actually help to address underlying causes of many illnesses, and is certainly not the best option for a long term solution to illness. In fact, oftentimes the use of these meds can create bigger problems, with the symptoms returning and worsening. This is particularly true for things like itchy skin, ear and eye problems etc; or chronic illness where a more natural approach to stimulate rather than suppress the body’s own responses would be preferred and not cause other problems. Another aside: Overuse of medications can lead to what is termed iatrogenic illness! You may hear your Vet refer to this, without realising that its been caused by their treatment of your pet to date!! This is particularly true with cushing like symptoms experienced from the overuse of steroids.
So there are a few things that you can do to make you're relationship with your Vet more fruitful, and probably better from his perspective too
1. Get a baseline set of bloods taken when your pet is well. This way you will have reference blood values that can be referred to should your pet get ill, and your vet will be able to see where an imbalance is occurring. Each and every pet's bloods will be different, the "normal" values are given as a range to take this into account; however what may fall into this normal category for your pet might actually be a sign of something sliding into abnormal.
2. It also doesn't hurt to get bloods taken fairly regularly maybe once every couple of years if you have a healthy dog. Bearing in mind that for a dog, this time period equates to circa 10 years of a human, so not much to ask for in terms of checking everything is still in line. Catching illness or disease early, particularly things like liver or kidney function deterioration, can help you to support your dog a lot quicker
3. Don't be afraid of the White Coat!!! When visiting the Vet make sure you cover off the following:
How has the illness been diagnosed? Are you happy that the Vet has a clear idea of what is happening. (Compare with how a mechanic might identify problems with your car!)
Is the illness a one off? Could it be indicative of ongoing problems—is their immune system compromised because of previous treatments, such as steroids, antibiotics, vaccinations, worming/flea treatments, or previous illness.
If ongoing, how will treatment break the cycle? Could it actually make it worse?
What medication is being recommended and why? Is this medication treating the symptoms or the cause?
What is the cause?
What are the negative effects of this medication (both short term and long term)
Are there any other options if there are lots of negative effects? What recommendations are there to offset any of the negative effects (Example: Post antibiotics giving the dog pro-biotics to restore the flora in the gut)
In the next few blogs we will be covering in detail a lot more of what we touched upon above. Primarily we specialise in the use of western herbal medicine; however the most important that from a holistic perspective is that you use the right tool at the right time.
Pharmaceuticals absolutely have their place in a treatment regime, but so do the following, and we will hopefully bring you some insight into which you will find most useful for any given scenario.
So we will be covering:
Herbalism (Western predominantly but touching on TCVM and Ayurvedic)
Touch & Movement
And also now considered conventional but are still very much complementary
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
... to cover just a few.
We will also bring you some key tips of on other aspects of health & wellbeing such as
What breed is best for your lifestyle
General tips on ears, eyes, gums, tums, snouts, paws etc.
Diet and nutrition
Behavioural issues, training & socialisation
New dog/old dog/rescue dog
Good habits/bad habits
We also hope to cover as many of these as possible in easy to watch youtube videos, so do check out and subscribe to our channel:
If there is anything that you would like us to cover at any time, then please feel free to post comments with questions and we will either answer directly or create a new blog or youtube video.
Thanks for joining us on this journey