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Monday, April 7, 2014

Health 101: Veterinarians - Holistic vs. Traditional?

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In thinking about how we approach living a healthier lifestyle, there are so many different opinions and suggestions on how best to achieve optimal health.  Some believe a holistic or integrative approach is best and other look for a more traditional western medicine approach.  Both of us work in the healthcare industry and are intimately involved with how a healthy lifestyle impacts us.  We also both have dogs at different life stages.  The health needs of a senior dog are very different from that of a 2-yr old pup.

With that in mind, this past year we have had more trips to the veterinarian for our 10-yr old Japanese Chin, Joey, than in any other year prior.  Although, we are fortunate he has been very healthy his entire life, he has experienced some significant health issues this year...many due to him aging.  So, as a way to ensure we are providing Joey the best care; it is essential for us to be informed about our options and treatment plans.  As part of this information gathering, we find ourselves we take a holistic approach, traditional medicine approach, or a combination?

It may be easier for us to clarify the difference between holistic veterinary medicine and the traditional veterinarian.

Holistic veterinary medicine, also known as integrative or alternative veterinary medicine.  It focuses on utilizing natural and homeopathic treatments in lieu of pharmaceutical and diagnostic therapies used in traditional western veterinary medicine.  Holistic veterinary medicine has a goal of looking at the animal as a whole and using minimally-invasive techniques to enhance the animals well-being.  Common integrative medicine treatments are acupuncture, herbal remedies, organic diets, massage therapy, and nutraceutical incorporation.

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Acupuncture can also be helpful for your pooch!

Traditional veterinary medicine focuses on incorporating common and conventional medical practices that have stemmed from academic,evidence-based institutions.  Traditional veterinary medicine incorporates pharmaceutical therapies, diagnostic testing (x-rays, EKG's, and MRI's), surgical intervention, and focuses on a specific diagnosis.

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Recently, our dog, Jack, had to receive an MRI so we could probably diagnose his invertebral disc disease

In summary, both of these approaches to healing have the same goal of treating, curing, and promoting optimal health for our pets.  Advice from many veterinary experts supports a combination of both schools of thought.  If your dog is suffering from a non-life threatening ailment, then a less invasive, holistic solution would be best to try first.  If the health issue is more severe and has a potential life-threatening risk, a more invasive approach would be the best.

Happy Healing!


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