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Integrative Veterinary Medicine: How To Decide What’s Best For Your Cat or Dog

Posted October 17, 2015

It’s a heavy burden we pet parents have when it comes to the health of our animal companions and the trust they place in us. So many pet parents we’ve spoken to want to know how to make their cat or dog healthier “naturally” without the common side effects of drugs. But knowing what to do, how to use supplements, and working with a veterinarian who may not be familiar with alternative methods can all be a little overwhelming. It’s our goal at NHV to help you ask the right questions, so they you can help your cat or dog achieve optimal health.

So, let’s get right into the great debate: alternative methods or conventional western therapies. NHV’s philosophy, which is articulated wonderfully by our lead holistic veterinarian, Dr. Hillary Cook, is why not use the “best of both worlds” by focusing on an integrative approach to healing.

Western medicine has given us so many great advances, from being able to accurately diagnose illness to some seriously sophisticated surgeries like prosthetics for dogs. While holistic and natural medicines is seeing a resurgence in mainstream care due to its nourishment and ability to bring homeostasis to the whole body, and its powerful healing with minimal side-effects. It seems obvious that integrative veterinary medicine is the key to pet health, but how do we know which therapies to use? Ask questions!

If you are considering conventional western treatments, here are some questions to ask your veterinarian professional. We’ve also provided some integrative approaches to consider in helping with the healing of your pet.

What are the side effects of this treatment?

Knowing any potential side effects will help you understand future consequences, and will also help you determine how you can support the body while your cat or dog is undergoing treatment. Conventional western drugs often treat the symptoms, but can leave the body open for other complications.

For example, steroidal drugs are often used to treat certain illnesses, like cancer or nervous disorders. Common side effects of steroidal drugs may be increased urination, liver disorders, and Cushing’s disease after prolonged use. However, you and your vet may have decided that the short-term use of the drug makes the most sense for your pet. At NHV, we back your decision, and will recommend pet parents give supplements to help support the body while it’s on the drug. In this case we might recommend NHV Milk Thistle for the liver, NHV Supraglan to support the adrenal gland, ES- Clear for natural cancer support, and PetOmega-3 for general health.

How long will recovery take?

Knowing how long recovery will take will help make the right decision for your pet. For example, if treatment is surgery, and recovery is going to be a difficult 6 months, and your animal companion is 18 years old, you may want to concentrate on quality of life now, and use supplements to support that life. You may also want to support surgical recovery with natural pain aids like NHV Yucca, which is also a great appetite stimulant.

What is the quality of life my cat or dog will have once the treatment is complete?

This is a big one. It’s hard when we want to just get rid of the symptom, or the thing that is causing pain or discomfort. Have a frank discussion with your veterinarian. Be honest about quality of life. You may decide to forgo a particularly risky treatment and support your pet with supplements only, or vice versa.

How much will this cost?

Sometimes, we want to say that we’ll spend whatever it takes to keep our companions with us. But, even for those with the best of intentions, unexpected costs can just add to the stress. Get a quote. You won’t be judged for it, and you will be thankful you did.

What if my vet isn’t familiar with alternative medicine?

If your vet is unfamiliar with alternative therapies, we suggest you either contact our lead holistic vet, Dr. Cook, for a consultation, or you contact the AVHMA (American Veterinary Holistic Medical Association) to find a holistic veterinarian near you. Some vets will be open to alternative therapies. We’ve encountered some conventional veterinarians, who have never used alternative therapies, and whose patients have used NHV products. We usually get a call from these vets and they are surprised by the positive results they are seeing in their patients from NHV products. They tell us how now they’re exploring alternative therapies after having been inspired by their patients. Moral of the story: have an open dialogue with your veterinarian professional.

What about using supplements only?

You may decide that using supplements only makes the most sense for your pet. At NHV Natural Pet Products we’ve had a lot of success stories by regular pet owners, veterinarians, and even teaching veterinary facilities like the University of Tennessee. Talk to your vet, watch your pet to see how they’re doing. You will know if the supplements are working for your individual cat or dog. Oh – And don’t forget to contact us, your NHV Pet Experts, if you have any questions.

What other alternative therapies are there?

Some other popular alternative therapies for pets include: acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic care, nutritional therapy, osteopathy, and laser therapy. For a definition on these and other holistic therapies you can see the AVHMA Holistic Veterinary Therapies page.

For those of you, who may be unfamiliar with what integrative medicine is, take a look at Dr. Cook’s video below.

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