What is holistic dog care?
What do you know about holistic dog care? Maybe the general idea sounds good, but how do you use it? You want to give your dog the best possible care, so you’re curious about how this type of approach can work for you and your dog.
Holistic dog care is health care that addresses all the parts of your dog, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It combines the traditional knowledge and experience of veterinarians with alternative methods of treating your dog. Sounds like a lot, right? But you can break it down and approach it a little at a time if you like. As long as it doesn’t cause harm, each thing you try could be a benefit to your dog.
Is traditional dog care enough?
For the longest time, people have taken care of their dogs’ physical needs at the vet’s office. At a minimum, a conscientious dog owner takes their dog in for vaccinations, dental care, wellness checks, and any injuries that needed to be treated. And those things are certainly necessary, but there is so much more to it than that.
For example, what if your dog isn’t moving as well as they used to? Or maybe they don’t have an appetite lately. Possibly they’re grouchy and snap at the smallest thing when they used to be happy-go-lucky loveable pups. These types of issues require more attention than the once over you might get at the vet.
These situations are much more subtle. Your vet can only see a snapshot of your dog at any given moment, which doesn’t reveal your dog suddenly snapping at you when you touch a sensitive area. And it doesn’t show them that your dog is having trouble getting up the stairs.
Your vet needs your help to address issues like this that aren’t immediately obvious. Together, you can put together a more complete picture of what’s going on with your dog.
How can you start applying holistic dog care?
The first part of holistic dog care is to know your whole dog. Start by observing all four aspects of health,
- Physical. This isn’t just the obvious stuff, like an injury. Observe your dog for signs of pain, feel them for unusual lumps, check everywhere for ticks.
- Mental. How is their attitude? Is your dog bored? Anxious? Mopey? What types of things are going on in their life that could be affecting them?
- Emotional. Is your dog afraid of thunderstorms or have separation anxiety when you have to leave? Are his pet siblings all getting along?
- Spiritual. Has your dog lost someone important to them? Have they been through a trauma or had a difficult start in life and haven’t been able to connect with anyone. Grief and loss can show up with physical symptoms.
In looking at your whole dog, you consider their mental and emotional state as well as their physical condition. For example, if your dog’s appetite has gone downhill, have they lost someone they love? Did their best human buddy go off to college or their dog friend pass? Emotions like grief affect the physical aspects like appetite and energy level. Read my post about seeing your dog for more information.
Part of holistic dog care is to be aware of changes in any of these areas. If you check these things regularly, you’re much more likely to be aware of your dog’s problems. A weekly once over can help you stay on top of issues and address them before they get big.
It’s ok if you don’t know it all
You don’t have to have a degree or license of any kind to check your dog. And remember, anything you do to help your dog is better than not doing anything, so you’re ahead of the game. Besides, when you go to your vet or other health professionals, you’ll be able to help them fill in the gaps that they can’t fill by a quick exam.
You don’t have to know all of the things to help your dog. If you start with a good vet, you’ll have their experience and hopefully a diagnosis that you can work with.
They can steer you toward other nonmedical approaches that complement traditional care and hopefully improve your dog’s situation. Even if your vet isn’t familiar with any alternative options, they should be able to inform you of potential problems caused by s specific technique. This can help you feel more confident in trying new things.
You can help your dog
A large number of techniques are considered part of holistic dog care. Some of them from cultures that are different than what we in the U.S. are familiar with. And understanding all of them well would take quite a bit of time. It could be a full-time job just to learn it all, let alone practice it competently.
The most important thing to remember when you want to try nontraditional approaches is once your vet has approved it as causing no harm, anything you try can only help. No one knows all of it, not even the professionals. It’s all experimentation and practice when you apply techniques to your dog. You don’t have to feel the pressure of not knowing enough.
To read about some of my experiences in holistic dog care, read these posts.
There are also some great resources online, like this one from Whole Dog Journal.
What are your thoughts about holistic dog care? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.