Integrative therapy for you and your dog

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By Tracie Korol

The gist of Triumph of New-Age Medicine, an article by David H. Freedman, addresses how mainstream medicine (Harvard, Yale, Duke and the Mayo Clinic) has adopted alternative healing practices into their integrative medical-research clinics.  For many years any alternative practice was touted as quackery, slammed as a waste of money, dangerous or scary because it was not approved by the FDA.  Lately, however, the word in those hallowed halls is that It Works.

Part of that acceptance is because mainstream medicine is failing. Says Elizabeth Blackburn, biologist at the University of California at San Francisco, “Modern medicine was formed around successes in fighting infectious disease … we could find out what the agent was and attack it medically.” Now, because of these advances, we live longer and the chronic diseases are what do us in — cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.  Blackburn continues, “We need to prevent and slow the onset of these diseases and we know ways of doing that.”  What are the ways? Healthy diet, more exercise and measures to reduce stress.

While mainstream medicine focuses on the quick fix, alternative therapies focus on lifestyles, feelings and attitudes emphasizing stress reduction, healthier eating, exercise and encouraging a belief in self-healing.

Okay, what does this have to do with dogs? All animals are born with a tremendous capacity to heal. In fact, most (up to 80 percent) dogs that experience a temporary illness will overcome the illness without costly intervention.  While traditional medicine is extremely valuable in diagnosing and treating acute disease, it’s the alternative approaches that address the treatment of chronic immune disease and cancer via long-term changes in “life-style.” Yes, your dog has a life style.

Life style for dog means what he eats — does he eat cheap, bagged food from the grocery or does he eat a variety of fresh meats, fruits, grain and vegetables? What kind of exercise does he get — does he run freely on grass or swim in the ocean or does he plod around the block on concrete? Does he sit alone all day, get his bowl of kibble when you return from work and then sit alone all evening while you go out to play? Or, does ride shotgun when you do your errands and go visiting with friends? Does he have something to do, something to think about — does your dog run agility, is he a therapy dog or does he carry the mail back from the mailbox?

The alternative approach supports and encourages a brighter, dog-centric avenue to health. It includes hands-on therapies of massage, chiropractic and acupuncture. It includes energetic therapies such as Reiki, a hands-on healing therapy for mind, body and spirit. It includes gentle therapeutic adjustments with herbs, essential oils, vitamins and supplements. And oh, by the way, there is a real holistic, AHVMA certified vet in Aiken, just up the road.

The ideal solution is to combine the best of both allopathic and alternative medicine to offer your dog the best chances of returning to health. If your Best Friend breaks his leg, he needs to be taken to an emergency facility to have it diagnosed and “set.” Once done, then the patient needs to heal, by whatever means supports that the best way possible.  Sometimes that’s more than just a pill. Sometimes it’s looking at healing in a whole new way.