Frequently Asked Questions
Click on the question below to view the answer
To return to the Natural Health page, click here
What do you mean by “Natural Health”?
Most of us are used to what is called “conventional” or “traditional” veterinary medicine. Conventional veterinary medicine (like human medicine) is deeply rooted in academic disciplines of chemistry, microbiology, pathology and other sciences. Conventional treatments include antibiotics, steroids, hormones, surgery, vaccinations, chemotherapy and chemical parasite control.
A more natural, or holistic, approach to health relies heavily on nutrition and elements that occur in nature (not chemical or man-made). In addition, a more natural approach to health may include alternative therapies such as herbology, kinesiology, acupuncture, energetic therapies, massage and chiropractic techniques, just to name a few. In general, using a natural approach to your pet’s health encourages you to consider your pet’s entire system (physical, mental, and emotional) while exploring many different avenues of treatment.
How do I find a vet who offers holistic (natural) services?
Ideally you want to locate a vet who uses integrative or complementary medicine. This combines the best of conventional medicine with alternative therapies giving you and your pet the best of both worlds. If your current vet is someone you trust, and you are comfortable with the staff and the hospital, don’t discount them just because they don’t call themselves “holistic”. Talk to your current vet about your new approach and discuss possible directions the two of you could take together. You may be surprised to find they are willing to take the journey with you.
Katie K9 was introduced to Whole Health Veterinary in Blaine, MN. They are an integrative veterinary practice that works to balance traditional veterinary medicine with a more natural, holistic approach. In addition to such things as well-pet exams, avian exams, vaccinations, diagnostic lab work, surgery, x-rays, prescriptions, dentistry, etc., they offer holistic services and products including homeopathy, flower essences, nutritional supplements, nutrition and behavior counseling, raw food and bones, and all-natural dry pet foods. They are equipped to treat dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, small mammals, and other "exotic" pets. If you are in the Twin Cities Metro area they are worth checking out!
Another option is to contact one of the veterinary organizations for assistance in locating an alternative vet in your area. Try the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (www.ahvma.org, 410-569-0795) or the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (www.theavh.org, 866-652-1590) for referrals.
Be aware that treating animals is considerably different than treating humans. An herbalist, homeopath or chiropractor who works primarily with humans may miss complicated conditions in your animal. You could suggest that they work with your vet to provide alternative methods for your animal’s health.
What is Acupressure?
Acupressure is an extension of the Chinese practice of acupuncture. It is a form of therapy that uses your fingertips to apply pressure to specific points on the body. It is similar to acupuncture but uses the fingertips instead of needles. It can be used to support healing, relieve pain, reduce muscle spasms and strengthen the immune system. Acupressure itself is not a replacement for veterinary treatment but an additional, supportive therapy. It is also useful in relieving mental ailments (depression, anxiety, etc.) and behavioral issues.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a Chinese practice of puncturing the body, usually with needles, at specific points to ease pain, support healing and encourage total body health. Acupuncture itself is not a replacement for veterinary treatment but an additional, supportive therapy. It is also useful in relieving mental ailments (depression, anxiety, etc.) and behavioral issues. Acupuncture is considered a deeper treatment that acupressure.
What is Chiropractic care?
The idea behind chiropractic treatment is the relationship of the spinal column to all systems in the body, including the nervous system, joint health and circulation. Therapy is aimed primarily at the manipulation of the vertebrae in the spinal column. Chiropractic care is especially useful for problems that involve muscles, joints and nerves.
What are Energy Therapies?
Energy medicine works with patients in a nonphysical way through many nonphysical treatments. It includes visualization, Therapeutic Touch, telepathic communication, Reiki healing and psychoeuroimmunology (prayer energy) among other therapies.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are the volatile liquids distilled from plants, including their seeds, roots, bark, and stems. They are so small in molecular size they can quickly penetrate the tissues and cells of the body. Essential oils are used to promote emotional, physical, and spiritual healing. They can be applied to the skin, used as massage oils, diffused into the air or added to a bath. When using oils make certain they are the purest oils possible.
What is the Five-Element Theory?
The Five-Element Theory is an important part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and emphasizes balance and harmony. Yin and yang represent the opposing, yet complementary energies of the universe. Imbalances between yin and yang cause disease. The body is linked together with yang organs (found on the exterior and back of the body) and yin organs (found on the interior and front of the body). Through years of study the Chinese related the changing seasons to the natural elements (wood, fire, metal, water, and earth) and the human body. The Five-Element Theory maintains that if one set of organs malfunctions, it will not send the correct amount of energy to the next set of organs as the seasons change. The Five-Element theory also works with Qi (pronounced Chi) which is considered the life force, or energy, of the body.
What are Flower Essences?
In 1930 Dr. Edward Bach turned to nontoxic flowers of wild plants and trees for their healing energies. He developed a special process where water absorbs the energy of the plant and then the water is used to balance the emotional energies of patients. Flower essences center on the emotional well being instead of the physical. 38 flower essences were identified and can be given to your pet orally, massaged into their skin, sprayed on their bed or blanket, or added to their food or water. The most well known flower essence remedy is a combination called Rescue Remedy. It can be used to help calm your dog before or during any traumatic or stressful event, including vet visits or grooming appointments.
Why use herbs (herbology, herbal medicine)?
Using herbs to treat an illness is one of the purest ways to use medicine as nature intended it. Using the whole leaf, root, flower or seed, one plant may offer many treatments. Always use organically grown herbs and get an assurance of only quality ingredients in any herbal remedy.
What is Holistic?
A holistic approach to your pet’s health concerns the analysis and treatment of your pet’s complete system and not just an individual part. For example, if your pet has a bladder infection, a holistic approach will concern itself with your pet’s entire system (respiratory, digestive, mental, urinary, etc) and not just focus on the bladder itself. This allows for a more total mind and body health where all parts of the system support all the other parts to maintain a healthy balance.
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathic remedies are easy to give to your pet, have almost no side effects, and can be used to treat a wide range of illnesses and injuries. The basic principle in homeopathy is that “like cures like” meaning that a substance that could cause symptoms can be given in its natural state and eliminate those same symptoms. It is basically a system of medical practices that treats disease by giving small, carefully monitored doses of a remedy that would, in a healthy pet, produce symptoms of the illness being treated. Homeopathy is concerned with the whole patient, physical, mental and spiritual (energy).
What is Kinesiology?
Kinesiology is the study of movement in the body. It is also known as muscle response testing. The idea is that the muscle systems of the body, in the presence of a substance, can give us information about how the body will react to the substance. Specifically, if the muscle is weak when a particular food, medication, or supplement in near, then that substance will cause a negative reaction in your system. A negative reaction can be anything from simply making you feel run-down or causing a serious allergic reaction. Using kinesiology is not difficult and almost anyone can learn how to use it.
What is Naturopathy?
By definition naturopathy is a drugless system of therapy that uses physical forces such as light, water, air, heat and massage to attempt to eliminate disease. The primary belief is that the major cause of disease is a buildup of toxic materials in the body. Fasting, saunas, exercise and good nutrition are some of the techniques naturopaths will employ.
What are Nosodes?
Nosodes are homeopathic remedies made from the disease themselves. They alert the body to a particular virus so that the immune system can be trained to react to a natural exposure of the disease. They come in liquid or pill form. Nosodes are a new potential alternative to vaccinations but not enough research has been completed to prove their effectiveness.
What are Nutraceuticals?
Nutraceuticals are products made from natural substances, often refined and concentrated, then administered in dosages larger than the body is accustomed to in order to achieve a specific healing affect. Because they are natural compounds they carry very little chance of side effects although they take longer to show results. An example of a nutraceutical is glucosamine.
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are nondigestible, complex carbohydrate food supplements that stimulate the growth of beneficial gut organisms. Because they lay the foundation for the growth of healthy bacteria, prebiotics are often given in conjunction with probiotics for a more lasting effect. An example of a prebiotic is fermentable fiber, particularly fructo-oligosaccharides or FOS.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are natural products that contain one or more strains of live, friendly bacteria. Probiotics can be given orally to improve the balance of intestinal microorganisms and aid digestion. They can be given in times of stress or in old age when the normal gut bacteria have been damaged due to antibiotic or steroid use, heavy parasite burdens, intestinal infection, or after major illness or surgery. They can help with diarrhea associated with inflammatory bowel syndrome or to support the body as it fights infection. Examples of probiotics are acidophilus, lactobacillus, and bifidobacterium.
What is Reiki?
Reiki, which means “universal life force”, is a hands-on Japanese technique to rebalance life force energy that is being blocked. Reiki Masters concentrate on the transmission of information and energy to and from their patients. It is especially useful for easing pain, calming fears and anxiety, supporting emotional well being and promoting healing.
What is Tellington Touch (TTouch)?
In 1978 Linda Tellington Jones developed a system called Tellington Touch or TTouch. TTouch involves using your hands to stroke, massage, and lift various parts of the body to stimulate cells. It can be used to calm your dog in a stressful or fearful situation, relieve discomfort, ease fear and aggression and relieve mental anxiety. This technique can be used not only with dogs and cats but also with horses and humans.
What are Titer Tests?
Blood tests known as antibody titers are available through veterinarians to determine the strength of an animal’s immune system and to assess the response of the system to a vaccine. Titer scores below normal can mean that the animal lacks protection from that disease and is vulnerable to becoming infected. Titers are basically a way to measure immunity level to help determine if a vaccine or booster is necessary. Be aware that titers are difficult to interpret and only measure the immunity at the exact moment the blood was drawn.
What is a Tincture?
Tinctures are highly concentrated liquids made by combining an herb, oil, flower or other natural remedy in a solvent so that the essential components of the remedy are extracted into the solvent. This results in a highly concentrated liquid that can be placed directly in your pet’s mouth or added to their food.