Holistic Dog Care is a Mindset

I get asked a lot of questions about herbal remedies and holistic care. So much so that I often get up an hour or two early in the morning to answer them. And these questions come most often from people new to herbs and natural rearing or have used some herbs on themselves, found them to be beneficial and are exploring the use of herbal remedies on their dogs. More often than not, those dogs have a condition to which orthodox medicine has not helped and the owners are desperate.
If you are considering rearing a dog naturally, you first have to decide if you want to go the route of Eastern medicine, using Eastern remedies, or English, using traditional English herbs. My advice is make a choice and stay with it. Become thoroughly knowledgeable to the best of your ability. And find a vet who has an understanding of natural rearing and herbal supplements.  In my area we are lucky to have a holistic vet who practices the English method and literally down the road a holistic vet specializing in Eastern medicine.
Why, you ask, should one stick to one method? Because the subject is so vast you cannot possibly become literate in both. Because it is a lifestyle. To be fully effective, using herbs and natural rearing, must be part of a complete mindset. That includes diet, exercise and environment. I don't mean you need to set little Buddhas next to your dogs' bed, I mean you need to remove toxins from your dogs environment. Lighten the toxic burden so that true health can develop.You need to focus on creating health, not on routine disease prevention.

THAT is the biggest difference between orthodox medicine and natural rearing.

Orthodox medicine focuses on disease prevention, and focuses on certain diseases. But it does not focus on creating health. A healthy naturally raised dog will in most cases, not contract these diseases, and if they do, the intensity and duration of the disease is going to be mild and short lived and a healthy immunity develops. A case in point. I once had a litter of five week old naturally reared pups on the ground. They were just beginning to explore the outdoors.The next door neighbor, who raised in the orthodox manner, had her home kennel of show dogs stricken with parvo (despite being vaccinated). Three days later, two of the pups had smelly stool for about a minute. I knew that smell, it was parvo. It was enough to set off alarms with me, knowing the very close proximity they were to parvo and being so young. We went to the vet and blood work showed an elevated count. The vet said the bad stool was from parvo. The vet felt they did not need treatment other than some slippery elm and probiotics. The pups never had another bad stool, never lost their energy and never developed any cardiac issues as so often happens when young pups are exposed to parvo virus. Both parents had been naturally reared, and that vigor, the health created in their parents was also a part of the pups health.
The dog in the above photo had been injured early in her adult life,she was crippled, two vets in two states had said she would never regain proper use of her injured leg, that nothing could be done for her. She came to us, was put on herbal remedies and reared naturally. Her first show was the Nationals and she won her class, flying around the ring with grace and beauty.  She lived to be 17 years old in a breed with a far shorter lifespan.
Holistic considers the is a lifestyle choice, one does not give a dog milk thistle for a bad liver and consider that dog as holistically, naturally, raised.  If you are considering a switch to natural rearing bear in mind  you must look at the whole environment. And bear in mind also that in some dogs it can take 3 years to see a coat reflect light like a mirror and energy that radiates health and happiness. But before you start, educate yourself and develop a plan. In my opinion the pay off is worth it. Having had dogs raised both ways, I would never go back to orthodox rearing.
In future posts I will share what to expect when you change a dog over to a holistic lifestyle, and provide a quick start guide for those up to the challenge.