Mindful Metropolis August 2010 : Page 21

WHat you can eXpect For starters, plan for a lengthy initial consultation, which may include up to a 2-hour evalu-ation. afterwards, checkups and treatment lengths will vary widely. a typical roster of services at an alternative, integrative, or holistic pet care office will include some or all of the following: acupuncture: Strengthens the body’s immune system and im-proves the function of organ systems. Dr. Flaherty says the hair-thin needles “can stimulate immune responses and nervous system as well as alleviate pain.” Chiropractic: Manipulation of spine, joints, and soft tissues increases musculoskeletal and general health, alleviating de-pendence on long-term drugs. Chronic care/geriatric: Vets and clients work together to develop the best plan for aging or ill pets, covering everything from tem-perature control to home fitness. Herbal medicine, homeopathy, and supplements: There are many gentle, natural remedies, and each of the vets profiled here will help decide which are best for your pet. When Dr. Royal researched over 4,000 va-rieties of pet food, she found only 11 percent of them were healthy enough to feed a dog or cat. “Somehow we believe pet food com-panies rather than our common sense,” she says. “It used to be that we fed dogs leftover meat and scraps and they’d eat what they wanted. But suddenly people started saying it was so much easier to feed them kibbles with corn and feed—no one tested it—we just bought it because it seemed so easy.” That said, it may seem overwhelming to find the right chow, but Dr. Royal main-tains that it’s not. “This is a carnivore and a scavenger. They wouldn’t be eating corn and wheat. Basic, inviolate rules of nutrition like that have saved me in practice.” She adds that these days it’s easy to find quality food without corn and wheat, though it may mean venturing beyond supermarket shelves. Organic, whole, and raw foods are all on the rise. Ortiz reports that because of a raw food diet, Koa “doesn’t shed much, his fur is soft and silky, he’s lost weight, and his al-lergies seem to have cleared up.” Dr. Sewik suggests not overcomplicating things and simply using the highest quality food appro-priate for the animal. But since, as she says, “no one size fits all,” the main rule of thumb is to chat with the pros about the right diet. A healthy home The strongest support for a pet’s whole health happens at home. Dr. Sewik teaches frequent classes to give guardians “empow-erment in taking care of animals.” She dem-onstrates techniques like massage, Reiki and acupressure that people can use to increase mobility and reduce pain, as well as to create a deeper bond with their pets. Another tip: Just do your best to create a comfortable life for your pet. Dr. Royal says the most important things are “good diet, appropriate treats, healthy living and fun. Keep it light. If a pet becomes a source of guilt, the animal feels it. Keep it feeling loved and not like a burden.” In the end, holistic pet care can contrib-ute positively to a guardian’s whole health as well. Rivett says “the integrative vet’s treat-ments worked wonders. I had always asked Aurora to stick around to meet my children, and she did. She was there when I went into labor, and she was there to see my daughter crawl. I am so thankful that the holistic treat-ments gave us some extra time together.” Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and edi-tor based in Chicago. She spent the last cou-ple of years covering all things green for Ideal Bite, and now you can find her thoughts on the city’s eco-scene, food and community at daisysimmons.com. laser therapy: Stimulates cell function and is an “effective means of inflammation reduc-tion and pain management,” ac-cording to Dr. Flaherty. massage: Relieves musculoskel-etal pain, increases circulation to problem areas and reduces stress. nutritional advice: A nourishing diet is the single most important way to enhance a pet’s health. More details in the next section. Water therapy: Hydrotherapy tools like a resistance pool and underwater treadmill benefit orthopedic and neurological conditions, aid blood circulation, and reduce inflammation. Both IPC and Royal Vet report suc-cess with dogs as well as cats. Aside from such services, a ho-listic vet will discuss all areas of a pet’s life, helping owners know how to best treat their pets at home. And unless the animal is chronically ill or aging, there’s no need to worry about overspending. Dr. Royal tries to reduce client dependence: “my goal is to get people away from vets and have their dog be a dog, their cat, a cat…to make life easier for them both.” FindinG your ms. or mr. riGHt Before you can care for your pet’s body, mind and soul, you need to get one first, right? skip the malls and the puppy mills, and adopt without fear. though it’s ideal to know an animal’s history, good rescue/adoption agen-cies work hard to get the animals ready for new homes. and holistic care for a pet with a difficult history can work wonders. dr. royal, who’s on the board of paWs chicago, says she sees a lot of animals who were given up because they had problems like stress or poor nutrition—prob-lems she says are often easy to solve with an alternative approach. dr. sewik takes it a step further, saying “when people find the right adopted animal, the one they were meant to be with, it changes the emotional, spiritual and physical health of both, making both parties a lot healthier and happier.” REad moRE aboUT THis ToPiC! Visit mindfulmetropolis.com MINDFULMETROPOLIS.COM 21

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