Diet and Vaccination Information
Good nutrition is essential for optimum health as well as healing. There are many approaches to holistic nutrition but most efforts involve eliminating toxins in the diet, reducing the amount of processed food and snacks, and coming as close as possible to a species-appropriate diet. What is a species-appropriate diet? Well, an approximation of what your companion animal and his or her relatives might be catching and eating in the wild.
Substandard nutrition has been recognized by homeopaths for hundreds of years to be an obstacle to cure. If your pet is sick, he or she will be able to heal only if good building blocks are there for the body to use. If your pet is currently healthy, you can preserve (and improve) that health by improving the level of nutrition. Many long-term chronic problems and diseases can be attributed to poor feeding practices, including food that is difficult for animals to digest and process, and food that may actually contain measurable amounts of poisons.
You can educate yourself by beginning to read the labels on pet foods in the supermarket, the health food store, and holistic pet food stores. You will be amazed at the differences. Keep in mind that meat is meat, not byproducts, meal, digest, or other bits and pieces. Also keep in mind that grains, fiber and pulp might be economical, but may not be what your pet is designed to eat in large amounts. Be on the look-out, too, for artificial preservatives and coloring, some of which are highly toxic.
Your homeopathic veterinarian will make nutritional recommendations that are right for your individual pet and your lifestyle. There are a variety of options, including food you can buy ready to feed, food you can buy involving minimal preparation at home, and food you prepare from scratch. It is important to work with your doctor so that a good nutritional balance is ensured. If your pet is a carnivore (dog or cat), your veterinarian may or may not recommend a diet incorporating raw meat; in many cases, this can be very beneficial. If this is not appropriate for any reason, there are other unprocessed or minimally processed diets that may also be suitable.
Many pets under conventional medical care are put on specific medical diets for allergies, dental problems, hair balls, kidney disease, weight loss, and so on. Your homeopathic veterinarian is more likely to help your animal switch to the cleanest species-appropriate diet possible, since in our experience many health problems improve or even resolve with this change alone. Once good nutrition is effected, individualized homeopathic treatment can direct the bodyís healing process.
Your homeopathic veterinarian, as a holistic doctor, will also consider your feeding pattern, including frequency of feeding and amounts. Most pets do not do well with food available all the time; this tends to blunt their appetite and make their digestion sluggish. Addressing basic lifestyle questions is an important part of the holistic approach. Your individual situation, whether you are away most of the day or at home a lot, will be an important part of your petís nutritional program.
Even small positive changes in nutrition can make a huge difference in your petís energy level, vitality, and well-being, whether your pet faces health challenges or whether you just want your pet to be as healthy as possible. It is interesting to consider that processed foods are really a very recent invention in the country, in the last few decades, and are still not widely in use in Europe, for example. So you will be doing the best for your animal companion, and optimizing your chances for successful homeopathic treatment, by making the effort to put the best in bowl that you can.
Vaccination is a hugely controversial topic, both in the veterinary and human medical communities. Conventional recommendations change all the time. From the time of the earliest vaccinations, homeopaths have recognized and treated problems arising from vaccination, which can range from mild reactions to severe, even life-threatening ones. Recently, more and more veterinary teaching hospitals have adopted a more conservative vaccine protocol, meaning vaccinating less often. This is because of the lack of medical data supporting the annual vaccination of adult animals.
The decision whether or not to immunize your animal companion is not black and white. Your homeopathic veterinarian will discuss your individual situation with you. Some things to think about are: Do you live in a city or in the country? What diseases are common in your area? How old is your pet? How many vaccines have already been given? Does your pet come in contact with many other animals? Is your pet in good health? Do you feed your pet processed or unprocessed food? Has your pet ever had physical or behavioral problems that started within a few weeks after past vaccinations? Is your pet pure-bred, and if so, were the parents heavily vaccinated?
All vaccines are not alike. Some vaccines tend to cause more problems than others. It is important to consider the potential risks as well as the potential benefits conferred by each immunization, and realized that commonly many immunizations may be combined into one injection. So your petís immune system may typically have to respond to much more than ďone shot.Ē It is also considerate, when possible, not to combine immunization with other stressful procedures like neutering, spaying, dentistry, or other surgery.
Another important consideration is that vaccination is not the same as immunization. Vaccination is the process of giving the vaccine. Immunization describes the response by the body to the vaccine. An unhealthy animal, or one that is too young, might be vaccinated, but will not be able to become properly immunized. If an animal is unable to respond appropriately to a vaccine, repeating the procedure may be harmful rather than helpful. If you are considering not re-vaccinating your pet, blood tests may provide some helpful information about vaccine titers. A titer, in some cases, can assess the presence or absence of immune response to previous vaccine or disease exposure.
Some veterinary homeopaths are trained in the use of nosodes, which are specific homeopathic preparations for diseases against which pets are commonly vaccinated. It is important to understand that nosodes are not just a replacement for vaccines, and that they act very differently. They are not appropriate for all animals and should only be prescribed by a veterinary homeopath.
Veterinary homeopaths have a healthy respect for the potential impact of vaccines. As holistic practitioners, veterinary homeopaths tend to focus their therapeutic efforts on maximizing the health of the individual by proper nutrition, lessening toxic load, and homeopathic treatment when appropriate. These efforts are intended improve your petís resistance to disease and decrease susceptibility, by strengthening the system from the inside out. Our concern is that overly zealous preventive measures may be detrimental to health, and increase susceptibility to disease or in some cases even cause it.
During homeopathic treatment, vaccination is usually contraindicated. If health problems have arisen or are exacerbated by vaccination, homeopathy is one of the few medical specialties that recognizes these problems and has the potential to address them curatively. Some veterinary homeopaths recommend no vaccines of any kind. Some will tailor a limited vaccination protocol for you and your pet. Whatever your options and your decision, your veterinary homeopath can provide guidance and an important perspective.