What is Animal Naturopathy?

The numbers of websites and businesses centering on providing natural animal health solutions has exploded in the last decade. I think this is primarily due to an increased awareness occurring in general. People have been using these natural health options for themselves for over forty years or more and the trend is increasing owing largely to the wide range of products and services available in a modern global economy. This is inevitably expanding into the animal health market.

Natural medicines are currently recognised as those that are not scheduled, or non-prescription medicines and most often comprise homeopathic remedies, herbs, nutraceuticals and supplements. Animal naturopathy is the study and practice of medical disciplines that provide these services to animals.

images

Naturopathy comes under the umbrella of complementary and alternative medicine and as such has not been taught in medical or veterinary undergraduate degrees in Australia. There are, however, veterinarians who have taken a particular interest in natural healing techniques and who have studied these subjects extensively to augment their practice of veterinary medicine.

Parallel to the rise in popularity of natural medicine there is a rising concern within the conventional medical establishment about these disciplines.  The public needs to have a reliable source of accurate and safe information that, on the one hand allows for a certain degree of skepticism and caution, whilst on the other is open to new and existing safe and effective practices that have proven merit. Quality control in both the manufacture and delivery of these products is also of paramount importance.images-5 Veterinary naturopaths understand how to access quality and safe products from a plethora of products on today’s market.

In conventional veterinary practice, chronic disease is increasingly accepted as manageable rather than curable.

DownloadedFile-1.jpegNatural medicine comes under fire largely for its holistic approach and the challenge it poses to this accepted premise. Naturopaths and Homeopaths believe and demonstrate that chronic disease can, in fact, be curable and strive for this outcome in conjunction with all the best that conventional medicine has to offer. This is the basis of Integrative Medicine, a new and emerging area of holistic health that takes the best to be gleaned from all approaches to healing.

Integrative Medicine is the medicine of the future.

In the earliest days of veterinary endeavour, all practitioners were, in effect, animal naturopaths because modern pharmaceuticals and technologies had not been developed. These veterinarians were forced to use their own skills in medical prescribing, remedy formulation and healing.

I borrow a quote here from a veterinary pioneer, William Haycock 1852 ,

”I know well that few men, comparatively speaking can be put to a task more disagreeable to them than to be forced to think, and I know of no system of medicine which requires the tithe of thought which homeopathy does”.

We once relied solely upon our five or more senses in examining and treating animals and thought about a wide range of concomitant factors and whilst nobody will deny the benefits of modern technology in diagnostics, there are human skills that are equally invaluable and perhaps currently underutilized.

Naturopathy reminds us that the greatest healing tool is our own ability to discern what it is that needs to be cured and how best to apply medicines to attain this goal. Medicines in this context may be foods, homeopathic remedies, herbs, supplements or pharmaceuticals.

There is a growing number of training organisations teaching people how to develop skills in these areas. There are many concerns, however, that potentially arise out of this trend. The most important issue is quality and extent of training. The Veterinary Surgeons Act in each state of Australia defines the practice of examining and treating animals for disease as an act of veterinary science. This is because a symptom needs to be understood in context of entirety so that diseases are not misdiagnosed and proper treatments are not overlooked. A good example here would be that a vomiting dog or cat may not actually or simply have a  stomach upset.

Veterinarians have a legal obligation and are regulated through a statutory body for conduct and professionalism in their dealings with the public and the animals. Currently this requirement does not exist for non veterinary animal naturopaths and there is no regulation or registration required to practice animal naturopathy. Since veterinarians are the vanguard against emerging exotic and infectious diseases and champions of animal welfare, any other animal naturopath, regardless of their level of education, will need to work collaboratively with a veterinarian in order to ensure that the animal’s interests and welfare are fully represented. At present this is often the missing link in animal welfare and urgently needs to be addressed from both avenues.

Freddy

The range of quality products being offered as adjuncts to animal natural health is quite impressive but there is concern over the amount of, what I consider to be, unacceptable offerings on the internet. Without the proper training and experience of the practitioner and without some education of the owner, these perils are multiplied. I spend a lot of my professional time educating animal owners, to the best of my ability, about how to discern and how to select the right supplements and foods and to avoid purchasing nonprescribed medicines online. There are risks associated with using any medicines, natural or otherwise, for extended periods of time without proper monitoring.

We must all learn to differentiate  so that the best is not lost whilst the worst is not supported. This is partly why professional medical and veterinary organisations have vested interests in supporting their own members with experience and qualifications in these natural health practices through such groups as Integrative Veterinarians Australia.

All animal health practitioners have a responsibility to uphold animal welfare, to constantly challenge their own perceptions, update their professional skills and to recognise the limitations of their own practice. If we make this pledge, the animals and the public can be best served.

 

“We can arrive at perfection’s gate
Only when we work together
Lovingly, untiringly and selflessly.”

 Sri Chinmoy  6198

 Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 62

Leave a Reply