Those of you who have been following me awhile know that one of my passions in life is natural health care, in both dogs and in humans.
Natural health care in my world means staying healthy, without the use of doctors or medications.
Some days, as I sit down to write these blog posts, I just have too many possible topic ideas flowing through my head.
I have to decide, what do my readers want to know about this week? What message do I need to put out there today?
And I realize, animals are complicated creatures. Just like humans, they have so many intricacies to their bodies, there is an endless supply of topics for my posts.
As I sit down to write this post, I have one dog sitting on the recliner right next to me. She’s as close as she can possibly get without actually sitting in my lap, and she’d be there if my computer were elsewhere. She’s my healthy pup, the one who hasn’t had any illnesses yet other than occasional allergy problems (she reverse sneezes all the time).
I have another dog running around the living room, whining because she can hear movement from the son’s room but can’t see him. She’s only 4 months old at this point, so our goal is to keep her from getting sick for the duration of her life.
I have a cat staring at me from the couch. She’s 14 years old, and last night she was vomiting and constipated. Which means it’s time to take her in for her yearly bloodwork, because despite my best efforts, sometimes even my own animals get sick.
And on top of all that, we lost a chicken last night. Who knows why? We’ve lost a couple of them lately. They’re perfectly healthy one day, and the next they’re gone. They’re getting older, but it’s still odd.
What’s the point of this rambling?
The reality is that we do everything we can. We put all the right steps into place. We feed the right foods, vaccinate the right way. We pay attention to the stress levels in the environment.
But when it comes down to it, we’re dealing with living breathing beings. Beings who don’t always play by the rules, who didn’t all read the textbook dictating how bodies should work.
I should know, my body works like that too. Just ask my doctors.
But one of the things I’ve learned after many years of doing this now…
One of the things that I was not taught during veterinary school…
Have you ever noticed how amazing our bodies are?
Our bodies are meant to heal.
Our bodies are meant to be healthy.
This goes for our dogs or ourselves.
We are meant to be healthy.
We maintain our health by being balanced.
When our bodies are compromised by infection or illness, that balance is disrupted. Our bodies manage to regain their health by bringing the body back into balance.
One of the fallacies in the way we’re taught in the medical system is that we ignore this balancing act. We aren’t taught to look at the body as a whole, we’re taught to look at the individual systems.
When we go through vet school, we’re actually taught in systems. First we learn about the respiratory system, then the circulatory system, then the gastrointestinal system.
And I’m not saying this is wrong necessarily, at least as a way to learn. We need to know all the details about how the systems function, sure.
But in learning those systems, we’re never taught how they each interact with all the other systems and how they impact each other.
We’re aren’t taught (at least not when I went through) about the fact that if we put an animal on antibiotics for a respiratory problem, it’s going to affect the gut as well.
We aren’t taught that when we start a pet on pain medications because they’re old and arthritic, that will impact their gut too (and not just by causing the vomiting and diarrhea, but many pain meds can lead to more serious complications like leaky gut syndrome).
What it comes down to is that we can’t ignore the individual systems. If they’re not healthy we have problems. But while we often have to examine particular systems to figure out what is out of whack, we have to treat the body as a whole to help it heal.
And we always have to look at the gut.
We’re never going to achieve the level of health we want if we ignore the balancing act that is our bodies, and if we ignore the ramifications of our actions on that balance (particularly as it pertains to the gut).
This is why I tell my clients that there are concepts we have to understand about how the body works, before we can ever come up with an actual treatment plan.
We can’t look at our dog and see problem x and only treat problem x, which is how we’re taught to think. We have to look at our dog, figure out how to treat problem x, but do it in a way that brings the body closer to balance and its ability to self-heal, rather than further away from that ability.
And truly, that’s doable.
That’s where things like herbs and supplements come in, never mind the actual diet itself.
That’s where we start trying to catch imbalances before they become serious problems. Because it’s much easier to correct a mild imbalance than to heal a full-blown disease.
This is something for which we’re still learning all the intricacies. And we may never know all the answers because in addition to being more complicated than we’re taught, we also have to remember that we’re dealing with living beings.
As one of my professors used to like to say, “Not every body reads the text book.”
There may always be surprises.
There may always be a body that doesn’t respond as expected.
But we stick with it. We continue to look at the body as a whole, rather than individual pieces. We continue to work towards balance rather than imbalance or treating individual systems.