Holistic veterinarians say they believe in what they do, despite a lack of scientific evidence that the tools of their trade -- acupuncture, herbal medicines, homeopathy, and other complementary/alternative therapies -- prevent or cure illness in pets.
For them, the proof is in the way an arthritic dog bounds out of the office after a round of acupuncture, or how a dog's dangerous fungal infection clears up completely with homeopathic treatment.
But holistic veterinarians also understand the limits...
Houston’s Canine Health Institute associate medical director Adrianne Brode, DVM, says neglecting preventive health care is the most common mistake dog owners make.
"Taking your dog in to the vet for regular examinations, giving heartworm prevention, and getting your dog the appropriate vaccinations and deworming can prevent many diseases," Brode says. For example, heartworm disease can be difficult to treat and ultimately fatal to dogs, but it's easily preventable.
Oregon veterinarian Marla J. McGeorge, DVM, says yearly exams help your vet catch problems early. Instead of coping with lengthy treatment of an advanced or chronic condition, your vet can catch issues in their beginning stages when care may mean cure. Early care saves you money in the long run.
Simply getting your dog vaccinated isn't the same as a full physical exam. Among other things, a comprehensive checkup may include:
A fecal examination for intestinal parasites
Examination of a dog’s gums, heart, lungs, teeth, eyes, and ears
Talk to your veterinarian to learn more.
Mistake 2: Neglecting Dental Care
Shawn Messonnier, DVM, author of the Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats, says neglecting regular dental care is also common. Dogs need dental care for the same reason we do: to prevent gum disease.
As with human teeth, plaque forms on a dog's teeth after eating. If left alone, the plaque builds, causing inflammation, decay, and eventually bone and tooth loss. And while this silent war goes on in your dog's mouth, she’s probably experiencing pain you don't notice because dogs, like cats, instinctively hide pain.
Gum disease is five times more common in dogs than it is in people. But it's easy to prevent and to treat with dental care that includes: