Holistic Pet Care and Therapies for the Animals we love

holistic pet care

I don’t know if you have animals in your life right now, but if you do, you probably love them and want the best care possible for them.

In the human world, wellness therapies and holistic medicine are well established now, but it’s not yet all that common in veterinary care. To ensure animals’ wellbeing, we also need to look at the whole animal from a physical and emotional perspective, rather than just focusing on treating the spot that hurts.

Animals have a much keener intuition and a “sixth sense” along with the other five senses that we share, despite of having been domesticated by humans for a long time now. How we treat them, physically and emotionally, is paramount for their wellbeing and long, healthy life.

A holistic approach to health and life is what I have dedicated myself to for 13 years now. Therefore, I would never consider using toxic medications or invasive treatments for our animals either, if effective holistic methods are available.

Of course, there can be situations where surgery and proven meds work best, but it’s great to have choices and to know all your options!

Nutrition plays a vital role too and there are many choices to establish a good preventative care or treatment plan that includes proper nutrition. 

Below I’m outlining what holistic treatments are now available to make life better for the animals we love.

If you have the chance, I would also recommend to seek out a holistic veterinarian in your area. I believe the peace of mind that you get from exploring the extensive and growing list of natural care options for animals is well worth it.


What is Holistic Healthcare for Pets?

Rather than just treating your pet’s symptoms, holistic pet care looks at how your pet is feeling and the reasons why they’re feeling that way. Holistic veterinarians seek to treat both the symptoms and the root cause of your pet’s ailments. They focus on the bigger picture and can thus form a more complete diagnosis.

Holistic veterinarians typically have the same training as conventional veterinarians but have sought to learn other modes of treatment that may not be considered mainstream. They typically incorporate multi-modal, whole-body approaches to treatment and may utilize more alternative methods to help a pet than a conventional veterinarian might pursue.

Many holistic vets avoid vaccines and medications but will incorporate them if there is no other option to make your pet feel better.

Since the whole pet is being evaluated, holistic care pays close attention to diet and food, nutritional supplements, preventive care, exercise, and grooming, as well as the whole range of options available for any needed treatment. An evaluation can show that natural and herbal supplements may improve overall pet health.

two huskie puppies


Potential Benefits of Holistic Pet Care

The people who love holistic pet care tend to swear by it.  Advocates suggest that treatments can lead to a host of positive changes, including:

  • Better circulation
  • Stress and pain relief
  • Improvements to coat and digestion
  • A stronger immune system
  • Decreased blood pressure

For now, these benefits are considered anecdotal, as the medical world’s exploration of holistic healthcare (for pets and people alike) is still in its very early stages.

While conventional medicine can be very helpful in treating pet illnesses, it also comes with a long list of side effects that can be more trouble than they’re worth. Natural, holistic alternatives provide treatment and relief for your pet without subjecting them to any difficult or uncomfortable side effects.

Holistic medicine cannot fully replace vaccinations and some other forms of conventional medicine, but it can offer adjunctive therapy options to pets who aren't responding to traditional treatment or cannot tolerate some drugs or therapies.

ginger cat


Holistic Pet Care Treatments and Remedies 

In addition to traditional tests, procedures, foods, and supplements, holistic veterinarians have a large number of alternatives in their arsenal of tools.  These can include:

Acupuncture / Acupressure

Ancient Chinese medicine is based on the philosophy that illness is caused by an imbalance of vital energies in the body. Acupuncture is one aspect of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) that focuses on restoring the energy balance in the body and promoting healing. Pets can get relief from such conditions as hip and elbow arthritis, chronic pain from disc disease, seizure disorders, lick granulomas, nerve injuries and dry eye.

Herbal Therapy 

Herbal approaches have been developed for the management of almost all conditions that currently challenge conventional veterinary medicine, including epilepsy, chronic kidney failure, chronic lameness, hormonal disorders, behavioral disorders, allergic skin disease, liver failure, and inflammatory bowel disease. Other herbs may simply support the normal function of healthy organs by acting as "tonics". Herbalists hold the view that their treatments, using whole plants or their extracts, produce improved outcomes and fewer side effects than many pharmaceutical products.

Nutritional Therapies

A pet therapeutic diet is formulated to meet the specific needs of your pet. In most cases, these diets are designed to treat and/or prevent diseases that are common to cats and dogs. These diets are clinically studied to weigh certain vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, carbohydrates, and other nutritional components to determine their effect on the disease process. Therapeutic diets provide the core of your pet’s nutrition, but they can also be supplemented with fresh ingredients such as healthy veggies, protein or some fruit.

Many holistic pet care advocates argue that nutrition is the most important ingredient for a happy, healthy pet. They may choose specialty foods, cook from their own recipes, or supplement traditional pet foods with additional nutrients or herbs.


Pet aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of natural essential oils to restore or maintain the well-being of your dog or cat. Essential oils are botanical extracts of the volatile liquids in the bark, leaf, flower, rind, root, stem, or wood of aromatic plants.

Essential oils are often anti agents: antiviral, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-insect, anti-toxin, anti-venom, and anti-anxiety effects offer a viable alternative to allopathic approaches.

Other benefits include the prevention of motion sickness, regrowth of fur, enhanced immunity, and mood elevation.

Note that many essential oils can be toxic to animals, especially cats, so always consult with an expert before using them.

Flower Essences

Flower essence therapy was developed over 70 years ago by the physician, Edward Bach. They are infusions of flowers that work with the body’s emotional state. In disease and stress, the emotions can become unbalanced leading to both mental and physical symptoms. Bach was able to discover the healing properties of wild flowers. They could be looked at as mood enhancers. They do not “drug” or sedate the patient but rather try bringing the emotions back into a positive position.

Chiropractic and Osteopathic Treatment

A vet using chiropractic techniques gently manipulates and realigns the body of your pet to alleviate joint and muscle pain. It’s a popular drug-free option for pets experiencing these symptoms.

A veterinary osteopath uses gentle hands-on palpation and manipulation to assess, treat and release pain and restrictions in the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tissues and organs, so that the bodily fluids vital for health can flow unimpeded. It can treat a range of conditions; its goal is to correct any misalignments and imbalances that interfere with the body’s self-healing capabilities.

Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation (VOM)

A healing technology that identifies areas of an animal’s nervous system that have fallen out of communication, allows the body to reestablish neuronal communication in those areas, thereby inducing healing.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapists apply pressure to the body over an extended period in hopes of alleviating both physical and mental stress.

Sports massage (massage directed at athletes to prevent injury) is used widely to prevent injury in horses before competitions. Passive range of motion (flexing and extending a limb for example) is prescribed as a form of rehabilitation following certain injuries and orthopedic procedures in small animals, especially in dogs. Veterinarians use acupressure on most mammals and even some reptiles.

Sound Therapy

This emerging field of pet therapy uses certain types of music to soothe pets. So far, tunes from composers like Beethoven and Vivaldi have shown promising results.


Homeopathic medicine for cats and dogs is a holistic method using natural substances to stimulate the body’s natural healing process. Just like in humans, homeopathy can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, from allergies to diarrhea. It concentrates on care of the whole animal with methods that are specific, gentle and sympathetic to the body’s needs. It is based on the utilization of specially prepared, refined dilutions of herbs, minerals and other natural substances, and can be a great alternative treatment option for pets.  

Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

This is the process in which stool from a healthy donor animal is transferred to the intestines of a sick recipient. The stool from the donor contains a functioning and healthy community of bacteria that can take up residence in the sick recipient's gut, helping the patient to restore a good intestinal flora.

Ozone Therapy

Ozone therapy is a natural, effective way to increase tissue oxygenation, offering extra resistance to disease and cancer, and is also a particularly effective “disinfectant” for bacterial, viral, and fungal infections in pets and people. All degenerative, neoplastic, immunologic, and aging diseases involve lack of oxygen, which makes ozone therapy a highly beneficial treatment for these condition types.

Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation Therapy (UBI)

Exposing blood to ultraviolet light does many things, all of which are not currently completely understood.  What we do know about UV blood therapy is the following:

It kills bacteria, viruses and fungi and has anti-inflammatory effects. It can activate and increase white blood cells. It can inactivate bacterial toxins and other toxins like pesticides and herbicides. It may help with certain cancers and encourage cell oxygen flow. It works well in combination with ozone therapy.

Applied Kinesiology

A muscle testing system that allows the practitioner to tap into energetic disturbances and weaknesses in the physical, chemical and emotional body.

Class IV Laser Therapy

A Class IV therapy laser is a device that can be used to treat animals with pain or injury. It has been shown to help reduce the amount of medication needed for chronic conditions, relieve minor aches and pains, and decrease recovery time after surgery.

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cells are being used to treat illness and heal injuries in pets. They are injected into the body to repair muscles, joints, and ligaments that have been damaged by arthritis or injury. Some cancers are treated with stem cells taken from the pet's own bone marrow. Research is underway to test stem cells for diabetes treatment, and to treat animals that have lost control of their bladders.

bunny rabbit


Is Holistic Pet Care Safe?

Like any evolving area of study, holistic pet care comes with controversy and some uncertainty. While some pet owners and vets swear by these methods, others are hesitant to even suggest them.

Holistic pet care can be controversial where diet is concerned. Raw food, for example, is a popular choice among holistic healthcare advocates, who believe that a diet rich in raw protein is better for a pet’s body and mind and more accurately reflects what they would have eaten in the wild. More cautious vets worry about the risk of foodborne disease through raw food.

Supplementals and nutraceuticals can also be a touchy subject. Certain nutrients — while beneficial in small doses — can have adverse side effects when taken in excess. However, this is true for almost anything in nutrition, even for humans. Non-traditional diets could expose a pet to potential allergens, irritants, or toxins that are not widely studied yet.

In general, it is advisable to look at holistic medicines and treatments as parts of an overall tool box, not an exclusive choice. As animal guardians, we should always strive to do what’s in our pets’ best interest and weigh all the possible options, which also include conventional medicine. If you are unsure about your vet’s suggestions, it may be time to get a second opinion for more certainty or a wider range of options.

Since holistic treatments are less studied and tested than conventional ones at this time, you need to be aware of the risks associated with these.  

For example, vaccinations are proven to be an effective means of disease prevention and should not be ignored. On the other hand, and for my own example, we have a very senior cat who is always indoors, so it may be ill-advised to burden his body with any further vaccines.

A holistic vet will give you the best recommendation based on your pet’s unique situation.

Completely avoiding the use of proven medications and surgeries to treat illness can potentially be very harmful to a pet. The best approach may be to use holistic approaches wherever possible but combine it with evidence-based therapies If the need arises, to give your pet the best care possible.

Many holistic vets, like ours in Las Vegas, the Natural Care Institute, combine a holistic and conventional approach for fully integrative pet care.

three cats


Final Thoughts

I personally would always seek the holistic approach first for our pets unless there is an emergency. I had several situations with our cats where I felt they were much better off with the holistic or integrative care versus just the standard conventional treatments. 

When my senior cat of 19 years started wobbling on his legs and sometimes toppling over, maybe due to some arthritis, we brought him in for a chiropractic manipulation and he immediately walked completely straight again, even moving up and down the sofas as usual.

For pain treatments, opioids are still the standard choice for pets too, but there are other options.

We would start our cats on low-dose CBD for preventive maintenance and I would also use CBD for pain management if the need arises. CBD has proven applications for many conditions in pets and much fewer side effects than opioids.

There are also TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) options for pain management, which we used on one of our cats instead of opioids.

Essential oils, which I personally use as well, can also prove very helpful for pets. From treating a skin condition with Frankincense oil to diffusing some soothing lavender to calm the nerves, these are great choices. Just read up well before using just any essential oil. The type and quality of oils are very important to make sure your animal is not harmed.


Whatever you chose to do, I encourage you to take a look at holistic pet care as a powerful toolbox of treatment options or adjunct therapies to give your pet the best health and wellness – and thus a long life by your side.


To the wellbeing of the animals we love!

Ina Mohan
Founder & President
Health, Healing & Happiness LLC