What is an Animal Naturopath?
Never heard of an Animal Naturopath? You are not alone. Many are familiar with Naturopaths for people, but few know what an Animal Naturopath is or what they do. As a certified Small Animal Naturopath and Holistic Health Practitioner, I am often confronted with some common misconceptions that people have about what it is that I and those in my profession do.
First, let’s cover what an Animal Naturopath is not.
1. We are not a veterinarian, holistic or otherwise. Many confuse an Animal Naturopath for a veterinarian. An Animal Naturopath does not diagnose or treat disease, prescribe medications, or perform any invasive surgeries or procedures. We do not replace a traditionally licensed veterinarian, always consult a veterinarian if your animal has a life-threatening emergency and before undertaking any course of “treatment” for your pet or changing treatments or medications your veterinarian has already prescribed.
In today’s culture, the standard protocol for treating illness, whether it be our own or our animal’s, is narrowed down to three primary options: prescription drugs, surgery, and chemotherapy. Animal Naturopathy offers another tried and true approach; supporting the immune system. After all, prescription drugs, surgery, and chemotherapy cannot heal, only the body’s innate immune system can. Placing a bandage on a cut isn’t what heals the wound, the body does with the support and protection of the bandage.
2. We do not provide quick fixes. Animal Naturopaths may recommend the use of natural healing modalities temporarily to provide additional support and enhance the body’s immune system, but not as a quick fix or to suppress symptoms. The goal is to determine the cause of the symptoms, not merely to make them disappear. Symptoms themselves are the body’s warning signs of a more serious illness, they are the body’s attempt at healing and can be used as guideposts to determine what is causing them. Masking symptoms only drives disease back into the body where it wreaks havoc on a deeper and more dangerous level. Those looking for a natural remedy or home treatment to suppress their pet’s ailments or make their symptoms disappear may be disappointed when the answer is to first start with examining the animal’s diet instead of a remedy. Real healing takes time, patience, and trust. Trust that for millennia nature has provided us with exactly what we need to be healthy. It is silly to think that unnatural, synthetic drugs and procedures are superior to what God gave us in nature. The daily recipe for health is simple: eat according to your nature, exercise, drink pure water, get plenty of sunshine, moderation in all things, breathe fresh air, get plenty of rest, and trust that following these simple laws are the only true path to health. Health for humans or animals alike cannot come from eating processed food, a sedentary lifestyle, drinking chlorinated, fluoridated water, and spending too much time inside our homes where the air is more toxic than outdoor air.
3. We do not diagnose disease or recommend a quick fix natural remedy. Our culture has grown accustomed to getting a diagnosis and a quick fix prescription to make symptoms disappear. Animal Naturopaths do not diagnose or label illnesses, and we will not substitute a natural herb or remedy for a prescription medication. We are trained in finding the underlying cause of disease and how to best support the immune system naturally. Nature takes time and patience. If a diagnosis is what you are seeking, consult with a licensed veterinarian, but keep in mind that because an illness has a name, does not mean it is well understood.
What an Animal Naturopath IS, defined by six simple principles.
1. The healing power of nature. Animal Naturopaths trust in the body’s inherent wisdom to heal itself. We support the healing process by identifying the cause of illness, removing obstacles to a cure, and by using nature and nature’s remedies that work with, not against, the body’s natural processes.
2. Identify and address the cause. Symptoms are not the illness; they are signs that the body is attempting to heal itself. Every disease has a cause and as Animal Naturopaths we are trained to find the underlying cause rather than suppress symptoms.
3. First, do no harm. We utilize the most natural, least invasive and least toxic methods provided by nature. In addition to following the laws of health, some of the natural methods utilized to support the immune system and promote healing include herbs, aromatherapy, flower essences, bodywork, and homeopathic remedies.
4. Doctor as teacher. We educate clients on the steps to achieve and maintaining health. Our primary goal is to teach, encourage, and empower pet owners to make their own informed decisions regarding the health of their animals. It is not our job to convince, but to educate and plant seeds that provoke thought so that pet owners will do their research and seek the truth for themselves. Knowledge is power, and it takes courage to make your own decisions without resorting to the use of harmful drugs or chemicals.
5. Target the whole animal. When an Animal Naturopath evaluates an animal, we take into consideration the three pillars of holistic healing: mind, body, and spirit. Health comes from mental and emotional health as well as physical.
6. Prevention is the best cure. Animal Naturopaths focus on overall health, wellness, and disease prevention. We do not need to label symptoms of the disease but identify the cause of it and when necessary, use natural healing modalities to support the body in its healing efforts. We promote health by teaching clients about the laws of health and how to prevent disease by implementing them in the lives of their animals.
A few challenging realities.
1. You may not be ready for what an Animal Naturopath is going to tell you. Change is hard, and it can be inconvenient and scary. Some of the major factors taken into consideration when we evaluate a pet are their diet, lifestyle, vaccinations, medications, and toxins in the home. It isn’t easy to change one of these things, let alone, all of them. Accept that change is necessary and embrace it.
Fear is a potent deterrent and what we say may directly contradict things you thought you knew as truth and fact. Or you may be afraid of taking the reins and making your own decisions on behalf of your pet. Take the natural diet of a carnivore for example, as an Animal Naturopath we understand that nutrition is the foundation of health and we recommend a diet appropriate to your pets nature. And although our pets are a part of the family, they are not people and have vastly different nutritional needs from ours. This not only contradicts what you may have been led to believe, it also requires confidence to take charge and make the necessary changes. As Animal Naturopaths, we can educate, guide, and encourage you but ultimately the responsibility of your pet’s health and well-being is yours.
2. Don’t make an Animal Naturopath your last resort and expect a miracle. An Animal Naturopath is often sought after conventional medicine has given no further hope. There is always hope, even in the most devastating circumstances, but the fact is, your pet may not have enough life force left to muster a healing response and get well. Especially if they are already sick and has been conventionally treated with multiple vaccines, prescription medications, commercially processed pet foods, and bathed in toxic flea and tick chemicals.
The choice is yours, do your research before deciding.
Animal Naturopathy is not a method or a quick fix; it is a lifelong commitment to a healthy lifestyle. The focus is not on symptoms or labeling disease, but on promoting health and strengthening the immune system because it is ultimately the only thing that can heal. Do your research and keep an open mind before deciding the best approach to caring for your pets, and please don’t make decisions based on dogma. Steve Jobs said, “Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice”.