|Wellness in Animals: A Final Word
By William Pollak, DVM
We strive for more than just freedom from physical limitations, pain or disease; we seek
Wellness. True Wellness is a state of life - a natural state that is the birthright of us all. Nurtured
from within and supported from outside the confines of the physical body, life is a full and rich
tapestry. The absence of disease is a by-product of this natural state.
We can easily lose touch with our natural selves and the natural environment, for few links to this
world remain. The very fortunate of us with gardens that bear fruit can still experience a link.
The only way most of us who live in concrete, urban environments can still share in a natural joy
is through bonding with a companion animal. Our pets allow us to go beyond the constraints of our
human situations and into a larger, older, more harmonious world-view. The very act of caring for
our friends and, in return, receiving their unconditional devotion, brings us closer to our natural
roots and allows us to experience our humanity from a place of greater emotional well being.
Caring, bonding and the act of nurturing address our whole selves. This state supports our body's
abilities to heal itself, focus on prevention and cure disease. Proper nutrition is the foundation
upon which many holistic practices build our pets' (and our own) quality of life and Wellness. Poor
nutrition is one of the major contributors to our pets' (and our own) lower life expectancy. By
feeding our pets most commercially available pet foods, we are unintentionally depriving them of
important nutrients needed to sustain the state of greater Wellness their genetic material allows.
Our companion animals provide us with an important reminder of our link to nature. The
closeness we feel toward them reinforces our vision of them as full family members and life
companions. We see ourselves in them and are reminded of our greater nature. Our companion
animals live in a natural state of oneness no matter what "illness" they may have. In their
reflection of a natural earthly rhythm, we are reminded intellectually and emotionally that all is
well in life's ever-diversifying flow. Our gain from their unconditional acceptance of us is
transformed into our wanting more Wellness, for them, and for ourselves.
Western medical science views our bodies as "bio-mechanical parts" that can be repaired or
replaced. Non-holistic medical and veterinary practitioners address illness in the same way-a
disease means a body part is malfunctioning or has been "invaded" by an outside agent. You can
repair or remove that part through surgery, or support it with external chemicals or substances.
Identifying a malfunctioning part can require expensive testing. Laboratory workups support
medical diagnoses with "scientific fact"; in turn, tests confirm the malfunctioning part and outside
agents. This is only part of the holistic model of disease.
Many of us seek alternatives to this limited medical model. We want more encompassing
methods for ourselves and our companion animals. Instead of viewing a living body as a
flesh-covered skeleton composed of "bio-mechanical parts," holistic methods view living bodies
as constellations of diverse "biological" activities; each self-contained and self-defined and all
seamlessly woven into an organic tapestry, constantly unfolding over time, as an ongoing
expression of "Universal Being." Inclusive forms of treatment address the whole organism, not
just the sum of the organic parts. Holistic treatment assists the whole body in regaining
"Wellness" and a higher state of balance.
Few people suggest that holistic approaches should totally replace medical and veterinary
science, especially in the case of accident or acute illness. However, many alternative methods
achieve significant results without the need for surgical intervention or long-term drug therapy.
As lovers of companion animals, we want to take an active role in their care and assume
responsibility for their quality of life and their "Wellness." The average life expectancies of
companion animals have dropped rapidly in the last 40 years despite medical, veterinary and
treatment improvements. Poor nutrition, overmedication and over-vaccination have led to an
epidemic of allergic based diseases that challenge our pets' bodily defenses. Their shortened
lives are further complicated by skin rashes, epilepsy, kidney and liver ailments, and other
chronic diseases. Our pets have grown hypersensitive to common environmental allergens their
ancestors casually threw off.
What can you do? The information you have just read will help take you, and your companion, to
the next stage of Wellness. Learn from what your pet can teach you about health and nutrition,
and accept their love and devotion in return. It is as simple and joyous as that.