If you've read through the previous sections on The Basics, you're freshly aware of how interdependent all of the systems of the body are. ...A disease, therefore, isn't of one specific organ - it "preys on" a weak spot that isn't being supported by all the systems working together to keep it healthy. ...An injury in one location will probably affect another, or others.
To me, this means that we should think in terms of the whole, always - trying to support the body's own healing mechanisms, to bolster where it is weak.
So when I speak of applying The Basics, I mean... Thinking over all that we know of the body's inter-reliant systems - and choosing appropriate methods to use from all of the possible means of balancing and supporting at our disposal. There isn't one approach to an injury, or a gallstone, or incontinence... because more than one system is involved. And there certainly isn't one remedy for a general malaise, because it wouldn't be general if only one thing were wrong!
Hence "the shotgun approach" I spoke of early on... which really means this: Support the whole organism, don't rely on one thing to cure a complex problem; it doesn't make sense. Most health problems develop gradually over time - so patient persistence is also key in healing.
But "shotgun" doesn't mean without system... As Katherine Wilcox says in her wonderful website about her dog's struggles with allergies and kidney problems (http://www.macatawa.org/~wilcox_k/), "A systematic approach to determining the cause is important or you'll waste a lot of time and prolong your pet's discomfort." Likewise with your approach to healing - found it on a systematic run-through of The Basics.
Okay, it's time for some examples...
We'll start with an injury. Is there blood loss to stop, internally or externally? Did it cause shock? Is there inflammation, sepsis, nerve damage? Is the alignment of the spine affected, either immediately or due to compensating weight on one foot? Might it result in frustration at immobility? Too little exercise, muscle degeneration, decreased digestive or eliminative capacity?
You may be aware of a number of healing modalities, but look at the Home page under By Treatment Method... Which might be applicable?
Here's another example... Let's say your animal has been diagnosed as having diabetes (lots of dogs get it, some cats)...
First of all, you'll want to find out about the disease or other problem. There's a little bit here, on the Home page under By Ailment. It's always useful to read about the disease in humans, as there's a lot more such information out there which might be more accessible to you. I highly recommend having on hand at least a few books on both human and animal holistic medicine (see the recommended books list in the Resources section, as well as books mentioned in the By Ailment pages). Naturally, you'll want to know how the disease and treatment recommendations differ for your animal.
You'll have read, then, that diabetes is a very complex disorder. It affects the heart and circulation in general. The adrenals and the pancreas are intimately involved in it. As Richard H. and Susan Hubble Pitcairn say in their book Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, «- Clicking on this link will take you to book info at Amazon.com (Or click HERE to try Powell's used books] "the continuous presence of sugar in the urine causes fluid loss... Thus, the animal is abnormally thirsty and passes large volumes of urine." This leads to overload on the kidneys. The eyes are often affected in various ways. Nerves in the extremities can be affected. The animal is more susceptible to infections (especially urinary tract infections). Food allergies are common.
Dietary sugar is a major factor in its development (and yes, they do put sugar into many pet foods and treats, and way too many carbohydrates in general). Dietary fat must be controlled. Frequent feeding tends to help stabilize the blood sugar requirements. The body tends to be overly acidic, so alkalinizing foods are important. Various vitamins and minerals are deficient, so supplementation is important. "Superfoods" (e.g., chlorella, blue-green algae, freeze-dried sprouted grains, etc. - preferably mixed together!) are wonderful dietary adjuncts.
Dr. Pitcairn recommends some homeopathic remedies and a natural food diet designed to place less stress on the pancreas. Digestive enzymes can help with nutrition assimilation.
Acupuncture and acupressure can be useful for many diabetes-associated problems. You can stimulate the pancreas and the adrenals specifically via reflexology points. Various herbs can help with blood sugar balancing and insulin stimulation as well as the associated problems.
And look for spinal subluxations to correct, as always. And always check for proper functioning of the liver and the colon - in any disease situation, both are usually compromised. (That's basic!)
Meanwhile, if your veterinarian feels your animal requires insulin, be sure to have its insulin levels rechecked as you go into action on your own healing plan... The chances are excellent that its insulin needs will be lessened over time. (Don't wait too long to recheck - too much insulin isn't good either! And if you're doing a lot of therapy on your pet, it might not take an awful long time for improvements to be made.)
...That's just off the top of my head, looking at the list. (Lists are good to have around, just as reminders of what you know! - it's easy to forget when you're worried.)
Most disorders of the health stem from poor diet and lack of exercise, coupled with whatever environmental stress and toxins we or our animals are under. Think in terms of the body's systems... They need support (exercise and nutrition) but are often neglected or overloaded (not enough exercise, too much fat and/or sugar and/or protein, not enough enzymes and nutrients and cleansing fiber).
The Basics of health are: Good circulation, clear lungs, good muscle tone, strong bones, flexible connective tissue, a clean colon, an unclogged liver, unstressed glands, a supple spine... and mental stimulation.
Always think in terms of what is susceptible to going wrong... And that when one system has gone awry, others are probably involved too. Many holistic doctors say that cleansing the colon and the liver have cured their patients of a myriad of ailments that traditional MDs offered only drug treatments for (!). Aim your "shotgun" at the body as a whole - you and your pets will be much healthier!
I hope you get a feel for how much there is that you can do to affect your pet's health and quality of life. Veterinarians are wonderful folks, truly! - but most aren't trained in natural healing methods. And even if you are lucky enough to find a holistic veterinarian, she or he will probably focus on only a couple of healing modalities out of the bunch.
Then there's the bottom line... No vet has the time to do all the healing for you (or do you have that much money?). He or she can only offer tests, shots, surgery, and advice... perhaps one type of "alternative" treatment if you're very fortunate - it's up to you to take care of your critters. That means doing it, and persisting at it. Learning how to do it (which this site will help with). None of it is hard to do or learn, it just takes application... and once you know it, the time was well-spent - and you can help other people with their animals too.
...They're so worth all that we have to give them.