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Monday, November 24, 2008

The Sustainable Life for Animals

This is Grasshopper, a healthy and contented four-year-old horse who injuries have been treated by alternative medical care.
Being people who live with multiple cats and dogs (some reaching the geriatric stage), we often go through spates of time where trips to the vet are a regular part of the week.   Care for our animals takes time and money, something we do out of love and a desire for them to have the best lives possible.   That’s also why so many people seek out green products and foods for the furry and feathered members of their family. But as our own journeys towards sustainable living are an ongoing process, creating a green lifestyle for a family animal happens in stages. Most of us seek out organic alternatives when we’ve been moved by events: either public ones, like the recent tragedy of tainted dog and cat food from China, or more personal ones, like the chronic illness of a beloved companion.    As we discover alternatives, more possibilities open: green bedding options, better food, and safer toys, and healthier living environments. Most people make the move to alternative veterinary care when they’ve had a pet with a serious illness. I recently talked to Dr. Kevin Landau, who runs an alternative animal care clinic in western Massachusetts, always uses integrated and sustainable therapies and treatments.  Dr. Landau pointed out that Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and dietary change are often an important step in end-of life care, making a chronic or terminal condition more bearable. His own training, which already includes a wide variety of techniques, continues to evolve so that he can develop systems of diagnosis and sustainable approaches to alleviating the root issues behind the individual's discomfort.   To have an older animal live out its days without pain is, in and of itself, a successful medical outcome that traditional veterinary practices often don’t consider in their well-meaning rush to save a patient regardless of quality of life. Ideally, giving your animal a green life means providing preventative rather than palliative care.  Dr. Landau’ s use of a variety of therapies and his understanding of complementary medicine treats the underlying patterns of imbalance that foster illness.  He also emphasizes taking the time to use an entire system of diagnostic tools, including chiropractic adjustments, chinese herbs, and acupuncture. The first step is almost always about diet, avoiding conventionally grown corn and grain-based foods. As Dr. Landau points out, “carnivores don’t really eat corn and grain.” Landau works to find both commercial and local foods for his clients. You can find organic pet foods in a variety of places. And since meat is a vital part of cat and dog health, check out sustainable food guides -- many buy local campaigns can help you find a source that’s organic and produced nearby. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and the Chi Institute for Chinese Medicine each have listings of vets across the United States who are trained in alternative and holistic methods.

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