What Does the Phrase ?holistic Pet Food? Really Mean?
Holistic pet foods are, often reflexively, considered by many to be the healthiest pet foods available. What is the definition of ‘holistic’ and what does it mean in the pet food industry? The term ‘holistic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘holos,’ which means ‘all,’ ‘entire,’ or ‘total.’ It implies that the sum properties of a system (e.g., a body) can only be explained adequately if all its parts are considered in unity instead of on an individual basis. Or, as Aristotle summarized it, ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’ The principle of ‘holistic medicine’ has been recognized and applied intuitively by many cultures to the present day. Although the holistic approach was eventually lost to the majority of people in the Western world, eventually the concept was rediscovered by ‘holistic’ physicians, who realized that one cannot heal the whole person if one considers only the part of the body that shows the most obvious symptoms of disease.
Increasing numbers of veterinarians have come to see the importance of the holistic approach in the treatment of their animal patients. For example, what’s the benefit of recommending repeated administration of a stool softener to an animal that is constipated without correcting the underlying cause of this symptom? In many cases, this would simply amount to evaluating the animal’s diet for possible causes of the condition. The same applies to other diseases, such as eczema, which are often caused by food allergens. How could a topical cream restore health if a food allergen was the culprit?
Holistic treatments look beyond the surface veneer of disease symptoms, and a good holistic veterinarian will always inquire about a pet’s diet, which is one of the most prominent factors determining states of both health and disease. Considering that the vast majority of a pet’s immune system is located in the intestines, it is understandable that food is supremely important for maintaining good health. Food loaded with toxins or deficient of nutrients will eventually affect the entire body. Although symptoms may only become obvious in one location, it is likely that more than one organ will be knocked out of balance. Instead of treating the symptoms, one might consider the fundamental causes of the ailment and treat the animal holistically.
Here’s where holistic pet foods come in. As food is a major determining factor of pet health, the concept of a food that nourishes the entire system becomes extraordinarily important as a major means of disease prevention. Any sincere attempts undertaken by pet food manufacturers to offer holistic pet food is the highest ethical endeavor in this industry. The term ‘holistic pet food’ is being exploited excessively, much as the terms ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ have been misused for some time.
It is not enough to omit obviously toxic ingredients to pet foods to rightfully call them holistic. Pet foods that are truly holistic not only not do no harm, but actually support the body’s endeavor to remain fully functional, and in doing so, support the animal’s overall wellbeing and happiness. The best holistic commercial pet foods are those that contain highest quality, health-promoting ingredients which are not heat-treated and allow keeping supplementation with isolated nutrients down to the absolute required minimum.