Complementary Medicine – Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – My Journey

< A version of this article was published in the October 2016 issue of Down East Dog News>

Don and Muppy in class*
Don and Muppy in class*

I am often asked by clients how and why I became interested in holistic pet care. It was not a sudden revelation for me but has been a journey of many steps.

Holistic is a term that is thrown around a great deal, and often people attribute its meaning to be natural, healthy, or “good for you.” Merriam-Webster defines “holistic as – “relating to or concerned with complete systems rather than with individual parts. relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts <holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body> <holistic ecology views humans and the environment as a single system>.” Holistic simply means that we consider the whole individual organism and the environment where it lives. Complicated, but also pretty basic.

Gus, our first Cairn Terrier, was the catalyst for our first steps on this holistic

Don and Gus in WI
Don and Gus in WI

journey. Before he was a year old, he was suffering from chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs) which his veterinarian felt was related to an unidentified nutritional imbalance. That led to our striving to continually learn about pet nutrition to find a food that would cure Gus’ condition. It was a long journey that involved many different foods, fed singly and in combination, and even homemade diets formulated from recipes in Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Gus’ UTIs finally stopped when we switched to a dog food made by Wysong which we fed in conjunction with specific supplements for his condition. We learned more about pet food and a holistic approach to wellness from Dr. Wysong, which eventually led us to start to explore raw diets for pets.

tikken-was-fed-raw-most-of-her-life-800x800Paula and I attended our first seminar on raw diets for pets in 1998, started feeding raw to our dogs for at least one meal per day in 2000, and were selling raw diets at Green Acres by 2001. We continue to learn more about nutrition every year and have been feeding 100% raw for several years. We credit a raw diet to our Golden, Tikken, living for 16 years.

Appropriate nutrition is part of a holistic lifestyle, but it is not everything. Gus started having seizures, and when conventional medicine had done all it could to control the seizures, Paula started looking at other alternative treatments. She had read about homeopathy in  Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, attended a seminar, and soon Gus’ was being treated homeopathically for epilepsy. About a year later Paula enrolled us both in a four-day seminar on veterinary homeopathy being taught by Dr. Charles Loops. It would be fair to say that I went along kicking and screaming.

Before moving to Maine to purchase Green Acres, I had a seventeen-year career in the medical device industry in a variety of managerial positions. I was trained in and believed in traditional, modern medicine. It had been my livelihood. Since homeopathy challenged some very fundamental scientific principles, I felt it was “quackery” on a grand scale. Less than three hours into the seminar I was convinced that there was something to homeopathy, and it was far from quackery. However, what convinced me most was how homeopathy cured my Golden Retriever when traditional medicine could not1.

As our journey continued, we would learn about the benefits of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, herbs, chiropractic care, and essential oils. In 2002 I started formal training with the Bach Foundation, learning how to use the Bach Flower Remedies to treat emotional and behavioral issues with pets. In 2003 I completed my studies in England, becoming the first Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner in the America’s. Holistic practices continue to be my approach to wellness for myself, my pets, and even dog training.2  To learn more about my experiences, check out my podcast Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – Our Personal Journey at

If you would like to learn more about holistic wellness options for your pet, I invite you to join me at the Holistic Wellness Day for Pets on Saturday, October 29th at The Green Gem Healing Oasis in Bangor. FMI –


1 Tikken – Vaccines, Aggression & Homeopathy,

2 A Holistic Approach to Dog Training – Part 1, Downeast Dog News-January 2015, A Holistic Approach to Dog Training – Part 2, Downeast Dog News-February 2015 –

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (

Tikken – Vaccines, Aggression & Homeopathy

Bach Flower Remedies – An Overview of the Bach Flower Remedies

Dogs-Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2)


Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (


PODCAST – Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – Our Personal Journey

PODCAST – Pet Health and Wellness – Don and Kate’s Journey with Complementary Medicine


Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at Don also writes about pets at his blog:

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