November 27, 2017

Holistic Treatment Wellness & Prevention

The Wellness Triangle – Three Important Components to Your Pet’s Health

by Karen Strickfaden, DVM, CVA, CAC

The Wellness Triangle is a measure of the three main categories that contribute to overall health and well-being. The three equal sides of the triangle represent the three equal components that affect health: structural/physical, nutritional/chemical and emotional/mental. As a result, harmony between these three components is necessary for overall well-being.

wellness triangle

Nutritional/Chemical Factors


Nutrition is considered the foundation of health. The expression, “You are what you eat,” is actually true. Many of your pet’s chronic health issues, such as ear infections, skin problems, diabetes, and arthritis, can improve significantly when you change his diet.

Dogs and cats are carnivores.  Therefore, they require a meat-based diet, not one full of carbohydrates and grains. Grain-free, fresh-cooked, and raw diets improve hair coat and digestive health and decrease inflammation in the body.


Not surprisingly, animals are exposed to many different chemicals in everyday life.  Household chemicals, pesticides and toxins are present in our pets’ lives. Subsequently, animals may ingest and/or inhale some of these pollutants.  Other chemicals may get on our pets’ skin.

Toxic chemicals, allergens, and environmental substances can harm your pet’s overall health. Additionally, those negative effects often increase over time. Minimize your pet’s exposure to chemicals, and help her detoxify her body regularly to keep her as healthy as possible.

Structural/Physical Components


The second side of the triangle encompasses the structural and physical health of your pet’s body. Structural problems usually stem from traumas or injuries that put the spine out of alignment. Regular veterinary chiropractic (spinal manipulation) therapy can keep your pet’s body structurally aligned.

Physical Health

vet listening to heart

As you would imagine, physical health deals with the function of the different organ systems, from kidney and liver to heart and lungs. Different organs and body parts rely on each other to work properly. Consequently, if one system is not functioning properly, the other organ systems may also start to deteriorate. Your veterinarian can perform blood tests and other disease-screening tests to detect changes in your pet’s physical health. Identifying significant changes as early as possible can help your doctor detect disease in its most treatable stage.

Emotional/Mental Elements

Finally, the third side of the triangle represents the mental and emotional side of your pet’s health. Lack of balance in one side of the triangle can throw the other sides out of alignment. When the triangle is out of balance, your pet may experience dietary sensitivity or emotional strain.

The “emotional” side of the triangle deals with how your pet thinks, feels, and handles situations and stress in everyday life. While a variety of factors can affect the balance of the triangle, stress is one of the most often overlooked factors in pets.

The Key to Wellness

The wellness triangle looks at health from a more holistic point of view. Oftentimes, people believe that health involves only the physical body. However, studies have shown that emotions and stress can positively or negatively affect physical health.

To achieve maximum health for your pet, incorporate all sides of the wellness triangle into his life. Each side of the triangle affects the other two sides. If something is lacking on one side of the triangle, then it negatively affects the other two sides. As a result, the key to wellness is to balance the nutritional, physical and emotional components that make up overall health.

Dr. Karen Strickfaden is a practitioner at and a co-owner of Countrycare Animal Complex. Dr. Strickfaden’s interest in holistic medicine has stemmed from her personal experiences and medical issues. She enjoys the challenge of helping an animal that no one else could.