What Is a Holistic Veterinarian?
Unlike a conventional veterinarian, holistic veterinarians utilize treatments such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic practice, and homeopathy in their treatment plans. Holistic veterinarians have traditionally been thought of as only using treatment plans that avoid drugs, surgery, and other conventional therapies. Holistic veterinarians typically have the same training as conventional veterinarians but have sought to learn other modes of treatment that may not be considered main stream. They typically incorporate multi-modal, whole body approaches to treatment and may utilize more alternative methods to help a pet than a conventional veterinarian might pursue.
Many holistic veterinarians avoid vaccines and medications, but a holistic approach to veterinary medicine is gradually being incorporated into many conventional treatments sometimes making the line between conventional and holistic medicine blurry.
Why Choose a Holistic Veterinarian?
Holistic veterinarians are different from conventional veterinarians. Animal health care in general is split. There are conventional vets, holistic vets and, more recently, integrative vets. While many principles are shared among practices, methodologies are often quite different.
Traditional veterinary practice (conventional) is much like what Western medicine is for humans. The focus is aimed at determining what the problem is and then trying to solve it.
While a traditional veterinarian is a professional with your pet’s best interest at heart, he or she is sometimes at a loss as to how to best solve a chronic or undetermined condition. Western medicine is based primarily in pharmacological medicine. Many times a conventional veterinarian will look to prescribe medication that may silence symptoms but not resolve the underlying problem.
Conventional veterinary medicine has become increasingly advanced and a wide array of techniques and options are now available to the average pet owner. Ultrasound, x-ray, MRI, chemotherapy, blood transfusion, and physical therapy are commonly used and, as many of us know, tend to run up the bill.
Take a look at why you should consider a holistic veterinarian for your pet.
Lots of pet owners fall back on traditional veterinarians and chemical treatments for their furry friends, despite the fact that they’ve long abandoned these things for themselves. So, why this disparity?
Perhaps many animal lovers don’t even know about all of the options available to them when it comes to alternative medicine and health. If you’re interested in changing the way you view your pet’s care, a great place to start is by consulting a holistic veterinarian, whose care can offer your animals several health benefits.
1. Preventative care
If you’re like a lot of pet owners, your animal only sees his doctor when he’s hurt or sick. By that point, however, the only thing the vet can do is treat the resulting effect of underlying health issues that cause problems. Integrative care challenges this practice and asks, “Why repair what’s broken again and again if you can prevent it from breaking in the first place?”
Just like practitioners of alternative human medicine, holistic vets seek to help you maintain your pet’s health through daily lifestyle choices. The guiding philosophy of integrative care, both animal and human, is that the body knows how to care for and heal itself. It’s the holistic veterinarian’s role is to help animals do just that. Essentially, your holistic vet would love it if you rarely had to bring your pet in at all.
2. Bedside manner
For human health care workers of any kind, bedside manner is a big deal. If you were to visit a new dentist or optometrist or acupuncturist who didn’t make eye contact, treated you roughly or didn’t respond to your expressions of pain, you almost certainly would never return to that person again. Personal rapport is often a significant part of how we assess medical professionals. Yet, we may not think of that aspect of care as much when it comes to our pets.
What sets holistic vets apart is that they prioritize empathy in both exams and treatments. They aim to give care in a way that results in the least possible stress for your animals. For example, they may sometimes employ methods such as Reiki and massage to calm animals that are stressed. You can appreciate how important this is if you’ve ever seen your dog or cat have an extremely adverse reaction immediately upon entering a traditional vet’s office.
3. Whole health
Get ready to spend a bit more time in your holistic vet’s office than you would normally spend in a traditional vet’s office. This is due to the fact that integrative pet care capitalizes on a much more complete picture of health. A mere physical exam is not early enough to understand your animal’s unique needs – the doctor or practitioner will also need information about your pet’s behavior, lifestyle, diet, social habits and observed irregularities in any of these aspects.
If you think about how in-depth your conversations often are with your own healthcare practitioners, this makes perfect sense. Imagine how strange it would be for a doctor to perform a physical exam without asking you about your lifestyle. An incomplete picture would result in an incomplete diagnosis. Holistic vets know this and make sure to get all the facts before recommending treatments.
4. Treatment variety
Holistic veterinarians have a diverse arsenal of treatment options available to them. Though the idea may seem foreign to you, pet health can be significantly improved through treatments like acupuncture, herbal remedies, chiropractic, massage, and nutritional therapy.
This should come as happy news to owners of pets with chronic issues that leave them in a never-ending cycle of surgeries and pharmaceuticals. Holistic vets do not treat every animal with a one-size-fits-all approach; instead, they assess each case deeply in order to recommend a unique course of non-invasive treatments that seek to cure the underlying causes of illness.
What is Holistic Veterinary Medicine?
Holistic medicine, by its very nature, is humane to the core. The techniques used in holistic medicine are gentle, minimally invasive, and incorporate patient well-being and stress reduction. Holistic thinking is centered on love, empathy, and respect.
In treating an animal, a holistic veterinarian will determine the best combination of both conventional and alternative (or complementary) therapies for a given individual. This mixture of healing arts and skills is as natural as life itself. Therein lies the very essence of the word “(w)holistic.” It means taking in the whole picture of the patient—the environment, the disease pattern, the relationship of pet with owner—and developing a treatment protocol using a wide range of therapies for healing the patient. The holistic practitioner is interested not only in a medical history, but also genetics, nutrition, environment, family relationships, stress levels, and other factors.
Many patients present in a state of “disease.” At this point the holistic challenge lies in the question “why?” A simple-appearing symptom may have several layers of causation. When one area of the body is ill, it can manifest in many different ways. Only when the true cause of the ailment has been found is there the possibility for a lasting recovery.
Through a series of analytic observations and appropriate testing, the goal becomes finding the true root source of the pathology. It is at this point that the most efficacious, least invasive, least expensive, and least harmful path to cure is selected.
Potential Dangers of Holistic Treatment Options
Ignoring science-backed options can be very dangerous to pet owners and their pets if a pet owner chooses to seek holistic treatment options for their pets. For example, vaccinations are proven to be effective means of disease control and prevention and should not be ignored despite the fact that many strictly-holistic veterinarians may not offer them. Completely avoiding the use of necessary medications to treat pain and infection, not having necessary surgery performed in order to avoid anesthesia, and other types of avoidance of necessary traditional veterinary medicine can be very harmful to a pet. Science has produced a variety of options to help us care for our pets and it should not be ignored or avoided. Some holistic options are backed by science but, once again, should be utilized as adjunctive treatments and not the only treatments.