What is Holistic Veterinary Medicine?

Holistic (or Integrative) Veterinary Medicine is the  examination and diagnosis of an animal, considering all aspects of the animal’s  life and employing all of the practitioner’s senses, as well as the combination  of conventional and alternative (or complementary) modalities of treatment. When  a holistic veterinarian sees a pet, besides giving it a comprehensive physical  examination, he/she wants to find out all about its behaviors, distant medical  and dietary history, and its environment including diet, emotional stresses, and  other factors.


Holistic medicine, by  its very nature, is humane to the core. The wholeness of its scope will set up a  lifestyle for the animal that is most appropriate. 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.


This mixture of healing  arts and skills is as natural as life itself. At the core of this issue 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 in genetics, nutrition, family relationships,  hygiene, and stress factors. Many patients present in a state of “disease.” At  this point the holistic challenge lies in the question “why?” By a series of  analytic observations and appropriate testing the goal becomes finding the true  root source of the pathology. A simple-appearing symptom may have several layers  of causation. Only when the true cause of the ailment has been found is there  the possibility for a lasting recovery.


It is at this point that  the most efficacious, least invasive, least expensive, and least harmful path to  cure is selected.


In many acute  situations, treatment may involve aspects of surgery and drug therapy from  conventional western technology, along with alternative techniques to provide a  complementary whole. This form of treatment has great value for severe trauma  and certain infections. It often outperforms other methodologies. It is also at  this time that other treatment plans such as those listed below are brought into  use. Once the symptoms have been treated, the task is not complete until the  underlying disease patterns have been redirected. The patient, as well as the  client, will be guided to a new level of health.


Modalities Used in  Holistic Veterinary Medicine


Modern Drugs, Surgery  and Diagnostics:


A holistic veterinarian  selects the ones which best conform to holistic traditions. They stay current on  the latest advancements.



Acupuncture has been  used in China for 3500 years. It is the main treatment for a quarter of the  world’s population. Thousands of years of acupuncture treatment prove its  efficacy.


The primary aim of  veterinary acupuncture is to strengthen the body’s immune system—to stimulate  the body’s adaptive–homeostatic mechanism.


Acupuncture is a  technique for relieving pain and for improving the function of organ systems by  stimulating acupuncture points on the surface of the body. 


Traditional Chinese  Medicine (TCM) believes that Chi, the vital force that flows throughout the  body, travels throughout the body along channels of energy flow called  meridians. Acupuncture points along the meridians are treated whenever a disease  condition exists that blocks the normal flow of energy along these meridians. 


Acupuncture treatments  elicit responses which regulate physiological processes. Acupuncture spans from  ancient Chinese knowledge to state-of-the-art electrodiagnostic  instrumentation.back to  top



This incorporates  ethology, biology, nutrition, pharmacology, lifestyle evaluation and aspects of  modern psychotherapy. Every discipline listed here affects behavior  (particularly homeopathy and Bach Flowers), disease and health. Humane  considerations are often at stake.back to top



The use of specific  herbs and plants for medicinal purposes has been practiced for millennia all  over the world. Veterinary herbal medicines include Western herbs, Ayurvedic  herbs from India, traditional Chinese herbs and other herbs from all over the  world. Herbs have healing powers that are capable of balancing the emotional,  mental and physical dimensions of animals.


Herbal medicine is a  system of treatment utilizing whole plants and plant extracts in the treatment  of disease and maintenance of health. Herbalists believe that whole plants  provide a broad spectrum of desirable effects, from specialized nutrition (herbs  contain vitamins and minerals that drugs do not) to synergy of the various  components, which may allow lower doses of pharmacologic ingredients to be used. 


Herbal medicine also  recognizes that certain traditional methods have validity today. For instance,  there is little but food components in modern medicine that allows the  practitioner to safely strengthen chronically ill patients, while herbalists  utilize tonic herbs as well as nutrition for this purpose. Herbal medicine has  always recognized the whole body approach and that the mind and body interact in  health and disease – this knowledge is reflected in the use of herbal adaptogens  and alteratives.


Various cultural systems  of medicine may be used in diagnosis and prescription, in addition to current  scientific knowledge. Herbs are unique in “complementary and alternative  medicine” because we have a tradition informing us in their use, often dating  back thousands of years. Herbalists use ancient knowledge and modern science to  develop treatment plans for their patients.


Herbal medicine requires  that the herbalist be aware of the world around us, because the tools of the  trade and the environment in which they grow may be endangered by indiscriminate  use. Good herbalists are conservationists and are often active in sustainable  agriculture and medical initiatives world wide.


Becoming involved with  plants as medicine transforms veterinarians. They become aware of broader  clinical effects when herbs are used, even as they become aware of the broader  global effects related to their new interests. Herbal medicine is healthy for  doctors as well as for pets.back to  top



Homeopathy dates back to  the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates. Samuel Christian Hahnemann, a German  medical doctor in the mid–1800’s, developed the system we are using today. 


Homeopathy works on the  principle of “Similia Similibus Curentur”, or “like cures like.” When a large  dose of a toxic substance is swallowed, it can produce death, but when a  homeopathic, diluted, minute dose of the substance is given, it can save the  poisoned animal.


Homeopathic remedies are  made from plants, minerals, drugs, viruses, bacteria or animal substances. These  remedies do not mask or suppress symptoms; they treat the deepest constitutional  causes of the illness. Homeopathic remedies contain vibrational energy essences  that match the patterns present in the diseased state within the ailing  patient.back to  top



Sometimes known as  Orthomolecular Medicine, it uses supplemental minerals, vitamins and nutrients  that correct deficiencies, prevent pathology and reverse tissue damage.  Supplements are prescribed that support the organs and body tissues, aid body  detoxification and give energy to assist in the healing  process.back to top



Proper nutrition is the  best preventative medicine. Each pet patient is designed a specific diet which  will be palatable, preservative free, practical and cost-effective,  environmentally sound and in keeping with the client’s abilities to provide.  back to top



Chiropractic can be used  to treat a broad spectrum of conditions in animals. It works for any patient  with a spine, bones, joints and muscles. There are healing potentials achieved  through chiropractic that are not achievable by other forms of therapy. In  chiropractic, the subluxated or fixated vertebra is identified and through  hands-on specific adjustments the problem is alleviated and homeostasis is  restored.back to  top


A Wide  Variety of Other Diagnostic and Therapeutic  Modalities:


Virtually every form of  medicine and therapy used in holistic medicine for humans exists for veterinary  medicine. Seminars, programs and workshops are conducted all over the world  which advance and promote these valuable skills. The new and the old combine to  make the future of veterinary medicine a healthier, more humane  endeavor.


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