Here at Veterinarious, our goal is simple: help pet owners help their pets. And often that means looking for healthy, natural ways to improve their health, wellbeing, and longevity. It means choosing the best food, healthy supplements, natural remedies when possible, and of course providing love and enrichment to help our pets grow and live their best lives.
For us, that often means working with a holistic veterinarian. But what exactly is a holistic veterinarian, and how does it differ from a regular vet? And what about an integrative vet – what do they practice?
What is a Holistic Veterinarian?
Despite rising awareness and increasing interest from pet parents, there’s still some confusion about what a means to work with a holistic vet.
Let’s start with holistic. Holistic means treating the body as a whole. Rather than just assessing and treating symptoms, a holistic practitioner attempts to treat the underlying condition. For example, a conventional vet might see a skin allergy and prescribe an allergy medicine to reduce itching. A holistic vet will look at the skin condition, and ask why it’s happening in the first place. So, in addition to addressing the itching and scratching, perhaps with medication, they’ll also work on what’s causing them to begin with.
Because of this focus on the “whole,” a visit to a holistic practice will usually be very different from one to a convention practice. Since the vet will want to, in essence, get to the bottom of things, you’ll probably notice a few more questions. And that’s good. The vet is digging deep to get to the root of the issue.
You’ll also probably notice that the treatment will differ widely. A holistic veterinarian’s treatment recommendations may include things like diet changes – usually to fresh, whole food rather than kibble, or at least in addition to it. They may also suggest specific herbs or homeopathic remedies or treatment methods like acupuncture or chiropractics.
Do Holistic Vets Have Special Training?
There isn’t any special training to be called a holistic veterinarian. These vets will have the same classical training as a conventional vet, from a veterinary college. They need that in order to call themselves a vet.
Sometimes, that, and a passion to think outside the conventional vet, is all the training they have (and need). Many holistic practices can be self-taught. Sometimes though, a holistic vet will have done additional training in something like nutrition, traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, acupuncture, reiki, or homeopathy.
What is an Integrative Veterinarian?
What about an integrative veterinarian? This just adds another level of confusion to the whole conversation, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Integrative veterinary medicine (IVM) describes the combination of holistic medicine with conventional care. It recognizes that conventional care offers boundless, very effective options for care, while also recognizing that treating the body as a whole is critical, and acknowledges that using both methods can be best in many situations.
So, you might encounter a holistic veterinarian who considers themselves “integrative” – meaning they use both holistic and conventional methods to heal. This is more of a comprehensive medical approach to animal care that combines the best of conventional and holistic medicine with complementary and alternative therapies. It’s the best of both worlds.
How to Find a Holistic Veterinarian
There are many holistic and integrative veterinarians practicing around the world, but sometimes it can be difficult to find them.
For those of you in North America, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association provides a resource to help! It’s called VetFinder – and you can use it to find vets practicing holistic modalities in your area.
You can search by practice, by the various different modalities, and by your state or province.
Remember, whatever approach you take to your animal’s healthcare is the right one. You need to choose what’s best for you animal. Sometimes that’s holistic, sometimes it’s integrative, and sometimes it’s conventional. As long as you (and your vet) have got your animal’s best interests at heart, you’re in good hands.
The Veterinarious team is made up of pet owners, pet lovers, and pet experts from around the globe! We’ve banded together to create a community of like-minded pet people to give you the latest research and health advice for your beloved beast!