Years ago, Dudie the English setter developed crippling arthritis. Liver and GI problems prevented him from taking conventional anti-inflammatory drugs. At the time, I was undergoing acupuncture for an orthopedic problem. Those magic needles eased the associated inflammation for me. Wouldn’t acupuncture help my dog, as well?
Alas, animal acupuncture was in its infancy at the time, and we weren’t able to find a holistic veterinarian offering it. Fortunately since the 1990s, numerous national organizations have popped up to advocate holistic veterinary treatments.
Consult Online Directories and Holistic Veterinary Organizations
If you’re looking for a holistic vet, a good place to start is online. Check out the websites of national organizations dealing with the various branches of holistic veterinary care. They provide helpful overviews of their particular discipline.
Here’s a list of relevant organizations:
– Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (AVH).
– American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture.
– American Council of Animal Naturopathy.
– American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.
– American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA).
– Chi Institute (Traditional Chinese veterinary medicine).
– Veterinary Botanical Medicine Association.
Most of these organizations’ websites offer search options. Enter a zip code and the search engine will identify nearby vets certified by that organization. The certification process presupposes a degree in veterinary medicine, followed by specialized training in the specific discipline.
Assess Your Comfort Level and Get Recommendations
Many dog owners are more comfortable choosing holistic veterinary treatment according to their own experiences with alternative medicine. A good experience with (human) acupuncture, for example, will make the dog owner less stressed when he sees needles going into Fido. If you haven’t used the human equivalents of holistic modalities suggested for your pet, seek out recommendations from trusted friends whose dogs have benefited from treatments such as homeopathy, massage, and Chinese herbal medicine.
Don’t be afraid to get input from your conventional veterinarian, too. In my experience, DVMs will gladly recommend holistic practitioners, especially for dogs suffering from chronic ailments and/or persistent pain.
What to Expect Once You’ve Chosen a Holistic Veterinarian
A visit to a holistic vet will typically cost more than a conventional veterinary appointment. The length of the initial visit will be longer. It takes longer to evaluate a dog’s overall health (the holistic approach), as opposed to treating disparate symptoms (the allopathic, or conventional, approach).
Your holistic vet will help you choose treatments from among the various branches of holistic veterinary medicine. The AVCA, for example, touts the benefits chiropractic care offers for dogs with orthopedic injuries, pain in the spine, or muscle spasms. The AVH asserts that homeopathy has a good track record with allergies, asthma, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and IBS. For dogs suffering from terminal health problems, acupuncture has a well-established analgesic reputation. Aromatherapy and massage therapy can ease stress, which, in turn, eases pain.
Bryan, Susannah; “Holistic Vets Offer Pets Alternative Medicine,” Sun Sentinel (South FL), 9/20/11
“The Difference between Conventional and Holistic Dog Vet Care,” Organic Pet Digest, accessed 8/20/12