Holistic vs. Conventional Veterinary Medicine

As an integrative veterinarian who uses the best of conventional and complimentary veterinary medicine, I am often asked the question as to the differences between holistic and conventional veterinary medicine.  Conventional veterinary medicine can be defined as the use of traditional drugs (such as the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone and antibiotics) and surgery when treating patients.

There is often an extensive diagnostic workup, including blood, urine and radiographic tests, before a definitive diagnosis is made.

Holistic veterinary care looks at your pet as a whole to restore physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Medications and/or surgery are then offered in order to palliate or suppress disease symptoms. Conventional medicine also looks at disease from what is known as a reductionistic model.There is often an extensive diagnostic workup, including blood, urine and radiographic tests, before a definitive diagnosis is made.  Medications and/or surgery are then offered in order to palliate or suppress disease symptoms.  Conventional medicine also looks at disease from what is known as a reductionistic model.  By this I mean that conventional medicine looks at the body as being made up of various parts that, when sick, have nothing to do with the rest of the body, or overall health of the animal.  For example, a pet with skin allergies and joint problems is considered to have two separate problems, and may be referred to a dermatologist or orthopedic specialist, whereas a single holistic practitioner would evaluate and treat both conditions in the pet.

Pets treated conventionally also do NOT truly achieve a higher level of health, where they are stronger or less susceptible to future illness.  Conventional medicine does often lead to quicker symptomatic relief; however, this sometimes comes with a chronic health care price and/or necessity to keep animals on medication indefinitely, in order to prevent symptom relapse.

Holistic veterinary care tends to look at the body as being sick as a whole, and attempts to restore health and balance on all levels of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.  Nutritional, environmental and toxic stresses are also evaluated as to their role in illness.  Examples of holistic therapies include homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, and chiropractic care.  The goal of treatments are to cure the patient of disease, and make patients stronger and healthier and less susceptible to future illness, rather than having to continue treatment indefinitely.

What type of veterinarian do you use for your dog or cat?

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14 Comments

  1. I have a shepherd, 8 + years old with dry eye. One vet I took her to just saw the infection, then of course the antibiotics didn’t work because we weren’t treating the cause. I took her to an eye specialist &it went a little better, but the infection kept coming back. Finally, I took her to a vet that uses both holistic & conventional med & she did accupunture & Marlie did improve almost immediately. I did everything I was told to do: changed her food to Taste of the Wild Salmon, use Genteal drops, use Chinese herbs ( 2 kinds) in her food twice daily & used the antibiotics that were given me. But although her eyes seem moist, I can’t get rid of the infection. HELP!! I hate to see her suffer.

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 3, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Sounds like you had best results with holistic integrative vet skilled in chinese herbal medicines. I would return for recheck and see if there is anything else can offer to help control the secondary eye infections. Other option would be to see the veterinary opthomologist. Other holistic option would be classical veterinary homeopathy, in which case other drugs and herbs would need to be stopped, as well as alot of patience, time and committment to address problem with homeopathic remedies. To learn more see http://www.beyondflatearth.com as well as my website http://www.canineworld.com/drdym Many homeopathic vets do offer phone consultations.

  3. I practiced strictly conventional medicine for from 1967 to 1982 when I received my certification as a veterinary acupuncturist. From their I grew as a holistic practitioner by learning other holistic modalities such as chiropractic and stem cell therapy. I can honestly say that I probably would not still be in practice today if I had not discovered the value of alternative medicine. I am definitely a much more effective veterinarian by having holisitc medicine as an adjunct to conventional medicine. Knowing that I am much more often treating the cause than masking the symptom is much more satisfying.

    Doc4pets.com

  4. I practiced strictly conventional medicine from 1967 to 1982 when I received my certification as a veterinary acupuncturist. From their I grew as a holistic practitioner by learning other holistic modalities such as chiropractic and stem cell therapy. I can honestly say that I probably would not still be in practice today if I had not discovered the value of alternative medicine. I am definitely a much more effective veterinarian by having holisitc medicine as an adjunct to conventional medicine. Knowing that I am much more often treating the cause than masking the symptom is much more satisfying.

    Doc4pets.com

  5. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 23, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Thanks for sharing your experiences as a holistic veterinary practitioner. I too experienced similar improvement in my case gratification and clinical results when incorporating holistic medicine into my veterinary practice.

  6. Hello, I really liked what you wrote and was wondering if you would be willing to talk to me a little more. I am in year 12 doing my a-levels at the moment and am really keen to train as a vet and go into holistic medicine. The reason I would really appreciate talking to you is I am currently doing a project on weather holistic veterinary treatments can be a substitute for traditional veterinary medicine and it would be really useful if you could answer a couple of questions for me. Please get back to me on laurenjk12@hotmail.co.uk if you are willing. Thank you.

  7. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 6, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Hi Lauren: Feel free to email the questions to homeopathicvet@juno.com and I will do best I can to answer them.

  8. My cooker spaniel just got diagnosed with CCL yesterday I do not want to do surgery on him.I’ll like to know how can I get the holistic treatment for him, please help!

  9. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 1, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Hi Norma: I would work with a homeopathic vet who can individualize a treatment and recovery program. To learn more about homeopathy see http://www.beyondflatearth.com or my website http://www.doctordym.com Many homeopathic vets like myself do offer phone consultations.

  10. Hi. Can anyone tell me if there is a product available that can help numb my French Bulldog’s teeth and/or gums? He is loosing his teeth, by grinding down to nothing, and I want to help him not feel any tooth or gum pain.

    thanks,

    Ginger

  11. Is there anything holistic that can help numb my dog’s teeth and/or gums?

  12. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 13, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Dont know of anything specific for that. You could try natural products like leba III from http://www.lebalabs.com as well as fidodent from http://www.animalessentials.com

  13. I recently lost my dog to kiney failure she was a mixed breed about 35 pounds and 14 years old. I always gave her city water to drink. this is the second dog I loat to kidney failre my labrador rottiee mix al so died from tjis disease at 11 years old. The tap water in thecity where I live smells of chlorine. 2nd question what do holistics vets use for flra and tick comtrol and also for the prevention of heart worm. 3d question what kind of dog food and dog treats are recommended.
    Thank you!

  14. HI Howard. Water can definitely play a role in kidney stress and toxic damage. However also lots of other causes likely more important including too many vaccinations, processed commercial diets, etc. For flea tick control, you can try some of natural products on 1800petmeds, as well as see http://www.feistapetdeli.com which has nice group of products, as well as try http://www.wondercide.com I also like food grade diatmoceasou earth for natural flea and internal worm control. SEe book Dr PItcairn’s Guide To Natural Health For dogs and cats by Richard Pitcairn, dVM, phd for excellent suggestions. Treats discussed as well

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