You might have come across the term “holistic vet” while searching for a local veterinarian in your area. For those unfamiliar with the term, this refers to veterinarians who practice holistic methods in the care and treatment of animals. Most people also call this practice “alternative medicine”, because holistic veterinarians use methods such as homeopathy, acupuncture, and herbal treatments, all of which are associated with alternative medicine.
Probably the simplest, most definitive difference between a holistic vet and a vet who practices conventional medicine is that a conventional vet treats the animal according to its specific illness and present symptoms, and uses conventional drugs in the course of the treatment. In alternative medicine terminology, this is known as allopathic medicine.
On the other hand, a vet practising holistic medicine will treat and care for the animal as a whole. A holistic approach to veterinary takes into account the mind and body of the animal, and does not just focus on the particular ailment your pet is suffering from at the moment.
A typical trip to a holistic vet will include a full physical examination that focuses on gentle methods and keeping invasive procedures to an absolute minimum. You should also expect the vet to ask questions about the pet’s nutrition, medical history, hygiene, behaviour, and even the pet’s relationship with the owner. In holistic medicine, these questions are absolutely necessary to determine the factors that may cause or contribute to the animal’s illness, including emotional and physical stresses.
For those who are visiting a holistic veterinarian for the first time, they should also expect to receive tips and suggestions for providing an appropriate lifestyle or environment for the animal. The purpose of this “appropriate lifestyle” is to help set up a stress-free, loving environment for the pet that respects the animal’s dignity as well.
In the mind of a holistic veterinarian, the core of treating and caring for a pet lies in taking in the whole picture of the animal’s history and its present lifestyle, and then evaluating the factors that could have caused (or may cause) an illness.
A lifestyle regimen or treatment (if the animal is sick) is then developed using a variety of holistic therapies, based on what the vet has learned during the examinations. These therapies are commonly the least invasive, least harmful, and most efficacious remedies available to the vet.
A lot of people unfamiliar with the concept of a holistic vet expect to see their pet be treated by a variety of therapies that are commonly associated with alternative medicine, but are surprised to learn that pharmacological drugs are also used. Holistic vets do use remedies such as acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicines, and other homeopathic therapies, but they do not avoid the use of conventional medicine if absolutely necessary.
What they do try to focus on is treating the animal using the least invasive, least stressful methods available. This includes the examination, where x-rays, blood tests, and other invasive diagnostic tests are kept to a minimum.
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