Blog Post

Are Holistic Vets Okay?

dog getting shotMN asks: "Is there anything wrong with taking the family pet to a holistic vet? Our cat has had bladder problems in the past, and we are buying special food for him from the vet, but he has put on weight and we would rather consult with a vet who can recommend a homemade cat food recipe that is less expensive and healthier for him. We have had a history with our pets getting cancer, and we are concerned that commercial pet foods may be partially responsible."

There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help for your pet from a holistic vet - or a vet who specializes in more natural methods of treatment such as the use of herbs rather than drugs.

However, it should be understood that the term "holistic vet" can mean just about anything. There is no real consensus within the field of veterinary medicine as to who is a "holistic" vet and who isn't.

In an interview with, Dr. Doug Kramer, who bills himself as the Vet Guru, explains a "holistic" vet in this way:

"I believe holistic medicine entails treating both the mind and the body — meeting both the physical and the spiritual needs of the pet. This entails taking into account all body systems (organs) when evaluating a patient and developing a treatment plan."

Any vet can call themselves "holistic", he says.

"There is no official certification or recognized specialty training. There are independent classes and seminars that vets can (and should) take to educate themselves. This is at the individual vet's discretion. However, there is no official regulating body to oversee training and competence levels. In short, the difference between a regular and holistic vet boils down to additional specialized training and practical clinical experience."

Of course, someone who seeks holistic veterinary care should check out the credentials of the vet they have in mind to see what kinds of alternative therapies he or she is offering. For instance, some of the holistic vets that I checked out employ practices such as homeopathy and acupuncture which have not fared well in serious scientific studies on humans.

Many are involved in the use of herbs in treatment rather than pharmaceutical drugs; still others are involved in what's known as ethnomedicine which is the use of practices found among indigenous peoples.

The bottom line is that whenever alternative medical practices are in use, do your homework. Research both the method being used and the practitioner to be sure nothing they are selling involves the use of occult forces (such as Reiki for animals) or methods that have not been subjected to serious and unbiased testing.

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