Wisconsin Pet Care has discussed alternative wellness therapies like laser treatments to alleviate arthritis pain and veterinary chiropractic care to work out vertebral kinks.  We’ve also stressed the importance of diet and nutrition to keep your pet’s body in balance, as well as urged the careful consideration of antibiotic treatment.  In fact, we recently published a post on the neem plant and its role as a natural antiseptic.  But what’s the use of learning the pros and cons of alternative medicine if you can’t find a veterinarian willing to explore some east-meets-west approaches to your pet’s healthcare?  Let’s talk about how to find the best veterinarian for your pet.

What is holistic medicine as it pertains to veterinary care?  According to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA), holistic veterinary medicine is, “the examination and diagnosis of an animal, considering all aspects of the animal’s life and employing all of the practitioner’s senses, as well as the combination of conventional and alternative (or complementary) modalities of treatment.”  Acupuncture, chiropractics and herbal medicines are all examples of holistic treatments.

How do I begin searching for a holistic veterinarian?  The AHVMA has a comprehensive list that boasts an advanced search functionality (allows you to sort by state and by modality).  However, you may be surprised by the results.  Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for example, has hundreds of conventional veterinarians.  On the other hand, the AHVMA lists 9 holistic veterinarians for the entire state of Wisconsin. As you can clearly see, the odds are stacked against you when searching for natural veterinary care.  That’s not to say it is impossible, but rather it’s less prevalent, regardless of where you live. In our local area we have three great vets who practice holistic medicine-Silver Springs Animal Wellness, The Healing Oasis and The Animal Doctor.

What should I do if there is not a holistic veterinarian near my home, but I still want to use alternative therapies for my pet?  Start by talking to your current veterinarian.  They may be willing to work with some alternative practices (antibiotics and vaccinations are a good place to start), as well as nutritional therapies.  If your current veterinarian is unwilling to explore a holistic approach to your pet’s medical care, research new veterinarians in your area.  Most practices have a website that list their beliefs and philosophies.  It may take some digging, but you will likely uncover a few leads.  Next you will want to start the “interview” process!  Make an appointment and discuss what it is that you are looking for in a veterinarian.  Just as you would with a conventional veterinarian, be sure to note how your pet is treated by the holistic vet and the supporting staff members.  Let your pet’s behavior dictate whether you’re on the right path.  If your dog seems skittish or your cat’s tail is in full puff-mode, it may be wise to keep looking.  You, too, need to feel comfortable talking with the veterinarian (no medicinal bullies allowed!).  If you still are unable to find holistic care in your immediate area, it could be a wise decision to travel to the nearest holistic veterinarian.  While the location may be inconvenient concerning the proximity to your home, your pet will receive the care you desire.

Why aren’t there more holistic veterinarians?  That answer is tricky.  Chiropractics, vitamin supplement therapy and even energy healing (like reiki) are just recently gaining traction in human medicine.  As we look at less traditional ways to improve our health and quality of life, more doctors are seeking alternative practices.  However, these treatments are even less common in animal medicine.  There isn’t much money to support the pursuit of evidence-based science benefiting pet health and wellness.  Additionally, there hasn’t been much need for this type of practice in veterinary medicine.  Now that pet parents are educating themselves in alternative medicine, there is an increased sense of urgency for these “newer” therapies.  Slowly, but surely, more resources are surfacing.  Consider donating to the AHVMA to show your support for this cause.