What Does ‘Holistic’ Mean?

The term “holistic” has been applied to many products, such as pet food, treats, supplements, cat litter, etc.  But what does it really mean?
Merriam Webster defines holistic as “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts”.  

What Is Holistic Veterinary Medicine?

Holistic Vet
The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association defines holistic as “taking the whole picture of the patient – the environment, the disease pattern, the relationship of pet with owner – and developing a treatment protocol using a wide range of therapies for healing the patient”.
A holistic vet can offer conventional medical treatment, such as surgery and diagnostics, but will look at the best combination of both conventional and complementary therapies for your pet.  At Wise and Wonderful Integrative Veterinary Center, we take a holistic approach towards any disease or condition affecting your pet and look for the reasons why.  There can be many factors contributing to an illness when using a whole patient perspective.
A holistic vet also looks at your pet’s emotional health.  A pet who is fit and pain-free will be happier, have a better quality of life, and a better relationship with its owner.  A pet that is unduly anxious at home may have an underlying condition that should be addressed. Both the mind and body are included in a holistic treatment plan.
Holistic veterinary medicine is humane and gentle by nature and includes working with empathy and respect towards both you and your pet.  We have an open mind regarding what might be the best way to bring your pet to optimal health and well-being.

Why Would I Choose A Holistic Vet for My Pet’s Illness?

Holistic veterinary care is often used when conventional treatment has not been completely successful.  We try to address the root cause of your pet’s symptoms by strengthening the body’s natural means of fighting disease.  We understand the value of using different modalities to bring about the best possible result.
For example, an older animal with arthritis may need x-rays and anti-inflammatory medication, which would be a conventional approach and could also be recommended by a holistic vet.  A holistic approach would also consider whether the diet should be changed to a healthier food, the need for weight loss or lifestyle changes, the use of herbal medicine and joint support supplements, acupuncture treatment, laser therapy, homeopathy, or chiropractic care.  There are many more tools in a holistic vet toolkit compared to a strictly conventional approach to veterinary medicine.

Why Would I Choose A Holistic Vet for My Healthy Pet?  

We want to bring about and maintain both healthy physical and emotional well-being for your pet.   By taking the time to get a complete history, we can learn more about what your pet may need to keep them healthy.  By doing a thorough physical examination from a holistic perspective, we can gather more information on possible future health problems.   And, by monitoring your pet with baseline laboratory tests and regular checkups, we may see possible areas of weakness long before your pet shows any symptoms.
Holistic veterinarians are not opposed to conventional medicine, including vaccinations.   But we take into account your pet’s lifestyle and overall health status to determine what vaccines are necessary to prevent disease.  If your pet had a negative reaction to a vaccine in the past, titers can be done to see if the protection from a previous vaccine is still active.  
A holistic vet will also recommend good dental care to keep your pet healthy.  At Wise and Wonderful Integrative Veterinary Center, we do both anesthesia and non-anesthesia dental cleanings.   We realize that some patients are not good candidates for general anesthesia and still need regular dental care.  This is part of considering the whole pet prior to any medical procedure.

Do Holistic Veterinarians Have Additional Training?

A holistic vet has gone to an accredited veterinary school just like a conventional veterinarian and has passed both national and state board examinations to practice veterinary medicine.  In addition, they have sought advanced training in alternative modalities such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, chiropractic care, laser therapy, diet, or homeopathy. The specific areas of advanced training depend on what the holistic veterinarian wants to add to their overall toolkit.  
Wise and Wonderful Integrative Veterinary Center has served the Santa Rosa area as a holistic veterinary clinic for over 30 years.  We offer a unique combination of conventional and complementary medicine under one roof and enjoy providing the personal touch that is an integral part of holistic veterinary medicine. Contact us for more information.