Many people are confused by the definition of a “holistic veterinarian”. Sometimes, it’s confused with “alternative medicine”, which makes many people uncomfortable. But the definition of “holistic” is actually something very reassuring.
Think of “holistic” as meaning, “whole”, “maintaining health” and “preventing illness”.
We are an illness-centric society. Our health insurance pays for medicines after the fact and only very rarely pays for preventative measures such as medical tests, nutritional supplements, or exercise programs. So think of “holistic” as also being more focused on maintaining health and preventing illness rather than reacting to illness after the fact.
What is a “holistic veterinarian”?
A holistic veterinarian is one who treats the “whole animal”. For example, while they have traditional medicines and treatments at their disposal to help sick animals, they are interested in supporting the animal’s full health picture by exploring the animal’s diet, water intake, exercise, sleep, environment, and emotions.
One holistic vet gives this excellent definition:
The main focus of veterinary holistic medicine is prevention of disease through natural diets, proper exercise and training and mineral, vitamin & herbal supplementation. The holistic perspective of healing recognizes that the whole body must be in balance for good health to exist. This means not only treating the physical symptoms of a disease but also supporting the body’s immune and organ systems in healing the disease, or imbalance, itself. Prevention of disease is encouraged by taking an assessment of the mind, body, spirit and environment, and making the necessary changes to support the well being of your pet.
Online Holistic Veterinarians
There are several veterinarians who publish articles and educate the public via the Internet or books. I’ve learned a great deal from each of the following veterinarians:
Dr. Jane Bicks
Dr. Jane is a highly respected and nationally recognized holistic veterinarian. She is the author of three national books on pet care and nutrition and has served on professional boards including the Cornell Feline Health Center. Dr. Jane served as the President of the Veterinary Medical Association in NYC and was appointed by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to help start one of the largest animal shelters in the United States. She has also appeared on many network television and cable programs and numerous radio stations as a veterinary expert.
Dr. Jane is the formulator of my pet’s food and I sit in on weekly conference calls with her as she takes questions from people about nutritional answers to their pet’s health problems. This education over the last two years has made a huge difference to my pet’s health.
Dr. John Syme, aka DogtorJ
DogtorJ is one of my favorite holistic vets online. He is very down to earth and real and is exceptionally focused on nutrition as a solution to many of our pet’s problems. It was from his website that I first learned that epilepsy can often be alleviated through changing the pet’s diet.
Dr. Martin Goldstein
Dr. Martin Goldstein (Dr. Marty) is considered by many experts – and thousands of satisfied clients – to be America’s foremost holistic veterinarian. His success with critically ill pets, especially cancer patients, is world renowned. He is the author of the book, The Nature of Animal Healing, which I read when it first came out in 1999 and which completely changed many things about the way I feed and nurture my pets.
If you want to be truly holistic, get his book and refer to it often.
Incidentally, he prefers raw or home-made diets but recognizes their impracticality in today’s busy society. He makes the distinction between “ultra premium” foods and “super premium” foods. I am glad to say, as a multi-pet parent, the best route for me was the “ultra premium” route, which are non-grained based pet foods using organic or natural meat.
Dr. Shawn Messonier
A frequent contributor to Animal Wellness Magazine, his articles on many of your pet health topics are easy to find on the Internet. I simply google on his last name, Messonier, and whatever is my question of the day.
Dr. Jean Hofve
Dr. Jean Hofve is also a top holistic vet. She was interviewed quite often during the pet food recall. Watch for her articles, I gain a lot from them.
Where can I find a holistic veterinarian?
I must say, it’s tough to find holistic vets. I live in Colorado where you would think everyone is into natural health, but my own vet is simply a fairly progressive 78-year-old traditional vet! I love her dearly and admire her dedication to spending literally all of her days saving sick pets, but she is not holistic.
That’s okay. She is willing to work with me when I have a nutritional idea. What is more accessible to us are holistic animal lovers who are very good at nutrition and general health. You can’t seek answers to medical questions from them but you can certainly check out what they have to say about good food, natural remedies for fleas and hotspots, behavior problems, and so forth.
However, there is an excellent resource guide for holistic vets at Animal Wellness Magazine. This is the Number One health magazine for animals in the country. I bought it at the health store for years, saved every issue, and finally subscribed to it. I have learned so much from it. Click on the link for Holistic Vets to see if there is such a vet near you.
P.S. Coming up in February is a special annual issue dedicated to Cat Health. This will be the first time they’ve done this and I can’t wait to see it.