What is Holistic, Alternative, and Integrative Veterinary Care?

Have you been looking for the proper treatment for your pet, as conventional methods have been unsuccessful? Holistic or alternative and integrative veterinary care may be the ideal solution.

Holistic veterinary care seeks to treat the complete patient instead of just the ailment. It utilizes applications such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, and massage therapy to help heal your pet. Integrative medicine employs a combination of Western medicine and alternative therapies. 

A natural approach to medicine can be refreshing, as it can treat your pet without any adverse side effects and considers every aspect of your pet. If you want to know more about holistic, alternative, and integrative veterinary care, peruse this article.

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What is Holistic Veterinary Medicine for Pets?

The premise of holistic medicine is that the whole patient should be taken care of and examined. It means that whatever the trouble is, the animal’s overall well-being is considered. A holistic vet will carefully look at the entire picture:

  • The pet’s behavior
  • The pattern of the pet’s illness
  • The pet’s medical history
  • The pet’s relationship with their parent

Your vet can use holistic medicine in conjunction with traditional medicine. However, you may not be able to afford conventional therapies for your pet, or traditional methods have proven ineffective, and you are searching for a better way you can help your pet heal.

An example of one scenario is that your cat suffers from chronic pain, and you need a way to help them. You go to the vet, and they give you gabapentin to give them to help relieve pain. You give the medicine to your cat precisely as directed. The outcome is obvious the medicine is not working.

You could go to a holistic vet, who may prescribe acupuncture for your cat. The American Animal Hospital Association reports that acupuncture for cats has some great benefits.

A case study revealed that acupuncture was performed on a cat named Lacey. Then, you discovered that after eight acupuncture treatments, this furry feline’s range of motion in her joints improved from 50 percent to 80 percent over five weeks. Her isolating behavior also began to subside.

What Type of Therapies Are Involved?

cat and dog acupuncture veterinarian

There are several types of therapies a holistic vet can use on pets. Many of them, like acupuncture, have proven benefits. However, there are thresholds to holistic or alternative therapies. St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine interviewed a holistic doctor who highly recommends that you work with both a traditional vet and a holistic vet for the health and well-being of your pet.

Some of the various therapies involved include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Herbal medicine
  • Low-level laser therapy
  • Nutritional therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Homeopathy
  • Massage therapy

Aromatherapy is also often used to help pets. Holistic vets take a natural approach to healing that may be gentler and more suitable for your pet. The range of treatment largely depends on the animal’s condition. A holistic vet can help treat a wide variety of illnesses.

Many holistic vets mostly use alternative therapies for pets, while others merge traditional therapies with holistic care. A wide variety of treatments can be used, and if necessary, you can even ask your vet for a referral if they do not provide the service you are looking for.

What Are the Pros of Holistic Veterinary Treatment?

A holistic vet can offer a big-picture approach to conventional medicine. It considers the patient’s health history as a guide to helping them provide the best treatment possible. Traditional medicine tends to overlook a complete account of the patient. The following includes the benefits of holistic veterinary care for pets:

The Whole Animal is Considered

A more in-depth examination of the pet’s physical and emotional health, lifestyle, and social habits and relationships is needed. Holistic vets take the time to talk to the pet’s parents about anything concerning them. They take everything seriously, allowing the vet to make a more accurate diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plan.

A Wider Range of Treatment Options

There is a much longer list of treatment options with holistic medicine than with traditional medicine. Instead of utilizing the same treatment for every animal, there is a more individualized approach to therapies and treatments.

They analyze each case differently and provide options to help treat the condition’s underlying cause, rather than sticking a temporary band-aid on it with pharmaceuticals and other conventional treatments that may not benefit your pet in the long term.

It is a Natural Approach

Traditional medicines tend to have side effects that can harm your pet’s health. Holistic medicine does not produce the same side effects as conventional treatments since many natural therapies can help with common ailments, such as pain and inflammation. In some cases, it is best to have faith in these practices and give the pet a chance to recover naturally.

It is a Preventative Form of Care

Holistic medicine helps your pet stay healthy, so their health issues do not get so out of control that they become unmanageable. Prevention starts with your pet’s nutrition and exercise, just like people. The holistic vet assists the body in naturally healing itself. Your holistic vet can help you make intelligent choices about your pet so they can enjoy a long, healthy life.

What is Integrative Veterinary Medicine?

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The idea of integrative medicine is that the patient can benefit from therapies and treatments that are not formally recognized as a part of conventional medical care. It “integrates” both traditional Western and alternative forms of treatment. Instead of masking symptoms with medicine, the goal is to treat the underlying illness or condition.

Integrative medicine aims to utilize traditional medical approaches with evidence-based, proven treatments or therapies that fall under the umbrella of holistic medicine. It typically only uses these alternative treatments when appropriate. With integrative medicine, the pet’s physical health, behavior, and nutrition are all carefully considered.

What Exactly is Alternative Medicine for Pets?

The terms holistic medicine and alternative medicine have often been used interchangeably. Alternative medicine is a bit different from holistic medicine because the term holistic medicine is used to define a more extensive treatment system.

For example, an alternative form of treatment is acupuncture. Still, it is also part of holistic medicine, which is centered on the belief that the whole patient is more important than the singular illness. Alternative medicine exists as an option to traditional Western medicine.


Holistic medicine is an entire system in which the vet looks at the patient as a whole rather than just the condition. It aims to treat the underlying illness and get to the root of the problem. Some people are skeptical of holistic and alternative treatments because they have not been FDA approved.

However, much research has shown that many of these natural approaches to treatment work well and sometimes even better than traditional Western medicine. Whether holistic or integrative medicine is the right path for you and your beloved pet is your decision.

Are you looking for a holistic, integrative, or alternative veterinarian? Pawsitive Integratic Veterinary Care in Mishawaka, Indiana is here to help! Give us a call at (574) 256-1871 or book an appointment online.

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