How to Find a Holistic Veterinarian That Utilizes a Natural Approach
Choosing a vet is hard, especially if you want to find holistic veterinarian that utilizes a natural or integrative approach.
Although it can take more work and time than it does to find a conventional vet, if you do your homework and think through what you are truly looking for before you start your vet search, you can find a clinic and practitioner that will provide your pet with care you feel confident about for the pet’s entire lifetime – and that’s huge.
So what is the best approach to finding a holistic veterinarian that really clicks with you and your pet? Follow the steps below.
Think through the following factors and decide what you prefer/need in each category.
You need to think through cost in the short term and long term.
On the one hand, going to a holistic veterinarian can save you money in the long run because you are treating the whole dog and looking at the root cause of any issues, not just treating the symptoms.
You may pay more in the short term for appointment fees and supplements, but your dog may avoid larger more expensive problems down the road like surgery or prescription medications.
On the flip side, you may simply not be able to afford certain vets: I’ve been to vets that had prohibitive appointment fees, and when they investigated an issue, wanted to run every test in the book to find out what was going on.
At that point in my life, I just couldn’t afford what they recommended. In that case, I opted to go to a vet that was conventional, but was open to trying more natural things, I just had to do the research and talk to him about it.
He also respected my choices to vaccinate certain dogs less frequently because of health challenges they were facing – that was a huge factor for me.
It’s hard, but you have to find a balance. In general, you get what you pay for, but not always – sometimes you get more, sometimes you get less.
Think about what type of holistic medicine you want to have access to, and investigate if the vet office you are considering offers it.
Different holistic vets specialize in different modalities, so know what each office you are considering offers. Examples of different specialties include:
- Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (acupuncture, herbs, and foods)
- Herbal Medicines
- Flower Essences
- Nutrition/Nutritional Support
- Tellington Touch
You want to have an idea of what your philosophy is and what you are looking for in your vet’s philosophy.
Holistic vets range from integrative (using both conventional and holistic treatments) to having a narrow specialty (for example only homeopathic or only Chinese medicine), to really off the beaten path of what we’re used to.
For example, at one point in my life I tried a natural practitioner who said she could tell what my dog was trying to say to me and wanted me to say reaffirming things to my dog to help him heal.
This was so, and I mean SO, beyond my comfort zone it wasn’t even on the same PAGE as the rest of my comfort zone.
This type of approach made me extremely uncomfortable – so not a good match for me – but a good learning experience on doing your homework before making appointments.
Basically, are you willing to drive further to go to a holistic veterinarian that is more in line with your philosophy? For the once a year checkup it’s not a big deal, right?
But you also will make that drive every time your dog has an issue or injury that needs a vet’s attention. Decide how important this issue is to you and factor it into your decision.
Once you have thought through the above details, it’s time to search for a veterinarian that matches your needs.
Steps to finding a holistic veterinarian:
- Look on the following websites for practitioners in your area:
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association
College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies
Veterinary Institute of Integrative Medicine
- Google for vets in your area using words that describe the type of vets you are looking for, such as “chiropractic veterinarian Minneapolis,” or “Homeopathic Veterinarian Minneapolis.”
- Now that you have a list of some vet possibilities, visit the websites for the vets you found in your area. Read about the veterinarians and staff – do you feel like they are a match for you?
Look at what modalities the clinic offers. See if they list standard prices for services like office visits, etc. Map their location – how far a drive to get there? Write down the pros and cons for each clinic.
- Once I find a vet office or two that I like, I like to google the name of the clinic followed by the word “reviews.” What I hope to find is reviews clients have written.
You have to take them with a grain of salt – usually it’s easy to see who is a picky person/disgruntled client (discount those) – but I look for overall repeating themes.
If I see that, I take that good or bad point to heart and factor it into my decision.
- Ask around to see if others have used this vet on places like:
- Facebook groups you are a part of which are comprised of animal lovers.
- Local pet stores
- Any dog “classes” you are taking (obedience, agility, etc.)
Now that you’ve chosen a vet, compile a list of questions to discuss at your first appointment that will help you evaluate the vet’s overall approach to your dog’s health.
Questions to ask at your first vet visit:
What kind of food do you recommend?
Discuss the pros and cons of different food choices. Does the vet seem to have knowledge of what foods are best for different ailments? Do they have knowledge of natural food choices, not just different kibble brands?
If you’re interested in switching diets, learn more about the pros and cons of homemade dog food or about raw food vs dry food for dogs before you go to the vet so you have an idea of what you would like to give your dog.
What vaccinations do you recommend?
A good webpage to read before going to the vet and having this conversation is Dr. Jean’s Dodd’s Vaccination Protocol For Dogs.
Let me say up front – I’m not advocating for or against vaccinations. I think the subject for each person to investigate is how many times an animal needs a vaccination – i.e. are we over-vaccinating.
I do believe this subject has merit and is worth educating yourself about; the idea of tittering after a certain number of vaccines (to make sure the dog still has antibodies to the disease) is an idea worthy of consideration.
Talking to your vet about this subject will give you a feel for how they stand, how much knowledge they have about it, and if they will respect your views about vaccinations.
What types of treatments do you use for ill or injured pets?
This is where you can get a feel for what modalities the vet uses and if they use conventional as well as alternative treatments.
You will want to take note on which of the following are options at this vet: surgeries, conventional medications, x-rays, ultrasounds, homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, Chinese herbs, etc.
If you do your homework, you will exponentially increase your odds of finding a vet that aligns with your needs and beliefs – and one you will trust with your dog’s care for years to come.
What are the traits that make your holistic veterinarian a keeper? Comment below so we can all learn about what makes a veterinarian stand out from the rest!
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