Frequently Asked Questions – Holistic Veterinary Medicine
If you have questions not answered here, please let us know (contact details)
Q. What is Holistic Medicine?
A. Holistic Medicine is the practice of taking into account the whole patient, all that impinges upon a patient and the patient’s impact on its environment, in order to ensure that there is no obstacle to healing. It is usually associated with natural medicines as a stimulus to healing (e.g. acupuncture, homeopathy, herbs – herbalism – herbal medicine), which should be used in an integrated program. Holistic veterinary medicine applies to animals. The holistic vet must take account of the special circumstances, management and biology of each species in his or her quest for healing.
Q. Can Holistic Medicine apply to all species?
A. Holistic Medicine is applicable to each and every animal. All that is necessary is that the veterinary surgeon (holistic veterinarian) should know all the factors that can impinge on the health of each particular species. A holistic vet may need to confine himself or herself to species with which he or she is familiar.
Q. What issues are considered in Holistic Medicine?
A. Apart from looking at the disease signs for which the patient has been presented, along with the character, demeanour and appearance of the patient, the holistic vet takes into account a patient’s nutrition, diet and lifestyle. We at the AVMC also check skeletal alignment (chiropractic work). These general considerations apply to every patient, whatever the species. Then, for each species there are special considerations. For example, we have to attend to saddling, shoeing, pasture management, stabling and work patterns when treating chronic disease in a horse. For farm animals, production methods and housing will have a massive impact on health.
Q. Can you simply treat one of my horse’s health issues and save money or time by ignoring others?
A. Sometimes, we are asked just to treat one of a horse’s problems and not to bother about whatever else may be wrong or that we might find at the examination. This is not possible, using holistic therapies such as acupuncture or homeopathy, in that it is the whole horse (or cat, dog, pony or other animal) that we are treating, not one of the symptoms or signs of disease. The holistic vet treats the horse and the horse is the one who heals. Hippocrates is credited with saying that: ‘The physician treats, Nature heals’. This means that we cannot target one specific part of the picture, nor should we leave correctable problems unattended (e.g. ill-fitting saddle, bad shoeing etc.), as these will impede the healing process.
Q. What sort of cost can I expect?
A. It is always difficult to compare costs across different treatments but, in general, successful treatments by a holistic vet are very cost-effective. The AVMC’s charges are usually time-based; detailed estimates of cost can be requested from our office (contact details). While the first consultation can be lengthy, overall costs for a case have usually turned out to be quite cheap, relative to many conventional options. Holistic practice inevitably requires a greater expenditure of time, however, when first meeting the patient. Thereafter, costs usually diminish.
Q. Will my insurance pay?
A. Most insurance policies allow for holistic medicine to be used on your animal. However, some will try to marginalise it under ‘complimentary or alternative treatments’. This can result in reduced benefit. This appears to the AVMC to be a travesty, since the treatment is performed by a vet (albeit a ‘holistic vet’) and should be handled under general veterinary cover.
Q. What is the legal position regarding holistic medicine for animals?
A. The relevant legislation is the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966. Veterinary medicine and surgery can only be performed on animals by a qualified veterinary surgeon. Different therapies are viewed differently under this legislation, so please seek information under pages applicable to the individual therapy in question.
If you have questions not answered here, please let us know (contact details)
Our holistic approach:
We believe that healthy feeding is the platform upon which we build health and longevity.
Having put in place a healthy diet, removing unnecessary and unsuitable foods and supplements, we examine lifestyle and personal circumstances for each patient. This is the holistic approach.
If treatment is necessary, we have several options from which to choose, each of which is tailored to the individual patient and each of which may, with care, be integrated with other therapies. Success depends upon the patient’s ability and will to recover, our ability to stimulate the healing process correctly and our success in finding and eliminating all obstacles to recovery.
The main therapies we use are:
Homeopathy provides a very real chance of cure in many cases of otherwise refractory, stubborn and distressing chronic disease. It uses ‘energy medicine’ – extremely dilute forms of substances that have been energised or ‘potentised’ to bring about rapid, powerful, gentle and safe therapeutic effects. The processes involve energetic changes in the body, rather than pharmacological effects. The medicines act as a stimulus to self-cure. MORE
Acupuncture applied holistically, along with internal medicine, chiropractic manipulation and dietary input, uses point stimulation (usually with needles but sometimes with other methods e.g. LASER) to bring about balancing of the body and resolution of disease processes. It is also a powerful means of pain control. MORE
The forerunner of modern conventional drug medicine, herbal medicine in its traditional form (preferred by the AVMC) uses plants (not purified ingredients) for their medicinal and nutritional benefits on the body. At the AVMC, we mostly use indigenous herbs. MORE
Every patient seen by the AVMC is given a chiropractic check and manipulation of any problems is then offered. Spinal and skeletal alignment is vital to correct and efficient function, posture and movement. We believe this service to animals to be essential to optimum well-being. MORE
Other therapies upon which we may call as necessary include:
Healthy animals need a healthy diet to maintain health.
Sick, injured or ill animals need a healthy diet to optimize healing capability.
Performance animals need a healthy diet for optimum performance and stamina.
Young animals need a healthy diet for optimum growth and development.
Older animals need a healthy diet to preserve their faculties and energy levels.
At the Alternative Vet, we advise on natural feeding for every patient, whatever the species, as part of our holistic veterinary service. We do this whatever therapy or integrated programme we may be using for a particular patient (i.e. homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine (herbs – phytotherapy), chiropractic manipulation or other therapy).
This advice is based on taking the nearest wild species as a prototype and modelling a diet on the natural diet of that species in its wild habitat. We do this as the most logical course, since man’s selection of breeds of domestic animal has only occurred over a very short band of time, when compared with the time that the various species have evolved on Earth and established their niches.
We believe a wholesome diet to be the firm platform on which to build good health and longevity. We also believe that many health problems in all our domestic species stem from unhealthy or unsuitable feeding.
We advise to feed fresh food and to source it from organic suppliers whenever possible, since we believe that to be the healthiest way. Every part of the body and every system of the body functions better on a natural diet.
We advise against the feeding of manufactured foods and freeze-dried foods, which variably suffer from heavy processing, adulteration, denaturing, inclusion of undesirable (and sometimes harmful) additives and vigorous commercial marketing. Such foods do not serve health and well being so much as commercial interest and profit. Furthermore, manufactured and processed feeds have only been marketed over a few decades, which is but a blink in time, so the various species cannot possibly have had time enough to evolve to handle such artificial material. Processing cannot improve food and the addition of various artificial ingredients can only give the animal’s immune system and metabolism an unwanted job, to rid the body of foreign and possibly noxious material.
We apply exactly the same principles to the feeding of supplements and treats.
Make no mistake, horse foods and pet foods are BIG BUSINESS – advertising hype is driven by the promise of huge profits.
Beware the word ‘natural’, as it may falsely be used in advertising. For instance, how can a freeze-dried food be ‘natural’?
We also advise a healthy water supply, which would not always be local tap water.
We advise against supplying animals with softened water for drinking.
N.B.: This general feeding information is based on the advice given to clients who seek our services. It is opinion. We publish this information in good faith, with the motivation of sharing experiences and improving the health, longevity and well-being of our domestic animals. We make no profit from selling feeding products via this or any other web site and are independent from all manufacturers. Equally, we single out no manufacturers or products for particular criticism. We hope that this information is of value to you and your animal but please contact us if you require further help.
This general advice is not tailored to feeding for specific illnesses, for which we would need to give more individual advice (01367 710324).
N.B.: We do not offer specific feeding advice via e-mail or telephone to non-clients.