What is holistic, anyway? Some of my most eye-opening revelations come from you, dear reader. Layne sent this plea this week:
Do you know of a doctor who practices like you do in the Dallas/Fort Worth area? I’ve been to 3 vets so far for my 4 month old mini schnauzer. First one said he was flexible with the shots but wasn’t. The second was a holistic vet whose technician accidentally injected corona vax. Third vet works for a holistic vet practice and insisted I was endangering my pup if she didn’t receive bordatella; then gave her the intranasal (vaccine) despite my hesitance. She wants my dog to get lepto and rabies at next visit. So the holistics in my area are still pushing for all the shots. Appreciate you and your research.
Gak! What does holistic vet mean to you? I would hope it means looking at a bigger picture than just offering a natural sort of treatment or two. Came to find out that was the extent of it in these three. These “holistic vets” offered acupuncture. And hung out their holistic shingle. But really, what is holistic?
Lots of you have gone in, upbeat, to a holistic vet practice looking for the kind of care that you’ve learned about here and elsewhere, and gotten the wrong answers to your questions, or worse, like Layne, gotten meds you weren’t sure you wanted.
I’d like to think anyone flying the holistic flag has thought deeply about vaccinations, your most important decision in your animal’s life. And has studied them enough to know that they cause illness, most often chronic illness, the plague of our day.
If they’ve studied this, even a little, they not be asking you to repeatedly vaccinate your already vaccinated animal, be it horse, dog, cat, or ferret. The holistic vet you’re seeking hopefully has learned that giving more vaccines throughout life doesn’t work. That’s what the veterinary immunologists say, anyway. The people who ought to know, the experts.
Just what is holistic? It’s got to take a much bigger picture into account, right? What is holistic about using acupuncture to treat illness that has likely come about from the vaccinations you gave earlier? And what about future vaccinations you are still pushing? How do those fit in your holistic health plan?
What’s the big picture, the 30,000 foot view you have in mind for this cherished soul in a furry body, anyway?
What You’re Up Against
I know. It’s hard. Standing up for what your research has taught you, in the face of a veterinarian with a fixed world view. They’ve seen so much illness and have had so many years of college. How could you know more about things like vaccination and raw food than they?
Odds are, you do. We had lousy training in immunology in vet school, and once in the thick of veterinary practice, new ideas may not come easily. Sure, there are those meetings, often put on by vaccine or drug companies, but you can guess they’re not sending the same message as the immunologists, right?
It becomes all too easy, as in human medicine (“single species medicine”), to get your “education” from drug reps who call on your practice to sell you stuff.
None the less, let me help you sort out “holistic lite” or “fauxlistic” vets with some pertinent interview questions. You really need to ask, in essence, what is holistic about this practitioner?
Ask Good (Hard) Questions
So, you’ll likely have to do some sifting and winnowing to find a holistic vet who will do more than offer lip service to the idea of being holistic. Because, let’s face it, offering a natural treatment doesn’t qualify someone to call themselves a holistic vet. It’s bigger than that.
Here’s what I’d be asking if I were you.
- Why do you call yourself a holistic vet?
- What is holistic? Please define holistic for me.
- How long have you been offering holistic services?
- What holistic sorts of training have you had since vet school?
- Has that training been followed by testing and certification by a recognized holistic organization?
- What percentage of your practice do you consider holistic?
- Do you vaccinate adult animals who have a previous history of vaccinations?
- If so, why? (see the veterinary immunologists’ take on that question here).
- If I want to call the shots (sorry) on whether or not my animals get more vaccinations, are you still willing to work with my animals? (for example: I’d like my previously vaccinated adults to have No Vaccines emblazoned in red ink at the top of their records. Are you with me here?)
- Do you offer titer testing? If so, and my animal’s titers fall, I will likely not get further vaccinations. Are you still with me here?
- Do you support raw feeding of dogs and cats? (Bonus points if they’ve got a freezer full of raw food for sale).
- If not, are you cool treating my raw fed pets? (Or will your peeps feel the need to put on masks and gloves to examine my animals, in which case, see ya, probably never again, unless we happen to be in a live event at the same time and cross paths. But I can’t promise I’ll let on I know you, please understand.)
- If I choose not to use monthly pesticides to keep heartworms from killing my animal, will you test them annually for me anyway?
- Do you sell topical flea preventatives, aka pesticides?
- If so, will you work with my animals if I choose to use natural, non-toxic flea control?
- My main vet is a homeopathic vet who may ask me to get diagnostic work on occasion. Are you willing to work with my animals in this way, even if I’m not seeking treatments from you?
What to Hope For
In decreasing order from best responses to worst, you’d hope for a holistic vet who:
- Understands holistic means seeing a larger, more whole picture of health and disease, beyond just offering a natural treatment. Doesn’t push vaccines on you. Respects you and your health choices period, and sees, along with his staff, how your animals speak volumes about natural health, by their very presence.
- Respects your choices on raw feeding, vaccinations, and drug free heartworm and flea control, but still brings up vaccines periodically. Listens when you say No More.
- Looks the other way on your natural choices, but seems to recognize how remarkably healthy your animals are.
- Is there for occasional work, like diagnostics, heartworm tests, etc. but has little affinity for what you’ve accomplished.
In my homeopathic vet practice, I’ve usually been the primary physician to my patients, and my clients rarely need to go elsewhere for anything, especially the cat owners. Dog owners are encouraged to seek a yearly heartworm test, just to be sure their natural choices are working for them. My not drawing blood (no tech help, too rusty from lack of practice) is a bit of a limit for some, but this phrasing often works for my clients:
My primary vet is homeopathic, but doesn’t do blood work or keep diagnostic equipment in his clinic. Would you be willing to work with our animals for the occasional blood test or, God forbid, a life endangering accident?”
Most level headed vets will, if your cards are laid clearly on the table like this, say, “Sure.” The ones who won’t, and feel threatened by your obvious level of understanding of natural health practices, are simply checked off your list. You move on to ask another.
Howzit for You and Yours?
Have you found a sweet spot with vets for your animals that is in line with your desired rearing goals? Have you asked the hard but basic question: What is holistic to you? Let us know in the comments. I suspect there are many ways to land on this spot, and what works for you may help someone else gain confidence to ask for what they want.