With the current movement towards a more natural approach to health care for ourselves and our pets, I often get asked the question, “How do I find a holistic vet? Often, I see pets who were brought to me by people who have already taken a natural approach to health care that want to do the same for their pets. Also, I have those people who contact me because they are frustrated with the conditioned approach to conventional pet health care, looking for other options. They are introduced to a different mindset for pet health care and see the success and then want to do the same for themselves.
When I wrote my book, Whole Pet Healing, a few years ago, I addressed the topic of selecting the right vet, but, oh my, things are really changing and my criteria has also changed. If we are to try to find a vet who thinks the way we do, it starts with identifying her (or his) mindset. This is the best way to try to determine what her intent was for becoming a holistic vet.
Today, the veterinary profession has become very competitive. Each year, for every one vet that retires, about 600 enter the profession. It doesn’t take a mathematician to determine that the market is becoming quite saturated. Imagine that the number of clients that are available in an area is represented as an image of a pie. For each veterinary practice, there is a slice of that pie. The more vets, the thinner the slice of the pie, and that means less income earned.
Vets are now focusing just as much time on how to get a larger slice of the pie, as they are finding ways to help the pet. In order to do this, they have to compete with each other. Older marketing protocols might deal with offering special deals (reduced cost for dentals, etc.), but one that has gained a lot of attention over the past few years, is offering services that the other vets don’t offer. One option is alternative medicine. If my practice has the same services as yours but I also have acupuncture, then you will likely choose mine over yours. Remember, the primary intent is to attract clients to make more profit, not to do more for my patients. This might be an obvious benefit, but intent, in a holistic mindset is critical.
How can we identify these vets? The most obvious way is to determine if they are practicing both western and alternative modalities. This is an integrative approach, but it is not a holistic approach. Integrative vet medicine is certainly an improvement. It is like a mechanic that has both wrenches and screw drivers. It will increase his ability to do his work, but this is not how holism works. Let’s look at some basic principles. Conventional vet medicine focuses on the laws of matter (the physical body) and derives its logic by linear thinking such as cause and effect. Alternative modalities such as acupuncture, etc. are energetic modalities based on the laws of energy (the energetic body) and derives its logic by non-linear, intuitive thinking. Unfortunately, the human mind cannot do both at the same time. The conventional vet is steeped in linear thinking as it is the dominant part of the brain and it is very difficult to go from conditioned, linear thinking (conventional medicine) to a holistic, non-linear mindset in the blink of an eye. The rational or linear approach is always dominant over the subtle, non-linear and intuitive mindset, so it takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to re-train the mind to restore balance between the two.
Most vets that try to practice both conventional and alternative vet medicine, will find themselves doing alternative medicine using the mindset of the conditioned, conventional vet medicine approach. Unfortunately, this only frustrates the vet and the client because it won’t work. Results are often poor and often the vet will often give up and quit. An example might be treating a pet with cancer. A conventional mindset conceptualizes cancer and treats all of those types of cancer patients the same. All dogs with lymphoma are going to be treated the same because they are treating the conceptual disease and not the individual pet. The holistic practitioner does not treat conceptual diseases. Instead, she will treat the imbalances that created the problems. Each pet will be treated individually because each pet will have different imbalances. If the vet treats all dogs with lymphoma the same using acupuncture or whatever energetic modality, it will not work as it is not addressing the individual’s needs. She might be correct occasionally but not enough to get the results she desires.
Most vets that do both do not realize that this is going on and I often get phone calls from alternative practitioners with good intentions but poor results. Once I explain to them what is going on, they will often re-focus, direct their awareness on the correct mindset and great things start to happen. But, this will only happen if the original intent was to help the pet and not to make a larger profit.
So, how do we go about finding that person? The easiest way is to find a vet that only does alternative modalities. I had to sell my integrated practice in order to develop the right mindset for a genuine holistic approach. It is too easy to fall back into the old mindset, go the easy route and increase your profits by going the conventional route. Once you locate that alternative only practitioner, I would focus on my three absolute rules for preventative health care: diet, vaccination protocols and the use of chemicals for flea and tick control. The first question I would ask is what their thoughts are about the pet’s diet. They should be adamant about only feeding a balanced, wholesome diet, preferably raw. If they say it is ok to feed heat-processed pet food (kibble or canned), run for the hills. It is fundamental for pet health care to feed the species appropriate diet. Then, I would want her to guide you away from vaccinating too often, preferably recommending vaccination titers instead of routing vaccinations. Lastly, I would hope that she steers you away from any use of insecticides for flea and tick control. The cherry on top would be that she would address the energetic influences that you, the pet caretaker, has on your pet. Maybe, these recommendations will help guide you to the right person.