What is a holistic veterinarian?
Date Published: 2020-01-23
Date Updated: 2020-01-23
You might have read a book by someone who calls them self a “holistic veterinarian,” or you might have seen an article on our website encouraging you to talk to a holistic veterinarian about CBD oil for dogs. But what is a holistic veterinarian?
“Holistic” literally means “considering the whole.” Holistic medicine works by looking at the entire body, including emotional, physical, mental, and perhaps even spiritual aspects of wellness, instead of simply treating a symptom when it pops up.
A holistic veterinarian looks at the “whole” life of the animal before treating it. When a symptom pops up, they ask questions about not only the symptom but also about their behavior, their emotional health, their habits, their diet, and their lifestyle.
What do holistic veterinarians do?
Every holistic veterinarian is different. Their individual philosophy may differ from one veterinarian to the next. Your veterinarian may practice a combination of the following different approaches to health:
- Animal behaviorism
- Ayurvedic medicine
That’s not to say that a holistic veterinarian will never prescribe a conventional, Western treatment for your dog. It’s just that they will probably consider a number of different approaches and choose the best one instead of immediately prescribing a conventional treatment.
What should I expect from a holistic veterinarian?
If you’re taking your pet to a holistic veterinarian, your experience might be different from when you visit a conventional veterinarian.
Holistic veterinarians generally ask more questions and spend more time talking to you and discussing your animal’s needs. Expect a holistic veterinarian to ask about the following issues:
- Medical history. Does your dog have a history of illness? Have they had any injuries or unpleasant symptoms before? Are their vaccines up to date?
- What does your dog typically eat? How much? Have you changed their diet recently? What treats do you share with your dog?
- Exercise routine. How often do you walk your dog, and for how long? Does your dog have a lot of space to run around in? What other physical activities does your dog do – swimming, playing fetch, joining you on a trail run?
- Sleep habits. How often does your dog sleep? For how long? Do they wake you up often at night?
- Is your dog aggressive? What is their usual disposition? Do they get along well with other pets?
- Does anything unusual make your dog anxious? Do they seem afraid of water, for example? Is your dog generally anxious?
- How trained is your dog? Do they usually obey your commands?
A holistic veterinarian might prescribe a number of different treatments for your pet. It’s possible that they might prescribe a conventional treatment such as an injection, pill, or lotion. However, some of their suggestions might be unusual, and some will require more effort than simply giving your dog a pill.
They might encourage you to do any of the following:
- Change your dog’s diet, treats, and/or feeding times
- Giving your dog certain herbs, supplements, or homeopathic remedies
- Exercising your dog more often – or less often, or in a different way
- Changing their routine, whether it is related to sleep, exercise, or other activities
- Clean their teeth, groom them, or bathe them in a different way
- Change the detergent you use to clean your home or their bedding, as these can be allergens
- Reduce other toxins in your home, such as toxic plants, scented candles, and fragrances
- Take your pet in for acupuncture or chiropractic
- Change the training method you use with your dog
Of course, your veterinarian probably won’t tell you to do all of the above – and they might have different suggestions altogether. This list is not exhaustive.
How to talk to your holistic veterinarian about CBD for dogs
Holistic veterinarians might be able to advise you on CBD for dogs. When asking your veterinarian about CBD, ask them the following questions:
- Do you recommend any specific type or brand of CBD product? Where can I buy it?
- How many CBD drops/treats should I give my dog? Should I increase the dosage after some time?
- What time of day should I give it to my dog?
- Should I give it to them with or without food?
- When can I expect to see a difference in my dog’s symptoms/behavior?
The law is unfortunately very tricky when it comes to veterinarians and CBD. In fact, the current legislature on CBD and animals is a huge obstacle for may holistic veterinarians. While laws around CBD and medical cannabis have become more and more legal in more and more places, these laws are usually specifically for human use. Often, the legislature doesn’t cater for the veterinary use of CBD.
As a result, many aren’t sure what to tell their patients, as they don’t want to get in any legal trouble. According to a 2019 survey of 2130 US veterinarians, only 61.5 percent of veterinarians felt comfortable discussing CBD with their colleagues, and only 45.5 percent felt comfortable discussing it with their clients.
More than that, many veterinarians don’t feel confident in their knowledge about using CBD for dogs. While more research is being conducted, and we know more about CBD now, many veterinarians aren’t sure what advice to give to their clients. The survey indicated that most veterinarians would like veterinary boards and associations to train them on CBD and support them in advising CBD for clients.
Holistic veterinarians are likely more familiar with CBD, because they’re more likely to keep up-to-date with the latest in natural supplements. However, some holistic veterinarians aren’t willing to discuss CBD with their clients due to legal reasons.
It’s always a good idea to talk to your veterinarian – preferably a holistic veterinarian – before using CBD for dogs because they are the best person to advise you on whether or not it’s safe. If you’re not sure whether your veterinarian will be able to advise you on CBD for dogs, you can always call them ahead of time and ask.