What is an Integrative Vet and how do they differ from a Conventional Vet?
An integrative vet uses the best of conventional and complimentary veterinary medicine. Conventional veterinary medicine can be defined as the use of traditional drugs and surgery when treating patients.

Conventional medicine looks at the body as being made up of various parts that, when sick, have nothing to do with the overall health of the animal. For example, a pet with skin allergies and joint problems is considered to have two separate problems, and may be referred to a dermatologist or orthopedic specialist, whereas a single holistic practitioner would evaluate and treat both conditions in the pet.

Pets treated conventionally also do NOT truly achieve a higher level of health, where they are stronger or less susceptible to future illness. Conventional medicine does often lead to quicker symptomatic relief; however, this sometimes comes with chronic health care price and/or necessity to keep animals on medication indefinitely, in order to prevent symptom relapse. This means repeated visits, more meds, and more issues.

Holistic veterinary care tends to look at the body as being sick as a whole, and attempts to restore health and balance on all levels of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Nutritional, environmental and toxic stresses are also evaluated as to their role in illness. Examples of holistic therapies include homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, and chiropractic care. The goal of treatments are to cure the patient of disease, and make patients stronger and healthier and less susceptible to future illness, rather than having to continue treatment indefinitely.

What does all this gibberish mean? A conventional vet wants to do whatever it takes to keep you coming back. If they over vaccinate, you’ll be back with side effects. If they give you antibiotics, many times it’s not enough which means another appointment and more medications meaning more money!

A conventional vet will not tell you to feed raw, even though they know it’s biologically the best for them. Instead, they recommend kibble that many times they’re paid to promote! Have you ever watched Petfooled to see exactly how kibble is made? I’m sure it will change your mind about how and what you feed.

An integrative/holistic vet will treat your pet as a whole – they’ll get to the root of the issue and treat the whole being. They’ll use natural products, homeopathic remedies, Chinese herbs and a real diet along with safe practices for vaccinating without pressuring for yearly vaccines your pet really doesn’t need. They’ll titer when needed. They’ll test and medicate when reasonably necessary and not just because – the goal is to get your pet healthy and to keep them that way.

When Tyson got really sick and we finally figured out it was due to Prednisone Poisoning at the hands of his conventional “bulldog” vet and could have been prevented, we didn’t think twice about finding a new integrative/holistic vet. When we figured out that we were at the vet every 2 – 3 weeks for issue after issue, kibble after kibble, test after test, spending over $30,000 – not to mention them never advising on side effects of what could happen from over vaccinating, they knew we’d pay whatever to get Tyson healthy! They took advantage of that. Our mistake was that we trusted our “Bulldog vet.”

Want to know how to find an integrative vet in your area? Check out www.ahvma.org.

If you don’t change vets, at least ask more questions, know what they’re doing, research on your own and remember, you always have the right to say, “No” if you don’t agree with something or feel uncomfortable and get a second opinion if needed. Don’t settle!