Holistic Versus Conventional Veterinary Medicine

Conventional veterinary medicine is most likely the type of care you are used to providing for your pets. The conventional veterinary practitioner prescribes medications, uses the latest diagnostic tools, and follows peer-reviewed studies that could impact or change the way she treats certain injuries or illnesses.

Veterinarians may specialize in a certain aspect of medicine, in much the same way a physician may choose to specialize in neurology or obstetrics. Veterinarians who complete at least three years of postgraduate studies in a special area of interest must undergo a peer review before they can receive the title of diplomate from various prestigious professional veterinary medicine organizations, such as the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB).

Holistic veterinary medicine includes such unconventional modalities as acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, flower essences, raw diets, nutraceuticals (the use of concentrated doses of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to treat disease), Chinese medicine, and herbs. The holistic veterinarian is trained and has received her veterinary medicine degree (DVM) from a veterinary college that teaches conventional medicine.

Some holistic veterinarians combine conventional and holistic modalities. For example, a holistic veterinarian may utilize the latest diagnostic tools, from MRIs to specific blood and urine tests, as well as practice acupuncture. Another holistic veterinarian may dedicate her entire practice to homeopathy — the practice of treating diseases with very dilute, pure forms of compounds that if ingested in a concentrated form would cause the same symptoms as the disease being treated — and not use any conventional medicine.

Whether you choose to go to a veterinarian with a conventional, holistic, or combined practice, you'll want to find a professional who is not only skilled but who is also accessible. A veterinarian could be the most experienced, awarded, and titled individual in the country, but if you don't feel comfortable asking questions, all of this veterinarian's expertise is wasted. You and your shepherd can't benefit from veterinary care unless you can freely communicate with your veterinarian.

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