Holistic Veterinary Medicine – What is It? What Can I Expect?

Guinea PigWhat is Holistic Veterinary Medicine?   Many American families have at least one pet in their household. The most common types of domesticated animals are dogs, cats, fishes, birds, rabbits, and mice. What is holistic veterinary medicine? What do holistic veterinarians treat? How effective is natural treatment? Do some veterinarians use both orthodox and complimentary medicine?

Most pet owners go to a traditional veterinarian for treatment and care of their pets. However, holistic veterinary medicine is becoming more popular as people discover the benefits of natural and complimentary medicine for their own optimum health and wellness needs. Animals are cared for and tended to on an everyday basis by their human companions and treated like a member of the family. Pets can give people companionship, love and compassion. Pet owners go to great lengths to make sure their pets are happy and healthy Holistic veterinary medicine is becoming more well-known to the general public. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (2015) states:

“the wholeness inherent in the scope of holistic veterinary medicine nurtures all aspects of an animal’s well-being, resulting in lasting physical, mental, and emotional health.”

Yellow LabWhat Do Holistic Veterinarians Treat? Veterinary medicine uses both conventional and non-conventional methods to treat sick animals. More people are taking their pets to be seen by veterinarians that specialize in the holistic care of animals. Treating animals is similar to treating humans. When an animal is showing symptoms of an illness or disease, the veterinarian will examine the animal. The practitioner will look into the complete medical history of the animal as well as environmental factors that can contribute to an illness/disease. Animals can suffer from various types of diseases. The Veterinary Institute of Integrative Medicine (2015) provides the following list of diseases commonly treated by holistic veterinarians:

  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Lymphoma
  • Renal-Kidney Disease
  • Ear Infection
  • Dental Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Diarrhea

Horses in FieldArthritis is a very common disease for animals such as dogs, cats, and horses because these animals walk on all fours for many hours a day. The constant strain on their paws and hooves causes inflammation in the joints. Arthritis is a very painful degenerative disease. Horses that participate in equestrian competitions are more likely to suffer from arthritis because of the constant jumping and running back and forth. Not surprisingly, the leg joints are where most horses, who are active, have arthritis.  Larger sized dogs and horses are more vulnerable to getting arthritis because of their bulky stature.  According to The Canine Hydrotherapy Association, aquatic or hydrotherapy has been found to be very effective for treatment of arthritis in canines.

CatWhat  Are the Holistic Veterinary Therapies and Treatments?  Animals can be treated with almost any type of holistic medicine or treatment available to humans:

Flower Essence Therapy  – Flower essence therapy is a popular treatment for those who are holistic veterinarians. Flower essences are believed to contain the healing energies of plants. The flower essence system, is attributed to Dr. Edward Bach, (September 24, 1886 – November 27, 1936) ,who developed the system in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Bach Flower Remedies

Bach Flower Remedies

Dr. Bach created the Bach Flower Rescue Remedies, with each of the 38 remedies directed at a particular characteristic or emotional state. Remedies for animals can be added to the food or drinking water but should never be dropped into the animal’s mouth because the glass dropper tube could be harmful if bitten off and swallowed. These five primary essences listed below are specifically intended for the treatment of animals who exhibit behavior indicative of an emotional imbalance. BachFlower.com (2015) summarizes the plants and the correlating healing powers. As always, it’s recommended that you consult with a certified and trusted health practitioner before administering any treatment to your pet.  Here are a few flower essences:


Star of Bethlehem – Orithogalum Umbellatum

  • Star of Bethlehem – Orithogalum umbellatum
    Helps animals that have experienced abuse, trauma and shock, whether experienced recently or in the past. Helps the animal let go of the trauma and enjoy life.
  • Rock Rose – Helianthemum
    For situations in which the animal experiences panic or terror such as an accident, going to the vet, thunderstorm or fireworks.
  • Cherry Plum – Prunus cerasifera
    Helps animals who seem to have lost control of their actions such as constant barking, scratching or licking.


    Impatiens – Impatiens gladulifera

  • Impatiens – Impatiens gladulifera
    Helps those animals who are impatient and can’t wait for their meal or going for a walk.
  • Clematis – Clematis vitalba
    For animals who seems to be sleeping too much and not really paying attention to what’s going on around them.

What Human Medicines Should Not be Given to Animals
Kitten and VeterinarianHolistic and natural remedies are safe if prescribed by a certified holistic health veterinarian or practitioner.  There are certain medicines used by humans that should not be given to animals especially dogs, because they will become more ill. Some drugs that shouldn’t be given to animals include, but are not limited to Ibuprofen, Tylenol, and Adderall. These drugs could cause stomach ulcers, kidney failure, vomiting, tremors, seizures, liver damage, and elevated heartbeat. Medicating pets is not recommended without the prescription of a trusted health professional. Sick animals should be taken to the veterinarian.

American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. (2015). Holistic Veterinary Therapies.  Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.ahvma.org

The Bach Flower Research Programme. (2015). Star of Bethlehem. Therapy. Retrieved March 21, 2015, from http://www.edwardbach.org

The Original Bach Flower Remedies. (2015). Rescue Remedy and Bach Flower Remedies for Pets. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.bachflower.com

Veterinary Institute of Integrative Medicine. (2015). Top Animal Health Concerns For Veterinary Professionals. Retrieved March 21, 2015, from http://viim.org


This articleHang Pham, MBHA Health Educator is written by Hang Pham. Hang Pham is a Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance Health and Wellness Educator. Hang Pham was born in Hoc Mon, Vietnam. She came to America in 1994, becoming a U.S. citizen in 2011. Hang graduated from Seaside High School with diploma and received her AA in General Studies from Monterey Peninsula College in 2011. She received her BA in Collaborative Health and Human Services from California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in 2012. In addition to working as a volunteer staff with the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, she currently works as a Clerical Aid in the Human Resources Department of Salinas City Hall. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.   All images are copyright free, from www.pixabay.com unless otherwise noted.

Disclaimer:  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

One thought on “Holistic Veterinary Medicine – What is It? What Can I Expect?

  1. Thank you for sharing. I live a pretty holistic life. I eat organic foods, I eat lots of food high in vitamins, and always try and treat any illness I have with natural remedies. I really like the idea I can get the same treatment for my dog. I had no idea that holistic pet medicine existed. I like that you can help with arthritis. My dog has had a hard time getting around lately. I will have to look around and see if I can find anyone around that does this.

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