Integrative veterinary care is the integral ingredient in treating the whole animal. The focus in an Integrative practice is to treat both the animal’s body and mind, using a combination of conventional medicine with a variety of alternative therapies.
Today there are many cat guardians who are seeking this more integrative approach to their cat’s veterinary care. This said, however, many people tell me that it is almost impossible to find an integrative practitioner in their area; that most of the holistic veterinarians are not located within a reasonable driving distance. This makes it extremely difficult for them to have their cats cared for holistically. It seems that unless one is living in a big city with a large population, this type of practice is virtually unavailable for them.
In an article recently published on Healthy Pets by Nancy Scanlan, DVM, Executive Director of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation, Dr.Scanlan posed the question “Why are Holistic veterinarians so scarce?” The obvious answer to her question truly disturbed me and to be perfectly honest, got my dander up. The reason for the lack of availability of holistic-integrative veterinary practitioners is, according to Dr. Scanlan, “That’s because holistic medicine isn’t taught in veterinary schools. Interested veterinarians must spend additional time and money to get training to practice the most complex types of holistic medicine – the types of therapies you are most likely to need for your pet. US Veterinary schools don’t require training in Holistic Medicine.”
Over the years I have made the acquaintance of several “traditional” practice veterinarians who still maintain that many of the therapies that are used in an Integrative practice are basically just “woo-woo”, “snake oil”, and are worthless. They claim that there is no proof that these techniques really work. In fact some of them still consider that if a medical condition appears to resolve, it is probably just that the disease went into remission coincidentally or that it was due to a “placebo effect” causing the animal’s condition to improve. Many of them refuse to even listen to, or do any meaningful research in the many advantages that holistic/integrative medicine offers.
But please tell me how is it possible for an animal to experience a placebo effect since the animal has no idea what the treatment is or what it is supposed to accomplish. I totally understand the possibility of that effect in human medicine, since humans have an expectation for a treatment to effect an improvement in the condition. But is it possible for an animal to have the same expectations as we do? I think not! So how do these animals often demonstrate that they are feeling better?
At this time, according to Dr. Scanlan, Acupuncture treatment has become more widely accepted. She writes, “The most popular type of Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine (CAVM) training for veterinarians is acupuncture. Over 4,000 veterinarians have become certified in the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS), Chi Institute, or the Colorado Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians course. Some of the 29 Veterinary schools offer elective courses in CAVM, but they are elective courses, and not required in their curriculum.
According to Dr Scanlan, the reason that acupuncture is the only holistic method that is used regularly in veterinary schools is because there is a great deal of research done on this treatment modality. In fact acupuncture has more research article published than any other form of alternative treatment.
This gets me wondering why it is that so many people I know; the ones who are fortunate enough to have their cats treated with holistic/integrative veterinary medicine, report that this combination of traditional medicine with alternative methods has helped their very sick kitties to feel better.
I am lucky to have such an excellent veterinarian who pulls out all the stops to improve our kitties’ health. Hopefully one day in the near future, holistic/integrative veterinary medicine will receive its merited respect. When that happens, perhaps all veterinary schools will CAVM a required course; making trained practitioners more widely available to all kitty guardians.
What are your thoughts about holistic/Integrative veterinary medicine? Tell us in a comment.
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