how to choose a holistic vet

by | May 20, 2013

If you’re like many pet owners, you grew up with the idea that there was only one kind of veterinarian for house pets. But that was then – now, pet owners have the option to take their dogs, cats and other household critters to a holistic vet clinic, where the emphasis is on wellness and treating the whole animal, rather than simply dealing with problems as they arise.

While holistic veterinarians have been around for a long time, public awareness has grown regarding holistic ideas such as feeding raw dog food, acupuncture and natural remedies for problems like fleas. With that growth has come increased interest in switching from traditional to holistic veterinary practices. But for those new to the holistic world, what’s the best way to find a holistic vet?

A few key steps can help you connect with the right vet. Keep in mind that in some cases, like traumatic “after-hour” injuries, you might still need to go to a conventional vet hospital. Once you find a holistic vet to serve as your primary care provider, speak with him or her about referrals or recommendations for after-hours or emergency care.

* Search for vets with accreditation. Knowing that your potential new vet has the proper training and qualifications is essential. Luckily, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association has a search function that allows you to find holistic veterinarians near you. Depending on what services you’re seeking, you can also look up vets through American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture and the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy.

* Ask to meet. You shouldn’t have to jump into treatment without meeting with a holistic vet first. Once you’ve located some prospects, call to arrange a brief consultation with the vet, either on the phone or in person. You’ll be able to get a feel for the office, the staff and the services available at the practice. Since a vet’s time is valuable, there might be a fee for a consultation; consider it part of the price of finding a vet who can help your pet achieve optimal wellness.

* Find out what “holistic” means to them. While the AHVMA’s referral service will direct you to vet that is a member of the organization, it’s important that you are both on the same page when it comes to holistic treatments. Ask the vet about their feelings on vaccinations, raw food diets, and overall treatment of disease, and then see how those views align with your own. It’s important to ensure that you see eye-to-eye and can have open discussions about the care of your pets.

Personality match comes into play, as well. Finding a holistic vet practice where both you and your pet feel comfortable can be the start of a long, happy and healthy relationship.