Choosing the right vet for your asthma cat is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Sparrow’s wheeziness has taught me that not all vets are created equal but they’re pretty close. It takes a wonderfully special person to become a vet in the first place – if you’re an animal lover, take that feeling and imagine it on steroids. That – plus a few years of vet school – is what it takes to be a vet.
But there’s more to it than just being able to read X-rays and prescribe medications. As with human medical stuff, there are many different ways to treat a patient, depending on the patient, the symptoms and really just about everything else. If you’re the over protective mother type like me, you’ll want to make sure the love of your life is getting the best possible care with minimal side effects.
What is a Holistic Vet?
According to Wikipedia, holistic veterinary medicine uses alternative therapies as well as conventional methods in the treatment of animal patients. Holistic vets look at the whole animal and focus on minimally invasive treatments. They’re trained vets who take a more gentle, empathic approach to animal wellness and lifestyle things like diet, stress reduction and love. And who doesn’t want their precious pet treated with bucketloads of love?
Here’s the beautiful Dr Fong with his special message about holistic therapies for your pet:
How’s That Different to a Normal Vet?
A traditional vet will tend to look at a symptom and use a method to correct it. For example, if your cat has a sore eye, a traditional vet will look at the eye and use their training to offer a cure for the eye. There’s nothing wrong with this approach – after all, the reason you’re visiting is to fix a sore eye, so if your vet can offer something to cure the eye their job’s done.
Using the same example of a sore eye, a holistic vet will look at the whole animal and its environment, not just the eye. As Dr Fong explained in the video, our pets are sensitive to their surroundings and to their humans, so a holistic vet might offer treatment not only for the eye but also for any anxiety and stress that the kitty might be picking up from us, along with other medical factors that could be manifesting in that shonky eye.
Traditional vets are, of course, still vets – they are highly qualified and filled with the love and respect for animals that we demand as caring pet owners. Their game is to tackle the problem from one specific angle to fix that specific problem.
Real Medicine or Quackery?
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding some of the alternative therapies that a holistic vet may use. Homeopathy, for example, is largely believed to be a pseudo-science or something that is thought to be scientific but really isn’t. There are mixed views on whether or not herbal or homeopathic remedies actually work, and your view may depend on your personal research, beliefs and experience.
Alternative therapies such as acupuncture and Reiki, which work to correct imbalanced energy flows seem to be more widely tolerated as ‘real’ and effective treatments. Perhaps because these ancient remedies are more well known, the general view seems to be that there’s something in them worth trying.
Even if these kinds of treatments seem a bit ‘woo-woo’ to you, there’s still the holistic philosophy of treating the whole animal, which should not be sneezed at. There’s no doubt that things like correct diet, environmental enrichment, stress reduction and TLC will do worlds of good for your pet – in my opinion, that’s more than enough reason to seek out a vet who will look at more than just a single symptom.
How to Find The Right Holistic Vet
There is no separate qualification or certification that makes a vet holistic. Any vet can market themselves as holistic, but the difference really boils down to additional specialised training and an open-minded approach to all avenues of treatment.
Feline asthma can be a tricky business. Once a definitive diagnosis has been made, it’s often a matter of educated trial and error to figure out how best to treat it. Maybe you’ve tried traditional, synthetic medication but found that it doesn’t work for your kitty and you want to try other treatments. Traditional veterinary medicine can be a bit limited – there’s nothing wrong with switching vets if you feel the need.
Do your homework and shop around for a holistic vet – personal recommendation is often best, so your friends and family are a good place to start your research. You might have to visit a few different vets for an initial consultation before you find one who’s a good fit. Trust your gut and if you don’t feel comfortable with a particular vet, don’t go back there.
You can get your search started with The American Holistic Veterinarian Medical Association’s VetFinder. It’s not just for Americans, either – they have listings for several other countries as well. Check it out here.
Whether you choose to stick with traditional or seek out a holistic vet is entirely up to you. There’s no right or wrong answer, it will all depend on your views of alternative therapies, your relationship with your chosen vet and of course your relationship with your asthma cat.
How much do you love your vet? Would you be willing to switch to someone who can offer more than conventional treatment? Head on down to the comments and share your thoughts…