How to Find a Holistic Practitioner

Locate a veterinarian near you who offers alternative therapies.

By Kim Campbell Thornton

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Natural Cat

When Mari Adams' cat Madelyn was diagnosed with cancer, the Seattle woman turned to acupuncture and Chinese herbs to improve her cat's quality of life and help her regain her appetitie. Adams is one of the many pet parents interested in the use of complementary therapies — acupunture, chiropractic, diet and nutritional supplements, herbs, homeopathy, medical massage and physiotherapy techniques such as laser and ultrasound — along with conventional veterinary treatments.

These types of treatments are known as holistic, complementary or alternative medicine. Some of them are quite new, while others have been practiced for millennia, although their use in animals may be recent. Here's what you need to now about finding and consulting a holistic veterinarian.

The Whole Patient
The majority of veterinarians practice mainstream medicine and take a scientific approach to health care. Their arsenal against disease includes pharmaceuticals, vaccinations and surgery. They are referred to as allopathic practitioners.

Veterinarians who practice complementary and alternative medicine describe themselves as holistic, meaning that they approach pet health care by looking at everything in an animal's life that might affect his well-being, including nutrition, physical surroundings and social environment. In other words, they treat the whole patient.

Veterinarian Robin Downing, whose practice in Windsor, Colo., comprises conventional and complementary medicine, explains to clients that the difference between a "whole-istic" — the spelling she prefers — approach and a mainstream approach is the use of techniques, strategies and perspectives that are not necessarily considered part of a traditional approach to medicine.

"When a cat has a medical problem, we not only reach for the treatment and management strategies taught in every veterinary school curriculum, we look for additional ways to influence the patient's recovery and speed the return to health."

 **Get the October 2010 issue of NATURAL CAT to read the full article.**


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