For a dog owner seeing their best friend in distress is very upsetting, we love our dogs and they fast become one of the family. We will always do our very best for them. Usually the first person we turn to when our dogs are in distress is our vet. But, what about other options, such as holistic veterinary medicine. What's the difference between evidence based veterinary medicine (EBVM) vs. holistic veterinary medicine?
Many people use the holistic approach with their pets, and they say it works very well. Others aren’t so sure. Evidence based practices and holistic practices each have their place in veterinary medicine, but is one really better than the other? Or, could there be the option of combining the two and getting the best of both worlds?
Taking a closer look at each of them may give you a better understanding about the benefits they can offer your dog. It's not necessarily a competition, but more about choosing what is right for your pet's individual needs. You need to find the safest and healthiest treatment for your dog.
Evidence Based Veterinary Medicine vs Holistic Veterinary Medicine: Who's Right?
Holistic Veterinary Medicine
There are many different therapies that are used with holistic medicine. Oftentimes holistic treatments are confused with homeopathic medicine. Homeopathic remedies focus on helping the body to stimulate it's natural healing processes with the use of plants, minerals and other natural remedies.
Holistic veterinary medicine focuses on your dog's overall health, not just the symptoms that he's showing, and uses a combination of homeopathic and traditional remedies to treat him.
Holistic veterinarians aren't opposed to using traditional veterinary methods, they just choose to look at your dog as a whole and prescribe the safest and healthiest option of treatment.
READ FULL GUIDE: Holistic Dog Health 101 – Ultimate Science Based Guide
Treatments used in holistic veterinary practices include:
Acupuncture is the use of inserting very fine needles into certain areas of your dog’s body. What this does is balance the flow of energy.
This approach is often used to control pain and can also cure chronic ailments.
2. Chiropractic care
This provides your dog with hands on spinal adjustments which will work to relieve your dog’s pain.
3. Herbal remedies
Herbal remedies are used to treat many conditions that your dog may be suffering from, for instance for allergies alfalfa is recommended.
Homeopathy is amazing for your dog, and really can help him heal. The thing with homeopathy is that your dog will be provided with a substance that will actually cause the same symptoms that he is suffering from.
So for instance if your dog happened to be suffering from diarrhea he would be given a substance that would actually cause diarrhea. The aim of this is to jumpstart your dog’s body to help it go on to heal itself.
6. Laser Therapy
This is very similar to acupuncture, but instead of using very fine needles a low level laser is used. The laser targets specific parts of the body and will help to treat many ailments. It can also help after your dog has had surgery.
7. Nutritional supplements
Nutritional supplements will provide your dog with the right balance of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and also fatty acids.
The thing to remember about holistic medicine is that it aims to find the root cause of your dog’s distress, it doesn’t just treat the symptom. It works by getting to the very cause, and then gets to work at healing it, if possible.
Holistic medicine really is a whole body treatment. Whereas a veterinarian who strictly practices traditional veterinary medicine will look at the symptom your dog is suffering from and then try and treat it with science based remedies that have been proven to work, such as prescription medications.
Nutritional deficiencies are a common issue that can lead to very serious health conditions. Although a traditional vet may treat the symptoms, such as itchy skin or an upset stomach, a holistic veterinarian will look at the cause and recommend a nutritional supplement.
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What Do Traditional Veterinarians Think of Holistic Veterinary Medicine?
The reason some veterinarians don’t recommend it is because there is no scientific evidence that it does actually work.
Evidence based veterinary medicine has been tried and tested and does work – that’s the difference.
This doesn’t mean that holistic medicine doesn’t work, and many people do truly believe that it has helped their dogs heal. Some people say that holistic veterinary medicine is even better than evidence based veterinary medicine.
Not all vets are totally against the practice, but the problem is that not enough studies have been carried out to prove that it does work. This is the reason why vets are divided on the subject. Some veterinary schools do provide courses in holistic medicine, and some vets are now offering alternative therapies along with evidence based veterinary medicine.
The thing with alternative medicine is that you don’t have to wait for your dog to be sick before you try it. Alternative medicine can be carried out day to day as a preventative measure. You just have to remember that more studies are needed to prove that alternative medicine does prevent illness and diseases.
By doing this, you are looking after your dog’s well-being and could even be helping him avoid illness in the future. Holistic care has to be a lifestyle choice and not just a fad. Once you start, try not to stop.
Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine (EBVM)
Obviously, sometimes we just need to get to the vets ASAP. Our dogs could be in serious pain and discomfort, and no amount of holistic medicine is going to solve the issue. Our dogs could be choking on a bone or could be constantly vomiting. This is a medical emergency and needs veterinary treatment right away.
Your vet will be there to take x rays, blood tests, scans and whatever needs doing to help your dog. That’s what they’re there for. There is a time and a place where evidence based veterinary medicine is definitely needed and in serious situations, it’s the place your dog needs to be.
However people are fast becoming more and more concerned about the medications that vets are prescribing to our dogs.
They do have side effects and sometime these are worse than the condition the vet was treating in the first place.
If your veterinarian ever prescribes medication for your dog, make sure that you fully understand the possible side effects.
You Can Have the Best of Both Worlds
For instance, if your dog is suffering from acute conditions like infections, fever, seizures or congestive heart failure then obviously your vet has to be the best choice.
They really could save your dog’s life by providing him with medicine that has been proven to work.
If your dog is suffering from chronic conditions like skin and ear issues, allergies, arthritis or hip dysplasia, then holistic medicine could be the better option. You could also use a combination of both.
These conditions can be a long term issue, and rather than giving your dog tablets every day that can cause side effects, the holistic approach could be much better for long term use.
As you can see, it really is complicated. Evidence based veterinary medicine is obviously tried and tested and really does work. The holistic approach also has great advantages, and also has a place in veterinary medicine.
Evidence based veterinary medicine can be life saving, and at certain times your dog will definitely need it. For other conditions, the holistic approach could be the better option. The choice is ours in the end. It’s up to us to provide the best treatment for our best friends, and as dog owners we will always do that!