Integrated veterinary care is now within reach of pet owners

In 1988, when I joined the American Holistic Veterinary Association, there were only 200 vets in the organization, and finding a vet to do acupuncture, animal chiropractic adjustment, alternative allergy and oncology care and rehabilitative therapy was nearly impossible, except in the big cities.

In contrast, newly graduated veterinarians have access to survey courses in alternative medicine, while they are in veterinary college. There are many veterinarians with training and certification in a range of services that were once considered alternative medicine, but are soon assimilated into daily practice across the United States. Treatments include animal chiropractic, acupuncture, rehabilitative therapy, NAET (drug-free allergy therapy), ozone therapy, stem cell/PRP, injection therapy, essential oils, therapeutic massage, laser therapy, and herbal remedies (TCVM and Western Herbs). ), clinical nutrition and homeopathy.

In my practice, I see 20-30 cases of inclusion per day, mostly clients whose pets fall into one of the following categories:

  1. A complete diagnosis was not obtained and an effective treatment plan was not found
  2. The diagnosis has been made, but there is no known cure in Western or allopathic medicine
  3. A diagnosis and treatment plan is in place, but the pet does not respond well or has negative effects on treatment.
  4. A pet had to stop taking medications due to side effects and relapsed, so the owner wants other options for care.
  5. Owners want to prevent cancer, spinal degeneration or any other disease that their pet will be susceptible to due to their breed or lifestyle.
  6. Owners strive to minimize the side effects of chemotherapy, radiation, or other cancer treatments.
  7. The pet needs rehabilitative and nutritional care to recover from illness, surgery, or injury.
  8. Owners are looking for non-surgical, non-surgical options for conditions such as anterior cruciate ligament tears, birth defects and chronic aging disorders.

Most of the new clients I interviewed did their own research or spoke with another client. When they see the results themselves, like a paralyzed pet has made a full recovery, pet parents want the right treatment.

This type of visit can be very productive because the owners trust the vet to do their job. The message the pet receives is that they are in good hands.

On the other hand, when owners have no exposure or experience with alternative treatments, the majority of the first visit is spent educating the pet owners. Doubt is not rare, but it can affect the results of treatments. Owners who are anxious or stressed during a visit can give their pet a “fight or flight” or danger signal. This can have a negative effect on the pet, due to the lack of relaxation during acupuncture or other treatment sessions.

Every once in a while, pet owners arrive in search of alternative options for pets afflicted with cancer, expecting a 1 miracle cure solution. Many of these clients have not done their homework and have researched any of the terms or treatments in alternative medicine.

My advice to owners looking for alternative care options is to visit the American Holistic Veterinary Association website, AHVMA.orgLearn more about integrated care. You can find reliable reference books regarding many great remedies for treating both chronic and acute disorders in pets.

An added bonus to your research is that many people find other options for their own healthcare, as they learn about their pets’ conditions.

An example of this is one of my clients who has a pet with end-stage congestive heart failure. The dog had been seeing a veterinary cardiologist who was managing her well for a year, but when the dog started developing advanced disease, she couldn’t stand the extra medications to control the arrhythmia. Instead of putting her pet to sleep, the owner looked for an acupuncturist for her pet.

After starting acupuncture and NAET, the arrhythmia improved and the pet was able to stabilize on less medication. Vomiting and coughing resolved. The dog lived another 3.5 years, with a good quality of life.

Her owner was diagnosed with a rare cancerous disorder, and initially accepted the dangerous prognosis of doctors because there were no known effective drug treatments for cancer. Instead of giving up, the owner realized she could try other alternative practices. After three years of alternative medical treatments, she is still in remission and credits the research and positive results her pet has received as a driver to seek alternative care for herself.

If you are new to integrated care and would like to explore more options for your pets, I suggest starting with animal chiropractic and nutritional care for additional preventative medicine, to improve your pet’s longevity and quality of life. If your pet has an illness or a chronic health condition, seek the advice of an integrative vet for the best treatment and the methods they recommend for your companion.

Dr. Cynthia Marrow is a veterinarian at Elwood Animal Hospital in Elwood and Chippewa Animal Hospital in Chippewa. She writes a bimonthly column on pet care and health issues. If you have a topic you’d like to address, email

Leave a Comment