Interest in CAM is increasing among veterinarians.
The usual meaning for "holistic veterinarian" is a veterinarian who specializes in one or more alternative or complementary treatments. Holistic veterinarians examine and diagnose by considering all aspects of the animal's life and using all of the veterinarian’s senses, using a combination of conventional and holistic modalities of treatment. A holistic veterinarian strives to find out everything possible on their patients. Full patient history is looked into from the pet's family history and lineage to its daily dietary routine. Holistic veterinarians take every aspect of their patient’s lives into consideration, from the animal’s home environment including emotional stresses, as well as their day to day behavior.
In practice, holistic veterinary medicine incorporates, but is not limited to, the principles of acupuncture and acutherapy, botanical medicine, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage therapy, nutraceuticals, and physical therapy as well as conventional medicine, surgery, and dentistry. A veterinarian interested in alternative treatments may be a member of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. It is recommended that holistic veterinary medicine be practiced only by licensed veterinarians educated in the modalities employed. The modalities comprising holistic veterinary medicine should be practiced according to the licensure and referral requirements concerning each modality.
Many veterinarians use different terms to convey what is meant by "holistic". Alternative veterinary medicine, complementary veterinary medicine, integrative veterinary medicine are some of the terms used when referring to holistic veterinary medicine.
Virtually every form of medicine and therapy used in holistic medicine for humans exists for veterinary medicine.Holistic veterinarians may use, but are not limited to, acupuncture, herbal medicines, homeopathy and manipulative therapy.
Acupuncture is used in animals for relieving pain by stimulating acupuncture points. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) says that The primary aim of veterinary acupuncture is to strengthen the body's immune system—to stimulate the body's adaptive–homeostatic mechanism. According to a systematic review of studies there is no compelling evidence to recommend or reject acupuncture for any condition in domestic animals. Some encouraging data do exist, warranting a further investigation in independent rigorous trials.
Herbal medicines include traditional Chinese herbs and other herbs from all over the world. The AHVMA states that herbs have healing powers that are capable of balancing the emotional, mental and physical dimensions of animals. Animal nutritional supplements and botanicals typically are not subject to premarketing evaluation by the FDA for purity, safety, or efficacy and may contain active pharmacologic agents or unknown substances.
Homeopathy works on the principle of Similia Similibus Curentur, (like cures like). It is believed that substances that produce symptoms similar to a given disease should be used to treat that disease. According to the AHVMA, if a large dose of a toxic substance is swallowed, it can produce death, but when a homeopathic, diluted, minute dose of the substance is given, it can save the poisoned animal. Introducing homeopathic substances allows the animal's body adapts and gives it the ability to fight off potential health problems. There are no quality studies that show that homeopathy works in animals. Homeopathic remedies generally consist of nothing but water and usually contain no active ingredients whatsoever.
The AHVMA states that chiropractic care offers a natural, drug-free adjunct to conventional veterinary care. The subluxated or fixated vertebra is identified and by means of an adjustment by hand or by using the activator technique, the problem is alleviated and homeostasis is restored.