What is Holistic Veterinary Medicine?

Holistic veterinary medicine is a form of healing that considers the whole patient–body, mind, and spirit–in its approach to achieving optimum health and eliminating the root causes of disease. The holistic approach is gentle, minimally invasive, and incorporates patient emotions and well-being. Holistic thinking is centered on love, empathy, and respect.

After a thorough exam and appropriate testing, a holistic veterinarian will choose the best combination of conventional and alternative (or complementary) therapies for each patient. Below is a small sample of the many commonly-used therapies used by holistic veterinarians.

Find a holistic veterinarian in your area to learn more.

Modern Drugs, Surgery, and Diagnostics

Holistic veterinarians often seek to blend standard therapies, such as drugs and surgery, with holistic methods. Holistic veterinarians stay current on the latest advancements.


Elliot relaxes during his acupuncture treatment for arthritis.

Acupuncture is a technique for relieving pain and improving the function of organ systems by stimulating the nervous system via acupuncture points on the surface of the body. The points are stimulated with fine needles, therapeutic laser, or pressure. Acupuncture has been used in China for over 3500 years, and is the main treatment for a quarter of the world’s population.


Aromatherapy is the use of plant material and plant-derived substances, such as essential oils, to improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Some essential oils may also have anti-microbial effects.


Chiropractic is a non-invasive technique based on the relationship of the nervous system to the spinal cord. Correction of subluxations (improper alignment between two bones) allows the nervous system to function at an optimal level. A chiropractic adjustment is made by hand or using an adjusting instrument.

Flower Essences

Flower essences can be used to subtly affect emotional states. Perhaps the most famous flower essence is a blend of five remedies known Bach’s Rescue Remedy, which can be used for crisis stressful situations.

Herbal Medicine

The use of herbs and plants for medicinal purposes has been practiced for millennia all over the world. Veterinary herbal medicines include Western herbs, Ayurvedic herbs from India, traditional Chinese herbs, and many others. Modern pharmaceuticals evolved from herbal medicine, but today’s drugs typically isolate individual compounds. Herbalists believe that whole plants provide a broad spectrum of desirable effects, from specialized nutrition (herbs contain vitamins and minerals that drugs do not) to synergy of the various components, which may allow lower doses of pharmacologic ingredients to be used.


Homeopathy is based on the idea that “like cures like.” When 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 promote a cure. Homeopathic remedies are made from plants, minerals, drugs, viruses, bacteria or animal substances, dissolved in water or alcohol, diluted, and vigorously shaken. These remedies do not mask or suppress symptoms; they treat the deepest constitutional causes of the illness.

Safety first! This pup is ready for his laser therapy.
Safety first! This pup is ready for his laser therapy.

Low Level Laser Therapy

Laser therapy uses lasers or LED light to encourage healing and improved function at the cellular level. Treatment is painless and is useful in a variety of ailments, particularly in decreasing pain and inflammation and improving wound healing.

Nutritional Therapy

High quality and well-balanced nutrition is the foundation for general well-being. Nutrition may be used as prevention or treatment. There is no “one size fits all” diet, and your holistic veterinarian will work with you to determine the diet that is the best fit for your pet, your lifestyle, and your budget.


Osteopathy involves manipulation of muscles and joints to enable the body to self-heal. Osteopathy can be used to treat gait problems, stiffness, problems with head carriage, behavior changes, muscle tension, digestive problems, and more.

Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine

This cutie is walking backward as part of his physical therapy and rehab program.
This cutie is being guided backward as part of his physical therapy and rehab program.

Rehabilitation is the act of restoring the body to normal function post injury, illness, or degeneration. Sports medicine takes this one step farther and brings the body to optimum function. Modalities such as underwater treadmill, laser, ultrasound, PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field therapy), as well as exercises, stretching, massage, and manual therapy are combined to alleviate pain, restore function, and create optimum quality of life for our patients.

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy uses stem cells derived from fat to treat traumatic and degenerative diseases. Although stem cell therapy is fairly new to veterinary medicine, it has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment in numerous animal models of disease such as osteoarthritis, tendon repair, fractures, muscular dystrophy, autoimmune problems, and other disorders.

A Wide Variety of Other Diagnostic and Therapeutic Modalities

These are but a few of the many available therapies used by holistic veterinarians.
To learn more, find a holistic vet in your area.