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Think Your Veterinarian’s Good?

And you think your vet is holistic?

The number one thing you want to know about a veterinarian is their philosophy of health care.

You might think you’ve already found a good veterinarian for your dog. He or she is a friendly person, the office isn’t too long a drive from your house, the fees are reasonable, and the office staff “coos” happily over your dog.

Nice, certainly. But is this a good enough reason to think that your veterinarian is the best?

Many people has tried to look for a good veterinarian from Facebook or Local Forum for recommendations. A thousand people agreeing on a topic need not necessary mean that they are right.

Let us share with you a very common issue in our pet care industry.

The most sensible philosophy of health care is holistic. Holistic means “whole.” A vet with a holistic philosophy looks at the whole picture of what’s going on with your dog. If your pet has a urinary tract infection, then sure, let’s clear that up with an antibiotic….BUT why did Molly get that infection in the first place? If her immune system wasn’t able to kill the bacteria that caused the infection, then in addition to treating the current infection with antibiotics, we should try to strengthen Molly’s immune system so she doesn’t end up with FUTURE infections. Prevention is better than a cure!

This may be a completely new way of thinking for you – that you shouldn’t just treat your pet’s ailment – that you should treat your pet yourself. Medications don’t strengthen an immune system. Quite the opposite. That’s why you’ll have to follow up your pet’s antibiotics with holistic supportive care – so that your pet becomes stronger and better able to resist future health problems.

A good vet with a holistic philosophy or approach helps you do this by recommending the right food, treats, toys, flea preventatives, shampoos, even the detergent used to wash your pet’s bedding….everything your dog comes in contact with can affect her health for better or for worse. A vet with a holistic philosophy offers guidance on how you can make everything in your dog’s daily life health-promoting.

Don’t we all want this kind of forward-looking, whole-picture health care for our dogs? Yes, of course.

Keep in mind that practicing a truly holistic philosophy doesn’t end with your vet.

YOU are an essential part of your dog’s health care. The things you do with your dog at home, the things you change, and the things you learn to avoid, can make such a difference to her future health. Many pet owners keep repeating their mistakes without realizing them. Of recent, we encounter a pet owner who have experience a wrong diagnosis with a local vet and of course, her dog did not last long. Shortly after her first pet passed on, she adopted another pet. Again, out of sheer convenience, cost and because she is a nice vet, the pet owner went back to her.

When your dog does need treatment, a vet with a holistic philosophy will provide a wide range of options to choose from – drugs and medications, surgery, medicinal herbs, nutritional supplements, vitamins and minerals, enzymes and antioxidants, chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, and common-sense supportive care. A vet with so many options can choose the gentlest and safest treatment that will do the job with the fewest side effects. And such vets, spend tremendous time researching and upgrading themselves to provide such information and knowledge.

Sadly, that’s what most owners do when they choose a vet. They don’t do it on purpose – more by default, simply because most owners find their vet from recommendations, facebook or phone book, and if you open the phone book and start calling vets, it’s likely that all of them will have a conventional (also called allopathic) philosophy of health care, rather than holistic.

For virtually every health issue, conventional vets offer drugs, medications, surgery, or manufactured prescription diets. Now, don’t misunderstand….drugs, medications, and surgery are true lifesavers when really needed. The problem is that conventional vets have to use these treatments for EVERYTHING because they haven’t learned when (or how) to use other alternatives….many of which are just as effective and with fewer side effects. And most local vets, if you probe into what is in the drugs or medications they are giving, 80% of them would not know what is in them.

“In our eagerness for quick and easy solutions, we seize on a certain drug that may just cover up symptoms without addressing underlying causes. For example, synthetic cortisone is powerful enough to stop a wide variety of symptoms in their tracks, but inside, the disturbance continues unseen. Animals vigorously treated with such drugs (apparently successfully) go on to develop another condition within a few weeks or months. The suppressed disorder has simply gone on to create more serious inroads in the body.”
– Dr. Richard Pitcairn

Additionally, drugs and medications can have insidious side effects. Just because your dog doesn’t have an immediate bad reaction to a drug or medication doesn’t mean he’s in the clear. Sometimes the side effect is happening deep inside his body and will take time to cause problems.

So why don’t conventional vets offer additional options such as medicinal herbs, recipes for a raw or homemade diet, nutritional supplements, enzymes and antioxidants, chiropractic manipulation, and acupuncture? Because they haven’t been trained for it. Veterinary colleges teach drugs, medications, surgery, and manufactured prescription diets. Vets who want to develop skills in alternative healing arts and sciences need to go to classes teaching those arts. Holistic vets have chosen to do that. Conventional vets have chosen not to, and they rather spend time doing their own personal things and pursuing other things other than medicine.

Holistic vets are hard to find

We’ll say it right up front – it’s not easy to find a truly holistic vet right here in Singapore. Quite a few vets will CALL themselves holistic, when they’re really not. Holistic, you see, has become a vague word like organic or all-natural, where the definition depends on who you ask.

Here’s our definition – a truly holistic vet offers the fullest range of treatment techniques (conventional and alternative) and seeks to prevent future health problems by helping you make all of your dog’s daily routines and lifestyle as health-promoting as possible. They WILL NOT RUSH you through consultation and will spend time asking you about the environment of your pet, how you have been feeding them, the water they are drinking, their habits.. … and, this is not a 15 minutes consultation job.

Based on our definition, vets who offer only a few treatment techniques aren’t truly holistic.
However, a good vet with the same philosophy of holistic health care, will make an effort to point you to the right direction. Else, think twice on how good your vet is.

  • If all they offer are drugs, medications, surgery, and/or prescription diets, those vets are conventional.
  • If all they offer are medicinal herbs, nutritional supplements, vitamins and minerals, enzymes and antioxidants, chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, or some other healing method, I call those vets alternative.

Only when a vet integrates BOTH conventional and alternative treatments do I call him or her truly holistic. (Integrative is another good word for such a vet.) Some veterinary practices might be called integrative if they include both conventional vets and alternative vets, but this isn’t as helpful as having a single vet who can do it all. Is there one in Singapore? Nope, we have not found one.  So what we do is to harness the strength of each of the vets we have encountered and employ them for what they are good at.

If your current vet isn’t supportive

Do you think the vet you’re using right now would be agreeable to your input regarding feeding, vaccinations, and alternative treatments? If that turns out to be the case, excellent! But it’s more typical that conventional vets are friendly and smiling as long as you agree to everything they want to do.

But when you say, “I’d like to do a little research on this before I decide” or “I’d like to run this by my other vet and get her take on it”…..those smiles might vanish and devil eyes will be shown.

If a vet clearly opposes holistic philosophies or alternative treatments, or gives you skeptical looks or makes condescending remarks, please find another vet. It’s too frustrating to keep dealing with a vet who…..

  • makes you feel guilty for feeding homemade or raw food – of course, I’m assuming you’re doing this properly – there are right ways and wrong ways! (my feeding articles will explain more about this)
  • makes you feel guilty for requesting a limited vaccination schedule (rest assured, the latest research is on YOUR side – see my vaccination article at the bottom of this page)
  • makes you feel guilty for considering alternative practices aimed at long-term health rather than quick fixes.

YOU are in charge of your veterinary team

The conventional vets we use are smart and dedicated and we very much appreciate their skills. But they still have conventional mindsets, so their advice always revolves around surgeries, prescription diets, and drugs and medications. When we mention alternative treatments such as botanical medicine, or feeding a natural diet with nutritional supplements, or limiting vaccines, or anything else outside their training and expertise….they’re okay with it….but they seldom bring up these options themselves. And most vets will not want to comment much on topics they are not 100% sure. So as customers, we need to respect that as well.

Always remember that when a conventional vet gives advice, you’re getting only some of the possible options – the ones he has been trained in. We listen to our conventional vet’s interpretations of test results and his recommendations for treatment. But then we WILL ask our alternative vet for HIS interpretations and recommendations, before we decide on a course of action. We’ve found that we often choose to follow some of the recommendations from each one, combining what wisdom each brings to the table.
– Founders of RA Healing Centre

Good luck in finding the right vet for your pets. We have found the right vets to work with. For all those vets we have come across, we would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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