allopathic and holistic veterinary care

Allopathic and Holistic Veterinary Care: Is It “Us V. Them” or Can the Twain Ever Meet?

allopathic and holistic veterinary care

One might assume that since I am a holistic practitioner, I do not endorse allopathic veterinary care.  Remember what our grade-school teachers warned about what happens when we assume, as this is simply not true.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am definitely not a fan of what veterinarian Ian Billinghurst, the founder of the BARF movement, refers to as “Fake Industrial Foods,” which allopathic vet clinics peddle for top dollar as premium quality fare.  Nor do I support their common practice of pushing harmful, repeated, not to mention non-mandatory vaccinations as part of the regularly scheduled annual exams.  (Don’t believe me?  Do your own research into findings by prominent immunologist Hugh Fudenberg, MD, and the UC Davis studies on the effects Allopathic and holistic vet careof brain- and nerve-damaging aluminum and dendritic cell-disrupting mercury  — in the form of Thimerosal, the two most common adjuvant ingredients found in vaccines, and draw your own conclusions.  Then there’s the issue of ingredients including MSG, animal proteins, potential contaminants and a host of other nefarious additives.  I could go on for hours, er pages!)

As our dogs get older, their bodies in general, and their immune systems in particular have to work harder to cope with age-related challenges – some hereditary, but most a result of a lifetime spent living in the conditions of an unnatural modern-age world.  Feeding ridiculously costly, carbohydrate-based, GMO-laden, protein-poor processed food full of potentially rancid fats, and synthetic vitamins and minerals adds a whopper of an unnecessary burden on these animals.  Sticking them with needles that deliver toxic chemical cocktails wreaks further havoc, and unleashes a virtual cyclone of systemic chaos that can reach the dog’s deepest level:  the vital force itself.

So, that said, are there instances when allopathic veterinary care may be the best choice?  In my opinion, yes.

In an Emergency, West is Best

Even die-hard, holistic-only practitioners will tell you if your dog has been hit by a car, ingested a suspected poison, or is showing beginning signs of gastric torsion (AKA bloat), it is not the time to call a holistic clinic, crack open your homeopathic Materia Medica for an appropriate remedy, or, worst of all, do an Internet search asking “Dr. Google” for the best herb or supplement.  Use common sense and run, don’t walk, to your nearest emergency veterinary clinic.

In these cases, surgery may be the only thing that can save your dog’s life.  Sure, there will be unwanted side-effects from anesthesia, medications, and the mere trauma surrounding the circumstances, but I believe such scenarios are cases of “get help STAT and deal with the fallout later.”

Non-Emergent, Acute Cases of Mouths and Muscles

Most dentists will tell you oral health is an indicator of one’s overall state of health.  Like his human guardian’s, a dog’s mouth is the gateway to the rest of his body, and deserves regular inspection and care.

Bad breath; swollen and discolored gums; and loose, abscessed or fractured teeth warrant immediate veterinary attention, as, left untreated, these conditions may lead to arthritis, and liver, kidney and even heart damage.  dog dental careUnfortunately, most of these situations require a dog be sedated at best, or more likely anesthetized, in order to receive proper treatment.   If teeth need to be extracted, procedures can easily cost hundreds of dollars or more, and often times the poor dog is sent home with post-op antibiotics and pain medications.  Again, this is a case of help now, clean up later.

If your former canine athlete sustains an injury that seems more serious than the garden variety stumble or strain, a good old-fashioned X-ray or ultrasound may provide a definitive diagnosis, after which time holistic treatment options such as acupuncture, tui na (a form of soft-tissue manipulation), homeopathy or body work may be considered instead of NSAIDs, outdated recommendations of strict rest, and potent opioid painkillers.

Now that we’ve learned about these two very different approaches to veterinary care, let’s explore what’s behind Door Number Three.

Chronic Conditions Call for Combination

Some of us have senior dogs who are in pretty good shape, and don’t really need a lot of medical care.  For these fortunate fellows, why not seek the help of an integrative veterinarian? 

They’re really not so hard to find these days.  Many vets are willing to offer natural alternatives to the standard components of the multi-faceted Senior Wellness Package. 

For example, it really wouldn’t hurt to have your dog’s vet perform the blood and urine tests, but it seems silly to subject your dog to harsh de-worming agents when it’s so easy and non-invasive to run a fecal exam to determine if it’s even necessary in the first place.

While we’re talking about parasites, why not forego the traditional topical, or worse, oral flea and tick products that not only poison your dog, but also the environment; and roll up your sleeves, mow your lawn, sprinkle it with holistic veterinary caresome non-toxic (except to the fleas and ticks!) diatomaceous earth or cedar pellets, and attach a Shoo Tag or ultrasonic medallion to your dog’s collar to keep the bugs at bay.

If your dog has arthritis, an integrative vet can offer herbal or food-based joint supplements that actually treat the condition, rather than suppress or palliate the symptoms.

Finally, don’t forget the diet!  No dog would object if you offered to feed his joints with treats like bovine trachea, chicken or pigs’ feet, and delicious bone broth – all rich in elastin, collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin.  If your dog has tender teeth, these offerings can double as safe, fully digestible recreational bones so he can get his gnaw on without incident.  Bone appétit!


This post was kindly written by Dr, Reema Sayegh. She holds doctoral degrees in Holistic Nutrition and Naturopathy, and has over 20 years experience in the field of integrative medicine and holistic health.  After she rescued a nine-year-old Great Dane mix named Zeus in 2004, Dr. Reema was inspired to “shift gears” and has since become a Reiki master teacher, certified holistic pet consultant, published author, public speaker, and animal welfare advocate.  She works in tandem with veterinarians and their clients to provide companion animals adjunct natural wellness modalities, and, when indicated, specialty geriatric and hospice care.  Dr. Reema resides in California with her husband and the love of their lives: a spirited canine teacher, healer, and gigantic, fun-loving goofball named Dakota.  She can be reached at

a holistic approach to treating arthritis in dogs

A Holistic Approach to Treating Arthritis in Dogs

a holistic approach to treating arthritis in dogs

I’m so fascinated by the holistic approach to veterinary medicine, I wanted to share an article about its’ use for treating arthritis in dogs.

Why specifically arthritis you ask?

I’m interested in holistic medicine as it applies to the overall care of animals, not just a specific condition. I’m highlighting arthritis in this post because I have seen a few dogs lately that have it. When I speak to their guardian I too often hear they’re either giving them loads of drugs, or they say not much can be done. Neither scenario is good.

I wanted to highlight natural gentler options, and even if medication is still needed (which I’m in favour of when necessary), adding some alternative therapies presents a nice balance.  

Why the fascination with alternative medicine?

I’ve always been interested in a more natural approach to healthcare, never liking to take the medications I felt were too often and easily prescribed.

Even before I heard the terms “homeopathy” “alternative” or “holistic,” it seems I intuitively knew I didn’t like the way the doctors I and others were seeing approached treatment. Okay a pill will help the symptoms you’re feeling from XYZ, but it’s not addressing the underlying problem. Putting a mask on something isn’t dealing with the reason for the issue.

About 16 years ago I found an anthroposophic doctor, when I was living in Toronto. Dr. Eckler was amazing, a trained MD she prescribed remedies before drugs, and looked at the whole person not just the allergy you came in with. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to have that kind of treatment during the many years I’ve lived in England and I’m worse off because of it.

Great, but we’re not talking about you we’re talking about vets!!

Sorry just wanted to present some background.

Over the past two or three years, I’ve wanted to take my senior dog Red to a holistic vet. As she got older the issues started cropping up, and her list of medications grew accordingly. It’s at the point where she’s taking so much stuff it’s ridiculous.

My vet in the UK is amazing, I can’t deny that. He’s done an incredible job of keeping Red well and pretty healthy. He skilfully handled each hiccup and I’m forever grateful, I just wish it wasn’t with the use of so many drugs. There were no holistic vets in his practice or anywhere in the area, so there wasn’t much I could do.

Things have changed

We recently relocated to Spain where we’ll be spending a few months. Last Friday we took Red to see Dr. Ortega, a holistic vet in Malaga. What a nice guy and one who shares my philosophy. He spent so much time with us, talking about Red’s background, my concerns and my own philosophy towards how I’d like to see Red cared for. We never felt rushed and it was an eye opening experience.

Although I do a lot of research into alternative treatments, to actually be sitting in the same room listening to someone who can help Red was a thrill.

He felt my vet has done a great job, but of course having a different philosophy he wan’t happy about the amount of drugs in her system, or her prescription diet. As a matter of fact he commented on what a strong dog she must be, weighing only 4 kgs yet able to process all the drugs she gets on a daily basis.

I will be seeing him sometime next week to hear the results of her specialised blood tests, to get her new homemade diet plan he put together and his plan for reducing/replacing her medications. When I heard “homemade” I must admit I sighed a bit. I hate cooking, but for Red I will definitely do what’s needed. It seems I only have to do it once a week because it’s freezable. Let’s hope!!

Presenting alternatives to my readers

I’ve been adding more information about alternative vet care on this resource, as I always get a favourable response from readers when I do.

The article about arthritis that I’m including is called “Holistic Treatment of Arthritis” and was written by Dr. Jeff Feinman, a veterinary homeopath in Connecticut.  

I am constantly amazed by the differences in attitude between “traditional” and “alternative” approaches, and am drawn to the latter. I do hope you find the information as enlightening as I have.

A holistic approach to treating arthritis in dogs – conclusion

Now that I’m beginning my own journey into the world of holistic veterinary medicine as a participant/recipient rather than just an outsider, I’m interested in hearing your experiences.

Have you been to a holistic vet? Is it something you’re interested in trying? Share your stories in the comments section below, and if you have a senior dog please share on my Facebook page.