Alternative Medicine and Naturopathic Veterinarians
Whether your medical approach is Western or Eastern, all alternative medicine veterinarians must have a degree and be licensed to practice in their given state.
Where alternative medicine veterinarians differ in their medical approach is in the practice of holistic (whole) medicine-in other words, they look at the whole animal and lifestyle, and diagnose the cause as well as the illness. Holistic or alternative medicine veterinarians also rely on more than conventional treatments, often employing the use of herbs, acupuncture or other modalities in treatment.
Holistic veterinary medicine can address a host of problems such as allergies, ear infections, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, epilepsy and thyroid disease, many of which offer no other traditional medical alternative save for daily medication for the life of the afflicted pet. Veterinarians who practice homeopathy according to academy standards often possess the ability to restore chronically-ill pets to health, as well as address many acute conditions, such as traumatic injuries, infections and poisonings.
Often, alternative medicine veterinarians will review an animal's behavior, home environment, stress levels, diet and medical history in order to provide a well-rounded, customized treatment plan for best results; that's not to say that conventional medicine isn't relied on as well, but rather that the two approaches blend to treat both the cause and the symptom.
The fundamental principle of alternative or holistic veterinary medicine is based on proper nutrition, so these veterinarians are well versed in pet foods and diets that are in the pet's best interest, while taking into account the pet owner's affordability and usability.
Alternative medicine veterinarians often rely on supplements to make up for deficiencies in the pets they treat, as well as to reverse or avoid common age-related issues such as joint pain.
All of these subspecialties should be studied extensively before being practiced, and organizations such as the American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Association provide membership and further education. Individuals can also get certified via the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (the certification requires 1,287 hours of course work, the passing of an exam, and four case studies, as well as the passing of a final exam).
Alternative medicine veterinarians often work solo or in group practices, and can draw a salary upwards of $100,000 if successful.