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Conventional Veterinary Care vs. Holistic Pet Care

Rhonda Jewel is a holistic pet care practitioner and owner of Holistic Pet Care, LLC.

Compare conventional veterinary medicine with holistic, naturopathic practices.

Compare conventional veterinary medicine with holistic, naturopathic practices.

Is There a Problem With Today's Traditional Vet-Care System?

Pet owners around the country have become dependent on using conventional veterinary care for every health issue that comes up with their pets. However, many people are finding that the drugs, chemicals, and over-vaccination programs offered by their vets are not really giving their pets quality health care; in fact, the opposite might be true.

We are at a time in pet health awareness when many are coming to the realization that there may well be a problem with the veterinary health care system as we know it. More and more pet owners are becoming educated about natural pet care.

What Conventional Care Does and Does Not Address

In veterinary school, very little time is spent learning true nutrition for animals. What vet students are taught is coming from industry reps of pet food companies. They sell and “prescribe” their processed foods rather than sharing information on how to keep pets healthy using good nutrition and alternative treatments.

Although conventional veterinary treatment is excellent at diagnostics, it mostly treats our pets’ symptoms and does not address the root cause. Your vet and his team are good at providing answers to the question: What’s wrong with my pet?

Does conventional veterinary medicine rely too heavily on prescriptions and medication?

Does conventional veterinary medicine rely too heavily on prescriptions and medication?

Do Vets Tend to Over-Medicate?

By utilizing physical exams, lots of blood work, x-rays, and other diagnostic tools, they can find out what is causing the health issue. Using methods like surgery, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and other medications, they then try to alleviate the problems. However, they often don’t actually get down to finding out the cause of the illness or disease.

Although they require much time, money, and research, these diagnostics can be effective in most cases to discover what is wrong. A prescription for antibiotics or steroids can help your dog or cat feel much better right away. Usually, however, the symptoms return much worse than they were before the treatment. This method of suppressing the symptoms can lead to a much more serious illness. The result is called modern medicine, a very sad situation for both pets and humans.

Conventional Veterinary Care of Today

As Dr. Karen Becker from Healthy Pets ( puts it:

“One of the interesting things that’s different between veterinary medicine and between human medicine (a lot of people don’t realize this) is that with human medicine, of course, there’s Big Pharma that’s funding millions, billions of dollars into research to promote a certain product. But in veterinary medicine, we’ve got major dog food companies and major pharmaceutical and vaccine companies that are funding research. But when it comes to anything outside of their products, we don’t have money that’s available to be able to help people understand with evidence-based medicine, which is what you and I do.”

We all are aware that having conventional treatment available for pets is a necessary part of modern health care. Drugs and surgery have their place in situations where that is the only protocol.

What Modern Veterinary Medicine Is Good For

When my sister’s small dog jumped out of her arms onto the pavement and broke both of her front legs, conventional modern medicine saved Nayla’s little legs and kept her beloved Chihuahua alive ($10,000 later, I might add). Obviously, we do need modern medicine in appropriate situations.

Most veterinarians sincerely feel that what they are prescribing is best for our pets. They have no idea that some of the medicines and vaccinations they recommend can be very harmful. This is what they learned in vet school. After all, they do take the following Hippocratic Oath:

"I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous."

We have all heard the words: “First, do no harm.”

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But Do Vets Cause Harm?

Vaccines, selling commercial diets, spaying/neutering, drugs, and both necessary and unnecessary surgeries are the way our veterinary practices make a regular income. Most of them have a huge overhead and lots of support staff, modern equipment leases, insurance requirements, and office mortgages to support.

But the question goes back to this: Are they doing what is best for our pets, or are they more focused on finances?

Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health For Dogs and Cats states this:

"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”.

Keep in mind that when your allopathic veterinarian gives you advice about your beloved pet, you are most likely only receiving partial information and not all the alternative/natural/ holistic treatment protocols that are available for his or her health issue. The vet is only going to tell you what he or she knows about from their training.

Obviously, your vet is not intentionally harming your best friend by not knowing all the options, but the problem with modern vet practices is that they are just too busy to learn alternative, safer healing protocols.

So What Is Natural, Holistic, Naturopathic Pet Health Care All About?

What then is the big difference between conventional veterinary treatment and alternative pet care?

The traditional is more about treating disease, while the natural approach is about nurturing health. Of the many ways that we can treat our pets, how do we choose which is the best approach to treat a specific illness or ailment?

After a lifetime of experience and research, I feel strongly that the only choice we can make in good conscience is the natural approach.

Again, Dr. Pitcairn, the well-known homeopathic vet, agrees:

“Health is not necessarily just the absence of disease, it is rather a universal good condition on all levels--physical, emotional and mental. Naturopathic health is a distinctively natural approach to health and healing that recognizes the integrity of the whole animal.”

As we have seen, our conventional health care system is based on selling drugs and dog food, as well as making money on expensive procedures and vaccination programs. We are at a time in history where if we do not make a change, sickness is going to be more common than health, with not only our pets but all of humanity as well.

This is why many health-conscious individuals are turning to holistic and natural treatments for our pets and ourselves. Naturopathy and homeopathy have been making a powerful comeback in recent years. Using the guidance of an Animal Naturopath or a Holistic Veterinarian is becoming a more and more popular choice with pet owners.

Animal Naturopathy: Nature’s Solution

Naturopathy or naturopathic care is an alternative healing modality that includes a wide array of "natural" methods, including homeopathy, herbalism, acupuncture, and most important a raw diet and other lifestyle changes. It emphasizes tapping into the more natural world.

Humans and our pets are actually more deeply connected to this natural world than we realize. Unfortunately, we, most of humanity, have lost our connection to the natural processes of healing.

Naturopathy Reconnects Us With Our True Natures

What I have learned so far in this course is that naturopathy is the path to bring us back to our connection with our true nature and to the understanding of how animals and humans are so closely interrelated and how we are designed by creation to self-correct. We are disconnected from natural forces.

This disconnection between people and animals/nature has resulted in many imbalances within the body-mind-spirit of the human consciousness, which affects our pets even more than we realize.

The Problems With a "Quick Fix" Lifestyle

We have left the natural life for one of convenience and ease. We see the evidence of this everywhere we look. We live unnaturally and want our companion animals to live the same, fast food and commercially convenient lives. Unfortunately, conventional veterinary care is all about this ‘quick’ fix way of living and treatment of animals.

Our pets are subjected to this barrage of man-made products based on human design and experimentation. Something has gotten deeply out of sync with the flow of natural forces in our bodies and the little bodies of our precious animal friends.

We can see how the pets we live with and nurture without nature have adopted the physical, emotional, and psychological issues we humans suffer. Traditional veterinary care does not address these conditions in our furry companions either. For the most part, that system is deeply entrenched in the disconnection with nature.

Herbs and homeopathy for pets are often used by naturopaths.

Herbs and homeopathy for pets are often used by naturopaths.

Reconnecting With Natural Forces

Naturopathic health practices favor a totally natural approach and treat the whole animal, body, mind, and spirit. Non-invasive methods are used that address the root cause and not just the symptoms.

This method of healing is all about reconnecting with nature, and the natural forces within as well. Naturopaths will generally suggest that their clients avoid using surgery and drugs, if at all possible.

Naturopathic and homeopathic health care focus on a holistic and natural view of health without treatment which would stop the natural healing process, rather encouraging the body’s own immune system to kick in. This means the aim is to prevent illness through changes to diet and lifestyle.

Prevention is a big part of this health care protocol, unlike the methods of conventional veterinary medicine, which are all about suppressing symptoms of disease. Naturopathy is about starting your pets off right by following the Eight Laws of Health: The Naturopathic Way.

These principles are the foundation of naturopathic treatment for both animals and humans:

The Eight Laws of Naturopathic Health

In nature laws are not optional; if broken, then consequences are certain to follow; one cannot run from the laws inherent and laid down in nature without repercussions.

  1. Nutrition
  2. Exercise
  3. Water
  4. Sun
  5. Temperance
  6. Air
  7. Rest
  8. Trust

Much of the ideology of naturopathy is based on the vitality of the body and using self-healing, rather than conventional-type medicine. Naturopathic practice is founded on the principle that the body is capable of healing itself through an inner vitality or unseen energy force which guides it to self-correct and balance.

Small animal naturopathic health coaches will recommend these eight laws to ease your dog or cat back into balance. By using the principles of health listed above along with other alternative therapies and "natural" methods, your pet can heal from disease. In some cases, herbs, homeopathy, and other natural supplements are utilized to assist in the healing process.

Naturopathic education contains very little of the allopathic conventional curriculum completed by veterinarians, as animal naturopaths mostly train by studying alternative treatment protocols and practicing unconventional interventions and diagnoses, which also can be referred to as wise and ancient healing methods.

Which is better for dogs: raw or dry food?

Which is better for dogs: raw or dry food?

Raw Pet Food vs. Kibble

One of the main ways that a naturopath and mainstream vets differ is the recommendation of a raw diet for our carnivores. Traditional vets are mostly against feeding anything but kibble and canned foods. This is because they were taught in vet school that this is the only way a dog or cat can get a totally balanced diet.

What many don’t realize is how and why the packaged dog food we feed our dogs got started.

Jennifer Lee explains in her informative book, The Inner Carnivore:

“During WWII meat and tin were both in short supply. This drove consumers back to dry foods for their dogs. In 1950 Ralston Purina was the first company to use an extruder to make dry dog food. Extrusion was a manufacturing process that Ralston was already using to produce Chex cereal. The production of enormous bags of dog food was in full production by the late 1950’s. By 1964 the national trade association of dog and cat food manufacturing launched a campaign to get people to stop feeding their pets anything except for packaged food. Feeding pets “people food” became branded as harmful. Companies began labeling their foods as complete nutrition, with no additional foods or supplements needed. A culture of dependence was then formed and adopted by the pet industries and veterinarians and is still in existence until this day.”

In this modern era, the species-appropriate raw approach to nutrition has gotten a foothold into the dog nutrition industry and is here to stay. There are many companies now manufacturing raw dog food, both frozen and dehydrated. These are trying to be balanced and better than most kibbles.

What I have come to understand after studying more about the natural approach and the philosophy of animal naturopathy is that top quality grain-free dry dog kibbles and even the freeze-dried raw diets are not quite what is appropriate to feed our carnivores.

The most natural method of feeding is the ‘raw prey model’, which is the most recommended feeding model by holistic vets and animal naturopaths today. This means feeding raw meaty bones, and animal parts whole (not ground up). This is so the animal gains the benefit for the jaws and teeth and inner carnivore vitality

For a 15kg adult dog at 2% - 15,000g x 0.02 = 300g of food per day

For a 15kg adult dog at 2% - 15,000g x 0.02 = 300g of food per day

Is Conventional Veterinary Care Compromising the Health of Our Pets?

Dr. Henry Lindlahr puts in this way in his 1922 book The Philosophy of Natural Therapeutics:

“The fundamental ‘Law of Cure’ explains why allopathic medical science is in error, not in a few but in most things. The foundation, ‘The orthodox conception of disease’ being wrong it follows that everything built thereon must be wrong also. The fundamental law of cure explains also why the great majority of allopathic prescriptions contain virulent poisons in some form or another and why surgical operations are in high favor with the disciples of the old school. The answer of the allopath to the question ‘Why do we give poisons?’ usually is ‘Our material medica contains poisons because drug poisons merely serve to paralyze vital force, whereby the deceptive results of allopathic treatment are obtained.”

With that said, from my point of view, as a holistic pet care practitioner, by all means, an astounding ‘Yes’ is the answer. I do believe that allopathic treatment is harming our pets and that living the principles of naturopathy, using holistic treatments is by far the best solution, rather than putting everything in the hands of conventional veterinary care.

More education needs to be available and accessible for new pet owners and long-time pet guardians as well. We need to start a movement, perhaps not to rebel outright against the established animal medical system, but to stand up for our right to have choices regarding alternative and proper health care for our pets.

Holistic Pet Care Is a Balanced Method

In conclusion, holistic pet care is a way of looking at our pets' health issues in a 'whole' view. Diagnostics from a traditional vet can help us to make sound decisions, letting us know exactly what is wrong, and then we can explore all of the options for giving our pet the best natural care.

Sometimes we will use some conventional care combined with herbs, colloidal silver, or homeopathy. We can combine those principles of naturopathy and surgery if and when needed.

So the point of this article is to discuss the balanced way of natural pet care and allow the pet owner options, being armed with the information to go on to do their own research and make the best possible health care choice for their loving pet.


  • Bloomer, C.V.N.D, K., & Thomason, C.V.N.D, J. (2016, January). Philosophy of Animal Naturopathy Course. Reading. In The Healing Crisis and Why That Is a Good Thing (Philosophy of Animal Naturopathy, p. 20). ACAN.
  • Bloomer, K. (n.d.). Eight Laws of Health: The Naturopathic Way. In J. Thomason (Ed.), An Introduction to Animal Naturopathy (pp. 10-11). Ebook.
  • Becker, K., & Royal, B. (2012). (Unpublished master's thesis). Retrieved February 16, 2016, from
  • Lee, J. (2014). Evolution of Pet Food. In The inner Carnivore (p. 35). Alberta.
  • Wiki. (n.d.). Naturopathy. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from
  • Naturopathy. (n.d.). Retrieved February 14, 2016, from
  • Pitcairn, R. H., & Pitairn, S. H. (n.d.). Lecture. In Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide To Natural Health For Dogs and Cats (3rd ed., Rev. and updated). (2005). Rodale.
  • Think Your Veterinarian's Good? Here's How To Tell. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from
  • Lindlahr, H., & Proby, J. C. (1922). Philosophy of natural therapeutics: The classic nature cure guide to health and healing. London: Vermilion.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2016 Rhonda Jewel

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