At Westie Insider we are #teamboth when it comes traditional and holistic veterinarians. If you are lucky, your vet may practice traditional medicine along with homeopathy and Chinese herbs. The veterinary landscape is changing, and many clinics offer both practices which Westie Insider considers the best combination. However, many live in areas where there are no vets that also offer holistic treatments. I personally have never lived in a town where my veterinary practiced both traditional and holistic. Thankfully, many holistic veterinarians offer off-site services via telephone and email consultations.
There are benefits to integrating holistic care for your Westie. At Westie Insider, we like the balance between traditional veterinary medicine and the addition of holistic remedies when needed; you can use them both in tandem. As stated above, if your vet also incorporates holistic remedies along with traditional medicine, we think you have the best of both worlds. You have the home run of vets. The benefits of holistic treatments for your Westie are abundant. However, we do not believe it’s the only way to care for your terrier. Let’s be clear on that statement: Think of holistic remedies as another arsenal in your Westie’s wellness toolbox. A homeopathic remedy or Chinese herb won’t eradicate a major disease. (I know some will debate me on that.) What it does is provide another layer of wellness defense. I gave twice daily insulin shots to my Westie for diabetes. I also added Chinese herbs to her food and she took a few extra supplements. This helped her blood sugar to remain someone stable and I didn’t have to increase the insulin dosage.
Let’s say for example you are hosting Thanksgiving, or any holiday, for your large, extended family. With a house full of people, food is bound to drop to the floor. I’ve never known a Westie that wouldn’t gladly pounce on their new discovery. Perhaps Uncle Wilbur slides some turkey under the table or *gasp* half a piece of cake.
A few hours later you hear a churning sound in your Westie’s stomach and know immediately she/he ate something not included in their regular feeding schedule. If you know it’s non-emergency, then it’s great to have homeopathic or other holistic remedies on hand for an upset stomach. (Of course, it goes without saying – always take your Westie to a vet. Even if it’s just a tummy upset, it could be something more serious.)
I warn family and friends not to feed my Westie, but people don’t always listen. My current Westie has an incredibly sensitive stomach, and I always make sure to have Arsenicum Album homeopathic within reach.
Over the years, our team has relied on telephone consultations with holistic veterinarians. After my Westie was diagnosed with diabetes, I leaned heavily on phone consultations with several holistic vets. When a Westie is sick, we have seen, first hand, the benefits of traditional vet care and then also adding holistic care – in some instances, the two go hand-in-hand.
While caring for a diabetic Westie, of course, I took her to my local vet (adore her) for regular appointments, and I administered twice daily insulin shots. I then complimented traditional medicine with Standard Process supplements and Chinese herbs. I did experiment with several homeopathic remedies and found only 1 seemed to make a difference in her sugar levels. In the long run, Chinese herbs were the top holistic treatment that helped stabilize her diabetes and readings.
Phone and email consultations with my favorite holistic vets provide an extra layer of support when any Westie health problems arise.
How Do I Find a Holistic Vet?
Westie Insider will post future articles highlighting a few of the top holistic vets we have worked with. It’s also beneficial for you to do your own research. Dive down Google’s rabbit hole and search if there are any holistic vets near you and if not, compile a list of those you find online that accept phone consultations. Also, if you are new to the holistic side of veterinary medicine, learn as much about it on your own, so you have a better understanding. Reach out to friends
Is Holistic Medicine a Scam?
It’s okay to side-eye homeopathy and other holistic treatments such as Chinese herbs; many do. I grew up in a homeopathic home and still have my doubts at times. (Growing up, we visited a ‘normal’ doctor and then several times a year also visited a homeopath.) What I do know is how much homeopathy and Chinese herbs help small animals. With the proper remedies, I’ve witnessed amazing health changes in Westies. Do I still question homeopathy at times when it comes to humans? Absolutely.
Using homeopathy to treat Westies can sometimes turn into a long and frustrating journey – because, finding the correct remedy causes delays and hold-ups. The key to making homeopathy work is to discover the absolute proper remedy; even the most seasoned homeopath doesn’t always get it right the first time.
Having doubts about holistic veterinary care is okay. It’s completely ok to not even believe in it. We are allowed to have our own opinions when it comes to medically caring for our Westies. No one is right, and no one is wrong.
The Right Fit
In my experience, it is challenging finding the correct holistic vet – where it’s a good fit on all sides. With my diabetic Westie, Sophia, I had phone consultations with about 8 holistic vets. (A lot was spent on phone consultations!) I have an advantage since I grew up in a holistic home. My background enables me to assess a holistic vets knowledge and grasp of homeopathy, while also observing how they interact with new patients. Throughout my research and journey, one point I noticed is that many holistic vets aren’t used to the dog’s human having a grasp on homeopathy. Since I do, that made some of the consultations easier and some more difficult.
During one phone consultation, the vet yelled at me for allowing my Westie to sleep at the head of my bead. Cue the eye roll emoji. I’m spending money on health advice, not behavior issues.
Another vet peppered me with a deluge of questions about a line of supplements I was familiar with. This lasted for about 20 minutes. It felt as if I was paying to educate this vet on the brand of supplements – which by the way had nothing to do with my original appointment concerning diabetes.
In life, work, and with friends and family, I prefer to surround myself with informed, calm, laid back people. Read – not hyper know-it-alls. With any profession you will find self-important individuals; this also includes holistic vets. Most trained as traditional veterinarians and then later went through a phase of “enlightenment” when they discovered the world of alternative medicine. Sometimes there is a small group of overly-enlightened holistic vets that come across as pompous and believe their new way of treating animals is the BEST or the only way. Life, in general, is a give and take – it’s a combination of what works and what doesn’t. That’s why I prefer both traditional and holistic ways of treating Westies. It’s not merely one or the other, but a combination of the two. My favorite holistic vets are good listeners, level-headed, realize many of us want to use both traditional and holistic medicine and put the health of our Westies above all else. In short, they are void of ego and pretense.
Looking back, I see why it took so many introductions and initial consultations to find three holistic vets that clicked and subsequently helped my diabetic Westie – to this day they are still my top three. Deep diving into the world of holistic veterinarians is an educational journey, to say the least. Even if you are familiar with certain types of holistic medicine, it takes time and money to find an alternative vet that is on the same page as you and your Westies. It’s not always easy. Like anything else in life, there is a lot of egos out there, and your first phone consult may not always go as well as you hoped.
It’s up to every Westie owner to decide what is best for their dog(s). It’s fine if you never go down the holistic route and it’s okay if you do. At Westie Insider, we are free of judgment no matter what path you take. However, we do like to share our experiences so they may help you. And after connecting with 8 holistic vets, we do have a lot to share.
If you aren’t familiar with different forms of holistic care for animals, start researching on your own. There is a wealth of information at your fingertips, and many of the best teachers are our own selves. In a later post, we will list some of our favorite holistic care books that are staples in our Westie health toolbox.
Even with a holistic background, we know first-hand what it’s like to have condescending, and even rude, phone consults with alternative vets. Our goal is never to candy-coat Westie issues. Those issues reach from behavioral problems to choosing the best holistic vet to consult with should any health problems arise.
Always work with your local vet and keep them updated should you choose to proceed with a phone consultation with a holistic vet. Ask their opinion. Always seek your vet’s advice first.