One of the greatest challenge being a holistic veterinarian is facing skeptics. I know some people think of woo woo stuff when they hear holistic, but for me holistic simply means psychological and holistic approach means minimizing psychological stress during treatment. Psychological mental state cannot be measured but can be felt, while physical state can be measured with lab test but usually cannot be felt (blood test, urinalysis, MRI, etc). While most physical symptoms can be healed almost instantly and the result can be reflected in lab result not long after that, treating psychological or behavioral issue may take longer. Same as in human, physical pain heals faster and easier but psychological pain may takes years to heal.
In human, once the client feels the effect of holistic medicine they can tell their friends and family about the experience, but in animals, they cannot speak to share what they experience. When an animal feels sick or when they feel better, nobody can tell except their observant owners. Often, the owners run out of patience because they do not see progress after several therapy sessions. This is normal, and I’m going to discuss this matter further using an example of psychological treatment which can be seen in the video by ASPCA below.
Coconut was a puppy mill dog and was abused for a long time. She was aggressive and did not let anyone touch her. A 6 week intensive daily therapy can finally change her behavior. Kristen Collins, the animal behaviorist in the video stated that Coconut is very smart and six week treatment was considered “extremely quick recovery” according to her. Now here comes the math: if Kristen works 5 days a week for 6 weeks and spent at least 2 hours a day with Coconut, it took her at least 60 hours to change Coconut’s behavior! That is a quick progress for a smart dog and may take longer for different individuals. Now imagine if I needed to do 60 therapy sessions for my clients, what would they say? That there’s no progress even after 50 sessions? That I’m ripping them off with endless therapy sessions? That there’s no significant effect of holistic medicine?
I find this to be the greatest challenge facing clients. One of the measurement done to make sure the therapy session works is to record everything. Every time I get a new client, I have to make sure that all complaints are listed. If necessary, pictures or videos can be taken to keep track of the whole progress. The same thing applies to you as a pet owner. List the symptoms and behaviors when you take your pet for therapy (contact me to download free checklist forms), then compare their condition after a few therapy sessions. Do they make any improvements? Can you tell the effect of holistic medicine?